Gravel bikes are great for people who want a bike that can do pretty much anything. They are good for commuting along roads and pavements, good at riding on trails and gravel tracks and can even be used for long touring trips, with their relaxed frame geometry making them a lot more comfortable for long periods in the saddle.
The trouble is, they can be quite expensive and if you are new to gravel bikes you might not want to spend a fortune buying one. In this guide, I have found the best gravel bikes under $1000, which are perfect for getting you started with gravel bike riding and can last you for a good few years, by which time you may be ready to upgrade to something more expensive.
- What to Expect for Under $1000
- Best Gravel Bikes Under $1000
- What to Look for When Choosing a Gravel Bike
- How to Fit a Gravel Bike
- What to Wear When Riding a Gravel Bike
- How to Set up Your Gravel Bike for Optimum Performance
- Accessories for Gravel Bikes
Best Gravel Bikes Under $1000
Marin San Rafael Dual Sport 2 700C
Marin DSX 700C
Diamondback Haanjo 2
Tommaso Sentiero Shimano Claris
The State Bicycle Co 4130 All-Road
Marin San Rafael Dual Sport 1 700C
Tommaso Siena Gravel Bike
Marin Nicasio 700C
What to Expect for Under $1000
In recent years the materials used for making gravel bikes have increased in price. This, coupled with improvements in technology has resulted in the price of bikes increasing over time. $1000 is still a good budget for a starter gravel bike.
In terms of the frame and fork material, gravel bikes under 1000 generally have steel frames or aluminum frames. For added strength and to save a little bit of money, some manufacturers will use an aluminium frame with steel forks, as steel is a stronger, cheaper material to make a bike with.
The bike’s geometry will be comparable with most high-end models, so the comfort of your ride should be compromised by poor.
Due to the nature of the materials being used, these bikes will be heavier than more expensive, light gravel bikes. You are unlikely to find a carbon-framed bike at this price point without there being some serious compromise in other areas. Steel gravel bikes are much more common.
Best Gravel Bikes Under $1000
Marin San Rafael Dual Sport 2 700c
The Marin San Rafael Dual Sport 2 is a good choice for those who want a bike that is comfortable to ride, affordable and doesn’t skimp on the quality of the components.
The frame of this San Rafael is made using aluminum, which is standard for lighter gravel bikes under $1000. It also comes with SR Suntour NEX Disc HLO suspension forks, which boast 63mm of travel. For those looking for a comfortable ride when going on trails and off the main roads, this will certainly help to take the pressure off your wrists and arms. It also comes with flat handlebars, which give a more relaxed position and will mean more comfort when riding for long periods, particularly for those transitioning from a mountain bike.
This bike comes with 16 gears, with a Forged Alloy 46/30T front crank and a SunRace 11/34T rear cassette. These gear ratios are fairly low, meaning this bike will be great for more leisurely riders who aren’t looking to compete against road bike users. It is also better for those looking to do a little bit of hill climbing, as you should be able to drop down into an easier gear than with some other gravel bikes with more teeth.
The real boon with this bike is the Tektro HD-M275 hydraulic disc brakes, as there are very few gravel bikes under $1000 that come with hydraulic brakes. These will certainly help to increase the stopping power of the gravel bike compared to mechanical disc brakes.
The 700c Marin Aluminum Double Wall wheels are in line with other bikes in this price range. The Vee Tire Rail 700 x 40mm tires are a cut above compared to some other bikes at this price point, with the 40mm width striking a good blend of grip for off-road riding and not too much rolling resistance on the roads.
Why we love it:
This is a great bike for those looking to transition from a mountain bike to gravel riding, with good quality components and features for the sub $1000 price tag.
Marin DSX 700c
For those looking for a bike that can be used over long distances as well as for commuting to work, the Marin DSX 700c has the right balance of features and weight to make it a solid choice.
This bike uses a Series 2 aluminum frame, ensuring that the bike is not too heavy, but is still strong enough to withstand the bumps and scrapes that the trail can throw at you. Unlike most gravel bikes, this one features flat handlebars, making it a good option for those transitioning from a mountain bike who prefer a more upright seating and familiar hand position.
The DSX also features a SunRace 9-speed 11-46 tooth cassette. This is combined with a 38T steel alloy crank on the front. This range should be good for most gravel biking adventures you will take but is a little disappointing compared to other bikes in this price range.
One of the main benefits of this bike is the use of Tektro HD-M275 hydraulic disc brakes, which are a feature you wouldn’t expect on a bike in this price bracket. These hydraulic brakes will provide a much more reliable stopping speed than mechanical disc brakes, though at lower speeds you may not notice the difference too much.
Like most bikes in this price range, the DSX comes with 700c wheels. The particular set of wheels you get is the Marin Aluminum Double Wall Rims, which are fitted with 45mm width tires as standard. These wider tires along with the flat bars indicate that this bike has been built with fun in mind over speed.
Why we love it:
This bike is great for those who want to hit the roads during the week and hit the trails at the weekend.
Diamondback Haanjo 2
The Diamondback Haanjo 2 is a great choice for those that want a durable, reliable gravel bike.
The frame is made from a lightweight aluminum alloy, which makes for a much lighter bike than those made with Steel. The bike’s geometry has also been designed to create a more relaxed, endurance setup, meaning that you can spend all day in the saddle without too much discomfort.
This bike also comes with 16 gears, using a Shimano Claris 2 x 8-speed drivetrain. The front crankset is a Cross Compact 46/34 tooth set of chainrings, with an 11-32 tooth 8-speed Shimano HG50 cassette on the rear. These should provide a good range of gears for speeding along the flats as well as climbing up hills. You might struggle to get up the very steep hills that a mountain bike can at this range, but you will be able to deal with most hills that your typical gravel ride would throw at you.
This bike also comes with Tektro Lyra flat-mount mechanical disc brakes, which will provide very good stopping power when you’re flying down hills or if you need to quickly stop.
The Haanjo 2 features 700c wheels, which is fairly typical for gravel bikes in this price bracket. These are paired with a set of 38mm Diamondback Interval Wire Bead tires, which have 60 TPI, meaning they should be able to withstand typical trail-based gravel riding without a problem.
Why we love it:
This bike offers a good mix of features without too much compromise.
Tommaso Sentiero Shimano Claris
If you want a gravel bike that can be used for fast workout rides as well as leisurely rides, the Tommaso Sentiero Shimano Claris is a great choice.
The frame is made of aluminum, which is similar to other bikes in this price range. Unlike the rest of the frame, the forks are made of steel for added strength when riding off-road. This helps to increase the durability of the bike and comfort when riding on the trails. There are also numerous anchor points for different racks to be added for those wanting to head out on longer touring rides.
The Tommaso Sentiero comes with 24 gears, based on a 3×8 Shimano Claris groupset. The front crank features 3 rings, with 30, 39 and 50 teeth with the rear featuring a 12-25T Shimano Claris cassette. This blend of gears will give you plenty of power for fast riding on the roads as well as being controlled when riding up hills.
This bike also comes with Avid BBS mechanical disc brakes, which will provide plenty of stopping power in both wet and dry conditions.
The Tommaso Sentiero also features 700c wheels, which are fitted with 40mm tires, which are specially designed to provide a smooth ride on the road whilst also being durable enough for riding on light trails.
Why we love it:
e wide range of gears gives you great flexibility for riding both on and offroad as well as taking on the hills.
The State Bicycle Co 4130 All-Road
If you are looking for a bike that does all the basics well and provides a lot of flexibility to make the bike feel right for you, the State Bicycle Co 4130 All-Road is a very good choice.
The frame is made from CrMo Steel, which makes the frame heavier than other gravel bikes under $1000. However, this stronger, more durable frame is a good thing as it allows you to carry more when heading off on an adventure. With multiple anchor points, this bike can be loaded up with all of your gear for a multiday trip and you know the frame won’t let you down.
One of the real bonuses with this bike is the choice between a traditional gravel bike handlebar or the option to go for flat handlebars instead. This means you can get the setup right for you and will make a transition from a mountain bike easier if you prefer the flat style handlebars.
This bike comes with 11 gears, with a 42T State Bicycle crank on the front and an 11-42T cassette on the rear. This gives a decent range of gears for heading out on long rides covering multiple terrains.
The brakes are mechanical discs, using State Bicycles’ own proprietary brand on flat-mount disc brakes. These will provide plenty of stopping power for this bike as well as being able to cope if you are carrying extra gear as well.
Another real plus point with The State Bicycle Co 4130 All-Road is the option to switch between a 700c and 650b wheelset. In fact, you can add two sets as an optional extra when purchasing. The 700c wheels come with Vittoria Terreno Zero 38mm tires, which are great for riding on the roads and light trails. If you prefer to ride more off than on-road, the 650b wheel with Vittoria Barzo 2.1″ (53mm) tires will provide a lot more traction and soak up the bumps much better than the 700c wheels.
Why we love it:
This bike is great for adventure riders and the options for different handlebars and wheels will make the bike feel more personal than other “off the shelf” gravel bikes.
Marin San Rafael Dual Sport 1 700c
The Marin San Rafael Dual Sport 1 has been designed for those who want the flexibility to ride on the road one day and on the gravel and trails the next.
Based on an aluminum frame to keep the weight down, this gravel bike boasts SR Suntour NEX front suspension fork, designed to make your ride a little more comfortable when riding on loose and bumpy surfaces. With 63mm travel, this should be just enough travel to make you ride a lot more fun than taking the shock through your wrists and arms. This bike also comes with flat bars as standard, which are much better for riders transitioning from a mountain bike or who simply want a more relaxed riding position.
You get 14 gears with this dual-sport bike, with a 46/30T forged alloy crank on the front and a SunRace 11-34T cassette on the back. This gearing is fairly low compared to some of the other bikes on the list, with this bike being built less for high-speed riding and more for comfort. This is actually a bonus for those who want to ride on hills as well as the flats as the lower gearing gives you more “easy” gears to work with, making it easier to spin up the hills rather than slog your way to the top.
The Marin San Rafael Dual Sport 1 comes with Power CX7 mechanical disc brakes, which will provide plenty of stopping power when needed.
The Marin Double Wall 700c rims are of a similar size to all the other gravel bikes under $1000. These come with Kenda Kahn 700 x 42mm tires, which are on the wider size. This is very much in line with the idea of this being a comfortable bike rather than a speed machine.
Why we love it:
This is a great budget gravel bike for those looking to transition from mountain biking to something that is faster on the roads.
Tomasso Siena Gravel Bike
The Tomasso Siena Gravel bike is a great choice for those who want a durable, lightweight gravel bike for heading out on their next adventure.
Build on an aluminum alloy frame, this bike comes with steel forks, giving you a durable yet lightweight bike for hitting the trail or heading out on long rides. It also has lots of pre-drilled holes for adding racks and panniers for longer, overnight rides.
This bike also comes with 21 gears, with a 3×7 Shimano Tourney groupset. This features a 30, 39 and 50 tooth crankset and a 12-28T rear cassette. This is a very good range of gears for a gravel bike under $1000 and offers great flexibility for those who want to ride fast as well as drop into an easier gear when heading up hills.
The Tomasso Siena also comes with Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes, which are designed to provide excellent stopping power in both dry and wet conditions.
This bike also has Tomasso TC-20D 700c rims, which are fitted with 40mm wide tires. These durable wheels mean that you won’t feel sluggish when riding on roads and will feel comfortable when heading off-road and onto the trails.
Why we love it:
This bike is a solid option for those that want a bike that does all the basics very well and doesn’t compromise to keep the costs of the bike down.
Marin Nicasio 700C
The Marin Nicasio 700C is a great choice for those who are after a relaxed road style bike with a more comfortable riding position that is built for endurance.
The frame is made from CrMo Steel, which isn’t the lightest material available but it does make for a very strong and durable frame. It also has a “Beyond Road” geometry, meaning that it is set up for a more comfortable ride when riding for long periods and when taking to the trails.
The Nicasio features a Shimano Claris 2 x 8 setup, providing 16 gears for riding. The crankset is an FSA Tempo Compact 50/34 tooth crank, which is coupled with a SunRace 8-speed 11-32T cassette on the rear. With a high number of teeth on the front and a smaller number on the back, this gives this bike some real riding power. The smaller 34 tooth ring still provides an adequate range for taking on the typical hills you will encounter when riding out on the road and light trails.
This bike also features a set of Promax Render R mechanical disc brakes as well as Shimano brake levers. This is fairly standard for a bike in this price bracket and will provide good stopping power.
The wheels on the Marin Nicasio are Marin Aluminum Double Wall 700c wheels, which are comparable with other bikes in this price range. These are coupled with Vee Tire Apache Chief 700 x 30mm tires, which are narrow and clearly designed with speed in mind.
Why we love it:
This bike is a great choice for the speedster who is looking for a bike that can be taken off-road as well as on-road.
What to Look for When Choosing a Gravel Bike
There are many gravel bikes on the market, so how do you choose the right one for you? Here are a few things to consider:
When choosing a gravel bike, wheel size is one of the most important factors to consider. Oversized wheels provide stability and better traction on loose surfaces, while also offering a more comfortable ride.
Most gravel bikes come with either 650b or 700c wheels, but there are some models that offer even larger sizes. If you plan to do a lot of off-road riding, it’s worth considering a bike with oversized wheels. They can make a big difference in how your bike performs on gravel roads and trails.
Frame material is one of the most important considerations when choosing a gravel bike. It affects almost all of the other important factors that come into selecting a gravel bike, such as the cost, weight and ride comfort of the bike
The following are the most common frame materials, with some of the pros and cons of each.
Steel frame bikes have been around for over a century and are still popular today. There are pros and cons to using steel frames for bikes.
- Steel is strong and durable so it can withstand a lot of wear and tear.
- It can be repaired easily if it becomes damaged.
- Steel frames are less expensive than other materials such as aluminum or carbon fibre.
- They are not as heavy as other materials so they are easier to transport.
- Steel frame bikes tend to be heavier than aluminum and carbon fibre bikes, meaning they are a little trickier to manoeuvre and harder to lift for transportation purposes.
- Steel frames can rust if they are not properly maintained.
Aluminum alloy is another popular choice for bike frames. Here are some of the key pros and cons to consider when deciding if an aluminum frame bike is right for you:
- Aluminum frame bikes are usually less expensive than carbon fibre framed bikes
- They are often lighter weight than steel frames, which can make them easier to ride up hills or carry around.
- They can be more durable than other materials.
- Aluminum frames can be more prone to corrosion than other materials.
- If not properly cared for, they can also be more likely to develop rusting and pitting over time.
When it comes to the latest advancements in bike technology, carbon fibre frames are among the most popular options available. They provide a number of advantages over traditional metal frames, but they also come with a few drawbacks. Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of carbon fibre framed bikes:
- Carbon fibre frames are much lighter than metal frames, which makes them easier to carry and manoeuvre.
- Carbon fibre is one of the strongest materials available for bike frames, so carbon fibre frames can withstand a great deal of abuse.
- Carbon fibre frames provide an excellent ride quality, which is due to their combination of strength and lightweight.
- Carbon fibre frames typically cost more than frames made from steel and aluminum
When choosing a gravel bike, you should consider the frame geometry as this will affect the comfort of your gravel ride.
A gravel bike needs to be able to handle a variety of terrain, so it’s important to choose one with a geometry that is suited for gravel roads and trails. Some things to look for include a long wheelbase, which will provide stability on uneven surfaces, and a slack head tube angle, which will help keep the bike stable when cornering or descending.
Another important consideration is tire clearance. A good gravel bike should be able to accommodate tires up to 50mm wide, which will provide more traction and cushioning on rough roads.
When it comes to gravel cycling, frame size is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a bike. A frame that’s too small or too large will make riding uncomfortable and can even lead to injuries. In order to find the right frame size, you’ll need to know your height and the inseam measurement.
Your height is the distance from the floor to the top of your head, and your inseam is the distance from your crotch to the ground. To find your frame size, simply match your height and inseam measurements to the corresponding bike sizes in inches. There are many online tools and charts that can help you do this.
A good starting point for finding a gravel bike frame size is sizing up or down from your road bike.
When you are looking for a gravel bike that will be perfect for occasional rides, the price is definitely something to consider. You don’t want to spend too much on a bike that you won’t be using all the time. However, you also don’t want to go too cheap and end up with a bike that isn’t going to last long or doesn’t perform well.
One of the best things about gravel bikes is that they can be used for a variety of different riding styles, depending on your needs. If you are only going to be using it for occasional rides, then you don’t need to spend as much money on a bike that is meant for more serious riders. There are plenty of great options out there that are affordable and still provide great performance.
When it comes to gravel bikes, many riders think that weight doesn’t matter. They couldn’t be more wrong. Weight is an important factor when choosing a gravel bike because it affects the bike’s performance on the trail.
Heavier bikes are more difficult to pedal and can be more challenging to control on rough terrain. Lighter bikes, on the other hand, are easier to pedal and are more nimble when navigating obstacles.
For this reason, it’s important to choose a bike that’s the right weight for your needs. If you’re looking for a bike that’s versatile enough for both pavement and dirt roads, then you’ll want to go with a lighter model. But if you plan on doing a lot of off-road riding, then you may want to consider a heavier model that will handle rougher terrain better.
Gravel bikes may look similar to road bikes in their design, but one of the main differences is that gravel bikes use disc brakes instead of calliper brakes. In general, there are two main types of disc brake you will find on a gravel bike:
Hydraulic Disc Brakes
Hydraulic disc brakes use fluid to transmit the braking force from the brake levers to the brake pads. This offers a few advantages over mechanical disc brakes. First, it takes less effort to activate the brakes, meaning that you can brake later in a corner and still stop effectively. Second, the modulation is much better, meaning that you can control your braking more accurately. Third, they’re generally more powerful than mechanical discs.
All this comes at a price, though – hydraulic disc brakes tend to be a bit more expensive than their mechanical counterparts. But if you’re looking for the best possible braking performance, hydraulic discs are hard to beat.
Mechanical Disc Brakes
Mechanical disc brakes are a type of disc brake that uses a cable to apply the brake. This type of brake is found on many mountain bikes and gravel bikes. The cable is attached to a lever on the handlebar, and when the lever is squeezed, it pulls on the cable, which applies the brake. This type of brake is very effective at stopping a bike, and it is also very easy to use and maintain.
Number of Gears
When choosing a gravel bike, the number of gears is an important consideration.
A higher gear ratio will give you more speed, while a lower gear ratio will give you more torque. If you plan to do a lot of climbing, you’ll want a bike with more gears so that you can easily pedal uphill. If you plan to do a lot of flat riding or downhill riding, you may prefer a bike with fewer gears in order to save weight and reduce ongoing maintenance.
How to Fit a Gravel Bike
A gravel bike can be a great option for someone who wants a versatile bike that can handle a variety of terrain. If you’re thinking about buying a gravel bike, here are some tips to help you choose the right one and fit it properly.
First, decide what type of riding you’ll be doing. Gravel bikes are designed to handle a variety of terrain, but some are better suited for paved roads while others are better for off-road trails. If most of your riding will be on pavement, you’ll want a bike that’s built for speed and has thinner tires. If you’ll be doing more off-road riding, you’ll want a bike with wider tires and suspension forks that can handle rougher terrain.
Next, consider your height and weight. A bike with a taller frame will be more comfortable for riders who are 5’8″ and above, but also will require an extra step to get on the bike. If you’re shorter or lighter, look for a bike that’s lower to the ground.
Finally, think about your riding style. A bike that’s ideal for racing is not always the best choice for a casual rider. If you’re new to cycling, it may be best to start with a hybrid bike that has both pedals and a wheel.
What to Wear When Riding a Gravel Bike
When it comes to gearing up for a gravel ride, there are a few key things to remember.
First and foremost, wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. There’s a good chance you’ll be covered in mud by the time you finish your ride!
Secondly, opt for clothes that will allow you to move freely. A loose-fitting t-shirt or tank top is ideal, as is shorts or pants with a bit of stretch.
And finally, make sure to bring along some sunscreen and bug spray – depending on the time of year, you may need it!
How to Set up Your Gravel Bike for Optimum Performance
If you’re new to gravel cycling, or just getting your bike set up for the first time, there are a few things you should know to help optimize your experience. Here are a few tips on how to set up your gravel bike for optimum performance:
- Start by adjusting the saddle height and position. For optimum performance, the saddle should be positioned so that when your heel is at the bottom of the pedal stroke, your leg is fully extended. You may also want to adjust the angle of the saddle depending on your riding style and preferences.
- Next, adjust the handlebar height and position. For most riders, it’s best to have the handlebars level with or slightly higher than the saddle height. experiment with different positions to find what feels best for you.
- Once you have the handlebar and saddle position dialed in, you may want to adjust the headset. If your bike comes with a headset, make sure it’s the right one for this type of riding. Some headsets work better than others on gravel bikes.
- Now it’s time to adjust the brakes. If you’re using disc brakes, make sure that the brake levers are parallel to the ground. If you’re using rim brakes, make sure that your pads are parallel with the rim and that your callipers are not touching the frame.
- Now you’re ready to get out there and ride. If you have any questions about your setup, ask your local bike shop who should be able to help you optimize your bike setup.
Accessories for Gravel Bikes
Gravel biking is becoming an increasingly popular way to ride, and with good reason: it’s a blast. If you’re new to the game, or just looking for ways to take your gravel riding experience up a notch, here are some accessories worth checking out.
- Fenders. Riding on gravel can kick up a lot of mud and dirt, which can not only make you dirty but also obscure your vision. Fenders help keep you clean and clear – plus they add a bit of style to your bike.
- Rack. A rack is a great way to carry extra gear when you’re out on a gravel ride – whether it’s water bottles, food, or tools. Racks come in all shapes and sizes, so be sure to choose one that fits your bike and needs.
- GPS unit. The iPhone or Android phone you’re using to ride is great. It’s small enough to fit into your pocket and light enough that it doesn’t weigh you down. But what if you want something with a little more gear? A GPS unit can be a great choice for carrying maps, music, and other important stuff. Many of the same features that make a phone so useful on the bike also make it a great tool for navigating.
- Lights. You already know that you need lights when riding at night. But what about during the day? A light on your helmet is a great idea, but there are plenty of other options to consider. Most cyclists use some type of headlight or taillight system on their bikes.
So there you go, there are plenty of options when it comes to buying a gravel bike for under $1000. For me, the best bike is the Marin San Rafael Dual Sport 2 700c as it has the best balance of features and quality at this price point.
Andy is an avid cyclist who enjoys nothing more than a ride out in the hills. Competing in track, road, time trial and mountain bike events in the past, he prefers slower rides out with his family these days.