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10 Best Women’s Gravel Bikes & How To Choose!

Gravel bikes are the trendiest niche in the bike world right now. And for good reason! They let you go just about anywhere and do just about anything.

If you’ve been thinking about getting a gravel bike, but want to do more research before you buy one, this post is for you. The rest of the Femme Cyclist team and I have tested and researched LOTS of bikes to help you find the best ones. We’ve tested bikes on the back roads of Colorado, on the Smoke N Fire bikepacking race in Idaho, and the scenic hills of California. They’ve been ridden on dirt roads, jeep tracks, pavement, and even singletrack.

We’ll guide you through what you should look for and consider when buying a gravel bike as well as offering up our top picks for women’s gravel bikes.

malorie riding her canyon grail on a dirt road

Our Top Picks

Best Entry Level + Performance GravelWhat We LovePrice
Liv DevoteWomen’s specific brand$1,350+
Canyon GrailErgonomic handlebars$2,799+
Specialized DivergeFuture shock suspension$2,500+
Trek CheckpointLots of mounting points$1,799+
Cannondale TopstoneSuper affordable$1,175+
Polygon TamboraAffordable carbon frame + fork $1,799+
Pivot VaultMade for going fast$5,799
Best Adventure Gravel Bikes
Salsa CutthroatIdeal for bikepacking, direct mount framebag$3,499+
Canyon GrizlOption to add suspension fork and dropper$1,699+
Ibis Haka MXHigh end build packages$3,699+
Juliana Quincy/Santa Cruz StigmataBeautiful aesthetic$3,999+

Canyon Grail

canyon grail women's gravel bike

Price: $2,799+


The Canyon Grail is an incredibly unique bike with its innovative ergonomic handlebar and space for mounting your bike computer or phone. The new handlebar design (which replaces their older two-tier handlebar) offers a variety of hand positions to help with comfort.

The bike is fitted with 700x40mm tires and can accommodate up to 42mm, allowing me to tackle challenging terrains while maintaining responsiveness. However, Canyon advises against using 650b wheels on the Grail, suggesting the Grizl (listed below) as an alternative for those wanting thicker tires. These strengths make it an excellent choice for anyone primarily interested in gravel racing or going fast.

riding away on the canyon grail

Yet, despite these exceptional features, the Grail does present some drawbacks, particularly in terms of adjustability. The innovative handlebars don’t offer an adjustable angle or length. Malorie, our reviewer, has compressed discs in her neck, and this limitation led to discomfort on longer rides.

She still says that she hasn’t matched any of her personal records on any other gravel bike, underscoring just how quick and responsive the Grail is. It remains an ideal choice for both road and gravel rides.

Read Review: Canyon Grail

Liv Devote

liv devote womens gravel bike

Price: $1,350+

Liv is leading the charge where it comes to women’s-specific bikes. Like all their offerings, the Liv Devote has been optimized for lady riders.

Although there are several versions of the bike for a wide array of budgets, all the bikes share the same frame geometry. It was designed using data collected from female riders around the globe, and took into account female anatomy (shorter torsos, narrower shoulders, longer legs, wider hips, and smaller hands and feet).

Female-specific components include a Liv Approach saddle and narrower width handlebars.

liv devote gravel bike

The entry-level version of the bike has an aluminum frame with carbon fork, while higher end models are full carbon. All are built up with a tubeless ready in-house Giant wheelset.

The frame geometry can accommodate up to a 700x45c or 650x50c gravel tire which makes it a good option for riding fast as well as adventure riding.

While the Liv Devote is a great option for smaller and shorter ladies, taller ladies may find that they are out of luck as the frame sizes are limited.

Specialized Diverge

Specialized Women's Diverge Sport

Price: $2,500+

The Specialized Diverge provides the quality and value you would expect from a big name like Specialized. It has a lightweight carbon frame and fork (even on the base model), and lots of tire clearance. There are several models/builds, so you can spend as much as you want.

You also get cool Specialized proprietary extras like the SWAT storage compartment in the downtube and the Future Shock suspension system that provides 20mm of cushioning for the handlebar.

Like many of the other brands on this list, Specialized quit making the women’s-specific version of the Diverge, so you’ll likely want to swap out components like the saddle and handlebars for more female-friendly options.

Trek Checkpoint

trek checkpoint

Price: $1,799+

The Trek Checkpoint comes in a version for almost every type of rider. In fact, Trek designed different versions to accommodate three different types of riding.

The SLR is a race bike, SL is all-arounder, and ALR is for utility. Whatever kind of riding you want to do with a gravel bike, you’ll find a Checkpoint model that accommodates you.

woman posing with her trek checkpoint gravel bike

The Checkpoint provides tons of bosses for water bottles and bags–even on the smaller frames. All of the cables are internally routed so as not to interfere.

The carbon version also features the IsoSpeed decoupler that adds a bit of suspension. All models come in a 49cm frame to fit riders as short as 5’1″.

Cannondale Topstone

Price: $1,175+

The Cannondale Topstone is a great option for a mix of pavement and dirt. The tires are relatively narrow and fast rolling, but there’s clearance for a wider tire should you choose to add one.

There are plenty of mounts which could make this a good around-town commuter as well as a weekend gravel rig.

While the bike comes at several different frame and build levels, the entry-level models are exceptionally affordable.

topstone carbon 5 gravel bike

And in case you’re worried about gravel road vibration, don’t worry. The carbon fork does a good job of helping to dampen vibration as does the unique Kingpin suspension.

The bike used to come in a women’s specific version, but alas, that is no more. You’ll likely want to upgrade the saddle at a minimum.

Polygon Tambora

polygon tambora propped against garage door

Price: $1,799

The Polygon Tambora is a versatile and affordable gravel bike that works well on-road or off. It’s an excellent choice for cyclists eager to explore gravel and mixed terrains without a hefty financial commitment.

The most unique thing about the bike is that it has adjustable geometry to convert from a gravel setup to a tighter one for road riding. It’s also fully carbon, which is unusual at this price point.

climbing a dirt road on the tambora

The Tambora is not only functional with multiple mounting points for gear but also aesthetically pleasing, featuring a sleek design with internal cable routing and a hidden seatpost clamp.

The only drawback is that the matte paint finish, while stylish, is susceptible to scuffing and may require more careful handling to maintain its appearance.

Read Review: Polygon Tambora

Pivot Vault

Pivot Vault Ultegra

Price: $5,799

Pivot has made the (smart) choice to only build unisex bikes. That said, they offer plenty of bikes for smaller riders. The Pivot Vault XS frame fits women as short as 5′.

The Vault was designed with the belief that you shouldn’t have to have multiple drop-bar bikes. It is equally at home on the road and the ‘cross course as it is on a gravel road.

The bike has been designed for a highly customized build should you choose to do so. It can accept 650c or 700c wheels, a 1x or 2x drivetrain, and a 27.2 or 30.9 seatpost.

The only bummer about the bike is that it starts out spendy. There’s no entry level build option to dip your toes into the water. On the flip side, you know you’re getting a high quality ride.

Canyon Grizl

canyon grizl

Price: $1,699+

The Canyon Grizl is a versatile and capable option for riders seeking adventure on varied terrain. The bike performs well on gnarly dirt roads as well as on singletrack.

Equipped with wide tire clearance, the Grizl allows riders to tackle rough terrain with confidence, while still maintaining efficiency on smoother surfaces. The integration of mounts for racks, fenders, and additional accessories adds to its practicality for bikepacking and touring adventures. Additionally, the comfort-focused design, including a carbon seatpost and ergonomic handlebars, ensures a pleasant ride even during extended hours in the saddle.

malorie riding singletrack on the canyon grizl

On the trail, the Grizl impresses with its smooth and predictable handling, providing stability on descents and nimbleness through tight corners. Whether tackling gravel roads, dirt paths, or mixed surfaces, the Canyon Grizl inspires confidence and encourages riders to explore beyond the beaten path.

Canyon also offers the option to put on a RockShox Rudy 30mm suspension on AS WELL AS a dropper post. This makes it even more capable of handling trails.

The only drawback is that, as compared to the Canyon Grail, the Grizl does feel slugglish. it is not NEARLY as fast and snappy as the Grail.

Read Review: Canyon Grizl

Salsa Cutthroat

Salsa Cutthroat

Price: $3,499+

The Salsa Cutthroat is a little bit burlier than the other options on this list, which makes it ideal for folks who want to hit a little bit of trail in addition to gravel roads. It comes in smaller frame sizes which makes it a choice for riders of all sizes. The XS fits women as petite as 5 feet.

pactimo thermal jersey

The Cutthroat is particularly well suited for bikepacking and touring thanks to space for 4 water bottle cages, plenty of bag and rack mounts, and internal routing for dynamo hub lighting systems. Our reviewer, Kristen, used this bike for the 400 mile Smoke N Fire bikepacking race and it performed flawlessly.

Salsa also offers a direct mount frame bag. This is amazing because it fits the bike perfectly, and it bolts right in so you don’t have to worry about straps rubbing the frame.

While it shines on big adventures, it’s not as well designed for everyday riding. Compared to a more road-oriented gravel bike, it is a little heavy and sluggish; compared to a mountain bike, it’s stiff and uncompromising. It will be a best choice for folks who want to do it all in one ride and are willing to compromise on either end.

Ibis Hakka MX

ibis hakka mx

Price: $4,599+

The Ibis Hakka MX can do a little bit of everything thanks to it’s acceptance of either 650b or 700c wheels. Have a set of both to use the bike on pavement, gravel, or trail. The 650b wheels can handle tires of up to 2.1 for the dirt.

Both the frame and fork are carbon for extra comfort, and the fork is made by ENVE. It’s built up with one of two build packages, and both offer top-notch components.

This is not a women’s specific bike, but the smallest frame (49cm) does fit women as small as 4′ 11″.

While the Ibis Hakka is an amazing bike, some folks might be scared away by the higher price point compared to other bikes on this list. Additionally, riders may find the Hakka’s aggressive geometry less forgiving on longer rides compared to bikes with more relaxed configurations.

Juliana Quincy / Santa Cruz Stigmata

Juliana Quincy

Price: $3,999+

The Juliana Quincy is the women’s version of the popular Santa Cruz Stigmata. In fact, the only thing different about the Quincy is the option for a smaller XS frame size (49cm) with 650b wheels and a women’s-specific Ergon saddle. So, if you don’t need a 49cm bike or don’t care about the saddle, the Santa Cruz Stigmata will work just as well for women.

Now that we have that out of the way, this is an awesome bike! It comes with two build options, the more affordable of the two still being pretty snazzy. It offers the SRAM Rival groupset, carbon frame and fork, WTB Asym wheels, and 1×10 drivetrain.

womens gravel bikes

The best thing about the bike, though, might be the beautiful paint schemes. In addition to pretty looks, the Quincy is also utilitarian. It has mounts for fenders and three water bottle cages.

What To Consider When Choosing a Gravel Bike

Here are a few things to think about when comparing bikes and choosing which one will be the best fit for you.

Women’s-Specific vs Unisex Gravel Bike

Women’s-specific gravel bikes can be a good choice, especially for smaller women, but they are certainly not the ONLY choice. We’ve included several unisex gravel bikes on this list (from Liv and Juliana), both of which are offered in smaller sizes to fit even the shortest ladies.

Good reasons to choose a women’s specific gravel bike are the all-important women’s-specific saddle (although this is easy to add to any bike after the fact), smaller frame sizes, narrower handlebars, and shorter cranks.

With the exception of the saddle, most of these tweaks are intended for more petite ladies. If you are a taller woman or have wider shoulders, you should feel even less limited by gender-specific marketing.

Of course, women’s-specific bikes also tend to come in more feminine colors–and that might be important to you.

showers pass apex shorts

Gravel vs Cyclocross Bikes

Gravel bikes and cyclocross bikes are closely related cousins. They are so closely related, in fact, that at times it is pointless to differentiate between the two. Many bike manufacturers are choosing to design drop-bar bikes that can be used for both purposes. A good example of this is the Pivot Vault.

The biggest difference between a cyclocross bike and a gravel bike, however, is that cyclocross bikes are designed to be shouldered. They need to be easy to carry, where a gravel bike doesn’t need to be.

Additionally, many folks choose a gravel bike for bikepacking and touring, so they are often differentiated by wider tires, less aggressive geometry, and more mounts for water bottles, racks, and bags.

gravel bike tire size

Brakes

Gravel bikes come with either hydraulic disc brakes or mechanical disc brakes.

Mechanical disc brakes are the cheaper of the two options. They don’t modulate as well as hydraulic disc brakes and they can cause more hand fatigue. That said, they also require less maintenance, which can make them an ideal choice for some women.

Hydraulic disc brakes, while more expensive, offer superior braking performance. Most women will want to choose hydraulic disc brakes. The drawbacks, aside from price, are that they do require more maintenance, and can fail in extreme cold.

hydraulic disc brakes

Drivetrain

More and more women’s gravel bikes are being offered with a 1x drivetrain as opposed to a 2x or 3x drivetrain (i.e. there is no front derailleur). We like this trend.

A 1x drivetrain is simpler to maintain, provides cleaner shifting, and doesn’t get as gunked up with mud and grime. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that many 1x gravel bikes are designed more for Midwest gravel riding (great if that’s what you’re planning on doing) rather than Rocky Mountain gravel riding.

If you’re going to be doing a lot of steep climbing, a 40 tooth chainring can be a bit much. In that case, you may want to look for a bike with a 2x drivetrain, a smaller chain ring, OR just plan on swapping a smaller chain ring later on. (This is relatively easy to do on your own, or you can take it to a local bike shop for help).

You’ll also notice that gravel bikes tend to have a wider range of gearing in the rear cassette than a road bike or cyclocross bike. This is so it can climb steep sections of trail yet not be spun out on paved road.

canyon grizl rear view

Frame / Fork Material

Most women’s gravel bikes frames and forks are made with either aluminum (alloy) or carbon composite. The frame and fork will not always be made of the same material. For instance, lots of gravel bikes are designed with a cheaper alloy frame but then finished with a carbon fork for better vibration absorption.

The vast majority of bikes on the market are made with aluminum alloy. It’s lightweight, durable, and affordable.

Carbon composite is lighter and does a better job of absorbing vibration. That said it’s also significantly more expensive, and (some would argue) less durable.

getaway shirt

Wheels and Tires

Most gravel bikes are offered with 700c wheels (the same as the traditional road bike). That said, some of the smaller women’s-specific bikes may come with 650c wheels instead.

We would strongly suggest looking for a wheelset with tubeless-ready rims and tires. Tubeless tires can be run at lower pressures. This is particularly important when riding off-road, where a lower pressure tire provides both better traction and more comfort on bumpy terrain.

vee tire co rail tire

Tire width and tread is also important to pay attention to. The more challenging the terrain you’re going to be riding, the more important wider tires are.

Wider, higher-volume tires can be run at lower pressures and provide superior traction. On the other hand, if you are sticking to a lot of pavement, with only the occasional foray onto dirt or gravel, then you’ll want to look for a skinnier tire.

Tire tread is also important. On pavement and compact dirt, you’ll want a tire with less tread. On loose gravel, singletrack, and mud, you’ll want a tire with more aggressive knobby tread.

Finally, many gravel bikes are following mountain bikes and offering thru-axles on the wheels. Thru-axles provide greater stability and safety, and we highly recommend them if you are going to be riding rough roads or trails.

thru axle

Mounts

If you plan on using your gravel bike for long days in the saddle, or even multi-day tours, then you want to make sure that the bike you choose has plenty of space for gear. Look for mounts for water bottle cages, racks, fenders, and bags.

Gravel bikes that are designed specifically for bikepacking will also generally have wider, flared handlebars. This allows you to mount a handlebar bag without interfering with your hands and brakes.

touring bike with cargo

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About The Author

kristen bonkoski

Kristen Bonkoski

Kristen Bonkoski is the founder and owner of Femme Cyclist.

An avid cyclist for a few decades now, she took to cycling during her late teen years — a time when she needed something to help boost her self-esteem and confidence.

Mission accomplished, the sport has become an important part of her life.  Kristen’s favorite disciplines are mountain biking and bike commuting, although you can also find her cranking out a century on her road bike and touring with her husband and son.  If it has to do with two wheels, she enjoys doing it.

Kristen is a certified USA Cycling coach, and she runs Rascal Rides, a website about biking with kids.

IG: @kristenlbonkoski

8 thoughts on “10 Best Women’s Gravel Bikes & How To Choose!”

  1. I would love the same article but the best bikes under $1000. There is a lot in the $799 price point and I’m sifting through those right now.

    Reply
  2. Are there any high end gravel bikes for women without the cross bar? I’ve had a stroke and I feel safer on my step through cruiser than I do on my hybrid but I want a great gravel bike now. Any suggestions? Thank you!!

    Reply
  3. LOL… mechanical brakes “require less maintenance, which make them an ideal choice for some women.” Sexist at all? Women can do bike maintenance, it turns out… Also, most of these bikes (with the exception of the Salsa Cutthroat, and maybe the Liv Devote) are not truly designed for touring, many don’t have brackets for mounting paniers, racks, and bottle cages in different configurations, which matters a TON when you’re 5 days into a trip and need to redistribute gear weight. Ladies, make sure you double-check what you’re being sold! Some of these are just pinked-up versions of men’s road bikes.

    Reply
  4. It’s too bad that the bike companies don’t find it profitable to make women’s specific bikes. Women’s bodies are generally different e.g. I have quite short arms and torso and men’s bikes just don’t fit as well. I could barely reach the horns on the Trek Check point.
    Kudos to Giant for making a bike actually meant for females.

    Reply

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