Gravel biking is becoming an increasingly popular pursuit for your natural-born adventurer. Lying somewhere between urbane road biking and the more treacherous mountain biking, gravel biking is distance-travel over unpaved roads, with riders often seeking scenic sites of rural or historical interest that can’t always be reached by car.
But navigating nontechnical and unsurfaced roads will provide its unique challenges and you want to be prepared for anything these bumpy terrains have to throw at you.
Nobody wants to be stuck down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere because they set out with a bike that is not quite up to the task!
Gravel bikes - or adventure bikes as they’re often called - can be taken over a variety of terrain. You can dart down a bridleway or across a wide-open plain or dash down a fire road then transition seamlessly into a straight tarmac road, bustling city street or cobbled alleyway. A gravel bike needs to be able to switch personalities at the drop of a hat!
But would you know what a gravel bike looks like from fifty paces? What are the distinct characteristics of an adventure bike? What should you be looking for when shopping for one? Not looking to spend more than $1000 on your first bike?
Well don’t worry, we have the list for you!
Grab your helmet and your tight cycling shorts and let’s race straight into our top 5 gravel bikes for under $1000 currently on the market!
Top 5 Best Gravel Bikes Under $1000
OUR TOP PICK
Do you need a bike that you can use to get you from work to home and back again, but also handle those longer weekend cycles through the countryside? Coming in at around the $500 to $800 price range, the Diamondback Women’s Road Bike might be the perfect option for you!
This is a bike of extreme versatility, based on the Haajno platform, it has a range of options, from inexpensive commuter bikes to lightweight gravel-racers.
The aluminum frame can take a real beating and puts the rider in a fully upright position so you can ride further with far less strain. This version has a flat bar, which makes it great for jetting across cities.
Its 40mm tires help you soak up the bounce from potholes and debris, giving you added traction on wet or snowy roads.
This bike is built to do it all - commute to and from work, joining a group ride or shredding up some serious gravel on a race track. Its Tektro mechanical disc brakes make for fast stopping on any terrain, with a shorter top tube and taller head tube than a traditional road bike, it puts you in a less aggressive position for a long, smooth ride.
- Flat handlebar with state-of-the-art gear shifting makes it easy to jump on this bike and start riding, even if you haven’t done so in decades.
- With its astronomically-low price, this is the ideal starter bike for newbies.
- Purpose-built for the casual rider, it will also help you warm up those muscles if you fancy a more adventurous ramble on the weekend.
- This bike might not offer the full range of features that a more experienced gravel biker is looking for.
Now it’s time for something a little bit more precision-engineered for the harder gravel rider with the Diamondback Haanjo 5C Carbon bike.
Designed for multi-day backcountry riding and bike packing, this bike is the right fit for anyone who’s ever packed 25lbs of gear on a bike and wanted that 3x front shift.
The frame design is also specially-adapted for the hard-grafting cycler, with a taller head tube and a larger wheelbase than a traditional bike, this gives the rider that increased control when ripping up the dirt roads loaded with gear.
With mounts for fenders and racks, internal cable routing, three bottle cage mounts, and a Di2 electric shifting compatibility, this amazing gravel bike won’t leave you high and dry, making sure that you have everything you need for a long-haul journey.
This dark olive matte paint scheme lends this bike a sophisticated and understated quality, whilst also still looking a bit rugged and tough - like a tank set up for a parade! This bike doesn’t need to be ostentatious or showy, it let’s its numerous state-of-the-art features do the talking!
- This bike is a behemoth of durability - even when traveling at 50pm down a forest trail loaded with gear, this bike will remain remarkably composed and stable throughout.
- Although it’s built for hauling heavy loads, this versatile bike is also incredibly nimble and quick as an unloaded trail bike.
- With its DB Eldorado saddle, this bike won’t be too rough on your butt, with a breathable groove that provides cool riding for hours on end.
- The brakes have limited resistance and modulation, which might give the harder gravel rider pause for thought.
- Not an ideal commuter bike, this is certainly one for those looking for solitude and off-road adventure than those who stick to the road well-traveled.
Now we’ll look at a slightly more urbane, high-quality model of bike, with the Giordano Trieste Gravel Bike. This smartly-equipped bike is made for miles and miles of gravel bike enjoyment, with a lightweight, durable carbon frame, this is ideal for beginners and intermediate city bikers.
With a chromoly-steel frame, this bike can be picked up and ridden at a moment’s notice, with thick 30mm tires that will ensure a smooth ride across many choppy surfaces.
Priced at around $600, this bike is an absolute steal, a perfect starter bike for those who mainly stick to the roads with the odd trail diversion.
Complete with a chromoly steel frame, fork and Shimano Claris 16-speed drivetrain and mechanical disc brakes, this feels like a road bike yet is more than capable of handling mixed terrain.
- It’s very affordable, perfect for beginning and intermediate bikers who want to go offroad now and again.
- With its wide frame and fork, this bike’s tires can be upgraded easily for someone who fancies tearing up those trickier turfs and terrains.
- Those looking to upgrade might find themselves shelling out a few extra hundred dollars.
Another all-terrain hybrid of road and gravel, we have the sturdy Royce Union Men’s gravel bike, with mean tires and a feather-light frame giving you a pacier ride that won’t drag you down.
With its diamond aluminum frame and 16-speed Shimano Claris gear selection, this bike makes uphill treks an absolute sinch!
It had reinforced rubber grips on the handles to allow maximum control, with a low-maintenance hardtail frame that absorbs shocks from gravel paths and guarantees smooth riding on roads - you won’t notice the transition on this bike!
The Royal Union bike also has alloy machine-walled rims that can suffer all weathers and is incredibly durable.
- Coming with a rigid steel fork and alloy 3-piece crank with precision specifications provides unrivaled riding performance.
- The aluminum hardtail frame of this bike means that you have a lighter ride without the maintenance and, more importantly, without sacrificing performance.
- The disc brakes on the front and rear generate a high-degree of stopping power, giving you that high yield and control in whatever the weather.
- More gravel bike that road bike, this will not be the ideal choice for those commuters largely sticking to even surfaces.
Our final bike is for those who struggle to stay on the sidewalk, hankering for that off-road adventure - it’s the mighty Tommaso Illimitate Shimano Tiagra Gravel Adventure Bike.
This redesigned 2020 model comes with 40C tires to bulk up its off-road capabilities. Perfect for those looking to enhance their commuter bike or push the boundaries of standard sidewalk cycling.
The full Shimano Tiagra drivetrain gives the rider excellent shifting and control, with Avid Disc 55 brakes bringing that bullet-quick stop in the dirt, gravel and even mud conditions - this bike goes further than your standard caliper!
This sleek carbon frame is rack ready, so it can effortlessly be taken cross-country. It's tough, lightweight and reliable, ready for all weather conditions, you won’t want a better bike to back you up when you're out in the middle of nowhere!
The 28-spoke wheels can take a heavy load, with a heavy-duty tire thickness, they improve stability, are aerodynamic and purpose-built for rough terrain.
- The Tommaso carbon fork is lightweight and dampens vibrations from a gravel road.
- Brake discs offer rapid stopping power come mud, rain or wind.
- The TRS Ultralight compact bars offer easily-accessible dropdown bars with flat tops for extra comfort.
- This bike sits at the top end of the price spectrum and may put off riders looking for an uncomplicated city bike to get them to work and back every day.
Best Gravel Bikes Under $1000 Buying Guide
So we’ve taken a look at the few low price gravel bikes currently on offer, but you may still be none-the-wiser as to what you are looking when shopping for a gravel bike that suits your particular needs.
For a start, gravel and adventure bikes exist in their own unique categories and certainly aren’t just rebranded hybrids. There is no single blueprint that the gravel bike will follow, but generally, they can be categorized as something between an endurance road bike and a cyclo-cross racer.
Gravel and adventure bikes are designed with much longer wheelbases, which make them stable on rougher surfaces such as gravel and gives them that extra comfort when moving across long distances.
Shape And Frame
The geometry of a gravel bike is far more relaxed than a racing bike, the head angle is slacker, with a head tube that is often taller. The bottom bracket of a gravel bike can be found a lot lower than that of a racing bike.
Gravel bikes will have wider forks to accommodate bigger tires, although how big you want to go varies from one brand to another.
Hydraulic disc brakes offer more power on a gravel bike, giving more confidence when off-road and useful in mixed conditions.
Endurance road bike tires can go up to 32mm as a general rule, but as we have seen, gravel and adventure bike tires can have as much as 55mm ground clearance, again, giving you that extra comfort and control on the track.
There are plenty of options available for gravel bike tires, featuring rugged touring and cyclocross tires as well as road slicks, so you can easily set up for your particular riding demands.
Tire choice is very dependent on what type of riding you’re intending to do - whether it’s city, gravel or a mixture - and a gravel bike will allow you to fix a 25mm or 28mm tire to it if speed is your thing.
Commuting Or Racing?
Many gravel bikes are simply used to get a ride across tarmac city routes, although many of them can be customized with mudguards and fitting racks if the rider fancies exploring further afield.
Events like the Transcontinental Race prove that a gravel or adventure bike is becoming the go-to choice for long-distance backpacking or lightweight touring, where you will want a bike that offers a comfortable riding position that you can lug across all terrains.
A rider looking to ease themselves back into the saddle after a prolonged absence yet has their sights set on a greater challenge down the road can not go far wrong with picking a gravel or adventure bike as a starter.
As shown from our list above, these bikes are very affordable for those who want a durable bike that gives them optimal comfort and control - whilst also giving the impression that they know their stuff when standing beside the more road-hardened competitive bikers!
Best Gravel Bikes Under $1000 FAQ's
What Type Of Riding Will I Be Doing?
The first thing you need to consider before purchasing a low-priced gravel bike is what kind of riding you’re going to be doing. Remember: you’re always looking for the smoothest, most controlled ride in relation to the surface you’re riding over.
What’s The Difference Between Gravel, Road and Mountain Biking?
Road biking is a pretty flat, casual affair and some people will opt for a bike pedal that secures their foot to the frame during those long, strenuous rides across mostly smooth surfaces.
However, mountain biking is a much different story, with riders probably opting for a heftier bike that gives them the versatility to jump on and off quickly if they cannot negotiate a fallen log or a rocky outcrop.
We assume that if you are reading an article on gravel bikes then gravel biking is going to be your chosen genre. As we have mentioned above, gravel biking sits somewhere between road and mountain biking, so you have a much broader, more versatile set of options for your frames, pedals, seats and handlebars.
How much do I have to spend on a gravel bike?
Well, that depends on what you would define as a gravel bike. A cyclocross bike, for example, could function just as effectively as a gravel bike on the same terrain as a gravel bike, costing you a fraction of the cost of even the most basic ‘true’ gravel-crunching machines.
If you’re searching for a higher-end, purpose-built gravel or all-road bike, you might be looking to pay around $800 to $1,200 for an alloy frame with entry-level components such as brakes, saddle and handlebars. Although in our list above, some gravel bikes can be nabbed for as little as $500.
If you’re feeling brave and have more miles under your feet, you might want to look at getting a mid-range build from a major brand that will likely cost you in excess of $2,000 to $2,800 but will feature more tenacious additions like a carbon frame and hydraulic disc brakes.
As is normally the case in the world of high-end cycling, it is more than possible to spend a small fortune on a custom-built bike, although these prices are reserved for the more serious bikers that embark on multi-day rides across miles and miles of varying terrain.
Our Final Say
Gravel biking can seem like a daunting, complex activity to want to pursue, made more daunting by its hefty price tag!
But as we have seen, there are inexpensive ways of pursuing entry-level or intermediate gravel-biking, as long as you know which level you feel most comfortable at. Hopefully looking at our list of gravel bikes and the criteria involved in gravel-biking has given you a deeper understanding of the subject, giving you the confidence you need when making your first purchase. Happy riding!