With wider tyres, disc brakes, and the facility to fit mudguards and a rack, a ‘gravel bike’ is a much better bet for commuting than a standard road bike.
Sometimes bike designers take a ‘shrink it and pink approach’ to women’s bikes. This own-brand bike from Evans is as sober as the men’s model and it’s every bit as good. Despite being an entry-level bike in adventure road bike terms, it has a carbon bladed fork, Shimano Sora 2x9 gearing, and dual-piston Tektro Spyre disc brakes that should need less ongoing adjustment. The compact aluminium frame is well thought out, with clearance for pothole-resistant 35mm tyres and full mudguards – or 45mm tyres without.
Cyclescheme Price: £600.70*
Listed as a road bike by Whyte, this women’s-specific Somerset is fundamentally an adventure road bike. The main difference is that Whyte have fitted commuter-ready 28mm road tyres instead of cyclocross tyres, saving you the trouble of doing so. The aluminium frame and fork employ gender-neutral colouring, so the Somerset might suit short blokes too. Like many gravel bikes, it has a slightly smaller chainset than a road bike – 48-32 versus 50-34 – and Whyte go a welcome step further by fitting the largest cassette a Sora derailleur allows: 11-34. It’s great news for hills.
Cyclescheme Price: £628.25*
The Croix de Fer, named after a pass in the French Alps, was one of the earliest bikes to make the design leap from dedicated cyclocross bike to do-it-all road bike. The 10 is the cheapest model. It’s heavier than the other bikes here because its frame and fork are chromoly steel, but steel has advantages too: it takes hard knocks better than carbon and it’s more resilient than aluminium. The CdF 10 has the same dual-pistol Spyre brakes as the Pinnacle and its 2x9 Sora gearing is graced with the same range-extending 11-34 cassette as the Whyte. Tyres are 35mm.
Cyclescheme Price: £675.79*
The aluminium CrossRip’s cyclocross heritage is acknowledged in its name but it has the usual gravel bike tweaks: a lower bottom bracket, making it easier to get a toe down; longer chain stays, so panniers are more practical; a slacker head angle for more stable steering; and a taller head tube for a less head-down riding position. The 2x9 Sora gears marry a 48-32 chainset with an 11-32 cassette to give a decent range. Brakes are those familiar Tektro Spyres. The rims are tubeless ready, so you could upgrade to faster-rolling, self-sealing tyres in time.
Cyclescheme Price: £713.33*
Giant’s adventure road bike has big clearances. While it’s fitted with 38mm tyres, there’s room for 50mm rubber, such as Schwalbe’s Big Apple tyre, which will iron out the worst road surfaces. Its aluminium frame and carbon-bladed fork will take a rack and proper mudguards, if you want more than the down tube splash guard provided. The 2x9 Sora gear range is wide: a 48-32 chainset with an 11-34 cassette. The brakes are unusual: the levers use conventional cables, while the callipers are hydraulic. There’s a cable-actuated master cylinder integrated into the stem. You get some of the advantages of a full hydraulic system at a lower cost.
Cyclescheme Price: £750.13*