Skip to main content

Gravel bike buyer's guide

Adventure begins here

From your first mile off pavement to your five-hundredth, gravel riding ignites something inside us that’s hard to tap into anywhere else. Whether you’re pursuing quiet miles away from town, far-off scenic horizons filled with laughter and friends, a new physical challenge, or something else entirely, we’ve got you covered with all the knowledge, bikes, and gravel gear you need to explore what’s waiting for you down the road less traveled.

What is gravel riding?

Gravel riding is a versatile style of cycling that fits neatly between road and mountain biking. It takes you off the beaten path over miles of multi-surface, unpaved, and rough roads. While it’s referred to as gravel riding, you’ll find that sturdy gravel steeds are eager to explore everything from dusty rail trails to steep and rocky fire roads — or even on wooded singletrack, if you dare.

What is a gravel bike anyway?

Gravel bikes are multi-surface bicycles built to explore millions of miles of unpaved roads that roll on long after the pavement ends. They find the balance between the off-road capability of a mountain bike and the quick-rolling, lightweight feel of a road bike, giving you every benefit you need to explore far beyond the pavement.

Anatomy of a gravel bike

rek Gravel Guide illustration mobile
Trek Gravel Guide illustration desktop

1. Long, stable geometry

Gravel bikes typically feature a longer wheelbase that helps elevate stability in rough terrain, and a slightly more open cockpit to boost comfort on long rides.

2. Tire clearance

To give you a boost of traction and comfort, gravel bikes typically offer more clearance for higher-volume (38c-45c), knobbier tires than those used for road bikes

3. Mounts for bags & cages

Gravel rides can take you far away from resources like water, bikes shops, and even cell service, so many gravel bikes come with mounts for cages, racks, and bags that let you load up with all the essentials you might need for the long-haul. Some even feature internal frame storage for stashing tools and gear!

Gravel bikes vs road bikes

Find out what sets them apart

Types of gravel surfaces

All Road image


A little bit of everything. Smooth tarmac, rough pavement, rugged cobbles, and light gravel. Bikes for all-road riding should accept tires 32c-38c wide.

Gravel image


Roads and paths with mixed surfaces ranging from hard-packed dirt to deep, loose gravel, and dusty, rocky terrain. Gravel riding is best done with tires 35c-45c wide.

Bikes made for the kind of gravel you’re chasing

No matter the kind of gravel surface you ride or the goals you’re chasing, we’ve got you covered with gravel bikes for every kind of gravel riding and terrain.

Gravel bikes

Best for: Light gravel, rough gravel, and light singletrack

Ready for the rougher stuff? Pure gravel riding involves minimal time spent on pavement and maximum time on gravel, dirt roads and light singletrack. Bikes that are purpose-built for gravel prioritize stable geometry, tire clearance, comfort, and mounts for gear.

Checkpoint bike image


Checkpoint is the ultimate drop bar gravel bike for big adventures, gravel racing, and bikepacking.

  • Up to 45mm (2.1 in) tire clearance

  • Progressive geometry that balances quick handling with comfort

  • Flared gravel handlebar for comfort on the long haul

  • Tons of mounts for bags and racks

All-road bikes

Best for: Light gravel, pavement, and mixed surfaces

All-road riding lets you choose your adventure. Bikes built for all-road offer a handful of benefits both from gravel and road bikes, like extra tire clearance and a lightweight build that gives you versatility wherever you ride.

Domane bike image


Domane is a drop bar all-road bike built for mixed-surface rides that roll anywhere from ancient cobbles to crushed gravel.

  • Up to 38mm tire clearance

  • Comfortable geometry for all-day rides
FX Sport bike image

FX Sport

FX sport is a flat bar all-road bike perfect for riding pavement and gravel paths, or even touring.

  • Up to 40mm tire clearance

  • Upright, comfort-focused riding position.

  • Mounts for bags and a rack

Electric all-road & gravel bikes

Best for: Light gravel, rough gravel, and pavement with electric assist

Want to explore what’s beyond the pavement with a little boost? Electric gravel bikes give you all the capability and versatility of a traditional gravel bike, plus welcome support that keeps you feeling fresh through long off road miles and up steep, winding climbs.

Domane+ bike image


Get all-road and gravel capability with an electric boost on the Domane+. These drop-bar electric bikes help you ride farther and faster wherever you roam.

  • Models range from 38mm all-road to 40mm gravel tire clearance

  • Support for speeds of 20-28mph, depending on model

Cyclocross bikes

Best for: Dirt, mud, grass, and sand

Go beyond the road and onto muddy CX courses, grassy hills, sand pits, and winding trails. Cyclocross bikes are made for racing, with aggressive geometry that keeps you in a powerful riding position and clearance for knobby tires that bite into mud and dirt.

Boone 6 bike image


Boone is a lightweight carbon cyclocross race machine for hopping hurdles and ripping through grass, mud, and sand.

  • Up to 38mm tire clearance

  • Cross-specific geometry and vibration-damping tech for power, control, and comfort.

What size gravel bike do I need?

The perfect bike fit will keep you cruising the choppy stuff with composure and comfort. Find out what size bike is the best fit for you with Trek’s bike size finder.

When you’re saddled up on a go-anywhere, do-anything gravel bike, you need gear that’s made to handle it all. Browse our selection of gravel bike equipment to find everything you need, like compact multi-tools that fit in your back pocket, helmets and shoes to keep you covered from head to toe, and bar tape to soak up the chatter from rough roads and keep you feeling fresh all day.

Adventure bags image

Adventure bags

Bike bags should have all the capability and gear storage you need to get outside — and stay there. Whether you are gravel riding, bikepacking, touring, or anything in between, Adventure Bags are ready to load up with rugged, waterproof protection for your gear, and clever mounting systems that can even bolt directly to some Trek models, like checkpoint.

Tires image

What kind of tires do I need?

Tires are a surprisingly personal choice for your bike and picking the right ones will help you have the most fun on every gravel ride. From puncture protection to grip and size, many factors play a role in your perfect tire choice. A good rule to start with is, the rougher the gravel, the bigger the tire you want — just make sure they fit your wheels and bike.

How to start your gravel adventure

Pavement ends — adventure begins

Whether you’re just getting started riding off-road, ready to sign up for your first gravel race, or looking for tips on how to load up for gravel bikepacking adventures, we’ve got you covered. Explore our tips, tricks, and guides for the best gravel rides.

Where can I ride gravel?

There are over a million miles of unpaved roads across the United States alone. Find out where you can find the best gravel rides near you, or incredible rides you can explore on your next gravel getaway. Adventure is waiting for you.

Gravel bikepacking & touring

Got an unquenchable thirst for adventure? Bikepacking and touring is your answer. Ride far beyond the beaten path and camp under the starts on bikes built to load up and roll way, way out there.

Welcome to your next big adventure

Shop all gravel bikes online or in-store.