Perhaps no brand has been better suited to the rise of gravel than Litespeed. The Tennessee-based brand is one of the most experienced names in titanium, a material that absorbs road vibrations and resists corrosion, making it perfectly suited to the discipline. Litespeed’s in-house capacity to shape, machine and modify titanium tubes and dropouts to its exacting standards, along with its decades of experience, mean you get one of the most thought-out, advanced gravel frames available in its latest model, the Watia. Positioned as a jack-of-all-trades gravel machine, the Watia is ready for racing, bikepacking and everything in between. Room for 700x45mm tires provides all the clearance most would ever want or need out of a gravel bike. Plus, there are three bottle cages standard and options for top-tube mounts and a T47 bottom bracket. And while all gravel bikes claim versatility, the Watia truly delivers a happy medium between gravel bikes that are a stone’s throw away from road geometry and those that are so stable as to be impossible to shake from tracking a straight line. Both internally and externally routed frames are available, along with standard and custom frames. Frames from $2,350; litespeed.com
Eddy Merckx MyCorsa
In the spirit of the classics season, ride the namesake bike of a champion of the cobbled classics that revisits the material of his heyday. The Eddy Merckx Corsa Road combines the classic styling of steel, the material raced on by the man himself for the entirety of his illustrious career, with thoroughly modern TIG-welded Columbus Spirit HSS stainless-steel tubing, along with features today’s riders have come to expect like 28mm tire clearance. It’s available with rim brakes for those who want to maintain a more classic look. And if you prefer to embrace modern tech while giving a nod to the styles that came before, there’s a disc-brake version as well. Both stock- and custom-frame geometries are available, providing exact control over your fit. Plus, there are dozens of color choices, allowing you to make the exact bike of your dreams. The Corsa has even been raced at the highest level of the sport, albeit on the mostly ceremonial final stage of the 2019 Tour de France, by Oliver Naesen of the AG2R La Mondiale team—it might have been the best-looking bike out there, even among the yellow, green and polka-dot frames. Frameset €3,299 (approx. $3,950); mycorsa.com
Bombtrack Oxbridge Geared
As anyone who has caught the bike bug knows, N+1 is a dangerous equation. It starts innocently enough with one road bike, then scales to a nicer road bike, then a gravel bike, followed by a custom steel frame. Then the thought “maybe I should try ’cross” enters the picture (better get a second for the pits, too). For us, the addiction extends to casual bikes as well. With its timeless design, the Bombtrack Oxbridge Geared from Germany might just end our commuter search…for now. Painted a glossy emerald green and dressed with silver components, leather grips and gum-sidewall tires, this classic steel frame cuts a handsome figure. Mudguards painted to match the frame and a gorgeous downtube shifter show the Oxbridge’s attention to detail. And it’s no laid-back beach cruiser. The 1×9-speed drivetrain, with a 44-tooth chainring and 11–34 cassette, lets you go as fast as you need, with a range ready for hilly terrain. And built up with 700c wheels paired to 28mm tires that balance speed and comfort, it can switch modes from casual cruising to serious jaunts around town and into the countryside. $1,200; cyclonebicycle.com
From issue 101. Buy it here.