Are you looking for a bike that can handle pavement and off-road adventures? A bike that is built for both leisurely cruising through your paved neighborhood and one that can take on muddy and rocky terrains? You've come to the right place.
Gravel bikes combine the qualities of bikes that are designed for speed and rough terrain. Together, these qualities create a bike that can handle smooth roads and rocky forest hills.
They can be used to cruise through your neighborhood on a warm evening and utilized to help you explore rough mountainsides on the weekends.
Their stiff and light frames are built for long rides with excellent efficiency but also compliance where needed.
Whether you are riding them on your daily commute or a multi-day wilderness adventure, gravel bikes can help you tackle any surface, any challenge, and any hill.
There are many gravel bikes under $1000, making it difficult to discover which bike would best fit your needs. After riding many different bikes under the most demanding conditions, we created the following list of top gravel bikes for less than 1000 dollars.
The Best Gravel Bikes Under $1000
1. Tommaso Sentiero Gravel Adventure Bike
- Smooth shifting action
- Lightweight frame
- Lifetime warranty
- Spokes need regular checkups with a professional to ensure safety and durability
Our #1 gravel bike under $1000 features a compact aluminum frame that makes it a great option for traveling or long-distance biking.
You get multiple options for storing water bottles and small packs. The bike can also easily be fitted on most types of vehicles or garage racks.
Its 3x8 Shimano Claris Groupset is known for its reliability and allows for easy transitions between gears to provide you with the best pedaling option for each terrain. Whether you ride on flat pavement, rocky terrain, or loose gravel, this feels smooth and nimble.
The bike features 700x40c tires with 28 spoke rims. The wide 40c tires really well on dirt and loose surfaces while also rolling with minimal resistance on the road. We did have to re-tension the spokes a few times after rough off-road rides. Some other bikes needed less spoke tensioning but didn't have this light of a wheelset.
The Tommaso Sentiero Gravel Adventure Bike comes with Avid BB5 brakes that provide a consistent bit point and great modulation. The brakes really inspire confidence in bad weather and on treacherous descends.
The SST Steel Fork is both reliable and provides the legendary compliance of steel forks.
With a lifetime warranty on the frame and fork, you can use this bike for many years to come.
2. Mongoose Men's Elroy Adventure Bike
- A good option for beginners
- Cost-efficient and price value is good
- Made from high-quality materials
- The frame is on the heavier side
- The tires have a very shallow thread
The Mongoose Men's Elroy Adventure Bike is, in my opinion, one of the best gravel bikes for beginners. The bike features an alloy frame and a steel fork. Its 2x7 drivetrain with Shimano Tourney derailleurs and internal cable routing offers smooth gear shifts.
You can seamlessly transition between the gears with the accurate handlebar controls and maintain speed under all conditions.
This bike is a great option for touring due to the many storage options. A long and thin bag attaches to the frame and provides storage space for your biking essentials. A front and rear bag rack with a built-in bottle opener allow you to bring anything from a picnic setup to everything you need for a full multi-day bike trip.
It also features enough space for five water bottles to be carried at once, crucial for long trips in warm areas.
The tires on this gravel bike are more geared towards riding on the road and hard-packed dirt. The shallow thread runs very fast but doesn't provide a lot of grip on a loose surface.
This bike offers high-quality components for those who are just beginning their long-distance biking journey. It is made from durable materials that allow you to get the feel of a professional gravel bike without the high price tag. The internal cable routing is also a great bonus.
3. Raleigh Willard 1 Gravel Adventure Road Bike
- Various storage options available
- Good suspension for a comfortable ride
The Raleigh Willard 1 is our #3 recommendation for a gravel bike under $1000. This bike's lightweight aluminum frame and fork allow you to have stability while maintaining speed and versatility.
It comes with Shimano Claris 8-speed shifters and a total of 16 gears to allow you to cross nearly any terrain.
While not as good as the hydraulic brakes on our #1 pick, the Tektro Lyra mechanical disc brakes provide you with durable and reliable braking pads that safely control your ride.
The Raleigh Willard 1 Gravel Adventure Road Bike comes equipped with 700x35c tires. Its wide profile and well-balanced tread allow new riders to enjoy rough terrains without worrying about slippage.
You can achieve great speeds with this bike because the frame is very aerodynamic. The angled seat allows for a comfortable position while climbing.
The aluminum fork is not as strong and comfortable as the steel versions found on other bikes but does allow for a lighter weight. Overall the Raleigh Willard is a comfortable, reliable, and versatile gravel bike.
4. Schwinn Vantage Gravel Adventure Bike
- Soft-tail suspension allows for a comfortable and smooth ride
- Created with high-quality materials
- Smooth and precise shifting capabilities
This bike is equipped with a full carbon fork and Continental Sport Contact II 35C tires. It also comes standard with Alex DP21 alloy rims which are tubeless-ready. Tubeless-ready wheels are great if you want to upgrade your bike by going full tubeless.
Where the other bikes use a stiff frame, the Schwinn Vantage offers an elastomer soft-tail suspension. This allows you to cross more rough terrain without having to endure as many shocks and bumps. You must consider this if you ride a lot on rough rocky terrain.
The Schwinn Vantage Gravel Adventure Bike has an 18-speed drivetrain with seamless shifting and a wide gear ratio.
The TRP Spyre C disc brakes are mechanically actuated but provide a lot of stopping power and good modulation.
This bike is more geared towards intermediate and advanced riders. You have to pay a bit more, but you get a high-quality gravel bike with soft-tail rear suspension and a full carbon fork. And that makes it the best gravel bike on our list for very rough gravel riding.
5. Retrospec AMOK v3 Gravel Bike
- Made with high-quality materials
- Budget-friendly and good value for its price point
- Mechanical disc brakes are accurate and reliable
- Brakes feel spongy and wear down quickly
This gravel bike is more geared towards comfort than speed. It sports a 6061 aluminum frame and straight handlebars for an upright body position.
It is equipped with an eight-speed derailleur and a Shimano Rapid Fire shifter that allows for swift gear changes. You can change gears quickly and tackle difficult terrain. It also helps you to maintain total control over your steering.
This adventure bike is great for off-roading, leisurely bike rides, and eco-friendly commutes.
The tires are 700C rims with Innova Dual Purpose treading. This allows your tires to grip everything from loose stones found in mountainous terrains to flat surfaces such as pavement.
It is also equipped with Tektro mechanical disc brakes that ensure safe and accurate braking. Its braking system and grippy tires allow you to control your speed of descent safely.
While not as fast as some of the other options for the best gravel bike under $1000, this bike lets you ride anything from the road to rocky trails in comfort and safety.
6. Diamondback Bicycles Haanjo 2 Gravel Adventure Road Bike
- Shifting is accurate and smooth
- Easy to steer and nimble in sharp turns
- Thick tires allow for more grip and stability on rough terrains
- Difficult to use on sharp or steep inclines
- Seat is narrow (which may or may not work for you)
A durable aluminum frame supports this bike. It provides a comfortable and safe ride on any terrain.
You get Tetra Lira brakes that allow for controlled stops, even on slick terrain or in adverse weather. The bike also includes wide tires to allow for more gripping power.
With a Shimano Claris 2x8 speed drivetrain that is also found on our top recommendations, you can quickly switch gears and tackle unexpected changes in gradient or terrain.
The body position on the Haanjo 2 lets you put a lot of power on the pedals. We did find the body position to be too much forward to handle steep descents with confidence.
The Diamondback Haanjo 2 is a fast and smooth gravel bike that works really well on the road and flat gravel trails.
7. Mongoose Artery Comp Gravel Road Bike
- Lightweight and efficient
- Stable on flat and paved surfaces
- Simple assembly
- Tires need regular checkups by professionals to ensure safety
A durable steel fork accompanies this bike's aluminum frame.
This gravel bike comes equipped with a 24-speed drivetrain with premium Altus shifters for a massive range of gear options. Its Shimano M171 crank, paired with its 28/38/48T cogs, creates a bike built for speed and easy pedaling and requires little maintenance.
The Shimano EF-500 rim brakes don't offer the same power and reliability as the disc brakes offered by the other budget gravel bikes. But, they do lead to a lower price and incredible value for money.
The Mongoose Artery Comp is a great budget gravel bike for commuters and people who use their gravel bikes in the suburbs or cities.
Many gravel bike options fit different needs. Each of these options presents bikes that are equipped to handle both paved and off-road terrains and each covers a specific use case.
Overall, the best gravel bike under $1000 is the Tommaso Sentiero Gravel Adventure Bike. It offers the best combination of value, performance, durability, and will be a great companion on your many adventures.
However, you still might have some questions about gravel bikes. We have gathered the most commonly asked questions regarding gravel bikes and have provided their answers below.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is a gravel bike?
Gravel bikes, which are often called adventure bikes, are a hybrid of road bikes and cyclocross bikes. Road bikes are designed to work best on the pavement, while cyclocross bikes thrive in adverse courses that require speed and precision. A gravel or adventure bike combines elements of comfort, speed, agility, and versatility into a single bike that will adapt to most terrains. They can be used to ride through your neighborhood with your kids or to conquer a mountainside with your buddies. Its specialized treading and thick tires can maintain their grip while climbing difficult hills in the forest and allows the rider to reach exhilarating speeds on tarmac road surfaces.
Do gravel bikes have suspension?
Yes, they can have suspension options. Lower-level, mid-level, and higher-level options provide you with multiple selection options that can be attuned to your needs. Gravel bikes are built for versatility and comfort determined by the level of suspension you desire your bike to have. The higher the suspension level, the less bumpy your ride will feel. The bike's suspension works to minimalize vibrations from the terrain and allow for a more comfortable ride over a long distance. You should select your suspension level based on the length of time you want to travel and the amount of money you would like to spend. The higher the suspension level is, the more expensive it will be. High suspensions are also high maintenance. They need to be cleaned and adjusted regularly. You should also consider your joints' state and if you can handle pedaling a heavier bike through your desired terrain.
Is a gravel bike the same as a cyclocross bike?
Although gravel bikes and cyclocross bikes look similar, they serve different purposes. Gravel bikes are the best option for moving at a constant but quick pace while crossing different terrain types. Cyclocross bikes are designed for speed and agile steering. Cyclocross bikes are most often used for short and fast-paced tracks over a specified course. They are built aerodynamically and can handle tight turns at high speeds. Cyclocross bikes are the best option for speed and agility courses.
What to Look For In The Best Gravel Bikes Under $1000
If you are looking for a new gravel bike and don't want to spend more than $1000, you need to keep the following things in mind.
Frame and fork material
Bikes come in many different frame materials. Each of these three offers some unique benefits. So let's take a look at the frame materials you can get in the best gravel bikes.
Steel: Steel frames are generally heavier and found on cheaper bikes. Steel used to be the most common material for bike frames. But since then, a lot of advancements have been made. And now, you only find this material on very cheap bikes.
Chromoly steel: Made of a steel chrome molybdenum combination, this material provides high strength and lightweight while also being easy to weld. That makes it an almost ideal material for bike frames and parts. The most commonly used version is 4130. You will see that some bikes with aluminum frames still feature Chromoly steel forks. The reason is that this material is generally more durable but also offer us a bit more flexion when riding over rough surfaces. This is especially great for gravel bikes since they are used on trails and rocky surfaces.
Aluminum: This is probably the most common frame material for sports bikes. It's good to know that even though frames are called aluminum, they are actually made of aluminum alloys. In bike frames, we most commonly find series 6 aluminum alloys. These bike frames are strong, light, rust-resistant, and reduce vibration, which allows for a great ride.
Carbon fiber: Carbon fiber bike frames used to be extremely expensive and very prone to cracks. But, manufacturers have perfected their processes, and are now offering carbon frames at reasonable prices and with great durability. Carbon fiber is extremely strong and light-weight while also offering great shock absorption. Almost all of the best bikes are made of carbon fiber.
That being said, we couldn't find any gravel bikes under $1000 with carbon fiber frames. You can find models with a full carbon fork. And this can be something worth considering. A carbon fork is not just extremely light, it also offers superior shock absorption and an unmatched level of comfort.
Wheel size and tire width.
The wheels are the most important part of the bike, and the size can have a lot of influence on the ride. Most gravel bikes have wheels with 700 C size. This is also the size you generally find on road bikes. Decide offers the best compromise between rolling resistance acceleration and stiffness.
A lot of gravel bikes will also allow you to run 27.5-inch wheels. This is the size that most mountain bikes use. With a high volume tire, you will end up with almost the same diameter as a 700c wheel. This offers some unique benefits for people who ride on chunky trails. First of all, the high air volume in the tire absorbs shocks and bumps very well. Secondly, you now have the ability to run mountain bike tires, which opens up a whole world of thread options and casings.
People associate narrower tires with more speed and wider tires with better shock absorption when it comes to tires. This is not completely wrong, but it's not completely right either. You see, wide tires actually roll easier than narrow tires. This has been tested and also proven mathematically. However, wide tires are less aerodynamic than narrow tires. That is why most road bikes still use them.
Gearing and shifter
Having the right gearing and shifters is crucial for a high-performance gravel bike.
You can either get a one or two by drivetrain. This means you will get either one or two chainrings on your crankset. You might think that more gears are always better, but that's not always the case. 1X drivetrains first made their introduction in mountain biking and have since also taken over in gravel bikes.
A 1X drivetrain can offer the same range as most 2X systems but makes shifting a lot simpler because you never have to worry about matching the front gear with the rear gear. While most people prefer the 1X drivetrain, the gaps between the gears can be bigger than with a 2X. If you like to have minimal gaps between your gears and don't mind the extra shifter, you should probably get a 2X drivetrain.
Tubeless-compatible and Tubeless-ready wheels
Tubeless wheels and tires are generally found on more expensive bikes. But since then, the technology has started to trickle down to the entry-level models. Tubeless tires can self heal when you get a puncture. The sealant inside hardens as it's pushed out through the puncture hole and automatically closes it.
Another benefit of tubeless tires is that they are lighter. Without the tube, you get a lower rotating mass. And if you paid attention during physics class, you should know that the distance of the mass from the point of rotation greatly influences the amount of energy stored. And all that energy needs to be provided by you when you try to accelerate your bike.
That is why a bike with light tires feels amazing to ride. It's so much easier to accelerate the bike, and you will think you are a better rider.
Tubeless-ready bikes have compatible rims and tires. With rim tape, sealant, and valves, you can convert to tubeless tires and reap all the benefits.
A quick-release axle used to be the only way to secure the wheels of a bike. But now, after almost a century, you can get bikes with thru-axles. Thru-axles provide a better and stronger connection between wheel and frame.
A quick-release connects the axle to the frame with just a thin screw and handle. This makes it easy to take out the wheel.
A true axle is exactly what it says. The axle goes all the way through the eyelids in the frame and the hub. This leads to a much stiffer and more secure connection. That is why it's the most common set up in mountain bikes. It's also better for bikes with disc brakes. To keep the disc brakes from rubbing, the disc needs to be perfectly aligned with the caliper. With a stronger and stiffer connection between the wheel and frame, alignment is better: the frame bent and torques under heavy loads.
Thru-axles are still more expensive than quick releases. That is why most entry-level gravel bikes don't come with them. But, some of the best gravel bikes under $1000 do have thru-axles.
Brakes are a crucial part of any bike. And on gravel bikes, you can find the following three options. Each of these has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Rim brakes have been around forever and are mostly found on cheaper gravel bikes. They used to be the most commonly found brake type on sports bikes. Since the invention of disc brakes, rim brakes have become the budget option. However, with the right adjustment and maintenance, they still work great.
Mechanical disc brakes are the next best option. The benefits of disc brakes are numerous. Because the braking surface is no longer close to the tire, it stays clean under most circumstances. This means you will get a better and more consistent deceleration if you are riding through mud or bad weather. Metal wires actuate mechanical disc brakes. This is different than hydraulic brakes, which will cover in the next section. The metal wires tend to require more maintenance and have more resistance. That being said, mechanical disc brakes are almost always superior to rim brakes.
Hydraulic disc brakes are usually the best way to go. The brake pads are actuated by hydraulic fluid that runs through the brake hose. Hydraulic disc brakes provide incredible braking power and great modulation. They are adjustable and require very little maintenance. In most cases, the only thing you need to do is change the brake pads now and then.
Low gear ratios
Gravel bikes need to adapt to difficult terrain. And that means you need low gear ratios. If you want to ride on off-road trails, you want your lowest gear to be less than 25 inches. This will feel extremely light when you're trying it out in the parking lot. But, when the trail gets deep, you will be happy to grind your way up.
All our recommendations for the best gravel bike under 1000 have great gear ratios. There are some differences, though. In the mini-reviews, you can read which bikes are better for steep trails and better for more mellow paths.
Body position is a crucial part of any bike design. How you sit on the bike will determine how well you can push the pedals and how well you can handle the terrain. Because gravel bikes tend to be positioned between road bikes and mountain bikes, you find different body positions.
To determine the right body position for you, you need to look at how you want to use the bike. A longer and more forward-oriented body position makes you faster on flat surfaces. If you sit more upright, you will be able to handle the bike better at slow speed and in steep, difficult terrain.
You can also adjust the body position with the saddle and handlebars. Most saddles have rails, which allowed him to move forward and backward. By moving your saddle, you can tweak the body position. You can also change out the handlebars and stem. This allows you to bring your hands closer and higher and get a more upright position.
How Is a Gravel Bike Different From Other Bikes?
Gravel bikes are positioned right in the middle of the wide spectrum of bike types. They are not mountain bikes, they not road bikes, and they aren't cyclocross bikes either. They have their own unique benefits and use cases. So let's take a look at how gravel bikes compare to those other bikes.
Gravel bike versus cyclocross bike
Cyclocross bikes are closely related to gravel bikes. They are also based on road bikes that have been adapted to handle rougher terrain. The front fork is more durable and stiffer, and they use 29-inch wheels. There are several differences, though.
Speed versus comfort: The best gravel bikes are designed for comfort over long distances. Cyclocross bikes are clearly targeted towards speed and competition. They are essentially road bikes that have been adapted just enough to handle gravel and muddy surfaces.
Body position: Cyclocross bikes have a very forward body position. This is to achieve the maximum speed regardless of comfort for the rider. On the other hand, gravel bikes have a more upright position for stability and comfort during long rides.
Bottom bracket height: Cyclocross bikes have a high bottom bracket, so it's easier to clear obstacles and allow for longer crank arms. On the other hand, gravel bikes have a lower bottom bracket, which improves stability. This also shows in the seat tube angle. Cyclocross bikes tend to have steeper seat tubes.
Weight: In general, gravel bikes will be heavier than cyclocross bikes. They are built for comfort and durability, which adds weight.
Gravel bike versus mountain bike
Mountain bikes come in many sizes and shapes. They're all intended for riding off-road. That means that they are usually not that fast when used on the road. Let's take a look at some of the main differences between gravel bikes and mountain bikes.
Speed versus ruggedness: A mountain bike is built to deal with some of the roughest trails. The wheels and tires tend to be wide, and the frames are oversized and have a lot of tire clearance. Gravel bikes can also go off-road, but they cannot deal with big rocks and jumps. When traveling over gravel and dirt roads, they are a lot faster, though.
Handlebars and layout: Mountain bikes have straight handlebars compared to the curved drop bars most commonly found on gravel bikes. Straight handlebars make it easier to deal with obstacles, while drop bars are more aerodynamic and allow you to tuck deep for maximum power.
Body position: A downhill mountain bike has a very upright body position. This is great when you are tackling extremely steep descent. Trail bikes and cross-country bikes usually have a more forward body position, which is pretty close to a gravel bike.
Transport options: Most mountain bikes don't come with attachments for luggage. They are simply not designed for long bike trips and carrying luggage. Gravel bikes, on the other hand, have many attachment points for carriers and water bottles. This is great if you want to go on long trips.
Gravel bike versus road bike
Looking at it from a distance, you could say that a gravel bike it's just a road bike with thicker tires any more leaned back geometry. And he wouldn't be far off to say that. There are some other differences, though, so let's take a look.
Speed versus distance: A road bike is designed purely for speed. It can still be comfortable, but that comes second to speed. The gravel bike is different. It is designed to go to the distance and deal with whatever you might encounter on a long bike trip.
Slacker versus steeper: Road bikes have Steve had angles and short wheelbase for maximum acceleration interning at speed. Gravel bikes have a slacker head angle and usually a longer wheelbase. This makes for a more relaxed ride.