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Best Flat Bar Gravel Bikes in 2022 – Reviews & Buyers Guide

flat bar gravel bike at a grass field

Gravel bikes have hit the bike industry hard recently. We see so many riders go from owning three or more bikes to literally just a single steed. They have so much capability to offer the user. You can ride fast on the road on Flat Bar Gravel bikes, keeping up with your friends on those club runs. You can even get on the dusty trails and chase down your friends while they ride on their mountain bikes.

When gravel bikes first prominently hit the scene a few years ago, you were limited in what you could buy. Now, most bike manufacturers can offer a few different Gravel bikes, and as consumers, we have a lot of choices. Although this sounds great, it has made it challenging to find suitable gravel bikes to go for as the market has so much in it.

Flat Bar Gravel bikes come in many different styles, shapes, and sizes. You have off road focused gravel bikes, you have gravel bikes made for mainly road riding, and you have gravel bikes that do a bit of both. Although most gravel bikes come with drop bars, recently, we have seen many gravel bikes with flat bars.

I call these flat bar gravel bikes, and they have become trendy recently as they offer more comfort for the user with a more relaxed geometry. Typically they are cheaper than drop bar gravel bikes, and they also provide a tremendous amount of control through the straight bars at the front. In this article, I want to speak about what we look for in flat bar gravel bikes, recommend some for you, and tell you what to look for when shopping for a flat bar gravel bike.

We Think You’ll Like It: Best Steel Gravel Bikes in 2022

BEST OVERALL

Schwinn Vantage

BEST BUDGET

Vilano Diverse 3.0

BEST VALUE

Diamondback Division 2 Urban

What We Look for in a Flat Bar Gravel Bike

cyclist riding a flat gravel bike
Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

When looking for the right Flat Bar Gravel bike for you, you must break it down into parts instead of looking at the bike as a whole. We do this because then we can see what the bike is about and find the pros and cons of using the bike in question.

Frame and Forks

Getting a suitable Frame and Fork for the bike is essential. It holds all the parts together and governs the user’s comfort.

Gearing

Many cyclists often overlook them. If you can get the gearing right, your riding will be much easier up and downhills.

Wheelset

The Wheelset completely changes how a bike rides. Smaller wheels will help with acceleration, and larger wheels will help with higher speeds.

Brakes

When it comes to keeping a flat bar gravel bike under control and safe, you need great brakes.

Unique Features

Anything in particular that makes a bike stand out. Gravel bikes are known for having a lot of extras.

With all this information, we can tell so much about the bike. We have taken some of the best value for money flat bar gravel bikes that we wanted to speak to you all about in this list. We highly recommend all the bikes on this list, and we believe them to be the best flat bar gravel bikes.

We Think You’ll Like It: Best Carbon Fiber Gravel Bikes

1. Best Budget: Vilano Diverse 3.0

Features of the Marin Kentfield 700c Bike

Frame Material: Aluminum Frame Hybrid Geometry
Groupset: Shimano Triple 7 Speed 24 Gears total
Wheelset: Marins Own Alloy 700c
Brakes: Mechanical Disc Brakes
Unique Features: Looks great

Vilano makes an excellent bike. They are known for making some fantastic off road machines and seem to be producing more and more each year. I like the Diverse 3.0 for so many reasons. Firstly the frame is Aluminum and has a hybrid super comfortable frame geometry for that upright position. The forks they have paired it up with are steel for a super smooth ride, nice touch. The gearing is the Altus 7 Speed 1x Rapidfire, and this is an introductory but robust groupset.

They have equipped the Diverse 3.0 with their own branded alloy wheelset. It comes with 700x 38c for maximum comfort and style. The brakes are Mechanical disc brakes, and they are good, but you’re going to get more from hydraulic, in my opinion. The best thing about this bike, though is the price. It’s insanely cheap, and I feel it should be double the price for what you get.

Pros and Cons for the Vilano Diverse

Pros 
  • Price
  • Aluminum Frame
  • Hybrid Geometry
  • Great looking
Cons
  • Basic Gearing
  • Basic braking
Why We Like It

The Vilano Diverse may not be all singing and dancing, but you get so much for your money at the price it is. It’s an epic flat bar gravel bike.

2. Diamondback Haanjo 1

Features of the Breezer Midtown 1.7

Frame Material: Aluminum Frame and Fork
Groupset: Shimano Acera 9 Speed
Wheelset: 700c Diamondback Own brand
Brakes: Tektro M280 Mechanical Disc brakes
Unique Features: 160mm Disc Rotors, massive tires

The Haanjo 1 is a very cool flat bar bike, and you are going to have a lot of fun on this. Firstly the frame is a relaxed geometry, perfect for off road trails, the road, and also commuting. It is an aluminum frame, and it’s paired with an aluminum fork that makes it feel stiff and agile. The groupset is an 9 speed Shimano Acera. It’s got an excellent range for only a 9 speed and hills will be easy work.

The Wheelset is a toughened double butted Diamondback own wheelset, and it’s paired up with some solid 38c tires. These tires are going to take you on lots of rough terrains and even have reflective sides which look amazing. The Tektro M280 brakes are pretty good again, just mechanical, but they will do the job. They also come with large rotors that give them a bit more power.

Pros and Cons for the Diamondback Haanjo 1

Pros 
  • Price
  • Aluminum Frame and Fork
  • Great tires
  • Looks Epic
Cons
  • Only 9 Gears
  • Basic braking
Why We like It

The Haanjo 1 is an epic bike. It is ready for some off road gravel riding and some amazing adventures.

3. Cannondale Quick 5

Features of the Diamondback Division 1 Bike

Frame Material: Aluminum Fork and Frame
Groupset: Shimano Tourney 2×7
Wheelset: Aluminum 700c
Brakes:Disc Brakes
Unique Features: Lightweight Frame, Looks

The first thing I thought about when I saw the Quick 5 was that it’s a very cool looking gravel bike. I think Grey/Black is a beautiful color on a bike, and with the clean simple design, it just screams class. The frame on this bike is lightweight Aluminum and has excellent geometry for off road riding. It is paired with an aluminum fork, and if you know Cannondale’s heritage in cycling, you know this is going to handle well. The groupset is a Shimano Tourney 7 speed, it’s a basic 2x, but it will do a great job and will have a huge range of gears for all situations.

Like many other flat bar gravel bikes, the wheels on this bike are 700c, and the Quick 5 is equipped with some serious 35c mixed terrain tires. The brakes are mechanical disc brakes, but they will stop you. At the price point of this bike, you wouldn’t expect anything to be advanced. The bike is light. It’s great to look at, and it’s got everything it needs.

Pros and Cons for the Quick 5

Pros 
  • Price
  • Aluminum Frame and Fork
  • Monster tires
  • Looks
Cons
  • Basic Gearing
Why We like It

I think the Quick 5 is one of the best gravel bikes on this list and looks incredible. It’s an amazing bike that is going to be a lot of fun riding off road and on road.

4. Best Overall: Schwinn Vantage

Features of the Schwinn Vantage

Frame Material: Aluminum Frame
Groupset: Shimano 3×8 Drivetrain
Wheelset: 700c x 35c
Brakes:Mechanical Disc Brakes
Unique Features: Lightweight Frame

The Vantage is a fantastic bike. It’s a super lightweight frame with comfortable geometry, and it’s paired up with aaluminum fork. This bike is going to be fun and agile when you’re riding it, but it won’t give as smooth a ride as a bike with a steel frame and fork. The Shiamno Groupset is a 3×8 speed, and it has a vast range on it, so the hills will be easy work.

I like that they have gone with a 700c wheelset on this bike. It’s going to give it a responsive feel and superb top speed. They have put some 35c tires on the bike, which are great tires and give such a smooth, comfortable ride. This bike also has disc brakes with three finger levers, and these are going to provide you with outstanding braking power.

Pros and Cons for the Schwinn Vantage

Pros 
  • Lightweight Frame and Fork
  • 700c Wheelset 35c Tires
  • Disc Braking system
Cons
  • Would have loved a carbon fork
Why We Like It

The Schwinn Vantage is just an excellent all round bike which is amazing value for the cost.

5. Salsa Journeyer Flat Bar

Features of the Salsa Journeyer

Frame Material: 6061 Aluminium Frame
Groupset:MicroShift 1×8
Wheelset:700c x 38c
Brakes: Disc Brakes Tektro
Unique Features: Lightweight Frame and Fork

The Salsa Journeyer is one of my favorite flat bar gravel bikes. It’s got a beautiful blue frame that not only looks the part it can act it too. It’s a super lightweight aluminum frame with an oversized aero fork. The geometry is a little more aggressive than some of the others but still will offer the rider many comfortable miles. The Groupset is a MicroShift 1x Gravel groupset, and it’s an absolute beast that can take on some serious climbs.

The Wheelset is a 700c alloy, and it’s from WTB. They have paired it with Teravail washburn 38c tires giving the bike excellent off road ability. The brakes are also ready for some off road action, and are Tektro disc brakes are going to stop you on a pin.

Pros and Cons for the Salsa Journeyer

Pros 
  • Lightweight Frame and Fork
  • 700c Wheelset WTB
  • Disc Tektro Braking system
  • MicroShift Groupset
  • Amazing Off Road Ability
Cons
  • Stiff Frame
  • Price

The Salsa Journeyer is a flat bar gravel bike that will be amazing off road and on road. It looks amazing and is a bike that is going to last and hold it’s value being a Salsa.

6. The Cannondale Bad Boy 2

Features of the Bad Boy 2

Frame Material: Smartform Aluminum
Groupset:MicroShift 2×9
Wheelset: 650b with 40c
Brakes: Hydraulic Disc Brakes Tektro
Unique Features: Lefty Performance Fork

You knew this best flat bar gravel bike list wouldn’t be possible without an Epic Cannondale on it. I absolutely love the Bad Boy 2 because it screams simplicity, and sometimes that is what makes a bike great. Firstly the Groupset it’s the new MicroShift 2×9 with a huge cassette on the rear. The frame is Cannondales legendary Smartform Alloy and this is paired with a super stiff Lefty fork.

The Wheelset is Cannondales own Tubeless ready. It’s also been well paired with WTB Byway 47c tires, which at this size is going to make the ride of this bike even more comfortable and smoother. They have equipped the Bad Boy 2 with Tektro Hydraulic disc brakes for extra stopping power and safety.

Pros and Cons for the Cannondale Bad Boy 2

Pros 
  • Aluminum Frame and Fork
  • 650b Wheelset, WTB Tires
  • Hydraulic Braking system
  • Super comfortable
Cons
  • Price
  • Fork is Unique

The Bad Boy 2 is a fantastic bike. I highly recommend for all kinds of riding. It’s very unique, incredible to ride and will be excellent for years of riding.

7. Best Value for Money: Diamondback Division 2 Urban

Features of the Diamondback Division 2 Urban

Frame Material: Aluminum Frame and Fork
Groupset: Shimano Alivio Groupset
Wheelset: Diamondbacks own 650b
Brakes: Hydraulic Disc Brakes Tektro
Unique Features: Tan Wall Tires

The Division 2 Urban is a fabulous bike, and they have kitted this out to be something exceptional and enjoyable to ride. The frame is an excellent combination of an aluminum frame and fork that will provide a silky smooth but responsive ride. It has a Shimano Alivio Groupset which is 1×9 that will provide silky smooth shifting.

The wheels on this bike are the Diamondbacks own 650b wheels which are tubeless compatible with a conversion kit. These are equipped with the well sort after Vee Zilent 47c tires that are going to take the bike on any trail comfortably. It also has some upgraded brakes, and they have decided to use the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes to give the bike stopping power and reliability.

Not only can it perform but it looks excellent and stand out from a mile away. Another great thing about this bike is the price, it’s incredibly cheap for what you get.

Pros and Cons for the Diamondback Division 2 Urban

Pros 
  • Aluminum Frame and Fork
  • 650b Wheelset and Tires
  • Hydraulic Braking system
  • Super comfortable
  • Looks incredible
Cons
  • Would have loved carbon forks
Why We Like It

The Division 2 Urban is an amazing bike. Not only are the fundamentals there it also has so much clout when it comes to components. This is a great adventure road bike ready for all the bike paths.

8. Fairdale Weekender Archer 650B

Features of the Fairdale Weekender Archer 650B

Frame Material: Chromoly Steel with Steel Fork
Groupset: SRAM X5 Flat Bar
Wheelset: Fairdale 650B
Brakes: Promax Mechanical Disc
Unique Features: Looks Great, Rack Mounts

We love the Weekender for so many reasons, we again have that super comfortable steel frame paired with a comfortable steel fork. The Groupset is the SRAM X5 with flat bars, not drop bars. It’s a 1x system and has so much to offer the user with range, so you don’t need to worry about those pesky climbs.

The Wheelset is a 650b and it’s going to feel very nimble and agile when you’re riding it. It comes paired with large 2″ tires making it incredibly comfortable to ride and excellent on many different terrains. Unlike any other bike on this list we have mechanical Promax brakes, which have great stopping power for non hydraulic.

The bike itself looks amazing and its going to be able to do long distance touring and even commuting alongside those gravel rides thanks to the rack and fender mounts.

Pros and Cons for the Fairdale Weekender Archer

Pros 
  • Steel Chromoly Frame and Fork
  • 650b Wheelset and 2″ Tires
  • Powerful Braking system
Cons
  • Price is fair
Why We Like It

We like Fairdale bikes a lot and the Weekender Archer is an excellent example of why we rate them so highly. It’s a great bike at a fair price and will be a lot of fun no matter what the terrain.

9. Batch the Fitness

Features of the Orbea VIBE H30

Frame Material: Aluminum Lightweight Frame, Steel Forks
Groupset: Shimano Tourney Groupset
Wheelset: Batch’s own 700c with 35c Tires
Brakes: Caliper
Unique Features:Price

The Fitness had to be on this list. We at Cycling Hacker are true believers in value for money bikes, and this as a flat bar gravel bike needs to be spoken about. Firstly the frame is of a beautiful design, and it has the quality to match. It’s a lightweight hydroformed aluminum frame with a steel fork. The Groupset is the legendary Shimano Tourney 3×7 so you’re never running out of gears.

The Wheelset is Batch’s own 700c, and it’s paired up with 35c tires. The brakes are caliper and the only bike on this list to have them. They are basic and will stop you but disc will always be more powerful.

The best thing about this bike though is the fact not only is it an ok bike it is incredible value for money and they use good branded components. We think it’s an amazing entry level bike to get into cycling.

Pros and Cons for the Batch the Fitness

Pros 
  • Aluminum Lightweight Frame and Steel Fork
  • 700c Wheelset with 35c tires
  • Price
Cons
  • Caliper Brakes
  • Not the largest Tires
Why We Like It

This Batch bike is just incredible vale for money and a great way to get into cycling.

Flat Bar Gravel Bikes Buyers Guide

flat bar gravel bike at the forest
Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash

When you’re looking at bikes, you will see many different types. Mountain Bikes, Road Bikes, recumbent bikes, and many more. These will also be split down into many different versions. For example, with Road Bikes, you will have hill climb, TT, aero, and many more.

When it comes to Gravel bikes, the majority will have drop bars. The Flat Bar gravel bikes are not as common, so they can be very tough to find. Another misconception is people mistake them for hybrid bikes. In this guide, we want to tell you exactly what to look for when looking for a Flat Bar Gravel bike. The best way to do this is to break it down into parts.

Frame and Forks

When it comes to flat bars gravel bikes, Frames, and forks, it’s vital to understand that with Flat Bar Gravel bikes, you will generally be looking at bikes built for comfort and control, not speed. So what unique properties make a bike more comfortable?

Firstly the material, on Flat bar gravel bikes, you will find yourself often looking at either Steel or Aluminum. These are commonly used because they are cheap to produce, they are very strong, and they have specific characteristics which make the bike. Steel bikes will be mainly for comfort, and Aluminum will be for speed.

Next, we look at the geometry. You’re not going to be looking at racing geometry when it comes to flat bar gravel bikes. They are not built for this purpose. You will have higher handlebars that keep your back straighter for comfort and to give you extra control. These bikes are designed for lots of comfortable miles, not racing.

Groupset

When you look at Gravel bikes with flat handlebars, you need to remember it’s about simplicity for the user. The most common groupset you will see on Flat Bar Gravel bikes is a 1x system, and there are many reasons for this.

Firstly cost, a 1x groupset only has a single derailleur and a single shifter. They are much more cost-effective because there’s so much less to them than 2x groupsets. They also don’t often come with brakes. These come separately, so companies are able to use different brands. Secondly, to keep it simple. The best thing about a 1x Groupset is that it is just one single shifter, and it’s straightforward just using one shifter to move around the rear cassette effectively.

You won’t often see other groupsets on these bikes. Rarely will you see a 2x system, but the bike will be custom built by a company. The best groupset for a Flat Bar Gravel bike, in my opinion, is a 1x Shimano MTB Groupset.

Wheelset

The two wheelsets you will see on a flat bar gravel bike are a 650b and a 700c wheelset. They have many differences to them, and this comes in the fact they are different sizes, which gives them different characteristics.

A 700c wheelset is bigger and equivalent to a 29”. Having a bigger diameter means that the bike will hold speed much more efficiently when going at a higher pace. It also has the ability to roll over objects better. It does take longer to bring it up to speed, and you typically need to use smaller tires.

A 650b is a smaller wheel and is 27.5”. Having a smaller diameter means that it accelerates quickly, and it is much more nimble and agile. This is excellent if you off road, and it can also fit larger tires as the wheels sit smaller in the frame.

The general rule, in my opinion, is if you are planning on doing a lot of off road, then use a gravel bike with a 650b wheelset. If you are going to be on the road a lot and very light off road trails, you will be better off on a 700c wheelset.

Brakes

It matters so much that your brakes are good when it comes to stopping. It can be the difference between stopping before an obstacle or going into it. There are two types on the market, mechanical and hydraulic, and in my opinion, one is much better than the other.

Mechanical brakes are much cheaper and work with the user pulling a cable to close the calipers on the brake disc. These are not as effective as hydraulic, require more maintenance, but are very easy to work on. Hydraulic brakes work using fluid in cables that push the calipers onto the brake disc. Hydraulic brake systems are much more powerful and require less maintenance but are harder to work on.

Unique Features

Gravel bikes are known for having unique features, unlike many other bikes. They are definitely worth looking out for. You will see mudguards to keep you clean, lighting to keep you safe and seen, motors to power the bikes, and even some small suspension forms. Unique features shouldn’t be the difference between buying and not buying a bike, but they are a plus to your investment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Flat Bars Gravel bikes suitable for beginners?

They are the perfect bike for beginners as you can use them for everything. They typically have a great range of gearing and are not as expensive as bikes such as road bikes or a drop bar gravel bike.

Are Flat Bar Modern Gravel bikes good for commuting?

They are perfect commuters. Gravel bikes generally have mounts for mudguards and panniers, making them ideal for carrying and keeping you clean when riding to work.

Can I convert the Flat bar Gravel Bike to a Drop Bar Gravel Bike?

You can, but it’s a difficult job, it’s costly and not worth it. If you wish to change, it’s better to sell the bike and put the money towards a drop bar bike. There are too many parts that need to be swapped. Same with converting from a Gravel bike to a Mountain bike, it’s not worth doing with Mountain Bikes.

Conclusion

There’s a lot to take in when looking at Flat Bars Gravel bikes. Typically when buying a Gravel bike with flat handlebars like this, you get what you pay for. If it’s very cheap, you will look at basic braking and gearing. If you are spending more, you will get better quality parts. Whatever you buy it will do the same job, by spending more you will get more enjoyment and most parts will last longer and do a better job.

Expert Tip

For any gravel bike you get, the best advice I can give is to get a bike fit. Getting a professional to set you up properly will provide you with more enjoyment when riding, and it will help injury prevention and help with power transfer.

Did you know?

Gravel biking has become one of the biggest trends in cycling and is now recognized as a professional UCI Discipline.

Amazon Recommends

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Ritchey Comp SC Rizer Mountain Handlebar - Riser Handlebar, Aluminum, for Mountain, Adventure, and Gravel Bikes, 25.4mm Bar Clamp Diameter, 670mm
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Ritchey WCS 2X Carbon Flat Mountain Handlebar - Flat Handlebar, Carbon, for Mountain, Adventure, and Gravel Bikes, 31.8mm Bar Clamp Diameter, 710mm
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SaleBestseller No. 3
Schwinn Vantage F3 Mens/Womens Sport Hybrid Bike, 21-Speed Drivetrain, 55cm/Small Aluminum Frame, Flat Bar, Disc Brakes, Smooth Ride Technology, Black
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  • Smooth Ride Technology frame features an elastomer soft tail suspension that provides optimal comfort wherever your adventure takes you
  • 21-speed drivetrain with trigger shifters provides precise shifting and a wide, versatile gear range
  • Light and strong Alex DC-26 rims with Schwinn 35c hybrid tires provide a dependable and comfortable ride
  • Rack and fender mounts let you customize your ride to meet all your commuting and touring needs; Schwinn sport Ergo dual-density grips add comfort
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Robbie Ferri

Robbie Ferri

Robbie Ferri is a cyclist living in Norfolk in the UK. From breaking World Records to competing in some of the hardest Bikepacking races in the world he is not shy of riding the miles. He has been lucky enough to work at some amazing shops and with some big cycling brands. Alongside this he even had input in designing bikes and has also been a tester for unreleased products. He absolutely loves cycling and believes everyone should have a bike.