Our favorite bikes from the 2022 gravel and all-road Field Test
Not every bike can be a winner, but there were a few that really stood head and shoulders above the rest at this year’s Field Test.
Alas, it’s finally time for us to wrap up our coverage from this year’s Field Test group test of all-road and gravel bikes, but not before our four testers pick their favorites. This isn’t necessarily a list of the “best” bikes of the bunch per se, but rather the ones we found to offer the best performance for the money, the ones we most wanted to keep riding, the ones that just punched well above their weight.
We certainly learned a lot from this value-focused round-up, particularly how it’s a lot harder to make an excellent bike when you can’t just throw more money at the problem. Every penny counts here, and how frame engineers and product managers choose to spend those pennies can have big implications on how the bikes perform. They struck that magical balance just right on some of the bikes we tested, but were well off the mark on others.
Without further ado, here are everyone’s picks:
Dave’s favorite: The Lauf Seigla Weekend Warrior Wireless
With a few outliers within the test, it’s difficult to pick just one standout. As far as the bike I wanted to spend the most amount of time on, that would be the Lauf Seigla. It’s just such a unique, intriguing, and highly capable machine for where gravel events appear to be headed. It’s not the gravel bike I’d want to replace my road bike with, but it’s an impressive machine that excels at the under-biking end of the scale. Better yet, it’s extremely well priced for what you get.
Meanwhile, the Salsa Journeyer deserves an honourable mention and was my pick amongst the entry-level bikes of this test. On paper, this bike doesn’t excel in value, yet on the trail, it manages to feel like a bike that’s double its price. It’s an impressively comfortable, confident, and just easy-going bike that is ready to be used in whatever sub-segment of gravel you please. When I think of bikes that help to make the sport of cycling more accessible, this is top of mind.
Betsy’s favorite: The Lauf Seigla Weekend Warrior Wireless
I feel like this “favorite” has to come with two qualifiers. It was my favorite gravel bike from the test, and within gravel bikes, it was my favorite high-end gravel bike. We did compare a lot of apples to oranges in this test (or at least we mixed up a bunch of fruit), but the Lauf had everything that I’ve come to expect and appreciate from a modern gravel bike. I took it on a 450-meter (1500 ft) singletrack climb (i.e., I underbiked it), and I was able to hold my lines, ride over small rock gardens, and go up, up, up efficiently. The bike handled equally well on the dirt road descent, and that’s where it proved that it could hold its own in a gravel race, as well. The suspension soaked up washboards and bumps but never felt sluggish. This bike seems tailor-made for someone who would use it for equal parts adventure and going fast.
My honorable mention would be the Marin Nicasio 2. I think this would be a perfect first gravel bike for someone who’s not too concerned with going fast, maybe wants to start riding farther afield, or maybe just wants a solid all-rounder for commuting, exercising, and recreating.
Ellen’s favorite: The Salsa Journeyer Apex 1 700c
My favorite bike was the Salsa Journeyer. I loved how much this bike surprised me. With how bizarre the geometry was, I expected to hate it, when In fact, I was smiling the moment I hit dirt.
It was so fun to ride, on trail and on the road. I think that was my favorite part — how much of a do-it-all machine it was. I could confidently recommend this bike to someone looking to get into cycling and know that no matter what conditions they rode, they could have fun.
I give honorable mention to the Lauf. Because of the sizing, I didn’t get to give this bike a fair shake as it was a little too large. However, the super-wide tires, suspension fork, and SRAM wireless electronic groupset made this bike my pick of the group for racing or just general performance. It was smooth as butter and may have contested the Salsa for my top pick, had the sizing been comparable for me.
James’ favorite: The Salsa Journeyer Apex 1 700c
My biggest goal for any type of riding I do these days is to have a good time, and it was just impossible not to grin from ear to ear when riding the Salsa Journeyer. Yes, the geometry is super wacky with its ultra-low top tube and somewhat strange sizing nomenclature, but neither of those things change how well this bike performs on a wide range of terrain. It’s supple, agile, comfortable, and remarkably capable on singletrack, and yet it’s also fast on smoother surfaces while also feeling way lighter than what the number on the scale would otherwise suggest. And although the parts aren’t fancy in any way, they nevertheless work very well while also being easy and inexpensive to replace or service.
The Salsa may not have been everyone’s absolute favorite, but everyone agreed that it was nearly impossible not to have fun on this thing, and the accessible pricing was just icing on the cake.
Speaking of pricing, my honorable mention has to go to the Triban RC120 from French sports mega-retailer Decathlon. I had pretty modest expectations given the extremely modest retail price, but I was blown away by how good the bike was. Sure, it was heavy, but in every way that really counted — ride quality, handling, fit, component function, serviceability, and so on — this little bike knocked it out of the park. It’s an ideal first bike for someone looking to get into cycling, and word from our readers is that customer support from Decathlon is top notch, too.
You could certainly do much, much worse than the RC120 at this price point, but I’m not sure you can do much better.
If you haven’t already read each of the individual reviews, you can check them all out at the links below. We’ll see you soon at the next Field Test!
- Cannondale Synapse Carbon 2RLE
- Lauf Siegla Weekend Warrior Wireless
- Litespeed Cherohala 105
- Marin Nicasio 2
- Ridley Kanzo A
- Salsa Journeyer Apex 1 700c
- Scott Speedster 30
- State Bicycle Company 6061 Black Label All-Road
- Triban RC120
- Vaast A/1 Apex 700c
CyclingTips Field Test group bike tests are never paid for by the brands that make those bikes, but they’re still only possible with some outside assistance. CyclingTips would like to thank Assos for their generous support of this year’s Field Test.