The best women’s gravel bikes will take you down the path less travelled and onto almost any terrain you want, thanks to their wider tyres and built-in compliance for a shock-absorbing and vibration-damping off-road adventure. With round-two of the UK Lockdown in full force, there's no better time to explore your own backyard on a bike.
Gravel cycling has been booming for a while now, and for good reason: with the ability to cover multiple terrains while retaining much of the efficiency and low rolling resistance of a road bike, a gravel bike can be the key to having your next great adventure. Be sure to check out our gravel ride essentials checklist, grab some women’s gravel cycling kit and gravel bike shoes, and put those gravel tyres to the ultimate test.
Not all women’s gravel bikes are created equal however, and there’s a huge amount of choice available. Whether you want to slip and slide in the mud for an afternoon or spend a couple of weeks racing across the country loaded up with bikepacking bags, there’s something to suit everyone, so we’ve rounded up our pick of the best women’s gravel bikes to help you choose what’s right for you.
If you’re not sure what you need, head on down to our handy guide on what to look for in a women’s gravel bike.
The best women's gravel bikes
A backcountry bikepacking rig to pedal into the wilderness
Gears: Shimano GRX 1x11 | Brakes: Hydraulic disc | Claimed weight: 8.36kg | RRP: £2,399
Liv Cycling is one of the only women’s specialist bike brands in the world, using global body dimensions data to design their range completely from the ground up, for women’s unique physiology.
Earlier this year it released the Devote, the brand’s first foray into the world of gravel bikes, and it was a show-stopping debut. The Devote delivers a smooth and sprightly ride on both tarmac and loose terrain while inspiring confidence when things get really rough.
The Devote range features builds that are likely to appeal to different people. The Advanced 1 is a backcountry bikepacking rig straight out of the box, with a Giant Contact Switch dropper post and 700x45c tubeless Maxxis Rambler tyres. Meanwhile, if you’re more inclined to race for days or weeks at a time, you should definitely check out the Liv Devote Advanced Pro, which is more of a sure-footed speed machine.
Cannondale Topstone 2 W
Balanced geometry and comfort for the long haul
Gears: Shimano GRX 400 2x10 | Brakes: Hydraulic disc | Claimed weight: 10kg | RRP: £1,299.99
The Cannondale Topstone W is designed to offer a comfortable and stable ride, with relaxed geometry that encourages a balanced riding position. The Shimano GRX 2x10 gearing provides a decent range of gears to help you traverse various gradients, while there are plenty of mounts for accessories. There’s room for multiple bottle cages, with the option for several positions on the down tube so you can squeeze in a frame bag if you want, plus mounts for top tube storage.
The 37mm wide WTB Riddler tyres are narrower than the stock tyres you’d usually expect to find on a gravel bike, but there’s clearance for up to 42mm, so you could easily swap them out with something more heavy-duty. Or to look at it another way, it could make a good transitional bike for a roadie who’s making her first foray into the world of gravel, easing the transition from narrow slicks. What’s more, it’s versatile enough to serve the purpose of a gravel bike, commuter bike and winter road bike.
Robust and aggro gravel bike with adaptable builds
Gears: SRAM Rival 1x11 | Brakes: Hydraulic disc | Claimed weight: 8.8kg | RRP: £3,699
This full-on carbon gravel bike from Juliana is designed to be robust and comfortable enough to take you all-day adventures off the beaten track. It’s really versatile, seeing as you can choose between 650b or 700c wheel options, and swap out the 1x drivetrain for a double if you’d prefer one.
Quincy is built to go all-in, with clearance for 45mm tyres on the 700c version and 2.1-inch tyres on the 650b version, making it an ideal rig for anyone looking to carve their way through muddy forest trails and traverse whatever terrain the landscape chooses to throw at them. The stock tyres are actually 40mm, and come in the form of aggressive Maxxis Ravager EXOs, which are set up tubeless from the start.
With a size range that fits rider heights from around 5’0 up to 5’9, Quincy can be a great choice for average-height and shorter riders but doesn’t quite fit the bill for those on the taller side. Geometry is designed to provide balance, stability and confident handling on rough terrain.
There are mounts for mudguards and three bottle cages, while the handlebar widths are tailored to match the frame size so that all bikes across the size range are in proportion.
Scott Contessa Addict Gravel 15
A racy carbon ‘groad’ machine best suited for competing
Gears: Shimano GRX RX810 | Brakes: Hydraulic disc | Claimed weight: 8.9kg | RRP: £2,549
The Scott Contessa Addict Gravel 15 is a gravel-ised version of the brand’s flagship endurance road bike. It’s nothing to be sniffed at, with premium materials and components, not to mention that lovely metallic-fade paint job. However, it’s definitely better suited for endurance racers and gravel riders whose priority is to go fast.
With a 2x11 GRX groupset, 35mm Schwalbe G-One Allround tyres and Syncros finishing kit, this bike straddles the fine line between road and gravel, with some aspects of its design leaning closer to the former. Compared to the geometry of other bikes in this list, the Contessa Addict Gravel 15 places the rider with quite a high centre of gravity, compromising some sense of stability in favour of efficiency and performance.
If you want to whip around your favourite loop without losing a chunk of the day, or if you’re racing across continents, then this is a strong contender. However, if you’re just wanting to get into gravel riding to explore your local area and head out on overnighters, this might be a bit too racy for the job.
Boardman ADV 8.6 Women
Entry-level women’s gravel bike for those new to the sport
Gears: Shimano Sora 2x9 | Brakes: Mechanical disc | Claimed weight: 10.5kg | RRP: £700
This entry-level adventure bike from Boardman looks great and performs well, while also remaining affordable in comparison to most other bikes on this list. The lightweight but strong aluminium frame is combined with a tapered carbon fork, offering a level of comfort while riding off-road.
The geometry is what Boardman calls ‘adventure-specific’, and essentially puts you in a more relaxed and upright position. This can be a little more forgiving when rolling over uneven surfaces, while the low bottom bracket offers a bit of stability when things get bumpy.
Gearing comes in the form of a 2x9 Shimano Sora drivetrain with an ‘adventure compact’ 48/32 chainset and 11-32 cassette, providing a decent range of gears to help you spin your way up most gradients while keeping traction on loose terrain.
38mm Schwalbe G-One Allround tyres offer a bit of extra cushioning, though may feel a little narrow on some of the more technical trails.
Canyon Grail 7 WMN
An agile gravel speedster to cover huge distances
Gears: Shimano GRX 600 1x11 | Brakes: Hydraulic disc | Claimed weight: 9.37 kg | RRP: £1,799
The Canyon Grail is designed to carry speed and cover distances like a road bike, while also remaining sure-footed and stable when the tarmac has long been left behind. The aluminium Grail 7 WMN features the Shimano GRX600 groupset, with a 1x drivetrain for simple and easy shifting when your mind needs to be elsewhere.
As with most of Canyon’s women-specific offerings, the Grail 7 WMN comes with a broad size range, going all the way down to XXS for the vertically challenged among us. Both XXS and XS frames come with 650b wheels to keep everything in proportion, so the ride handling is identical to the larger sizes.
Another great feature of the Grail 7 WMN is the premium gravel-specific DT Swiss wheelset, complete with a pair of tubeless easy Schwalbe G-One Bite tyres, with their low rolling resistance and incredible traction on loose surfaces.
What to look for in a women’s gravel bike
Since a gravel bike is designed to go off-road, there are certain features that you should look for to make sure that what you’re buying is capable of the kind of riding you’re planning to do. In terms of women-specific features, you would expect a women’s gravel bike to come with a women’s saddle, narrower handlebars and a wide range of sizes that accommodate shorter riders.
Here are some other factors to consider when choosing the right women’s gravel bike for you.
1. Tyre clearance
To cope with mud and looser surfaces, gravel bikes need to be able to fit wide tyres, which provide added comfort as well as traction off-road. On average, stock tyres on gravel bikes tend to be around 40mm in width, while most gravel bikes will have clearance for up to 45mm. Having said that, with a more inclusive range of sizes to accommodate smaller riders, it’s becoming increasingly common to scale down the wheel size to 650b, either to keep handling consistent across an entire range, or to increase tyre clearance. Some gravel bikes are equipped to take up to 2.1-inch tyres, making them especially suitable for muddy rides.
2. Low gearing
While everyone’s motives are different - some may be racing across continents while others are bimbling along bridleways - generally gravel bikes will feature lower gearing than road and cyclocross bikes. This is down to the fact that dirt tracks and unpaved paths come with more rolling resistance, while off-road climbs tend to be steeper. For many, the adventure also consists of loading up with bikepacking bags and carting a lot of belongings around, so it really makes sense for the lowest gears to be lower than usual. Because of this, you’ll generally find Shimano’s gravel-specific GRX groupset specced on most gravel bikes, as it offers fewer gear inches and therefore a spinnier lowest gear.
3. Mounting points
Gravel bikes are heavily associated with bikepacking and long-distance races, so it’s only natural that they should come with several mounting points for accessories like racks, mudguards, multiple bottle cages, and more. This might also include several options for bottle cage positioning, as well as mounts on the fork for a front rack and/or anything cages, which you can strap trunk bags or extra bottles of water too. If you’re planning to survive in the wilderness for a while, look for a gravel bike with lots of barnacles.
4. Gravel geometry
A gravel bike isn’t just a road bike with wider tyres, it also features its own geometry that’s tailored to riding a drop-bar bike off-road. This includes a slack head angle, which gives you more control while descending, a dropped bottom bracket to lower your centre of gravity, and longer chainstays to help with overall stability while loaded up with luggage. With a strong focus on stability, gravel bike geometry also tends to result in slower handling, making them ideal for laden adventures, but not always the snappiest bikes to navigate tight turns and twisty trails.
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