What a year this has been! Nothing could hold back the bike industry in 2020, releasing off some of the most innovative bikes of all time. If you think it can’t get any better, you won’t want to miss this overview! We’ve summarised the highlights of the GRAN FONDO group tests for you here. Enjoy!
Once again, our (group) tests produced exciting results and well-founded buyers’ advice – especially since we tested the bikes in real-world conditions and their natural habitats. Accordingly, we didn’t only ask ourselves which road bike will help you clock the fastest time but also the best time. In our gravel bike group test, we found out which bike is the perfect gravel all-rounder for the coming season and which models best serve a niche market. If you are wondering which bikepacking bike is the ideal companion for your upcoming adventures and what were the most relevant new releases of 2020, we’ve got the answers you’re looking for.
The best gravel bike on test – 13 bikes in direct comparison
In search of the best gravel bike of 2021, we put 13 of the hottest models in a head-to-head test. How much does a good gravel bike cost? Which is the best model for me and which is the best all-rounder? In search of answers to these questions, we rode out over the horizon.
Just riding off into the distance without having to worry about whether your bike will be up to the task or not. This is becoming a priority for more and more riders and gravel bikes promise to do just that! As all-rounders, there’s almost no obstacle big enough to stop them, building a bridge between paved roads and natural terrain. We put the 13 most exciting models of the 2021 season to the test and found out which bike is the best all-rounder. In a segment as diverse as the gravel bike market, you’re guaranteed to find a model that suits you. However, you’ll have to be honest with yourself about what you need your bike for, as after navigating all the different categories, you’ll still find huge differences between bikes marketed for the same purpose. But do this and find the right bike, you’ll see a whole new world of possibilities open up before you. Fortunately, our group test is here to help make your decision a whole lot easier and explains in layman’s terms which bike will suit you.
A quick overview of this group test: The best gravel bike 2021
How do you navigate the jungle of different models, constant new releases and special offers to find the bike that suits your personal riding style best? Our detailed gravel bike buyer’s guide is here to take a load off and help you decide which bike to buy.
The best gravel bike of 2021 – OPEN WI.DE.
In a head-to-head race with the Specialized Diverge, the OPEN WI.DE. ultimately prevailed and won the test, having gone up against 13 of the hottest gravel bikes of 2021. Why? The OPEN is the ultimate all-rounder and doesn’t have any significant weaknesses in any situation. Andy Kessler and Gerard Vroomen’s gravel bike offers a balanced level of compliance and damping, all without anyone having to invent a proprietary damping system. With its intuitive and balanced handling, all gravellers from beginners to professionals will get their money’s worth. After the bike didn’t deliver an entirely convincing performance in our previous group test due to its build with the 650 x 54B wheel setup, the updated specs of the limited Pistachio Edition OPEN WI.DE are 99.9% perfect. With a paint scheme designed by tire manufacturer Ultradynamico, this build will be long sold out by the time you read this, but you can find a detailed list of components in our review. Thanks to OPEN’s unpainted option, you can go full-custom with the look of your dream bike without being limited to the stock paint options. What more could a graveller want?
Our gravel Best Buy – ROSE BACKROAD AL GRX RX600 1X11
The GRAN FONDO Best Buy goes to the ROSE BACKROAD AL GRX RX600 1X11. Priced at only € 1,799, you get a lot of bike for the money! With its extremely stable handling and comfortable riding position, it shines not only on gravel excursions but also serves well as an everyday commuter thanks to bosses and eyelets for mudguards, bottle cages, racks and a stand. Occasional gravellers, multi-sport athletes who also have other hobbies, or gravellers on a budget will find a reliable bike with intuitive handling that instils you with confidence and feels comfortable both on- and off-road.
The best road bike of 2020 – 13 high-carat road bikes in review
What’s the best road bike in 2020? During our search for the ultimate all-rounder, we tested 13 exclusive road bikes on Mallorca with the help of Miguel Indurain. Are you ready for some high-speed fun? Then you’re in the right place.
In the “good old days”, a bike with drop bars was something reserved for athletes and ambitious riders. The idea of road bikes and cycling was firmly established as a performance-oriented pursuit and clearly demarcated as such. Over time, like many things, that culture has changed, adapted and become more liberal. Today it’s just as acceptable to follow the hardcore, traditional etiquette of the Velominati as it is to define your own idea of what cycling should be about. Look at the road bikes in this group test and you’ll quickly realise that our test field is just as diverse as the current cycling scene. Using the Balearic road bike Mecca of Mallorca as our base, we tasked ourselves with finding the best all-round road bike for 2020. We can tell you about the strengths and weaknesses of every bike in our test, which bike fits which rider and what it’s really all about when it comes to your road bike.
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best road bike of 2020 – 13 high-carat road bikes in review
The best road bike of 2020 – Argon 18 Krypton Pro
From the underdog to the frontrunner: the Argon 18 Krypton proved itself in our group test and can enjoy the champagne shower at the finish line. What does this bike have that all the other dream bikes in our group test didn’t?
In the end, the Argon 18 stood out thanks to a perfectly balanced and considered package. It doesn’t show any weaknesses worth mentioning and revealed itself to be a highly specialist all-rounder. The modern geometry offers a compact riding position which, combined with the balanced level of comfort between the front and rear is perfect for long rides. The road bike from the Canadian brand efficiently maintains its speed, handles predictably and provides endless amounts of fun on the descents. Last but not least, the 3D Plus system impressed us in many ways. It’s a technically sound solution that allows you to fine tune the fit of the bike and also cleans up its look. Our testers unanimously decided that this bike can be recommended to anyone and everyone without exception, whether it’s beginners, advanced or even pro riders – and that’s exactly what we were looking for.
Our road Best Buy – ROSE REVEAL SIX
The fresh ROSE REVEAL SIX is another newcomer to the road bike stage. How did this brand new road bike from the German direct-to-consumer brand win our Best Buy award, right off the bat?
“It’s a rocket this thing!” and “My god, that was unexpected!” were just two of many surprised utterances from our testers after taking the ROSE REVEAL out for a spin. Having already received many nods of approval with its looks, it also proved very convincing on the roads of Mallorca. The playful character of the ROSE guarantees good times on the descents. While climbing, it also scores highly thanks to its light-footedness and efficiency. With a high level of comfort, a fantastic ride and a price-performance ratio that is hard to beat, the youngest bike in the stable of direct-consumer-brand ROSE is the Best Buy in our group test.
The best bikepacking bike on review – 12 all-rounders from gravel to mountain bikes head to head
Bikepacking and heading out to enjoy nature on two wheels are more popular than ever before. We went in search of a bike that offers the perfect combination of long-distance suitability, versatility and baggage hauling ability. After hundreds of kilometres and numerous nights outdoors, will it be a gravel bike at the top of the podium or will the full-suspension mountain bike surprise us all?
In our opinion, a bicycle is the best tool to leave everyday life behind and experience the outdoors. There is a clear trend towards domestic holidays, or at least staying on your own continent. There’s no doubt that bikepacking trips in Southeast Asia remain alluring and the Rocky Mountains will always attract visitors with their untouched nature and breathtaking landscapes. However, take a look around and you’ll quickly notice that there are some incredibly worthwhile holiday destinations waiting for you much closer to home. At the moment, we can’t fly around the world as we used to be able to for years anyway. Do you really need one long-haul flight every year to go on vacation or can a short journey not do the trick, allowing you to experience at least as much? A bikepacking bike is the best tool for this. Whether you take your car to the starting point, head out of the city by train or start directly from your front door, your bike will never let you down. It is one of the most ecologically sustainable ways of travelling and will take you to almost any point on your destination bucket list. So what are you waiting for?
For an overview of the test fleet head to the group test: The best bikepacking bike in review
The best bikepacking bike of 2020 – Salsa Cutthroat GRX 600
With its composed, predictable and balanced handling and high level of comfort, the Salsa Cutthroat quickly conquered the hearts of our test riders. The generous tire clearances and the frame’s clever features prove that the designers gave a lot of thought to how this bike can be optimised for the needs of bikepackers. Its excellent vibration damping and the almost infinite number of mounting options for luggage and gear make it the perfect bikepacking bike!
Our Best Buy on review – Bombtrack Hook 2
The Bombtrack Hook 2 surprised us: despite the comparatively narrow tires, it offers a pleasant level of comfort, especially on compact surfaces and asphalt. If you’re going to avoid roots anyway, you get balanced handling, extremely robust components and multiple mounting points at a very fair price. The Hook 2 cuts a fine figure on the way to work as well as on short overnighters or several week-long bikepacking trips – our Best Buy!
The most exciting new bikes of 2020 – Our review highlights
Without a doubt, our extensive and detailed group tests are the focus of our work. Our experienced test team provides you with the best possible advice to guide and help you find the right bike for you. Besides, we regularly have the privilege of testing the hottest new releases the bike industry has in store long before they’re officially presented to the public. That way we can give you our impression of the bike as soon as it’s launched, and you can decide whether it could make for an exciting alternative for you or not. Here are this year’s highlights!
On test: Specialized S-Works Aethos – 6 kg road bike dream come true?
Specialized present the new S-Works Aethos road bike, promising pure riding pleasure. Far off from race numbers and checkered flags, the Aethos is all about unforgettable experiences – and it weighs just 6 kg! Read on to find out whether Specialized deliver on this promise and how the bike fares on the roads of South Tyrol!
Canyon Aeroad CFR 9 Di2 on test – The aerodynamic comeback
After four years in development, Canyon present the Canyon Aeroad CFR road bike for which they reached deep into their bag of tricks. The new flagship aero bike features a folding handlebar, recessed seat post and mixed tires. Will this deliver actual performance benefits or have Canyon missed the mark? Read on to find out!
2021 MERIDA REACTO in review – An aerodynamic jack of all trades?
With the 2021 REACTO, MERIDA present the latest evolution of their aero bike. To find out what its strengths and weaknesses are, we let the Bahrain McLaren team spec bike compete against a Porsche 911 on the roads of the Black Forest.
Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 in review – The future of high-performance bikes?
Specialized’s new S-Works Tarmac SL7 road bike promises to be the perfect choice for gruelling mountain stages as well as fast finish-line sprints. Is it possible to combine aerodynamics with lightweight frame construction to create the perfect all-round weapon for World Tour stages?
2021 Trek Émonda SLR 9 eTap road bike first ride review – An aerodynamic climber
Trek’s flagship 2021 Émonda SLR 9 eTap model is the third generation of the American brand’s climbing specialist. With a completely new frame, a new Bontrager cockpit and wheels, the latest model also promises to deliver on flat terrain. Read on to find out whether Trek have mastered the balancing act between aerodynamics and light weight and how it compares to the Madone.
BMC Teammachine SLR01 ONE 2021 first ride review – hill-climber in peak form
You’ve signed up for the Öztaler but during a training ride a month before you notice that you’ve only managed 4,000 of the 5,500 metres ascending planned for the race. If so, the BMC Teammachine SLR01 might be your saviour! You can find out how the Swiss bike performed in our first ride review here.
GIANT TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc 2021 first ride review – the perfect platform for a Grand Tour win?
The GIANT TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc is the top model from the uncompromisingly race-focussed lineup of one of the biggest manufacturers in the world. Does the TCR join the ranks of the quickest bikes that have the mettle to win the biggest races?
Specialized S-Work Diverge 2021 gravel bike first ride review – the perfect getaway vehicle?
The new Specialized Diverge gravel bike is here, almost exactly 30 years after the first of its ‘forebears’ was released. How has the geometry changed in all those years and can the Diverge be both the perfect getaway vehicle and Haribo transporter? During our first ride review, we flogged it across the gravel tracks around Girona!
Cannondale Topstone Carbon Lefty 1 2021 first ride review – gravelling on cloud 9?
Cannondale have equipped their Topstone gravel platform with a suspension fork for the new Topstone Carbon Lefty 1. Can this scintillating bike convince us on the trails and do small 650B wheels fit the overall concept? You can find all the details and our first ride review here.
ROSE BACKROAD 2020 first ride review – a direct-to-consumer gravel disco
ROSE have announced their 2020 BACKROAD gravel bike with a brand new frame and design. It’s designed to be a true gravel all-rounder and even turn its hand to moderate trails. We’ve been ragging the BACKROAD across all the gravel we can find to test it for you.
Evil Chamois Hagar on review – the borderline gravel bike
The Evil Chamois Hagar is the most progressive gravel bike we’ve ever ridden! In our exclusive first ride review, we find out whether you can still corner with a 66.67° head angle and how the Evil compares to a mountain bike.
Words: Benjamin Topf Photos: GRAN FONDO Crew