19 for 2021 – My Selection of Great Bikes for Gravel, Cycle Touring & Bikepacking
This selection of bikes is subjective and does not claim to be complete. It is intended to inspire. Nothing more. But of course I mention brands and models. And so that can be advertising.
It’s almost a tradition that at the end of the year I take a look at what I consider to be beautiful, sometimes new and above all interesting bikes and share this subjective selection with you. I make no distinction between gravel, bikepacking or touring bikes.
I have found some beautiful bikes that I like and that I would like to draw your attention to. Maybe you already know them all – then I invite you to dream. If there are new bikes, maybe they will inspire you and be added to the constantly well-filled N+1 list.
This year, however, the main issue is availability, which is why it’s actually unfair if I show you all the great bikes now – but you probably have problems buying them. But hopefully that will be solved soon…
And if you know of other bikes that are worth a look, please post them in the comments.
19 Bikes for Cycle Touring, Gravel & Bikepacking
An adventure bike that meets almost all needs and wishes: with the 4.29, the Dutch offer a bike that is very versatile and customisable. Whether with Rohloff, normal derailleur or Pinion – the 4.29 can do it all. The Santos 4.29 is therefore also flexible when it comes to different requirements: it can be the light Bikepacker, the reliable travel bike, the comfortable travel partner with e-drive or the sportier racer.
In terms of price, however, you are already in the upper segment. In the configurator, only Pinion or Rohloff are offered. The price quickly climbs above 5,000 euros. And for the traditionalists among you: the 4.29 is also available with Magura rim brakes.
Böttcher Evolution GRX
Böttcher has been manufacturing bicycles in the far north of Germany for many years and I knew them mainly for their touring bikes. So when Olga and Michel from Rausgefahren.de continued their tour of the world on new Böttcher bikes, I took another look – and was surprised. The Böttcher Evolution GRX is an interesting gravel bike from Schleswig-Holstein. GRX stands for Shimano gears, of course. The Evolution GRX comes as a 27.5 inch or 29 inch bike and can be customised even further.
I am already in contact with Böttcher and will be able to test the Evolution GRX in spring. So be curious!
Kona Sutra ULTD
The Kona Sutra is already a classic among touring bikes. With the ULTD, the Americans now have a wide-tyre road bike in their range that is definitely interesting for lovers of beautiful steel frames. It rides on 29″ x 2.25 tyres and is shifted via a 1×11 SRAM Rival/NX. Of course it has thru axles (rear 12×142, front 12×100) and the wheels are tubeless ready. If you like, you can also install adjustable seat posts on the ULTD. I really like the colour and shape, but they also remind me of Bombtrack or Salsa. The only thing I would question is the cable routing in the bottom bracket area.
According to Cube, the Nuroad is a combination of a crosser and a road bike and is intended to allow the rider to ride fast off the road – no road needed! This makes it quite interesting for all those who want to switch from a road bike to a gravel bike, from the road to the forest, but don’t want to lose the speed they are used to. Cube even goes one step further and recommends the Nuroad “for all trail adventures off the beaten track”. I would put a question mark behind that, but we probably have different definitions of trails.
The Nuroad is available in different versions, with aluminium or carbon frames and different equipment. If you are interested in carbon, you should take a look at the C:62 series. The picture above shows the Nuroad EX, which is reasonably priced at around 1,400 euros, has an aluminium frame, carbon fork and shifts with a 1×11 Shimano GRX 400.
Green calms you down! You’d think so, but with the Outback you really get moving. And on any surface. With it, Ritchey has a frame-set to offer that not only includes an elegant Ritchey steel frame with carbon fork, but with a tyre clearance of 700x48mm or 650B x 2.0″ offers plenty of scope for all kinds of trail.
Thru axles, eyelets for 3 bottle cages, rideable with 1 or 2-speed cranks (1-speed min 36, max 46), with a total weight (frame + fork) of 2.7kg and the cool colour called Guac y Crema – for 1,500 euros you can get the Outback frameset. Unfortunately it is so popular that it is currently sold out at Ritchey.
Fairlight Faran 2.0
Since the Atlas Mountain Race, Fairlight has been on my radar, as one of the German riders (hello Tobi!) was very successful with a Fairlight. With the Faran 2.0, the Brits have a very attractive gravel bike frame-set on offer that can be built up quite individually. Fork and frame offer enough eyelets for all cases. The Faran can be ridden with 700×45 or 650B x 2.2″ tyres. Shimano GRX 600 & 800 gears are available in the configurator. Prices start at 900 pounds for the frame-set, with the GRX 600 you start at about 2,000 pounds for a Faran.
Fairlight Secan 2.0
The Secan is similar to the Faran, but designed more for speed and has a carbon fork. And in the Secan you can allow yourself a little more tyre width at 700cc, which should appeal accordingly to lovers of more natural trails. So 700x50mm or 650Bx57mm tyres fit inside. Depending on the type of gears and the use of mudguards, however, the possible tyre width changes. The maximum blade size for 2-speed is 50/34, for 1-speed 44.
By the way: If you like to ride a “British brake set-up”, Fairlight allows you to choose on which side of the handlebar the front brake should be.
Trek 520 Grando
The Trek 520 has been around for a while, but with the Grando, the Americans have now made a small cosmetic addition to the model to make it more suitable for rougher terrain and sportier touring. Trek therefore calls the 520 Grando a “Gravel Randonneur”. For this purpose, more off-road capable components have been installed, such as a 2×10 Shimano derailleur with GRX rear derailleur, the Trek ThruSkrew quick-release axles, mechanical disc brakes and the front rack already familiar from the Trek 520 Disc. I also really like the colour. All in all, with its price of around 1,700 euros, the Grando is quite an interesting alternative if you are looking for a fast travel bike suitable for bikepacking.
All-City Gorilla Monsoon GRX
I have to say that I really like the design of the bike and the fork. It’s classic, but at the same time sporty-aggressive (if that’s the right term). The All-City Gorilla Monsoon is a steel wheel made of 612 chromoly steel, with thru axles and can be ridden with 700c x 42mm tyres as well as with 650B tyres in a width of 2.4″. This allows the Monsoon to be used variably and according to requirements – provided you have two wheel-sets. Compared to some other gravel bike models, the Gorilla Monsoon can also be equipped with a 3-speed gear system – nostalgics will be pleased and touring cyclists who want to go more in the direction of Bikepacking, but want to keep all options open, will also be interested.
The brakes on the All-City are flat-mounted, which makes the frame particularly suitable for GRX brakes, although the 73mm wide (MTB) bottom bracket does not allow GRX cranks. And – while we’re on the subject – the fork of the Gorilla Monsoon unfortunately only has eyelets for a LowRider and mudguards, which makes the installation of more Bikepacking-suitable mounts, such as Fork Pack or Anything Cage, somewhat more difficult.
On the other hand, the bike is simply very beautiful and simple. The frame-set costs around 900 euros, and a GRX setup costs around 2,600 euros. Alternatively, the Gorilla Monsoon is also available with SRAM Apex.
Genesis Vagabond 2021
I always like to refer to Genesis when it comes to versatile, very good and interesting bikes – whether for bike touring (Tour de Fer) or Bikepacking (Vagabond).
Now the British have redesigned the Vagabond – their Bikepacking Allroad bike – for 2021. The bike has been given more mounting eyelets, thru-axles have been installed and a new colour has been introduced, which I will uninspiringly call a “nice light dark green”.
In addition, the Vagabond can now also handle 1-speed and can handle a rim up to 36 teeth at the front. The build kit comes with a 1×11 SRAM Apex and mechanical disc brakes and costs an acceptable 1,800 Euros (approx.).
Surly Disc Trucker
Another classic that got a general overhaul: the Disc Trucker by Surly is an absolute classic among touring bikes and has now been updated. And quite smartly: on the one hand, the chainstay has been shortened a little to give the bike a little more agility even when less loaded. But at the same time, care has been taken to ensure that the rear panniers do not come into conflict with the feet/legs when the bike is heavily loaded.
Then Surly gave the Disc Trucker thru axles – which should be standard nowadays. And while they were at it, they also reworked the frame and fork to the extent that they are now designed for flat mount brakes and are thus optimal for the road bike gears that tend to be used here on the bike, but also gravel gears like the Shimano GRX.
As a reminder of the good old days of bike touring, the Disc Trucker is still available as a 26-inch wheel and as a 700cc. Tyre widths of up to 47mm are possible, which is quite sufficient. And if you like, you can still ride the Disc Trucker with a 3-speed gear system.
There are also eyelets for the fork and the frame. You can now screw on all sorts of things and thus react to the different application scenarios. The fork also has an internal cable guide.
Bike Components FLINT Gravelbike Frame
The frame is made of aluminium, the fork of carbon. The frame weighs approx. 1,900g and the frameset costs a reasonable 550 euros. What I like is the 70 degree steering angle, with which they want to avoid over-toe problems. Gravel fans with a tendency for “real” tyres will be pleased, because 28″ tyres with a width of up to 45mm (700 x45c) fit inside. The Flint can be ridden in 1-speed or 2-speed. With 1-speed, chainrings with up to 42 teeth and with 2-speed chainrings with 36-46 teeth can be used.
The permitted rider weight of 120 kg also sounds reasonable. (Not the system weight! I don’t know where that is). And it is interesting to note that the Flint is “developed and tested according to Zedler ADV+ standard”. This is a test procedure that is highly recognised in the industry and speaks for the high quality of the frame.
Tout Terrain Vasco
With the Vasco, Tout Terrain introduced a new gravel bike from their X-Over category in November. The type designations GT 275 and GT28 already give information about the possible tyre sizes. Steel frame and carbon fork allow 650B up to 47mm and 700cc up to 40mm wide tyres.
Tout Terrain positions the Vasco as a performance gravel bike, i.e. a bike that is designed more for faster rides on asphalt or in the forest. Shifting is done with a 2×11 Shimano 105, braking with the mechanical Tektro/TRP Spyre. For the rims, Tout Terrain uses the very robust Ryde Andra 321, together with the relatively new Conti Terra Trail tyres.
Markus Stitz was able to test the Vasco on an Orbit360 ride and you can find his report here.
The Vasco is priced at 1,900 euros, which is quite reasonable for Tout Terrain. The system weight is 120kg. The bikes should be available from spring 2021.
Tout Terrain Scrambler Xplore GT II
The Scrambler is another gravel bike from Freiburg that goes its own way: the drivetrain is exclusively Pinion. It is shifted with the Cinq Shift:R Road brake lever. You have to like them because the cable comes out straight at the top of the brake/shift lever. From my point of view, it can therefore also collide with handlebar rollers, but judging from the pictures, it seems to work.
In the latest update, Tout Terrain has also enlarged the frame triangle to better fit larger Bikepacking frame bags and lengthened the chainstays, which should make possible rear luggage loads better and the overall ride a little more comfortable.
The Scrambler Xplore GT II is available in 700cc/28″ and 650B/27.5″ versions. The possible tyre widths are 650B x 47mm, 700C x 40mm.
The frame weight is 2.6 kg. Optionally, the Touring Fork II carbon fork can be fitted instead of the CroMo Expedition fork.
The system weight of the Scrambler is a very good 130kg. The price starts at 3.900 Euro.
Rondo has been known for a long time and builds very nice bikes. With the Bogan, the Poland-based company has a 29″ bike on offer that reminds me of the Bombtrack Beyond – or vice versa. It is positioned as a monster cross Bikepacking bike and was (further) developed through feedback from the Bikepacking community. For example, the bottle cages are positioned in the frame triangle in such a way that they are more compatible with frame bags.
The Bogan is based on the Ruut ST frame from Rondo. The ST stands for steel. It also has a carbon fork. The Bogan has plenty of eyelets, even on the top tube for attaching a cockpit bag. There are also enough eyelets to mount luggage racks and mudguards.
But the really “cool” thing about the Bogan is the so-called flip chip (in the fork), which allows you to change the geometry of the bike. This feature offers two options: a sportier setting with steeper steering and seat angles and correspondingly more agile handling. And a more comfortable setting, with a higher cockpit for a more relaxed riding position.
All in all, the Bogan is a very nice eye-catcher. I like it a lot. “Unfortunately” it has a maximum tyre width of 2.1 inches. However, this makes it interesting for all those who come from gravel bikes and need a “real” Bikepacking bike that allows a little more tyre width and size without losing sportiness and liveliness.
It is equipped with a 1×11 SRAM Apex as standard. The price is about 2.000 Euro, the weight about 11kg.
Giant Liv Devote 1
With Liv, Giant has a bike brand that concentrates entirely on the demands and preferences of female cyclists. The Devote 1 is a new gravel bike designed for both Bikepacking and Gravel racing.
The frame is made of aluminium and specially designed to maximise the muscle efficiency and performance of women. The fork is made of carbon. The total weight of the bike is 10.2kg according to the manufacturer.
The Devote is available in two colours and configurations: the one shown here in Desert Sage Matt (mint green) with GRX 400 equipment. And a model with Shimano Sora in the colour Eclipse (blue).
To make riding more comfortable, suspension seatpost and handlebars, called D-Fuse by Giant, have been fitted. The Devote rides on 700cc wheels and can take tyres up to 45mm. The price is 1,400 Euros, if it is not sold out.
Poseidon The Redwood
Poseidon builds very stylish Bikepacking bikes out of aluminium. With The Redwood they have built a bike that doesn’t hide its MTB genes, but has been made a bit more gravel-friendly in geometry. It is built as a 27.5 inch wheel (but can also be 29×2.1″), has an aluminium fork with all the necessary eyelets and makes a robust impression. I like that a lot, because you can probably work with it properly on trails and blast along the forest highway.
Of course, thru axles (12×100/12×142) and tubeless are used. In the build kit version, Poseidon has used a Microshift Advent 10-speed. By the way, Microshift is always worth a look, also because the Taiwanese company offers good shifting combinations for drop bar Bikepacking bikes.
Braking is with mechanical disc brakes. The price is 900 euros, which is very reasonable for such a bike. And it’s a great starter Bikepacking Monster Cross bike – if it’s available. And if you like, you can just get the frame-set for 400 Euro and build it yourself.
Rocky Mountain Solo 50
The Solo is a sporty gravel bike optimised for single-speed drivetrains, but also covers the range from trails to forest highways. The Canadians rely on an aluminium frame with a carbon fork, which fortunately has all the eyelets needed for Bikepacking. The use of a Vario seatpost was also considered, which allows more control on trails. Of course, thru axles are also installed here. 15×100 at the front and 12×142 at the rear.
The Solo is equipped with 1×11 Shimano GRX RX600 gears, which shift 40 at the front and 11-42 at the rear. The Solo can be ridden with either 700cc x 40 or 650B x 2.2″ tyres.
The Rocky Mountain Solo is also available in frame size XS, so riders with a smaller body size may find what they are looking for here. The Solo costs 2,200 Euros.
Niner RLT e9 RDO
What? An eBike? Yes, and a pretty nice one! The Niner RLT RDO is already known as a quite extravagant and very good gravel bike. Now, with the e9 RDO, the Californians have presented a bike that, in my opinion, combines e-drive and gravel design very well. And it should also be a lot of fun to ride.
The RDO is equipped with a Bosch Performance Line CX motor that provides support at speeds of up to 25 km/h. The motor version is available outside Europe. Outside Europe, there is a motor version that pushes up to 45 km/h. The power comes from a 500W battery.
The power comes from a 500W battery that is integrated into the down tube. The frame is built to Boost standard, which means that thru axles with 15×110 and 12×148 are used. Niner also leaves many options open for any terrain when it comes to tyre width: 650B x 50 or 700 x 50C are wide enough to be able to gravel properly in both wheel sizes. And for those who need a little more comfort: the frame is designed for suspension forks up to 40mm.
Shifting is done with a Shimano GRX 600 1×11, braking with Shimano GRX 400 disc brakes. The weight is 17.2 kg according to the manufacturer. The price is 5.700 Euro.
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- Welcome to Gravel Outer Space: Orbit360 in 2021 (23). December 2020
- 19 for 2021 – My Selection of Great Bikes for Gravel, Cycle Touring & Bikepacking (22). November 2020
- 39 Jackets for Bikepacking and Bicycle Touring – A Selection (25). October 2020
- Mullet, baby! Three 1×11 gear systems & my experiences with them (13). September 2020