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Best Gravel Bikes under $1000 – Budget Road Bikes in 2021

Most of the time, people use biking as their hobby, exercising while enjoying nature! Which is why gravel bikes are the most competent bike that will surely help every biker on their adventures. EIther on a road or off-road, gravel bikes can handle it. The fire road is too brutal for your basic bike’s tires. That is why you need a gravel bike.

In this article, we have come up with a list of the best gravel bikes under 1000 dollars to help you identify which gravel bike is the best fit for your biking needs and budget. We also added a handy buying guide in case you need extra help in which gravel bike to get.

Our Favorite $1000 Gravel Bikes

If you are looking for a new adventure or gravel bike but do not plan on spending more than 1000 dollars, we got you covered! After all, gravel riding does not have to be expensive- you just need a top quality ride at a great price point. Here’s a definitive list of affordable gravel bikes under 1000 dollars in 2021.

Please take note at the time this article is written, the prices of gravel bikes are under $1000, and can still change.

Schwinn Vantage Sport Hybrid Bike

Gravel Bikes under $1000 Top 1

If you are looking for an inexpensive gravel bike that does not just have the best value but can also offer you more than any gravel bikes out there, then go for The Schwinn Vantage RX2. This bike is one of the best gravel bikes for under 1000 dollars.

Compared to other gravel bikes, this one is easy to ride. This bike is a beginner-friendly gravel bike that can also be used by veteran bikers. We can confidently say that the Schwinn Vantage RX2 has it all, including the smoothest ride technology that makes the bike extremely lightweight while being durable and comfortable to ride on.

This gravel bike features an 18-speed drivetrain, 35C tires, a handlebar that is endurance-oriented, and a carbon-fiber sport fork featuring mechanical disc brakes. It is hard to find gravel bikes that offer these features at its affordable price, so this bike is definitely one of the best beginner gravel bikes out there.

  • Easily customizable and upgradable
  • Superior stopping power
  • Comes with fender and rack mounts
  • 4 frame sizes to choose from

Also check out the Salsa Journeyman Claris 650 Bike

Hiland Road Bike 700c Racing Bike

Gravel Bikes under $1000 Top 2

If you want a gravel bike that offers agility, speed, and efficiency, go for this Hiland Road Bike 700c Racing bike. This bike has a modified 3×7 drivetrain, which gives you a lightweight and easy to ride bike. It is a great racing bike for commuters that are tired of waiting for the bus and bikers that have long adventures.

This lightweight gravel bike is made of a high-quality aluminum alloy bike frame with beautiful paint that makes this gravel bike stunning, making it perfect for bikers that want an eye-catching gravel bike. This gravel bike also has double Caliper brakes, and 14-speed Shimano shifters, which keeps you in total control of your bike.

More than that, this bike has 700C wheels, which offer a high-speed biking experience. This feature is delightful for either traveling in a city or off-road travels. This bike is also 85% pre-assembled, which is convenient for bikers that do not have much knowledge in terms of assembling bicycles.

  • Shimano drivetrain, KMC chain
  • Comes with reflectors
  • 2 frame sizes to choose from (50 and 60cm)
  • Available in black and white

Mongoose Men’s Elroy Adventure Bike

Gravel Bikes under $1000 Top 3

The Mongoose Men’s Elroy Adventure bike is built for outdoor activities such as bikepacking, camping, touring, and so on. Surely, you can enjoy nature while riding this adventure bike. Here’s why:

If you are a beginner cyclist looking for an entry level gravel bike, then the Mongoose might be the perfect bike for you to try cycling with. This bike is durable enough to handle long adventures and has plenty of features that let you pack up everything you’ll need for a bikepacking trip.

As a best value gravel bike that has an aluminum frame along with 14 speed gears, this bike can handle a lot more than a simple bikepacking and camping trip. You can also commute with this bike whenever and wherever you want, aka, it’s convenient and versatile.

  • 700c wheels, 14-speed drivetrain
  • Features an integrated frame bag
  • Comes with mounts for fenders and water bottle cages
  • Available in various sizes

You might also want to look at the best touring bikes here.

Schwinn Sporterra Adventure Adult Gravel Bike

Gravel Bikes under $1000 Top 4

If you are looking for another gravel bike bearing the Schwinn brand name, then you might consider the Sporterra Adventure Gravel Bike. This gravel bike has an aluminum frame with a rigid fork that can handle fast riding on different kinds of terrain. In other words, it’s among the fastest gravel bikes you’ll see on this list.

This gravel road bike has plenty of high-class gears that allow you to bike in confidence. With its 14-speed Shimano brake, along with the Shimano rear derailleur that allows for fast and snappy gear changes, you never have to worry about your riding, and you can confidently go anywhere you want to go.

To add to that, this bike also features a quick-release seat post that makes adjusting the saddle height easier. Just like every Schwinn bike, the Sporterra has a lifetime warranty. All things considered, this bike is definite must-try.

  • 700c wheels with multi-terrain tires
  • Suitable for riders 5’4” – 6’2” tall
  • Lightweight cross country frame

Also check out the Salsa Journeyman Sora 650 Bike

Giordano Trieste Gravel Bike

Gravel Bikes under $1000 Top 5

If you are on the hunt for a top-quality adventure bike, then the Giordano Trieste Gravel road bike would be an extraordinary option for you. This off-road gravel bike can handle all kinds of adventures, even on mixed terrains. It’s a bike that will stick with you even in your toughest bike adventure.

It has a lightweight Chromoly steel frame that has wide 30mm tires to give you a smoother biking experience. It’s also the best steel gravel bike featuring a Shimano Claris 16-speed drivetrain as well as STI shifters to let you be fully in control of your bike, and more importantly, stop safely in all weather and riding conditions.

This lightweight gravel bike has it all for you. It’s a sturdy bicycle for everyday commutes, trail rides, and regular road riding. Simply put, it’s perfect for every adventure that you are going to. So, if you want a gravel bike that can handle all kinds of pressure from the road, this one is a great choice for a smoother bike riding experience.

  • 700c wheels with double-wall rims
  • Chromoly steel frame and fork
  • 3 frame sizes to choose from

COZAYH 21 Speed Road Bike

Gravel Bikes under $1000 Top 6

This budget gravel bike is one of the best choices within a very enticing price range that offers good brakes, shifting, has reliable parts, and most importantly, an aerodynamic bike frame geometry. It’s a great bike that is worthy of your hard-earned money.

The COZAYH 21 Speed Road bike has a high-powered break and has a precision welded bike frame topped with matte finishing that shows how top-quality this bicycle is. It’s a perfect bike for everyone, regardless of whether you are a biker that wants a companion on their adventure, or a student that wants to cut commuting expenses.

This product is also 90% assembled, which means you do not have to break a sweat trying to put it together and get it road-ready before your next adventure. All of the tools and instruction is included in a secured package. You only have to attach the front wheel, pedals, seat, and handlebar, all of which only takes 15-30 minutes.

  • 700c wheels, 21-speed drivetrain
  • Adjustable seat tube, powerful disc brakes
  • Available in black/blue and black/red

How To Find The Best Gravel Bike

For most people who do not have the knowledge or interest in biking, all bicycles might look the same. That’s complicated by the fact that gravel bikes, mountain bikes, and road bikes share the same qualities.

But, if you want to find the best gravel bike that fits your needs, you need to know the differences between these bike types, and more importantly, what makes for a great gravel bike.

First Things First: Do you really need a gravel bike?

You have to understand that different bikes are made for different purposes. But still, no one will stop you from riding an MTB on paved roads or using a road bicycle on gravel. But most definitely, you will feel uncomfortable for the reason that these bikes are not made for that particular purpose.

If you are not using your bicycle for its original purpose, there is a big chance that your bike might break. So, before choosing a bike and spending your hard-earned money on what turns out to be an ill-fitting ride,  you have to figure out first where you will use it to ensure that you buy the right kind of bike.

That said, gravel bikes are recommended for those who need a bike that can be used on roads, but at the same time can handle rough terrains without feeling uncomfortable. Gravel bikes are for all time use and a great choice for most types of riding.

Cyclocross vs Gravel Bike

Gravel bikes and cyclocross have both durable and stiff forks and 29” wheels. But, the difference between these two is, while cyclocross is made to handle muddy and rougher trails without sacrificing the speed, a gravel bike is almost always geared for comfort.

Gravel road bikes allow the biker to be in a lower, more relaxed position, while cyclocross bikes have a higher seat for the rider that allows them to be in control during tough competitions. Cyclocross bikes are also much lighter than gravel bikes.

Mountain Bike vs Gravel Bike

Mountain bikes are more durable and heavier than usual bikes. They are lower and longer, and come with straight bars along with steep, sloping horizontal tubes. Mountain bikes are made to handle beaten paths and to carry more weight. Gravel bikes, on the other hand, arguably have a lot more purpose than mountain bikes.

Road Bike vs Gravel Bike

Road riding bicycles are made for the open road and offer more speed than any other bikes, which is why bike racers use road bikes instead of any other bikes. Gravel bikes, on the other hand, are made for more casual rides even though the road is not always in great condition. Because road bikes are more focused on speed, their pedals are much lighter than gravel bikes.

Want to know more? Here’s a great article explaining the different types of road bikes.

Riding Location

When choosing a new gravel bike, you have to figure out where you would use it most of the time, such as whether you’ll be using it on the mountains that have rougher paths or the city that has smoother but not consistent paths. Therefore, choose a bike that can handle your usual biking location to avoid abusing your new bike.

The location where you live also matters not just in terms of what the landscape is, but also how safe the community is. Even with cheap gravel bikes, they can still attract the eyes of bike thieves, so it’s always smart to protect your ride with the best lightweight bike locks.

Wheel Size

When it comes to the size of the wheels, 700c and 650b catch the eye of many bikers that use gravel road bikes. 700c is a typical wheel size for road bikes, while 650b are the ones you will usually see on mountain bicycles, given that they are heavier, which allows the mountain bike to have better maneuverability.

If you use 700c on gravel bikes, you will most probably use a skinnier tire, which means reduced rotational mass. If you use 650b, though, you will use fatter tires which give improved compliance and traction.

Several bikes can handle both of these wheel sizes fairly well, so it all boils down on what type of road you usually ride your bike. For instance, if you usually bike into dirt roads or the tarmac, then you should go for 700c.

man riding on gravel road

Frame Material

You always have to consider what materials are used for your bike’s frame. The material can impact the weight, stability, and quality of your bike. Most of the gravel road bikes that are featured in this article are made with aluminum fork and frame setups. Some have an alloy frame and a carbon fork, which are better because they offer comfort even on rough bike riding.

Steel, meanwhile, is more sturdy. Steel gravel bikes are the best option for those people who want to go on bikepacking because they can carry a heavier load. Although, steel is heavier than the usual aluminum or carbon.

One other thing you might want to take into account is whether your bike will do a lot of traveling itself – aka whether you’ll be taking it along on road trips and vacations.

If so, a sturdier material that isn’t susceptible to dents after getting banged around a truck bed would be a better option. You’ll also need other things like the best bike racks for SUV– preferably one that secures your bike so it doesn’t move around while you’re driving on the highway or interstate.

Frame Geometry

The bike frame geometry impacts the riding experience of the biker. For everyday use, a more upright geometry is the better option for a more comfortable bike ride, whereas racing bikes need a geometry that will give it better efficiency.

Stack Ratio

In terms of stack ratio, opt for at least 1.5 to 1.55 or even higher. This offers more comfort for a long adventure with your bikem, while ratios below 1.5 are considered harsh. Therefore, always look at and consider the stack/reach ratio of your bike’s geometry.

Trail Length

You also have to consider the trail length when choosing a gravel bike to know how it can handle the bike’s performance. At the lower end of the range is 30 – 50 mm and will give you gravel bikes that are more uneasy to ride on.

On the other hand, 50 to 65mm trail lengths offer a more predictable bike ride. At the higher end of the scale is 65 – 80 mm, and this makes for a bike that is more stable than others. Always be mindful of the trail length of the bike you are going to choose because it has an impact on bike riding.

Chainstay Length

The chainstay length tells how smooth your rear ride quality will be. For gravel bikes, 415 to 430mm are a shorter end of the chainstay, which makes the bicycle jumpy and quick. Meanwhile, 430 to 435 mm chainstay lengths equate to a more chill bike ride. Long-range chainstay lengths of 445 to 460 mm are the most steady one and also gives you a chill ride. 

Drivetrain and Groupset

The groupsets and drivetrains that come with the bike will give you a better understanding of the bike’s component quality. The majority of gravel bikes have a modest component such as Claris, Altus, or Sora, while mid-range components are usually Tiagra.

Now, the highest level of componentry available on road gravel bikes that are under 1000 dollars are like the Shimano 105. While this is one of the upper range levels of the componentry, though for it’s quality, it’s certainly worth every penny.

Shifting

For an under 1000 dollar budget, there are plenty of options for you to choose from in terms of shifting. Take the Apex 1x SRAM groupsets to triple and double chainrings, for instance. You can even work with affordable Shimano Claris or Sora parts and still enjoy shifting with ten, nine, or eight-speed setups.

Meanwhile, the low speed groupsets wear slowly and last longer, although they’re also heavier than the rest. You should also remember that you need a quick link for your chain depending on your speed, so it is always advisable to carry a spare.

Braking

Brakes are one of the most important elements of your bike, of course, so always keep in mind what kind of brake you are going to buy. Now, for a $1000 to $1500 budget, you will most probably get a setup for mechanical disc brakes, which should give you uncompromised stopping power while also accommodating bigger wheels and tires.

There are also cable actuated brakes that will give you better performance than standard cantilever brakes. However, disc brakes are always better for saving your wheelsets against wear and tear, as opposed to, say, rim brakes.

While hydraulic disc brakes will always be the most powerful option, cable actuated alternatives still make for easier maintenance. Of course, you can always upgrade your brakes whenever you want, so the factory brakes that your bike comes with may not be such an important consideration- at least, that’s if you have the money to spend on upgrades.

Related read: How to adjust bike brakes

Bike Weight

The weight of the bike is also an important deciding factor. Think of it this way: if you are planning to ride the gravel bike for racing and other high-speed activities, then you might want to get a lighter bike. Generally speaking, the more lightweight the bike is, the better because it is easier to control. The gravel bikes available for under 1000 dollars are typically at least 22lbs to 28lbs. If you are looking for a gravel bike that’s considerably lighter, then you might want to adjust your budget

Finishing Kit

Many affordable gravel bikes are sold by brands with in-house finishing kits- this helps in keeping the bike from being too costly. Although these cheap factory parts aren’t always eye-catching, they are still robust and well-made. Finishing kits are easy to change, so there is no issue with that.

These include handlebars, which are one of the essential components of a bike and one piece in the bike’s finishing kit that you have to focus on. For the best riding experience, look for flared bars (~12 degrees) that offer a stable position even on rough descents. And, these can also help accommodate bags for bikepacking easily.

It’s also great if your bike already comes with mountain bike grips. Otherwise, you can get the best mountain bike grips here.

Additional Features

Always pay attention to the additional features your gravel bike has to offer, whether it is tubes that are tuned to show additional flex, or accessory mounts. Think of it this way: if you want a more convenient bike riding, you’ll at least need to bring a bottle of water with you.

Additionally, pay attention to those gravel bikes that have internal routing intended for a dropper post, as well as removable mounts for the front derailleur.

Price

For those bikers who only have a 1000 dollar budget, cost is a huge factor. At the end of the day, the quality and performance of more expensive bikes more than make up for the extra bucks.

Besides, any cheap gravel bike lower than the 1000 dollar budget will give you mediocre bike builds and lower quality components, and who wants that? So, for the best gravel bike for the money, you need to consider not only the price itself but the quality you’re getting for the price you’re paying.

Future upgrades

The moment you are satisfied with your all-new gravel road bike and you feel like it’s just the best bike you’ve ever owned, you might still want to think about upgrading a few parts to make your bike riding experience even smoother. But if you have a little more than $1000 or $1500 to spend, then consider buying a higher quality bike from the get-go.

In any case, better brakes can help you go so much faster. For this, we highly recommend hydraulic disc brakes. If your gravel bike owns top-quality braking, it will be easier for you to trip in confidence anywhere you like. Also, if your bike does not come with flared handlebars, consider upgrading it to have room for your bags while bikepacking.

Alternatively, you might also like the feel of flat bar gravel bikes.

Your bicycle’s wheels can also make an impact on your overall ride quality. Unfortunately, for those who have a low budget, cheap bike wheels may sacrifice ride quality, so you might want to upgrade your wheels to higher-quality and more lightweight models.

Conclusion

There are plenty of gravel road bikes that are under the 500 dollar to 1000 dollar price range. These bikes are made of steel or aluminum and usually also have carbon forks for a more eye-catching appearance. All of the bikes in this article, for instance, have reliable gearing and are intended to handle tough bike riding conditions.

All of these gravel bikes can be upgraded anytime you want and whenever you have the budget to do so. But, even if you don’t upgrade anytime soon, these are the best gravel bikes under 1000 dollars that will surely be with you during your tough bike riding adventures.