Niner RLT 9
Niner was one of the first brands to create a gravel bike, and the brand pretty much got it right from the get-go with that debut model, the RLT 9. It has received a few tweaks over the years (going from 15mm axles in the front to 12mm for instance), but has overall remained a super-capable, versatile bike. Niner thinks it’s quite worthy of all sorts of riders, from beginners to experienced gravel grinders. That’s why it offers the RLT 9 in builds starting at $2,200 and going all the way to $4,500. Or you can pick up the frameset for about $1,000, making it one of the best bang-for-your-buck gravel frames available. Complete builds from $2,200; ninerbikes.com
Panaracer GravelKing Slick
Not every gravel course requires super-knobby tires, and not every gravel rider is tackling terrain that once would have been the domain of mountain bikes. Sometimes all you need is a little extra volume (or a lot) and some added puncture protection. The Panaracer GravelKing Slick hits on that perfect combo of attributes for riding fast over tamer off-road terrain. It features a natural rubber compound paired with a puncture protection layer and a low-rolling-resistance casing. It’s made to go fast but will hold up to just about anything you ride over, from rough pavement on the way to work, to gravel and dirt on the weekend adventure. $50 per tire; panaracerusa.com
Easton E100 Handlebar
When you need the absolute lightest components without sacrificing any quality, reach for the Easton E100 handlebar. Weighing a scant 178 grams for a size 42cm, the E100 is the culmination of Easton’s two decades’ experience creating carbon-fiber components. It reaches that low weight without sacrificing ride quality or durability, meeting the exact same fatigue and impact tests as Easton’s other handlebars. And it uses the same Maximum Contact Drop shape as those other bars, resulting in a comfortable design with channeling for cables, a slight flare and ample hand-position options. $350; 178g; eastoncycling.com
Opening gallery image by William Tracy; others, courtesy of specific company.