11 Best Adventure Bikes for Off-Road Riders

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If you’re looking to go way out of territory on your bike, both on and off-road, then you need an adventure bike.

Also known as a “gravel bike,” an adventure bike is a crossover between a mountain bike and a road bike. We’re not talking about the adventure motorcycle in this article; rather, we’ll review the traditional, mechanical adventure road bike.

They are super-versatile, stable, and reliable, whether you are riding on pavement, dirt, or gravel.

An overview of adventure bikes

At a glance, adventure bikes look like the traditional road bikes. However, they have a more upright riding position, as they have a taller head tube.

Their front wheel is positioned further out in front of the rider for a comfortable riding position and better power transmission to maneuver rougher terrains.

The wheels are wider than those of a regular road bike, which enables the bicycle to ride steadily on a straight line, especially in loose terrain or when packed with a heavy load. A typical 29er adventure bike has a load capacity of up to 700lb.

Features of a good adventure bike

A good adventure bike has the following characteristics:

Sturdy seat post

Most of the best adventure bike seat posts are made of carbon fiber, as it is strong yet light. Carbon fiber also minimizes transfer of vibrations for a smoother ride. If you’re an adventure tourer, for example, and want to have a comfortable ride, then this aspect is especially important.

Frame

Adventure bikes require a well-engineered frame that is sturdy. It can be made of aluminum, carbon composite, or steel. Carbon and aluminum offer better strength-to-weight ratio than steel and are the most commonly used.

On the other hand, steel has a higher strength and durability. It is not uncommon to find a frame with parts made from different materials. For instance, some adventure bikes have an aluminum frame and a carbon fork.

The frame should have adequate clearance to provide ample space for the tires. The clearance also offers room for different tire sizes and prevents mud and dirt accumulation. It should also withstand several bikepacking bags and fenders, as you will need to bring several items along, especially for longer trips. You can also keep your eye out for a bike that offers heated grips.

Wheels

Adventure bikes have high volume tires starting at 28mm up to 45mm, which enable them to handle rough terrains and heavy loads. The high-volume tires also offer riding stability and comfort, even when they maneuver extremely rough terrains.

The tires should have more tread than a regular road bike – more like a dirt bike or enduro bike. Traction control is important. They should run on low pressure, especially when riding in mud, dirt, and gravel, to offer optimal traction and a choice of riding mode.

Brakes

Most adventure bikes have disc brakes. Disc brakes have powerful stopping power and work efficiently, even in wet conditions and low traction terrains. They also handle heavier loads better than rim brakes. Another reason why most adventure bikes have disc brakes is that they are compatible with wider tires, unlike rim brakes which work better with slimmer tires.

Dropper post

Dropper posts are an important feature of adventure bikes as they offer better riding positioning, especially when riding on rough terrains. Most modern adventure bikes have a button at the handlebar that allows you to drop the seat post for a lower center of gravity. Some have a sophisticated remote-control, electronic dropper post.

Gear

Adventure bikes’ gears are designed to offer adequate off-road riding power while enabling easy acceleration. Most have between 8 and 13 rear gears and single or double chain rings at the front.

These features allow the rider to tackle different terrains, even when they have a heavy road or are on gravel road. There could be specific riding modes available as well.

Although a 1x front drivetrain may seem inadequate for off-road riding, it offers the rider a wide range of gear options, as would a 2x drivetrain. In fact, it offers low-weight, high-performance shifting that’s fast and crisp. Further, 1x drivetrains are easier to maintain, as they don’t have a front derailleur, shifter, or cable.

Rack eyelets and mudguard

Rack eyelets offer addition packing options beyond bags and panniers. Racks are the best-suited method of carrying heavier loads such as camping tents, which can’t fit in soft bike bags. The eyelets can also be used to install mud guards on the bike.

11 Best Adventure Bikes

Below is a review of the 11 best adventure bikes in 2021.

Canyon Grail AL 7.0

canyon grail al 7.0 silver, isolated on white background

Specifications

Frame Material: Aluminum
Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes
Gears: 2X11
Tires: 700c X 40mm

The Canyon Grail Al 7.0 may at a glance look like a regular road bike. However, it is an excellent performing adventure bike. It is available in 7 different frame sizes.

Its aluminum frame is the foundation, and it can mount a wide range of bikepacking bags. The frame is TIG welded and hydroformed, with a flat top tube and rectangular down tube. The seat tube becomes wider as it descends, becoming widest near the bottom bracket.

The Canyon Grail is fitted with the latest Shimano GRX600 groupset and brakes that handle gravel riding well. The drivetrain also constitutes 11-34T cassettes and 46/30T chainrings to offer shifting and handling versatility. It has a 700cX40mm maximum tire clearance.

The manufacturer eliminated the traditional retailer model to directly deliver its bikes to the consumer.

Pros

  • Offers excellent braking performance
  • Rides well on gravel

Cons

  • Low quality weld seams
  • Limited tire clearance

Cannondale Topstone 1

cannondale topstone 1 bicycle isolated on white background

Specifications

Frame Material: Aluminum
Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes
Gears: 2X11
Tires: 700c X 37mm

The Cannondale Topstone 1 has an aluminum frame. It is versatile and built to perform excellently in different terrains. It features the Shimano GRX 800/600 drivetrain that offers 11-speed shifting. Its Shimano GRX 400 hydraulic brakes offer excellent stopping power. It has 37mm tires that maneuver bumpy terrains seamlessly.

It also has a full carbon fork which is tapered and 12 mm thru axles to deliver light and precise front steering. Its Outfront steering geometry ensures that the bicycle steers smoothly and lightly and also prevents toe overlap in smaller bikes. It is versatile, with a removable fender bridge and compatibility with a 27.5” dropper seat post.

This bike is suitable for over the weekend adventure on gravel trails as well as daily commutes to work. It is available in 5 size options (XS, SM, MD, LG, and XL).

Pros

  • Rides lightly and smoothly
  • Excellent traction
  • Removable fender bridge
  • Precise front steering

Cons

  • The aluminum frame makes the bicycle heavy

Cannondale Topstone Carbon Ultegra RX

cannondale topstone carbon ultegra rx bicycle isolated on white background

Specifications

Frame Material: Carbon
Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes
Gears: 2X11
Tires: 700X37c, 700X40c, or 650X48c

The Topstone Carbon Ultegra RX is a premium priced Cannondale gravel bicycle. It won the Cycling Editor’s Choice Award in 2019. It is lightweight, versatile, and high-performing. It offers excellent control, traction, smooth riding, and good seat height.

This bicycle stands out due to its sophisticated features, including the BallisTec carbon frameset, Kingpin suspension, HollowGram 22 carbon wheelset, connectivity with the Cannondale App, carbon seat post, and Fabric Scoop Shallow Race Ti saddle. These comfortable aspects make it a great adventure touring bike as well.

The carbon frame makes it super lightweight but sturdy, while the KingPin suspension ensures that you do not feel the bumps as you ride. It features the Shimano Ultegra hydro disc, 2X11 shifters, and an 11-speed Shimano HG601 drive train.

The wheels have a sensor that has connectivity with the Cannondale app. It also has an OutFront steering geometry that positions that wheel further in front of the rider for stable, light, and agile steering.

The frame and fork offer adequate tire clearance, with options for 700X37c, 700X40c, or 650X48c. It is dropper-ready and compatible with a 27.2” dropper seat post, and the fender bridge is removable. It also has a Thru-axle LockR pivot that keeps the seat stays in place for a solid feel. This adventure bicycle is available in 5 size options (XS, SM, MD, LG and XL).

Pros

  • High-quality build
  • Cannondale app connectivity
  • Super lightweight and sturdy
  • Excellent steering and comfortable riding
  • Frame has clearance for different tire sizes
  • Available in different sizes

Cons

  • Pricey

Trek Checkpoint SL 6

trek checkpoint sl 6 bicycle isolated on white background

Specifications

Frame Material: Carbon
Brakes: Flat-mount hydraulic disc brakes
Gears: 2X11
Tires: 700cX40mm

The Trek Checkpoint SL 6 is another high performing, premium-quality adventure bicycle. It has an OCLV carbon frame that makes it sturdy yet lightweight. The rear Shimano GRX drivetrain makes it a powerhouse that can maneuver caked mud. It also has 700X40c tires which offer extra traction and stability. The rims have a capacity for 45mm tires if you want extra traction and stability.

The frame is strong enough to withstand several bikepacking bags mounted on the seat post, top tube, handle bars, and down tube. The down tube is reinforced with a carbon polymer shield. The frame design also incorporates a horizontal sliding dropout.

The braking system incorporates flat mount disc brakes which are not only light, small, and pleasant looking, but also offer a smoother, more powerful stopping performance, even in harsh conditions. It also has a 12mm through-axle for precise steering control and a quick-release feature that makes wheel change painless.

The Trek Checkpoint SL 6 has additional sophisticated features, such as the ride-tuned seatmast, ideal for smooth and comfortable pro-racing and tubeless rim compatibility that enables you to easily install tubeless tires for a low-pressure, high-traction riding. It also comes with a Blendr-compatible stem that allows you to clip your gear directly. The bicycle is available in 6 sizes (49, 52, 54, 56, 58, 61).

Pros

  • Super lightweight, yet sturdy
  • Versatile
  • Excellent performance
  • Additional features such as ride tuned seatmast
  • Tubeless ready rims
  • Suspension for smooth riding

Cons

  • Suspension increases maintenance costs

Kona Rove AL 650

kona rove al 650 adventure bike isolated on white background

Specifications

Frame Material: Aluminum
Brakes: mechanical disc brakes
Gears: 2X8
Tires: 640 lb. X 47mm

The Kona Rove AL 650 is a budget-friendly, entry-level adventure bike suitable for off-roading as well as pavement riding. It has an aluminum butted frame and runs on the Shimano Claris 8 speed gear. It also features the Hayes CX comp mechanical disc brakes. It has large 650 X 47c wheels that have adequate ground clearance for rougher terrains and can withstand heavy loads. It has an internal headset that reduces stack height for different riding positions. The manufacturer offers a 1-year limited warranty on the adventure bike.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Allowance for large wheels
  • Comes with a warranty
  • Adjustable seat post height

Cons

  • Not designed for high speed riding
  • The build is not of excellent quality

Cannondale Synapse Neo SE

cannondale synapse neo se green color adventure bike

Specifications

Frame Material: Aluminum
Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes
Gears: 1X11
Tires: 640 lb. X 47mm

The Cannondale Synapse Neo SE is an electric gravel adventure bike designed for endurance, comfort, and efficiency. It has a lightweight SmartForm C1 aluminum alloy frame and carbon fiber fork. It runs on the 11 speed SRAM Apex 1X, which offers chain retention and hill-crushing range. It has 650lb X 47mm tires that offer great comfort and traction on or off-road.

This bicycle has an integrated wheel sensor that offers you route, speed, and distance information and reminds you of when the bicycle is due for servicing through the Cannondale App.

Its electric capabilities are built on the Bosch Active Line Plus, which offers a powerful, silent, and light ride with no drag. It operates on a Cannondale’s battery and motor to assist you in acceleration to up to 20 miles per hour. It is available in 4 size options (XS, SM, MD, and LG).

Pros

  • Smooth acceleration
  • Quality build
  • Performs well both on and off-road
  • Available in a range of sizes
  • Connectivity with the Cannondale app

Cons

  • The battery, motor, and aluminum frame make the bike heavy
  • If it were to run out of power, you would need to drag it

Giant Revolt Advanced 2

giant revolt advanced 2 bike isolated on white background

Specifications

Frame Material: Carbon
Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes
Gears: 2X11
Tires: 700 lb. X 38mm

The Giant Revolt Advanced 2 is a lightweight and smooth riding adventure bike. It has a carbon composite frame and fork for a high stiffness-to-weight ratio. Its D-fuse seat post and handlebar offer excellent shock absorption without compromising the stiffness and sturdiness required for off-road riding. The bike incorporates GRX 400 hydraulic disc brakes and Shimano GRX RX-600 shifters with 11-speed gear cassettes. The oversized fork steerer tube technology and tapered steerer tube offer optimal steering sturdiness.

It has high volume 700 lb. X 38mm tires, with a capacity of up to 44mm tires for great ground clearance and smooth riding over rough terrains. It also has a smart mounting system that you can use for bikepacking and installing other racks and accessories. This bike also has a X-Defender downtube protector and is tubeless tires compatible.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • High quality build
  • Light and stiff frame
  • Ample ground clearance

Cons

  • Pricey

Rondo Ruut CF

man riding rondo ruut cf outdoor bike on rough track

Specifications

Frame Material: Carbon
Brakes: Flat mount disc brakes
Gears: 2X11 or 1X11
Tires: 700 lb. X 40mm

The Rondo Ruut CF 1 is designed for light and comfortable riding. It has a carbon frame that holds the bike together while taking the edge off your riding experience. It has a carbon Twintip fork that enables you to adjust the frame geometry to your riding style or preferred riding position and posture.

The HI position setting offers a shorter tail, steeper angles, and lower riding position, which is ideal for sporty and dynamic riding. You can also switch to the alternative folk setting that offers a longer trail, slacker angles, and more relaxed riding position, which is ideal for commuting, endurance riding, and adventure riding.

This bike is compatible with both single and double drivetrains. It has a wheel capacity of up to 700lb X 40c. It is also fitted with through-axles. The Rondo Ruut CF 1 is available in 4 sizes: Small, Medium, Large, and X-Large.

Pros

  • Adjustable bike geometry
  • Easy, comfortable riding
  • Lightweight
  • High load capacity
  • Compatible with both 1X and 2X drive trains
  • Available in a range of sizes

Cons

  • None so far

Giantnerd Tommaso Siena Disc

giantnerd tommaso siena disc bike isolated on white background

Specifications

Frame Material: Aluminum
Brakes: Disc brakes
Gear: 3X7
Tires: 700 lb. X 40mm

The Giantnerd Tommaso Siena Disc was released in 2020 to meet the demand for a versatile, good looking adventure bicycle within the Giantnerd bicycle product line. It is durable, reliable, and powerful.

It has 700lb X 40mm tires and an Avid BB5 disc braking system. The compact aluminum frames and aluminum steerer tube fork are designed for efficient power transfer when riding. The frame has mounting points for racks and fenders. The company prides in the durability of the frame and offers a lifetime frame guarantee.

It incorporates the 21-speed Shimano Tourney drivetrain, 12-18T Shimano Tourney cassette, and Tourney Triple 30/39/50T crankset for a wide range of gearing options to suit the various terrains and riding styles. Its compact handlebars are designed for comfort.

Giantnerd sells this bike directly to customers to help keep the price low. It is available in 4 sizes: Small, Medium, Large, and X-Large. The manufacturer offers an exclusive “Ready to Ride Build” and 7-day test drive.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Wide range of gear options
  • Smooth shifting
  • Efficient power transfer when riding
  • Lifetime guarantee on the frame
  • 4 size options

Cons

  • Inside shifters are small which limits up/down shifting when your hand position is low

Giantnerd Tommaso Sterrata Disc

giantnerd tommaso sterrata disc bike isolated on white background

Specifications

Frame Material: Aluminum
Brakes: Disc brakes
Gears: 3X8
Tires: 700 lb. X 40mm

The Giantnerd Tommaso Sterrata Disc is designed to handle different terrains well. It is powerful and durable. The bicycle has a 40mm tire clearance for great traction and smooth riding. The aluminum frame geometry is similar to that of the Giantnerd Tommaso Siena Disc. It is compact in order to provide excellent power transmission. Giantnerd also offers a lifetime frame guarantee on this adventure bike, which is great if you’re planning to ride on dirt roads. The frame comes with a light and sturdy carbon fiber fork.

Its incredible performance is driven by the Full Shimano Claris drivetrain, 11-28T Claris cassette, and Claris Triple crankset (30/39/50T). The Avid BB5 disc brakes offer control confidence, as they have great stopping power whether you are riding in the mud, snow, rain, or loose gravel.

Giantnerd Tommaso Sterrata Disc features UltraCompact handlebars that allow for comfortable riding in the dropped hand position, reducing wind-resistance significantly for faster riding. It also has a premium Tommaso-WTB volt saddle that offers a comfortable position as you pedal through rough terrain.

Like the Tommaso Siena Disc, Giantnerd sells this bike directly to customers to help keep the price low. It is available in 4 sizes: Small, Medium, Large, and X-Large. It is also eligible for the exclusive “Ready to Ride Build” and 7-day test drive.

Pros

  • Affordable price
  • Excellent power transmission
  • Wide range of gear options
  • Smooth shifting
  • Lifetime guarantee on the frame
  • 4 size options

Cons

  • None so far

Scott Addict Gravel 10 Bike

scott addict gravel 10 bike

Specifications

Frame Material: Carbon
Brakes: Disc brakes
Gears: 2X11
Tires: 700 lb. X 35mm

The Scott Addict Gravel 10 Bike is a high end adventure bike designed to offer you riding versatility in different terrains. Its build incorporates an HMF carbon frame and a tapered carbon steerer, which are light, sturdy, and transmit power well. It is powered by a 24-speed SRAM Force AXS drivetrain, 46/33T SRAM Force CRANKSET, and 10-33 SRAM Force XG1270. It utilizes SRAM Force eTap AXS HRD shift-brake system. Its derailleur hanger is replaceable. It has 35mm wheel clearance with a maximum load capacity of 700lb.

This bicycle’s design incorporates an oversized bottom bracket that allows for a connection of a downtube and tapered seat tube. It also has a tapered head tube and integrated bearings for enhanced torsional stiffness. The Scott Addict Gravel 10 adventure bicycle is available in 5 size options: XS49, S52, M54, L56, and XL58.

Pros

  • Elegant design and quality build
  • Performs excellently in steep downhill and uphill
  • Lightweight and sturdy
  • Replaceable derailleur hanger
  • Enhanced torsional stiffness
  • Available in 4 sizes

Cons

  • The tires are quite fragile
  • Does not have rack eyelets

Conclusion

An adventure bike is the suitable choice if you are looking for a bike that does well on-road and off-road. If you think you’ll use it off road a great deal, then you can also consider one that’s dual sport.

Regardless, when choosing, go for a bike that’s lightweight, sturdy, and high performance. If you are keen about a bike that can carry heavier loads, opt for one that has rack eyelets.

An electric bike offers you fast acceleration, so it may be ideal for dynamic and sporty riding. Otherwise, the regular adventure bike offers adequate speed and gear shifting for commuting and touring.

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