Gravel bikes are the new niche of bikes that are taking the cycling world by storm. I like to refer to them as the bikes created when the bicycle industry listened to consumers rather than pros.
Who would not want a bike that is comfortable, that can be fast and can venture off smooth tarmac onto more unforgiving terrain.
They give you a comfortable riding position like a mountain bike but the speed of a road bike. That view can convince people that they are just a rebadged cyclocross bike.
There is a quick way to see the difference between the two, a cyclocross bike is more race focused, and a gravel bike is more comfort orientated.
Visually this means a gravel bike has a taller headtube, the bit of the frame below your stem, and its wheels will be further apart. The taller headtube causes you to sit upright, making you comfortable, the longer wheelbase makes the bike seem more stable.
The stability is excellent if you decide to join in the other new cycling trend, bikepacking. Bikepacking is simply lightweight touring, using special bike bags rather than racks and pannier bags. By not having racks you can have a much lighter touring setup and see more of the world on your week off work.
Your gravel bike is designed to take this weight and is also build stronger than your standard road bike as riding offroad puts a little more stress on your bike.
The extra strength and reliability built in also make gravel bikes an ideal commuter bike. It will be able to withstand the rigors of daily riding and come back asking for more.
Now we will look at gravel bikes costing between $500 and $1000 and one that just sneaks in at a few dollars more. You will find that all of these bikes will have some great features as this is a highly competitive price point for gravel bikes.
Editor’s Note: The article was last updated in
August January 2021. Many bikes on the list are no longer available or out of stock as the demand for bikes skyrocketed in 2020. We will keep looking for alternatives and updating the list.
Please also note that while we are using the name gravel bike here, they are also called a variety of other names such as adventure bikes, all-road bikes or bikepacking bikes. They are all the same, but everyone wants to have unique marketing.
Top 12 Gravel Bikes Under $1000
Pure Cycles Gravel Adventure
Above I talked about strength. How a gravel bike has to be stronger than a road bike. That is why the Pure Cycles Adventure, a $900 gravel bike, is constructed using 4130 steel. 4130 is the steel that BMX frames are built with, now you probably don’t want to be throwing down 360s, but you can see that your frame will last.
4130 is also lighter than you are imagining and it gives a nice zingy feel as you ride along the road. I like 4130, and it is an excellent material for constructing frames.
Steel is also great for bikepacking with, it will not just snap with no warning like other metals, and it can even live with dents, it will wear those dents as marks of pride.
The bike is then outfitted with the super reliable Shimano Sora groupset. The 9 speed Shimano Sora is a great groupset if you need to work on your bike. It is simple to set up and easy to keep tuned and working well. The brakes to complement the Sora groupset are Promax mechanical disc brakes.
Promax mechanical discs are easier to set up than you think and once bedded in correctly they will provide fantastic stopping power. With your bike you will find a leaflet with the manufacturer’s instructions for bedding your brakes in, follow this and do not skip it.
The bike is shod with Hutchison tires. These tires are awesome. They are really comfortable and will take the sting out of most roads.
Tommaso Sentiero Shimano Claris
Like the Diamondback below the Tommaso has an aluminum frame, steel fork, and Shimano Claris groupset. It also has two features that may make it more attractive than the Diamondback. The Tommaso has Avid BB5 brakes, brakes that are superior to the Tektro Lira brakes. More importantly, it costs less, coming in at
The Sentiero comes with excellent tire clearance. You can 40mm wide tires in and once you have discovered the benefits of wide tires you will be. Wider tires will make more technical offroad a little bit easier on you.
The Marin Nicasio offers fantastic value for money while being incredibly fun to ride. Its rigid Chromoly steel frame features adventure bike geometry.
This means it is a comfortable commuter while providing stability when it comes to riding rocky terrain. It is also agile enough to to whip around tight turns.
The riding position of the Nicasio strikes an outstanding balance between sporty and easy-going. This means you will feel at home speeding along or merely taking a leisurely ride through the countryside.
The Marin Nicasio features a 2X8 Shimano Claris drivetrain. This provides plenty of versatility for urban and off-road riding. The mechanical brakes are also from Shimano and use 160mm rotors.
This means you get sufficient stopping power for any situation you are likely to be riding a bike like this.
Fitted with 700C Marin aluminum double-wall rims, shod with Apache Chief Vee Tires, this bike has a low rolling resistance but plenty of grip on uneven surfaces. This makes the Marin Nicasio efficient to pedal while giving you plenty of confidence off-road.
For a well priced and competent commuter bike that allows you to enjoy the rough stuff at the weekends, the Marin Nicasio is an excellent option.
Tommaso Sentiero Shimano Claris Carbon Fork
If you fancied the Tommaso above but don’t want a steel fork and want a carbon fiber fork, then this is the model for you. A carbon fiber fork will save you weight over a steel fork, something that might make hills that little bit easier. Carbon fiber can also be manipulated to take away some of the most jarring parts of road chatter.
Both Tommaso bikes use a triple front ring. That is one more ring than on any other bike here. A triple chainring is the old touring choice as it has a smaller ring at the front.
The smaller ring means that you have access to lower gears. Lower gears may make the difference between getting over that hill or giving up and wishing you were still on the sofa.
Salsa Journeyman Claris 650 / 700
The Sales Journeyman Claris 650 is an all-road gravel bike, suitable for a wide variety of cycling, from hitting the backroads to going offroad to racing on gravel. Its frameset includes a range of mounts for rear racks, fenders and bolt-on bike packing accessories, making it pretty handy for those off-road adventures.
The Journeyman Claris has aluminium tubing, which delivers lightweight strength, with Fantail aluminium fork. From a geometry point of view, drop bars allow you to change your hand positions to reduce fatigue over longer distances.
Plus, full-length internal cable routing helps to protect shifting cables and improves performance in difficult weather conditions. The Journeyman Claris has a 2×8-speed drivetrain and flat mount disc brakes, providing excellent stopping power. It’s also tubeless-ready.
Breezer Radar Expert
The Breezer Radar Expert is an all-terrain gravel bike. It is equipped with 45mm all-condition tires and a wide range of gears. The gearing makes this bike ideal for commuting, touring, steep climbing, or if you plan on carrying lots of weight. The fact that it costs less than $1,000 means that you get a lot for your money.
If you are into backpacking or touring adventures, the eyelets give you several mounting options for racks on both the fork and frame. It even has cargo cages on the fork with double mounting on each side. There are also provisions for fenders, bottle cages, and racks.
The frame is made from Steel 4130 Chromoly. This material is often used for gravel bikes, as Chromoly provides incredible strength to weight properties. It is actually 5 times stronger than if it was made from 6061 aluminum.
When it comes to the Radar’s components, you get what you would expect on a sub $1,000 bike. But, it does have a better specification than its nearest rivals, the Salsa Journeyman Claris or the Marin Nicasio +.
Braking comes from Tektro Spyre C mechanical disc brakes, and the drivetrain is the Shimano Deore, long cage rear derailleur with Sora shifters.
The long chainstay on the Breezer Rader Expert gives it a stable and relaxed feel. It also means you get enough clearance for panniers and rear racks without the risk of clipping them with your heels. This, with the slack head angle and well-chosen handlebars, gives you a well-balanced and comfortable gravel bike.
Octane One Gridd 2 Gravel Bike (2021) – CURRENTLY OUT OF STOCK
The Octane One Gridd 2 Gravel bike is beautiful and well-made. It looks more expensive than it is, but fortunately, it still comes with a high-quality frame and components.
The frame is 6061 Aluminum, which is strong and still lightweight. It comes with SRAM GX 10-speed short cage drivetrain. This is an excellent drivetrain to have on a gravel bike.
Removing the additional chainring at the front makes the bike look sleeker and the bars less cluttered. Thanks to the extra-large cogs on the back, you still have plenty of gearing options for all terrains.
It comes with high-quality Kendra 35mm tires that are great for road and trail. The addition of the disk brakes helps you to stay in full control no matter the terrain. As has become the norm, the dropped bars are slightly flared, making the bike easy to control and more comfortable to use while you are off the road.
This is a unique bike at this price due to the high-quality components that have been put on a robust aluminum frame. Although it is far from the top of the range in terms of the components or low weight, it is a great all-rounder bike at this price.
GT Grade Elite Gravel Bike 2021 – CURRENTLY OUT OF STOCK
2021 brings us an upgrade to the already near-perfect entry-level aluminum GT Grade Elite Gravel Bike. This bike features a grade alloy frame and carbon forks. It has a unique frame design, particularly with a floating seat post, which adds to how sleek it looks.
The Shimano Claris 2 x 8-speed drivetrain is one of the only components that let the Grade Elite Gravel Bike down. Although it does the job, you need to spend a little more money to get the upgraded Shimano GRX groupset.
Naturally, it comes with disk brakes and tubeless-ready WTB ST i23 TCS 2.0 rims. The WTB Riddler, 700 x 37mm tires are perfect for all terrains and there is no need to upgrade until they are worn (or you are looking to go tubeless straight away.
The frame’s relaxed geometry makes for a very comfortable ride and ensures that you remain in complete control both on the road and the trails.
Diamondback Bicycles Haanjo 2
Before we say anything else, the Haanjo 2 comes in a bold colorway. I personally love its punky green color scheme you may not. In fact, I am confused why they didn’t use this color scheme on the Haanjo’s little brother, the Haanjo Trail 24 for kids.
The Haanjo 2 comes in at around
$$$, and for that, you get a nice aluminum frame, which has a lifetime guarantee, mated to a steel fork. A steel fork is a great choice here as it will dampen road buzz and allows you some extra mounting points should you wish to go bikepacking.
The bike comes with Shimano Claris gearing which is Shimano’s entry-level road bike groupset. With a 2 x 8 gear setup it is simple to tune on the fly. Tektro’s Lira mechanical brakes provide your braking.
Cannondale Topstone Sora (now moved to best under $1500)
The old model of Cannondale Topstone Sora had a recommended retail price of $50 more than our $1000 budget so we had to include it here. The only available model for 2021 comes at a much higher cost ($1350) so we had to move it to our best gravel bikes under $1500 post.
Below is the link to the new model if you still want to check it out.
Raleigh Bikes Willard 1 (UNAVAILABLE)
Raleigh might be one of the most storied names in cycling, and with their years of knowledge, you can be sure of getting an excellent gravel bike. The Williard 1 is built around an aluminum frame and fork set.
With both frame and fork being constructed from aluminum you can be sure the Williard 1 is a lightweight gravel bike.
The Williard features a 2×8 Shimano Claris groupset and your stopping is provided by Tektro Lyra mechanical brakes. You will find atop the Williard’s double wall rimmed wheels a set of Clements X’Plor USH 35mm tires.
These tires are comfortable, in some ways they make your bike feel like you are riding around on your sofa. Their file tread pattern will also help you to conquer any dirt roads or paths you decide to ride down.
Mongoose Selous (UNAVAILABLE)
Mongoose is a brand that has a great name within BMX, a brand with a great reputation that has designed a bike for gravel that can compete with other great bikes of our selection such as the Octane One Kode.
The Mongoose Selous is the gravel grinder of the Californian brand, which has a higher quality version, the Mongoose Selous Expert, although with a price higher than $1,000. Therefore we will focus on the smallest of the family, which is more affordable.
Among the features that we can highlight of the Selous is its double-butted aluminum frame with full alloy fork, which allows equipping wheels up to 40mm. We missed that the wiring was routed inside the frame.
The 18 speeds offered by the Shimano Sora drivetrain with Sora shifters offer us a good transmission of power in each pedal stroke. These 18 speeds will be enough to pedal on any terrain, with a 50/34T crankset and an 11/36T rear cog.
Moving on to the wheels, the Mongoose Selous equips Alex tubeless-ready alloy rims and 700x40c WTB Nano tires. The wheel is completed by the Promax disc brake system with 160mm rotors that delivers great stopping power.
A great bike for beginners and intermediate cyclists that deserves to have a place in this selection of the best gravel bikes under $1000. Designed to cover all terrains and bring out your most adventurous side on the bike. For more info, you can visit the link below where you will find more features and a more detailed description.
Octane One Kode (UNAVAILABLE)
The Octane One Kode may be listed as a commuter bike, but it has serious gravel intentions. It is a single speed bike that is all about eating up the miles while keeping you comfortable.
One of the telltale signs of this is that the bike can carry 5 water bottles. Although I’d use the bolts on the fork to carry more luggage.
The Kode’s single speed wheels come tubeless ready, and although it comes with tubes under it’s 40mm wide Kenda Kwick tires, you can set it up tubeless fairly easily. The Kenda Kwik tires also look great in their tanwall colorway.
They roll fast and offer some tread for offroad excursions, just let the pressure down, and you should be fine if you don’t think you’re riding a mountain bike.
The handlebars on the Kode features a 15° flare. Making it pretty easy to get in the drops and keep the bike nicely under control when descending on offroad conditions.
The Hayes MX Comp disc brakes helping to slow you down on fully loaded descents. The Hayes may not have the best name in the bike world, but if you be them incorrectly, they work pretty well for their price point.
The gearing on the Octane One sits below that of a single speed road bike and means that you can comfortably spin at a nice tempo, and most hills are not as much of an issue as your imagining they might be on a single speed bike.
State Bicycle Co. Warhawk (UNAVAILABLE)
We are going to finish on a bike that is a bit different. On the Amazon listing, this bike is called a cyclocross bike, on the State Bicycle Co. website, it is called a gravel bike. If you search its geometry, it is somewhere in between a cyclocross bike and a gravel bike.
The first thing you may notice is that the bike is single speed and the next thing you may see is that it does not have disc brakes. This steel bike has cantilever brakes, the original offroad brake of choice. The Warhawk is how we went gravel riding in the past, and we all know everyone loves a bit of retro action.
If you want a bike that will have people talk to you, this is the bike. There is also nothing like bikepacking along gravel roads on a single speed bike, especially if you go past other cyclists uphill.
Fuji Jari 2.5 (UNAVAILABLE)
Fuji is a historic brand, this Japanese company was founded in 1899 and since then offers models with great value for money. They have other models like the Jari 1.3 or the Jari 2.3 with many and great features, but we want to make a special mention to the Fuji Jari 2.5.
Jari 2.5 features Reynolds 520 Chromoly steel frame which is full of holes in the frame, on the horizontal bar and under the bottom bracket, as well as in the rear straps and dropouts for saddlebags and on both sides of the Chromoly steel fork.
An adventure bike in which you can travel infinity of kilometers over the gravel, carry your saddlebags for your bikepacking weekends and enjoy every pedal stroke on your trips.
It has a Shimano Claris transmission with chainring 44/28T and 11/34T 8-speed cassette, very suitable for steep and even uneven terrain, as it has 32 spoke 700c rims with Panaracer Gravelking SK 700 x 38c with which you can ride on practically every terrain.
It has Tektro Mira mechanical disc brakes, 6061 alloy Oval Concepts 325 handlebar for gravel that features a 25-degree flare in the drops to reduce wrist bend, and a very comfortable geometry.
At first glance, you can see that it is a bike designed for gravel and adventure cycling. If you are a bikepacking lover you will love this bike.
The best gravel bikes under $1,000 benefit from introducing some of the best components and engineering. They usually have the groupsets and drivetrains that were market-leading only a few years ago.
That does not mean that they are any lower quality, but for a gravel bike under $1,000, they work perfectly as an introduction to adventure and gravel bikes.
Frame and Geometry
Many gravel and adventure bikes started their life as a road bike. The manufacturer then realized with a few minor adjustments that they could sell a whole new bike and call it gravel, adventure or all-rounder bike.
Gravel bikes have a more relaxed geometry than road bikes. That means that you should not be hunched over the bars or have to overreach to change gears.
The benefits of this relaxed fit are that you have better control of the bike, especially on trails and looser ground. It is also more comfortable for longer rides, one reason why adventure bikes are a great option for any bikepackers.
Many gravel bikes will come with the necessary frame mounts to add pannier racks, fenders and baskets to the frame.
Gravel and adventure bikes are made to be versatile machines. As such, it can be challenging to choose the best gearing and drivetrain. SRAMS GX 1×10 speed drive train is a perfect option for an entry-level drive train.
It may only have 10 gears, but thanks to the extra-large rear cogs, you still benefit from the versatility of climbing with ease. However, if you are a heavier rider or are looking for a gravel bike to take bikepacking, it will be worth looking for a bike with more chainrings on the front to have the range to conquer every incline.
Wheels and Tires
The wheels that come with the gravel bike are an important purchasing factor. You need to think about what you are going to be using your bike for.
Although they are designed to be all-around adventure bikes, each brand does come with a slightly different set up suitable for different occasions.
If you are looking to take your gravel bike on technical trails and load it up with heavy camping equipment for a cycling adventure, you should get wheels with more spokes. Generally, they will come with between 24 to 32 spokes.
The more you have, the heavier but more robust your wheels will be. However, if you are not likely to be doing much off-roading or carrying heavy loads, it is worth saving the additional weight and looking for wheels with a lower spoke count.
Whether you are a beginner or experienced cyclist, you may wish to try out tubeless tires. There are mixed reviews, but in the main, they seem to be saving a lot of cyclists the expense of buying and replacing inner tubes regularly.
Many of the best rims will be tubeless-ready nowadays, but be mindful you will have to purchase the tires separately. You rarely find a gravel bike that comes with tubeless tires straight out the box.
A great many gravel bikes are competing in the $500-$1000 price range. You can find bikes made from steel and aluminum, and good carbon fiber forks start to make an appearance.
All the bikes come with reliable rather than fancy gearing. They are designed to work and can deal with conditions that are less than favorable.
You will see that all of these bikes will last and all of them are suitable to upgrade if you feel that is necessary.
None of them will hold you back from roaming all over your state, or the world. Now all you need to do is decide which bike you want to go and get muddy riding.
I’ve spent way more time in the bike trade than anyone should reasonably want to. In that time I’ve wanted to make cycling jargon and marketing easier to cut through to help people get the bike of their dreams.
When I’m not writing about bikes, I can be seen out bikepacking on single speed bikes or teaching kids how to ride.