These bikes are great for getting you off the road and onto the gravel.
These bikes are great for getting you off the road and onto the gravel. (photo: Courtesy All-City/Marty Wood)

The Most Versatile Road Bikes for Pavement and Gravel

Performance machines to cheat wind, go off-road, or cover lots of ground

These bikes are great for getting you off the road and onto the gravel.
Courtesy All-City/Marty Wood

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The range of road bikes on the market continues to broaden. There are the traditional whip-fast race machines, yes, but also models that perform equally well on light trails as they do on pavement. And some just thrive on rolling through the dirt.

Factor Vista ($7,000)

(Courtesy Factor)

Best For: Roadies looking to expand their range.

Designed with Giro d’Italia winner Ryder Hesjedal, the carbon Vista has the aggressive drop position, steep headtube angle, and extremely short chainstays of a road racer. The feathery 700c Black Inc carbon wheels and two chainrings up front also speak to the bike’s road heritage. Yet the fast but grippy 35c Goodyear County tires grant passage beyond the pavement. It all comes with Factor’s singular refinement, including a striking fork design that externally clamps to the steering tube for stiffness, and a stunning integrated bar-stem combo with enough flex to help smooth chatter. 

All-City Gorilla Monsoon ($2,000)

(Courtesy All-City)

Best For: Getting you and your stuff way out there.

If the Vista is the prototypical asphalt-oriented all-road bike, the chromoly-steel Gorilla Monsoon—with beefy 27.5-by-2.4-inch tires and massively flared Salsa Cowchipper handlebars—is its adventure-craving antipode. Neither as light (28.6 pounds) nor as sprightly as standard roadies, the bike still put a smile on every tester’s face with its stable manners and comfortable geometry. The single-ring drivetrain limits speed, but as indicated by the full fender and rack mounts, this bike is built more for cruising than crushing, and it makes a dandy bikepacking machine. It’s also perfectly at home as a commuter.

Cervélo S5 ($12,000)

(Courtesy Cervélo)

Best For: Racers, triathletes, and speed freaks.

We’ve never ridden a road bike that feels faster than the S5. The shaping of the carbon tubes, the wheel-hugging frame design, and the internal cable routing are all about one thing: cheating wind. So is the wild-looking Y-frame bar-stem combo: we didn’t want to like it, but testers raved about how aerodynamic it seemed. Our model was equipped with deep Enve SES 5.6 tubeless wheels—blazing fast but not harsh—and disc brakes. The bike weighs just 16.7 pounds, so it climbed pretty darn well. A steed at this price should approach perfection—and the S5 does.

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