Gravel bikes are a great all-around bicycle that can replace your city, road and mountain bikes. They are designed for adventures over most terrains, which is one reason they are so popular.
They are called several names, including Gravel, Adventure, and All Rounder bikes, depending on who the manufacturer wants to target with their latest model.
Here is a list of the best gravel bikes under (or around) $1,500 that are currently available. Hopefully, we will add more suggestions to this list as retailers restock and have more 2021 models available for sale.
Top Gravel Bikes For Under $1500
Co-op Cycles ADV 2.1
If you’re looking for an intermediate gravel bike that doesn’t break the bank then this is a great choice. It uses more mountain bike components and puts them on a rigid body making it great for ripping around on flatter terrain.
It contains a lightweight aluminum frame with an even lighter carbon fork to provide a lightweight bike that’s fast, responsive, and comfortable to ride.
The carbon fork will also help to absorb some of the vibrations on the trail which results in a smoother ride and more fun. It offers a 16 speed drivetrain giving you lots of variety on terrain and dual piston mechanical brakes.
If you’re a beginner to intermediate rider that wants to do some more gravel/road riding then this is definitely a great quality option at an affordable price.
Cannondale Topstone 3 Alloy Bike
The Topstone sells out fast. It is undoubtedly going to be one of the best- selling bikes for 2021. Cannondale has taken their superb knowledge of aluminum and constructed a high-quality aluminum bike for a price that belies how great it is. The frame and carbon fiber fork are the exact same frame and fork as found on the $2100 Cannondale Topstone.
The Topstone then is an entry-level price that you can easily upgrade using. It has the chassis you need to build your dream bike. The bike as you may guess comes with a Shimano Sora drivetrain. It comes with a 2 x 9 gear set up. You then have a good range of gear for any voyages that you may wish to go on.
The Topstone comes with WTB Riddler Comp, 700 x 37c, tires. These tires will provide you with more than enough grip offroad while remaining fast when riding on the road — the perfect tire for a gravel bike.
Devinci Hatchet A G Sora
The Devinci Hatchet Sora A G is an aluminum-framed gravel bike with a bias towards adventure riding. Its off-road capability comes from its mountain bike geometry.
Featuring a short stem, your center of gravity is moved backward, increasing stability on descents, while the longer head tube gives you a longer reach, giving the bike a more roomy feel.
The carbon fork reduces the bike’s weight, but it also dampens the vibrations, creating a more comfortable ride.
To protect the gear and brake cables, the Davinci Hatchet Sora A G has internal cable routing. This creates a sleek and tidy look, adding to the sophisticated aesthetics of the bike.
Fitted with the 9-speed Shimano Sora Drivetrain, this version of the Devinci Hatchet has smooth and reliable gear changes. But, this also means that it provides a good range for riding varied terrain.
When riding steep descents, you need reliable brakes that are easy to modulate. Therefore, Davinci has equipped the Sora A G with stainless 160mm brake discs, using Tektro mechanical calipers.
If you are looking for the perfect bike to introduce you to the world of adventure riding, the Devinci Hatchet Sora A G is an ideal choice.
Fuji Cross 1.3 Disc
The Fuji Cross 1.3 is a great entry-level gravel bike offering nimble handling at a very competitive price when you look at the components that make up this bike.
It comes with a 6066 aluminum frame and cross carbon forks for added comfort offroad. The SRAM Apex groupset, including the hydraulic brakes, is an excellent addition for a bike at this price. All too often, manufacturers mix and match components to bring the price down. However, Fuji has decided to go all out on this gravel bike.
With a sporty endurance geometry, you are sat more upright than on a road bike or out and out cyclocross bike. It makes it a perfect gravel bike for beginners or those looking to stay in complete control while tackling some technical and muddy trails.
The Challenge Grifo 700 x 33c tires may add some additional rolling resistance on the tarmac, but once offroad, they come into their element, offering plenty of traction on uneven trails, wet rocks and sandy corners.
The frame comes with mounts to add fenders and front and rear pannier packs. The Fuji Cross 1.3 is a versatile all-round gravel bike that is more than up to the challenge of your daily commute or next cycling tour.
At this price, you will struggle to find such a well-built bike that can handle so many different terrains effortlessly without sacrificing speed.
Diamondback Bicycles Haanjo 4
The Haanjo is an aluminum framed, carbon forked adventure bike that has been built for all-day comfort. The endurance geometry of the frame makes it an excellent choice for bikepacking adventures or long daily commutes.
It comes with the gravel-focused Shimano GRX400, 10-speed drivetrain, which you only get on gravel bikes that are genuinely designed for off-road adventures. Combined with the flared drop handlebars, 37mm wide WTB riddler off-road tires, this is a great all-round gravel bike for the price.
They have managed to build up a gravel ready frame with all the finishing touches and components you need to be comfortable and in full control, whether on the road or off the beaten track. To get this all under $1,500 is an outstanding achievement.
Diamondbacks Haanjo 4 is one of the few gravel bikes under $1,500 where you will not be left wishing you spent just a little bit more to save you from having to upgrade some of the components.
Tommaso Illimitate Disc 40C
The Tommaso Illimitate Disc 40C is a beautiful gravel bike built around a compact aluminum frame. It is fitted with a high modulus carbon fiber fork that gives it fantastic vibration dampening and comfort. The TRS Ultralight compact handlebars add to the bike’s comfort with ergonomic flat tops, and shallow drops.
Shallow drops make it easier to change your hand position for fast descending. To make the Illimtate versatile for adventure riding, Tommaso, have included eyelets in the frame to enable easy installation of racks or fenders.
You get a wide range of gears from the Shimano 50/34T Tiagra drivetrain. Meaning the Tommaso Iilmitate is very capable anywhere that you would want to ride a gravel bike. This drivetrain has been proven to be reliable and offers precise shifting, so you can be in your required gear exactly when you need it.
The wide 40c tires fitted to 700c provide excellent grip on all types of terrains and in all weather conditions. This wheel and tire combination balances low rolling resistance and traction exceptionally well.
It comes equipped with Avid BB5 disc mechanical disc brakes, which are reliable and provide strong stopping power in all weather conditions, but they do need to be set up correctly to make sure that they perform at their best.
Trek 520 Grando (2021)
The Trek 520 Grando is a steel frame adventure bike built for touring and off-roading. It comes in just over $1,500 but had to be included in the list.
This bike has been created for offroad adventurers who do not want a too slow ride on the tarmac. It comes with a Shimano Tiagra 2 x 10 drivetrain, with the addition of the Shimano GRX rear derailleur. The GRX derailleur is a nice touch for any adventure or gravel bike as it helps to maintain smooth gear changes over bumpy and uneven ground.
It comes with a front rack and all the mounts you need to install a rear rack too. Making it a perfect adventure bike that can handle gravel tracks and off-roading.
The steel frame is firm but not too heavy and with the addition of the relaxed touring geometry, it makes a very comfortable ride, no matter what surface you take it on.
The Bontrager GR1 Expert, Hard-Case Lite, wire bead, 700x40mm tires were created to provide traction on uneven surfaces but not give too much rolling resistance while on the tarmac. This, in addition to the responsive disk brakes, leaves you in full control of the bike, even in the worst conditions.
This bike is a great all-round adventure bike, perfect if you are looking to do more than just ride at the weekend and are after a bike that can handle more extended bike tours that may take you off the beaten track.
Trek Checkpoint AL 3
Coming in at $1200 the Checkpoint AL 3 is the entry-level model to Trek’s gravel range. As you might have worked out the AL in the name means aluminum.
Trek have given the Checkpoint a nice lightweight aluminum frame and teamed it up with a carbon fiber fork. This construction allows them to build a stiff bike, further augmented by having front and rear thru axles.
A thru axle is a wheel attachment system whereby one side of the frame and fork has a hole rather than a slot, and the other side has a threaded hole.
You simply screw the axle into your frame and fork and as the axles are generally thicker than an old quick release you have a stiffer wheel and bike interface. That means more of your pedal stroke goes towards propelling you forward.
As well as this system the Trek also has flat mount brakes. The flat mount is a new disc brake standard. It is mainly found on road and gravel bikes. It keeps your brakes flush with your frame and fork and is a more structurally efficient way of mounting brakes.
The use of brand new technology is why the Trek cost $1200 while being built from aluminum with a Shimano Sora groupset.
GT Grade Expert Gravel Bike (2021) (unavailable)
The GT Grade Expert Gravel Bike is an upgrade on the already outstanding GT Grade Elite Gravel Bike.
The GT Grade Expert comes with a few upgrades that mainly revolve around the groupset and gearing. You still get the unique floating seat stay, which looks incredible and makes the frame more compliant.
Especially on uneven ground, it allows the frame to flex more than the traditional bonded seat stay designs. Somehow the engineers over at GT have managed to do this without losing any stiffness when you need to put power into the pedals.
It comes with Shimano GRX RX400 2×10-Speed drivetrain. This is much more suited to offroading than the Shimano Claris 2 x 8-speed drivetrain that comes on the Grade Elite. For the additional money, you are better off spending a little more and getting the Grade expert if you plan on cycling off-road more often than not.
Obviously, the 4 extra gears come in handy, but the main reason the GRX RX400 is better is the rear derailleur, which was initially developed for mountain bikes. It helps to ensure smooth gear changes, even on bumpy surfaces.
Other than that, the Grade Expert comes with all the features you get with the Grade Elite, including Shimano Disk Brakes, Tubeless-ready rims and relaxed geometry.
Specialized have two different entry models in their gravel range. You have the aluminum Diverge or the steel Sequoia. The Diverge is similar to both the Trek and the Mongoose so let us look at the Sequoia. The Sequoia range starts at $1400.
The $1400 model is built from Cr-Mo steel and is designed for the more bikepacking end of gravel riding. It is a bike that is loaded with mounting points so that you can even take your kitchen sink with you when you’re off on an adventure.
As with some of the other gravel bikes here it comes with thru axles and flat mount brakes. You also have a mix of a road bike and mountain bike groupsets. It comes with a combination of Shimano Sora and Shimano Alivio.
Many bike manufacturers now mix road and mountain bike groupsets as it gives you road bike shifters but with mountain bike low gears. If you are off touring the world you probably do not want the high gears of a road groupset but the nice low gears of a mountain bike.
You can then spin your way around the planet and not spend every moment with your legs screaming “Enough” at you.
Fairdale 2021 Weekender Nomad 650B Bike
Rarely does a bike’s name suit the design and rider so well. The Fairdale Weekend Nomad has been put on this earth to help you live like a nomad and explore off the beaten track. The 100% Chromoly steel frame is light enough to be rapid on the roads and more than strong enough to carry both you and your panniers over uneven surfaces and gravel.
The 1 x 11 SRAM Rival drivetrain provides plenty of gearing options without the clutter and extra weight of a front derailleur. But thanks to the 11t – 42t range on the rear cassette, you can still power up inclines, even with the bike fully loaded with everything you need for a weekend adventure.
Although you do not get the internal cable routing that comes with more expensive bikes, for the price, you are getting a well-rounded gravel bike that is more than up to the challenge of some off-roading. It comes with surprisingly wide and grippy tires, slightly different sizes depending on the size of frame you get (S: Maxxis Overdrive (27.5″ x 1.65″); M/L/XL: Continental DBL Fighter III (27.5″/650b x 2.0″).
The large tire clearance, reliable Avid BB7 Road disk brakes, and subtle flex from the Chromoly steel frame and forks make this a very comfortable and durable gravel bike. With the addition of front and rear rack mounts, it can easily be upgraded for a bike-packing adventure or just a reliable daily commuting bike.
If you are looking for a classic design with a high-quality American finish, then Fairdales Weekend Nomad is an absolute bargain.
If you have a budget of over $1,000, you can get an outstanding quality Gravel bike that will serve you well straight out of the box. The components, including wheels and tires, should be high enough quality that you do not need to worry about upgrades any time soon.
Frame and Geometry
Gravels bike under or around $1,500 will be steel or aluminum framed. Although steel can be a little heavier, it depends on the design of the steel frame and grading. Steel is the most robust of the three. If you are looking for a gravel bike to take you on bikepacking adventures, then a steel frame is the best option.
One of the reasons that Gravel bikes are becoming so popular is their more relaxed geometry. Although they are designed for speed over multiple types of terrain, they generally have a more relaxed or touring geometry.
This not only makes the ride more comfortable over longer distances, but it also helps improve control on more technical trails. Generally, gravel bikes will have a shorter wheelbase than touring bikes, making them more nimble and agile.
Without the addition of suspension, the frame design plays a significant role in your overall comfort, particularly on gravel tracks. The GT Grade Expert with its floating seat stay is a perfect example of how in this price range, you can make the most of some of the best innovations in frame designs that will help to make your ride as smooth as possible on all terrains.
At around $1,500, you can start being pickier about the components and drivetrain that come with the bike.
You should be looking for SRAM GX or Shimano GRX groupsets on a gravel bike. These drivetrains were engineered for mountain bikes.
They both use similar systems to help reduce the bounce of the rear derailleur. This helps to ensure that gear changes are smooth and reliable, even on uneven surfaces.
At around $1,500, you can only expect the entry-level groupsets either the Shimano Tiagra: RX400 (which is slightly heavier, has one less gear, and does not come with a clutch compared to the higher end Shimano groupsets) or SRAM GX Eagle (Similar design without any of the weight saving from more expensive groupsets).
You need to have disk brakes on a gravel bike due to their superior reliability and stopping power when wet. All the bikes on this list come with disk brakes.
Wheels and Tires
You would be forgiven for thinking that Gravel bikes are just road bikes with wider tires and flared drops. As stated above, several small adjustments have been made to ensure that a gravel bike performs well both on the tarmac and the trails.
The tires that come with a gravel bike are wider than on a road bike, with more tread to improve traction and control on gravel and uneven surfaces.
Generally, you will be getting a tire that is 38mm to 42mm wide. This gives you more contact with the ground without causing too much rolling resistance.
In this price range, all the bikes will come with tubeless-ready wheels. It is up to you if you want to make the most of this technology. However, as you will be running the gravel bike tires at a slightly lower PSI than a road bike, upgrading to tubeless will help prevent pinch flats.
The wheels that come with the bike should be robust and reliable in the price range. If you are planning on cycle touring, then lookout for a gravel bike that comes with wheels that have 30 or more spokes. This will help maintain the wheel’s shape and integrity, even if you hit a big bump while your bike is fully loaded.
Gravel bikes are great for adventures, whether you are looking for a bike to take off the beaten track on your daily commute, weekend adventure or cross country tour. You have plenty of options at or around $1,500.
Remember, it is more than just wider tires that make a gravel bike the versatile all-terrain machines they are. Do not settle for road bike components and v brakes. Think about what you want to use your bike for in the main and focus on the components and features important to you.
Due to their versatility, if you buy a good gravel bike, you will no longer need a separate commuter, road and off-road bike, so they are worth the investment.
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.