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Top 5 Gravel : sélection The Cyclist House

In this Article

Bikes Gravel 2023: The Cyclist House presents its top 5

In this Article

Published on 15 February 2024

Gravel bikes continue to gain popularity among cycling enthusiasts, offering exceptional versatility for exploring a variety of terrains, from paved roads to gravel trails to dirt paths. Many manufacturers have released premium gravel bike models, combining advanced technologies with innovative design to provide an unparalleled cycling experience. In this article, we will explore the top 5 gravel bikes of the year 2023, highlighting their unique features and remarkable performance.

Orbea Terra

Range Overview

The Orbea Terra range offers both aluminum (H) and carbon (M) gravel bikes with specific geometry for this type of bike. It's the ideal bike for adventures on various terrains: roads, country lanes, trails, and forest tracks, it will follow you everywhere. To provide you with maximum enjoyment on your rides, Terra gravel bikes have been designed to strike the perfect balance between maneuverability, speed, and comfort.
With its entry-level model, the Terra H40 starting from €1,999 on one hand, and its flagship model, the Terra M21e Team 1X at €5,499 on the other hand, Orbea offers a wide range of gravel bikes that are particularly affordable compared to American manufacturers.

Our Preferred Model: the Orbea M31eTeam

The Orbea Terra M31eTEAM 1X offers an exceptional balance between precise maneuverability and optimal control. The frame is made of carbon, making it lightweight and rigid for optimal pedaling efficiency. Additionally, it features a hidden storage compartment in the down tube, behind the bottle cage. This space allows you to discreetly carry a spare inner tube, pump, CO2 cartridge, and a selection of tools. Equipped with a single chainring and the SRAM Rival eTap AXS 12-speed electronic shifting system, it's a reliable bike that ensures quick and smooth gear changes.


Thanks to its gravel-specific geometry and carbon frame, this Orbea Terra offers you a responsive ride.


In order to ride on all terrains for extended periods, it's necessary to have a comfortable gravel bike. Orbea understands this very well, which is why they have designed a suitable frame: the bottom of the seat tube, near the bottom bracket, has been reinforced for increased rigidity while ensuring better vibration absorption and optimal comfort.

Moreover, the frame is made of OMR carbon which is a highly resistant high-module fiber.
Tire clearance, meaning the space between the fork and the tire, has also been designed to optimize your sensations. Indeed, on this model, it's possible to use both 700x45c tires for speed and efficiency on tracks, as well as 650bx50 tires for ultimate resistance and peak comfort.


On a gravel bike, weight is not necessarily the top priority if you primarily want to have fun and explore new trails. As mentioned above, having a comfortable gravel bike seems to be the priority. Now, if you're doing gravel riding in a more competitive or long-distance context like crossing mountain ranges, this can be something to consider before acquiring one. Here the Orbea Terra M31eTeam weighs 9.3kg. It's not the lightest gravel bike on the market nor the heaviest. It sits in between. On a gravel bike, what influences weight are the wheels and the accessories you can add (saddlebag, lights, etc.)


You can find this Orbea between €3,500 and €4,200. This is a model above €3,000, it's not a bike that can be considered entry-level, but rather mid-range. This price is explained notably by the fact that it's the carbon version, but also by its high-end SRAM Rival eTap AXS components.

What we remember: The Orbea Terra is an ideal choice for cyclists looking for a versatile and high-performing bike.

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Orbea Gravel Bike Model

Cannondale Topstone Carbon

Range Overview

The Cannondale brand is now well known in the gravel world. Available in 14 models, each frame is carbon. Prices range from €2,950 with the entry-level TopStone Carbon 4 to €7,799 for the Carbon 1 Lefty model.
These bikes are designed for adventures on gravel roads, forest trails, and less maintained roads, offering versatility and performance for cyclists eager to explore.

Our Preferred Model: the Cannondale Topstone Carbon Rival AXS

As its name suggests, the Topstone Carbon Rival AXS uses a carbon fiber frame, making it lightweight and rigid while providing some shock absorption for more comfort on bumpy roads. Every detail of the frame has been carefully crafted, with shapes that stretch and refine elegantly. Equipped with the SRAM Rival AXS groupset, this bike offers wireless transmission with a wide range of speeds to tackle steep climbs and varied gravel terrain. The AXS electronic transmission provides fast, precise, and effortless gear changes.


Accelerations with the Topstone Carbon Rival AXS are sharp, almost cutting, and the Kingpin rear suspension system doesn't seem to absorb the rider's energy in any way. On the contrary, it feels like benefiting from a frame that is both performant and easy to handle, which doesn't require spending thousands of watts to get the best out of it, thanks to perfectly balanced rigidity. Cannondale has integrated a flexible seatpost into the Topstone to absorb terrain vibrations, providing increased comfort to the rider. However, the American brand has provided the option to mount a 27.2 mm diameter dropper seatpost, further enhancing the versatility of this model.

If the call of adventure inspires you, the Topstone Carbon Rival AXS will meet your needs. Cannondale has equipped it with numerous fittings dedicated to luggage transport. It features mounts for two bottle cages, located on the seat tube and the down tube, as well as a mount for a spare inner tube (provided as standard) and another on the top tube.


For gravel cyclists looking for a comfortable bike without the extra weight or complexity of a shock absorber, its suspension provides the ideal solution. Whether you want to cover longer distances with more comfort, benefit from better grip to push yourself to the limit, or enjoy the flexibility to take advantage of the latest technological advances, this model is ideal. Also equipped with the SmartSense system (intelligent lighting and rear radar), Cannondale's Rival AXS is a true road companion.


With a weight of 9.9 kg, the Cannondale Topstone Rival AXS is not exactly a lightweight for a high-end gravel bike. However, as soon as you pick it up, it immediately gives a feeling of lightness and dynamism.


Ranked among high-end bikes, its price ranges from €5,500 for a new model to €4,399 for the refurbished used model.


What we remember: the Cannondale Topstone Carbon Rival AXS is appreciated for its riding position and geometry. It's one of the gravel bikes that feels the best. Therefore, it's particularly enjoyable to ride for long periods at the helm of this machine.

 A brief mention for two other favorites from the Cannondale range:

  • The Topstone LTD (Aluminum) offers excellent value for money. It's not short of advantages thanks to the lightness of its SmartForm C2 aluminum frame and its all-carbon fork.
  • The Carbon 4 featuring a Shimano GRX 400 transmission group with a 2 x 10-speed, a 46-30 tooth double chainring, and an 11-36 tooth cassette offers great adaptability to various gravel terrains. It's also very stable thanks to its Outfront geometry. The Kingpin suspension technology improves comfort and traction.

Discover our range of reconditioned Cannondale bikes

Cannondale Topstone Carbon Rival AXS

LOOK Gravel

Range Overview

For over 70 years, Look has been a pioneer in the cycling world. Originating the first automatic pedals and carbon frames, this renowned French company leverages its expertise in gravel biking. Today, the range consists of 6 models ranging from the 765 Gravel model priced at €2,490 to the 765 Gravel RS model at €6,100.

Our Preferred Model: Look 765 Gravel RS

Is the LOOK 765 Gravel RS a gravel bike or a road bike? In reality, it sits somewhere between the two, offering impressive versatility. It performs equally well on asphalt as on rough trails.


Its well-thought-out geometry gives it true adaptability. Although the bike may seem demanding at first due to its responsiveness, it rewards effort with dynamic performance. The carbon frame fulfills its function perfectly, offering both rigidity and effective filtering of terrain irregularities. The frame is custom-designed by combining various types of carbon depending on the frame's stress points, with a composition of 35% high modulus carbon (HM), 40% intermediate modulus carbon (IM), 10% high-strength carbon (HR), and 15% specific fibers. The bike is equipped with a thick-legged carbon fork capable of accommodating tires up to 42 mm wide (700) or 54 mm (650).


Aesthetically, the whole presents a beautiful harmony, although there is a clear distinction between the front, which is more imposing, and the rear, which is slimmer. The asymmetrical chainstays have been integrated to reinforce stiffness and prevent chain jamming on the transmission side. The seat stays meet directly on the seat tube, seeming to wrap around the down tube, without any junction between them, a concept that LOOK refers to as "DESIGN 3D WAVE." This design not only improves comfort but also promotes better grip on the ground, avoiding any undesirable rebound effect.


At 8.6 kg, this Racing Sport model is the lightest high-end Carbon composition. The LOOK 765 Gravel RS excels both in long, wide corners and in narrow, winding passages. Its responsiveness is also felt in every pedal stroke.


This bike is definitely a high-end model with a price tag around €6,100 for a new model or €3,899 for a refurbished one.

Key Takeaway: Performance-oriented, this bike definitely makes the cyclist comfortable in all usage conditions.

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LOOK 765 Gravel RS

Trek Checkpoint

Range Overview

Checkpoint gravel bikes are specially designed for gravel racing, touring, and other outdoor adventures. Offered in SLR carbon versions for racing, SL for touring, and ALR aluminum, they provide exceptional comfort for gravel rides, daily commutes, and more.

Our Top Pick: Trek Checkpoint ALR 5

The Trek Checkpoint ALR 5 is the Swiss Army knife of gravel bikes. Whether you're a road cyclist looking to venture into less familiar terrain or a beginner seeking a versatile bike, this model is for you.


Its frame features Trek's lightest aluminum while maintaining some robustness. The design is sleek, without frills.
The Shimano GRX groupset dedicated to Gravel allows the bike to adapt to more demanding terrain. The crank arms vary depending on the frame size from 165 to 175 mm. The maximum chainring is 1 by 44 teeth with SRAM and 50 teeth or 50 by 34 with Shimano. The bike comes with a Shimano 105 cassette of 11 by 34 teeth offering a wide range of gears for all types of terrain. It is equipped with ergonomic levers and derailleurs with integrated clutch to maintain chain tension, even on rough paths.


This is a bike designed for performance. Its geometry promises both stability and responsiveness. It is also equipped with multiple mounting points for comfortable bikepacking. The stem and handlebar offer ergonomic geometry, ideal for preserving your comfort. Its Bontrager GR1 700 x 40 mm tires will allow you to ride on roads or rocky paths with equal ease. And its clearance capability allows you to fit tires up to 45 mm.


A minor drawback is its weight of 9.75 kg, which can be felt on steep climbs.


Aluminum frame coupled with a carbon fork gives it an excellent value for money.

Key Takeaway: This bike is an excellent option for those seeking a versatile bike. Reliable and performant, it can adapt to a multitude of terrains.

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Specialized Diverge

Range Overview

Specialized is an iconic brand in the cycling world. The Diverge range is wide enough to enjoy an entry-level model at €1,300 with the Diverge E5 up to €14,000 for the S-Works Diverge. In terms of comfort, high-end models are equipped with the Future Shock 2.0, an adjustable hydraulic damping. You can thus increase or decrease its support according to the state of the road. This solution provides ease and confidence to the rider.

Our Top Pick: Specialized Diverge Comp E5


With the Specialized Diverge, it's not the bike that's suspended, but its rider. You'll be perfectly comfortable on the most rugged trails. However, if you have more power than what this model can offer you, we recommend changing your chainring and the cassette at the rear to climb better and descend much faster.
The bike is equipped with a Shimano SLX 11-speed transmission groupset in 11-42 which allows smooth and reliable gear changes.
The bike is compatible with 47 mm tires across the entire range, from the aluminum Diverge E5 to the Diverge S-Works.


Its Future Shock absorber provides 15 mm of travel for improved control. The rider is thus isolated from high-frequency vibrations while maintaining a rigid chassis for responsive handling. On asphalt, you will appreciate this bike, which is particularly comfortable, as well as on all types of terrain. You can ride for 2 hours or go on a week-long bikepacking trip with equal ease.


Its weight of 10 kg can be felt during accelerations or on steep climbs.


With an aluminum frame and carbon fork, it offers excellent value for money, at €2,700 for a new model and up to 40% cheaper for the refurbished version.

Key Takeaway: It is perfectly stable downhill and can even forgive some piloting errors. It's hard to be disappointed with this bike.

Discover our refurbished Specialized bikes

Specialized Diverge


Ultimately, which gravel bike to choose?


Orbea Terra M31e TEAM 1X
Cannondale Topstone Carbon
LOOK 765 Gravel RS
Trek Checkpoint
Diverge Comp E5
+ + + +
Comfort + + + - -
Weight - - + - -
Price - - - + +


For us, the Look proves to be the best choice as it ticks all the boxes in terms of maneuverability, comfort, and weight; it's very comfortable, lightweight, and suitable for performance-oriented individuals. The only downside might be its price, which is a bit higher than the other models, but apparently when you love something, you don't count 🫣
In second place, we put the Cannondale Topstone Carbon for its versatility, the brand's craftsmanship, and the various accessory options that can be added.
Finally, to complete, we choose the Trek Checkpoint for its value for money, a good choice for people who want to indulge without pretension and without breaking the bank 💰

In summary, the gravel bikes of 2023 offer exceptional performance and remarkable versatility for cyclists of all levels. Whether you're an adventure enthusiast looking for new horizons or an urban cyclist seeking freedom, there's a gravel bike perfectly suited to your needs and preferences. Discover the reconditioned gravel bike that suits you at The Cyclist House and save up to 60% compared to the new price. All that's left is to discover the joy of riding off the beaten path and explore the world around you.

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