A long day on the road calls for capable and comfortable gear.
A long day on the road calls for capable and comfortable gear. (Inga Hendrickson)

11 Essentials for Long Days Grinding Gravel

Take your bike on an adventure.


Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.

These are the bikes and accessories you'll need to keep going when the pavement ends. 

1. Diamondback Haanjo Trail ($1,850)

(Inga Hendrickson)

Best for: Going anywhere.

The Test: The Haanjo isn’t the softest ride, but we like the durability of aluminum on rocky roads, and the carbon fork helped mute chatter. Testers called it tubby for fast road rides, but they raved about how confident it felt on dirt. “It has mountain-bike DNA,” said one. Diamondback keeps the cost down with an FSA crankset but provides plenty of value for the money by including Ultegra levers and drivetrain, wide-rimmed Hed Flanders wheels, and grippy 40-millimeter Kenda tires.

The Verdict: A lot of bike at a reasonable price. 20.9 lbs.

2. Jamis Renegade Elite ($4,299)

(Inga Hendrickson)

Best for: Racers who dabble in adventure—and vice versa.

The Test: The closest bike on this page to a standard roadie, the carbon-fiber Renegade is as fleet as a cobbled-classics race machine. Jamis flattened out the seatstays and dropped them well below the seat collar to allow the bike’s rear end to flex with the road. It’s a supple ride, though Jamis wisely kept the bottom bracket big and stiff, so the Renegade felt equally at home in a peloton as on washboard logging trails. And the Shimano BR-785 hydraulic brakes are our favorite road model for their sleek ergonomics and over-the-bar power. 

The Verdict: A road rider’s one-bike quiver, especially if you have a spare set of lightweight race wheels. 18.8 lbs.

3. Moots Routt ($7,499 or $3,325 frame only)

(Inga Hendrickson)

Best for: Smoothing out rough roads.

The Test: Titanium is arguably the ultimate rough-road frame material—silky as steel, tough as alloy, and almost as light as carbon. The Routt is the exemplar. The compact, sloped-top-tube design made the bike maneuverable on rutted surfaces, and the long wheelbase felt stable even on singletrack. Steering was crisp, and we appreciated the threaded bottom bracket, which is more reliable than press-fit versions. Many testers felt that the upright position wasn’t agile in tight terrain, though few complained due to the premium build, including an Enve fork. But while we love Shimano Ultegra parts, at this price we expected a little bit more.

The Verdict: Timeless aesthetic + modern engineering = a mixed-terrain bike for the ages. 18 lbs.

4. Reynolds ATR wheels ($1,550)

(Inga Hendrickson)

With tubeless-ready carbon hoops and house-made road hubs, these wheels are like motocross for your gravel bike. The rim’s 21-millimeter internal width fits the widest rubber your bike will allow, and it spreads the footprint of any tire you put on it for extra traction. 

5. Teravail Cannonball tires ($85)

(Inga Hendrickson)

Launched by the parent company of Salsa Cycles, Teravail was founded to meet the tire needs of niche segments like gravel racers. The Cannonball, a fast-rolling 38-millimeter tire with pronounced side knobs for grip, withstood the notoriously sharp flint at this year’s Dirty Kanza 200 without a scratch. 

6. Lazer Z1 ($270)

(Inga Hendrickson)

The Z1 has 31 gaping vents, breathes better than André Greipel in a sprint, and kept us cool on even the muggiest afternoons. And an optional snap-on plastic shell ($20), which can be rolled up and stuffed in a pocket, cuts drag and keeps out those afternoon showers. 

7. Salsa Cowchipper handlebars ($75)

(Inga Hendrickson)

These bars strike an excellent balance, with a shallower drop for comfort when you’re tucked and a 24-degree flare for a broad array of hand positions and tons of control on chancy descents. 

8. Oakley Jawbreaker sunglasses ($220)

(Inga Hendrickson)

The Jawbreakers might look a little ridiculous, but they kept our eyeballs moist and clear even on 12-hour days pedaling dusty roads. And the shape ensured that sweat never sullied the lenses. The lens-change swivel is the most polished system we’ve seen, although the Prizm lenses were so clear we rarely found ourselves reaching for a different tint. 

9. Shimano SH-M163 shoes ($150)

(Inga Hendrickson)

Shimano makes these shoes for enduro riders, but the easy-walking rubberized outsole and big swaths of mesh ventilation work great for gravel events. The glass-fiber sole is stiff but not too stiff, and alternating strap closures allow you to microtune fit for superior comfort. 

10. 7mesh ReGen jacket ($350)

(Inga Hendrickson)

Cut from GoreTex Active, which allows maximum moisture transfer, so you don’t feel like you’re bound in Saran wrap when you’re going hard, this minimalist shell kept us dry in all-day downpours. It rolls up smaller than a newspaper when you don’t need it, and the pass-through rear pockets provide jersey access without a gymnastics maneuver.  

11. Magellan Cyclo 505 GPS ($430)

(Inga Hendrickson)

The sleek little touchscreen Cyclo comes with a full set of street maps and can up- and download tracks via Wi-Fi—handy, should you find yourself off course. The 12-hour battery life is long enough for most events. Best of all, it costs a lot less than the competition. 

From Outside Magazine, October 2015 Lead Photo: Inga Hendrickson

promo logo