The first bicycle club in Canada, the Montreal Bicycle Club, was formed in 1876. Back then, bikes could handle gravel with relative ease, but as roads improved in quality bikes became more specialized for pavement. It wasn’t until recently that cyclists began turning back towards unpaved roads, and viewing them as a new challenge and adventure.
This country has a huge amount of gravel and, particularly during the pandemic, cyclists in every province and territory have been riding out to the the less-explored roads of their local regions. Canadian bike manufacturers, for their part, have embraced the gravel trend. From bigger brands such Argon 18, to small custom builders, there’s a wealth of Canadian options for those looking to buy a gravel bike.
Founded by retired cyclist Gervais Rioux in Montreal in 1989, Argon 18 has grown to distribute bikes aross the world and sponsors a number of professional cycling teams and triathletes. The company’s gravel bike, the Dark Matter, comes with a fork rake specific to frame size, to allow for tight turn clearance on more technical runs. It also features seatstays designed to flex and dissipate shocks and an extendable head tube.
Aquila is the in house brand of Oakville and Toronto based bike shop Racer Sportif. The company offers carbon road, triathlon and track bikes that have been ridden by Canadian development squad Team RaceClean as well as by Canadian track athletes on the international circuit. The company’s gravel bike, the CX-G is capable of running a 700 wheelset, or 650B wheelset to adapt to more demanding terrain. It also comes with a top a tube compartment, or an additional water bottle cage on the underside of the down tube.
Founded by Paul Brodie in 1986, Brodie Bicycles began manufacturing custom steel hardtail mountain bikes in Vancouver. They expanded into making complete bikes and working with aluminum to expand their offerings. Brodie now has a catalogue of dozens of bike models.
The company has a number of gravel bikes available—from the Remo, which specializes in ‘road+’ rides, to the Elan Vital, made for ‘back country adventure seekers’ to the year-round commuter-specific Revel.
Connecticut based Cannondale was opened in 1971. Today the company which distributes a range of aluminium and carbon bikes is owned by Canadian company Dorel Industries which is headquartered in Montreal. While the bike company holds onto its American roots, it’s been owned by Dorel since 2008. Dorel also owns bike companies GT Bicycles and Pacific Cycle who in turn own Iron Horse Bicycles, Mongoose, Roadmaster and Schwinn Bicycle Company.
Cannondale supplies road frames for WorldTour team EF Education First. The company also produces a range of mountain bikes, urban bikes and gravel bikes. The Cannondale Topstone comes in a variety of models, all of which feature Cannondale’s ‘kingpin suspension’ in the rear and some of which feature the Lefty Oliver gravel fork.
Cervélo was founded in 1995 by engineers Gerard Vroomen and Phil White. The company started by making high-end aerodynamic carbon race bikes. The company’s headquarters are in Toronto but it is now owned by Dutch conglomerate Pon Holdings.
Cervélo’s gravel bike, the Áspero, is made with racing in mind. Unlike some other gravel bikes, it was built for speed not for carrying added cargo or bags.
Circa was founded by Moise Bensimon of Toronto who also owns a company that designs and builds upscale custom carpentry for residential and commercial properties. The company offers titanium city single speeds, road, track and cyclocross and gravel models. Circa also gives buyers the option of adding a Circa carbon wheel set to their custom builds.
Guillaume Desy is the welder and owner of Cycles Golem. It is a small bike company with the frames built in his Québec City workshop. Trained a mechanical engineer, Desy builds steel bikes based from his passion for road, mtb, gravel and cyclocross racing with a host of custom options and add ons.
Because the bikes are custom built, Golem can build a gravel bike that can accommodate 700C and/or 650B wheels.
Peter Daam started DaamBuilt bikes during his 10-year career as a mechanical engineer. Since then, Daam’s relocated from North Vancovuer to Montreal and left engineering to build frames full time. DaamBuilt creates full suspension mountain bikes, road, track bikes, and gravel bikes. With his engineering background, Daam will custom build your bike to your riding style, down to fine tuning the suspension linkage and progression.
Chris Dekerf is the frame builder behind Vancouver-based Dekerf Cycle Innovations. With over thirty years in the business, Dekerf produces frames, forks, bars, stems and complete custom bikes, as well as doing paint and OEM frame building for other brands. At NAHBS 2016, Dekerf was recognized with the show’s Artisan Award.
The brand makes some really interesting special project bikes, such as the Pinion bike pictured above.
Devinci was established in Chicoutimi, Que in 1987 by two engineering students and have expanded to headquarters in Saguenay under new ownership. The company makes road, gravel and mountain bikes. Devinci also make Montreal’s Bixi bikes and the ones for Toronto Bike Share.
The company’s gravel bike, the Hatchet, has MTB-inspired geometry and includes a longer top-tube and shorter stem for handling on loose, technical terrain.
KindHuman is a made to order bike company based in Toronto that offers complete bikes. Kindhuman offers stock sized frames and gives customers the controls on choosing the groupset and components the bike is built with. Kindhuman have road, gravel and cyclocross models to choose from with the frames painted in Canada.
The Don gravel bike, named after Toronto’s Don River Valley Park, had rack and fender mounts, internal cable routing and room for 42c tires.
Knolly Bikes has been building mountain bikes in Vancouver since 2002. With a focus on quality manufacturing, durability, and founder Noel Buckley’s background in engineering, Knolly’s are built tough to thrive on the notoriously tough North Shore trails. While carbon fibre frames have recently been added to the line, there are no plans to stop making the alloy frames Knolly built its reputation on.
Knolly’s gravel bike, the Chache was inspired by mtb geometry. It comes in either steel or titanium, with suspension fork options.
Kona was founded in Vancouver in 1988 by Dan Gerhard and Jacob Heilbron. The headquarters are now in Ferndale, Washington. Kona make bikes from carbon, titanium, aluminum and steel. The company has a world-class gravity team, Kona Factory Team which races internationally.
Kona sells a number of gravel bikes. The Libre, which they call “the quintessential drop bar adventure rig”, the Rove, made to carry a variety of gear, and the Sutra, which falls somewhere between a mtb and a road bike.
Vancouver-based, Landyachtz came to the bike building scene in the summer of 2016. The company was building longboards, skateboards and skateboard accessories and decided to enter the cycling industry thanks to the founders Mike Perreten and Tom Edstrand interest in the sport. Landyachtz makes city, touring, gravel road and custom bikes.
The company’s gravel bike, the AB1, is designed for daily commute, exploring local trails or a fully loaded bikepacking expedition.
Lyle Wiens has been building bikes in Altona, Manitoba under the LT Wiens name for four years now. Wiens first started building to meet his own needs: at 6’8” he couldn’t find a bike that fit him properly. Having built everything from road bikes to dual suspension mountain bikes, Wiens is comfortable with all kinds of projects, but admits he has a particular knack when building for other extra tall riders. Recently he built the gravel bike pictured above for a rider looking for a comfortable and fun ride.
Since 1969, Mariposa has been hand-making frames in Toronto. The company was founded by John Palmer and Mike Barry, the father of former professional cyclist Michael Barry Jr. who now operates the business with his wife Dede since the brand’s relaunch in 2012. The company makes custom classic steel frames. For its gravel bikes, Mariposa offers a number of custom options, such as 2x or 1x, electric or mechanical, hydraulic or rim brakes, thru-axles or quick release, internal or external cable routing.
Based in Quebec, Moose Bicycles is a consumer direct company that offers budget-friendly commuters, city bikes, fixies, gravel bikes and fat bikes. At just $999 CAD the Express 2 gravel bike is an entry-level option for those looking to get into the world of gravel.
Naked Bicycles based on Quadra Island in B.C. has been building custom frames since 1998. Founded by Sam Whittingham, Naked Bicycles makes road, cross and mountain frames out of steel and titanium. The company’s custom gravel bikes are titanium and can be built with a dropper post option as well.
Owned by two Canadians and named after the atomic number of the company’s favoured material, No. 22 make hand-made titanium frames in their Johnstown, New York facility. With seven models, custom options and ready-made complete bikes, No. 22 have been growing rapidly in recent years. The company also offers in-house anodized finishes. No. 22 won the People’s Choice Award and Best in Show at the 2018 edition of NAHBS. In 2019 No. 22’s Drifter X bike took Best-in-Show at NAHBS.
Norco opened its doors in 1964 as Northern Cycle Industries and was founded by Bert Lewis. The company changed its name but has grown considerably from its humble roots. Norco introduced the first full suspension BMX bike in 1973 and in 1975 began making 10-speed road bikes. The company expanded into mountain biking as the sport became more popular and continues to have the strong Norco Factory Team of pro riders who race internationally in various disciplines.
Norco’s gravel bike, the Search has a carbon frame and fork decked out with a generous tire clearance, rack, fender and bottle mounts, and a quick rider compartment.
Opus began in Montreal focused on building road bikes but has expanded in recent years with particular emphasis on commuting and urban riding in mind. They also offer e-bikes, trail, gravel and youth models in its line-up.
The Opus Horizon, the brand’s gravel bike, is designed to accommodate everything from light road slicks to mud-friendly wide knobbies (up to 42 mm).
For the Katahdin bike, the company had Vancouver-based artists Pellvetica decorate the surface of the frame.
Founded in Vancouver in 1981, Rocky Mountain have been making bikes used at the top level of mountain biking for decades. The company’s line-up is punctuated by various models for different mountain bike riding styles but their wide catalogue also includes gravel bikes as well. The brand’s HQ are now in Quebec, and Rocky continues to sponsor elite and pro freeride, enduro and cross country athletes.
The Rocky Mountain Solo has a 1x specific frame and is designed with the ability to run a full-length dropper post.
Rollingdale Cycle was established by Dale Marchand. The Alberta-based frame builder primarily focuses on building custom titanium frames, trailers and components (including stems and seatposts). Because these bikes are custom made, gravel tire clearance and custom mounts can easily be included in the frame design.
Squad bikes are assembled in Montreal. The company offers different models of road, gravel and triathlon bikes with custom paint, builds and are constructed to the riders desired fit. Squad’s gravel bike, the Root can be customized in hundreds of different ways.
T-Lab builds titanium bikes in Montreal. The company designs, engineers, manufactures and finishes their bikes at their facility. The brand came together lead by founder Tony Giannascoli after Guru bikes folded in 2016.
T-Lab’s X3 gravel bike has a titanium frame and is made completely to order based on rider specifications and preferences.
Founded in 1993, in a farm workshop in Alma, Ont. by Hugh Black, True North history began with mountain bikes. Now based in Belwood, Ont., True North build steel and titanium frames ranging in riding styles from touring to mountain biking. The company makes gravel bikes with either titanium or steel frames.
Alain Levesque has been building custom steel bicycles in Toronto under the Velos Levesque name since 2011. Focusing primarily on road and gravel bikes, from race light to rugged, Levesque will build both lugged and fillet-brazed steel frames. Each bike is purpose-built for its future owner, and no two bikes are the same.
Wildwood Cycles bikes are custom built from steel in Victoria. The company was founded in 2013 by Jesse Hildebrandt who is a Red Seal welder by trade. He’s also a very skilled and experienced BMX rider. Hildebrandt builds all sorts of bikes using a range of tubing and joined together using different methods to deliver custom bikes.