GO OFF ROAD WITH THREE OF THE BEST
A T THIS time of year, we’re either starting our training in earnest for spring, or we’re enjoying riding bikes for fun – no Garmin, no average speed or heart rate to worry about. Whichever camp you fall into, the three bikes we’ve tested here will enable you to keep riding in the great outdoors and save you from the sitting on a turbo trainer in a chilly garage.
Gravel bikes differ from out-and-out racing cyclocross bikes in a few important areas. They’re built for dispatching bridleways, fire roads, even moderately technical trails, and they offer a more relaxed frame geometry to enable this.
Their tyres are also fit for the purpose, owing to their tread pattern and varyingly wide diameters. Beyond this, if you fancy a weekend adventure, a gravel bike will sometimes feature lugs and mounts for luggage. Perfect for weekend blasts on the roads less travelled and hefting a one-person tent with overnight supplies. But which lets the least get in its way?
Firstly, the £949 Genesis CDA20 offers a rugged platform for tarmac-free riding. Its sturdy, aluminium construction is mated to wide 40mm diameter tyres, a durable groupset, and a host of practical touches, to make it a versatile machine.
Secondly, Giant’s £1,599 Anyroad Comax features a carbon-fibre frame, deeply treaded rubber and Shimano 105 groupset components. Built with the intention of providing confidence and comfort, it may cost more than the Genesis, but is it worth the extra outlay?
Thirdly, we have a bike that was the first model to make gravel bikes a mainstream concern. Specialized’s £1,100 Diverge Elite DSW features the manufacturer’s frame damping technology and a lightweight aluminium construction, yet the least deeply treaded tyres , which should have a benefit when not actually on the rough stuff. Can its lightweight approach to offroad trails still propel it to the top of the pile?
We set off into a wintry scene of degraded bridleway to put each to the test, and come to a conclusion.