The 9 Best Gravel Bikes Under $1500 [2023]

The Best Gravel Bikes Under 1500: A gravel bike lean against a wooden fence

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These are the best gravel bikes for under $1500. I researched the gravel bikes available this season and evaluated reviews to save you time.

I also talked with friends and store owners and asked them for tips on choosing a gravel bike and what to expect at this price range.

There are multiple types of gravel/adventure bikes, so no gravel bike will suit all riders. But these stand out from the rest:

Below, you learn more about these bikes, how to choose a gravel bike, what to expect in the below $1500 price range, and more.

Let’s dive in!

What Are the Best Gravel Bikes Under $1500?

The best gravel bikes under $1500 have to fit your riding preference. If you want to do bike touring, you should consider getting a touring/adventure gravel bike that is compatible with accessories like racks, panniers, fenders, etc., and has a more relaxed endurance geometry.

On the other hand, if you prefer speed and racing, look for gravel bikes with a more aggressive geometry.

Read the buyer’s guide section if you are new to gravel bikes. You learn everything you need to know before choosing a gravel bike at the below $1500 price range.

The Best Gravel Bikes Under $1500

The following selection includes bikes ideal for gravel biking, touring, racing, and light and rough terrain.

NOTE: All bikes below are compatible with 650b and 700c wheels.

State Bicycle 6061 Black Label ALL-ROAD (Best Gravel Bike for Rough Terrain)

‘Dark Woodland’ Color | Source: statebicycle.com
bike6
‘Dark Woodland’ Color | Source: statebicycle.com

Main Features

  • Ideal bike for rough terrain
  • Customizable wheels & accessories
  • Highly versatile
  • Unique – ‘Dark Woodland‘ and ‘Deep Pacific‘ colors
  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • Internal cable routing

Technical Specifications

  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Weight: n/a
  • Gearing: State Bicycle Co. All-Road 1x11spd (11-42 cassette)
  • Wheel size: 650b or 700c
  • Tires: Vittoria Terreno Dry Tires (Tubeless Compatible) – 47c [650b] or Vittoria Terreno Zero  Tires (Tubeless Compatible) – 38C [700c]

State Bicycle 6061 is the opposite of ADV 1.1. This bike was created for wild off-road riding. Before purchasing, you can choose whether to buy it with 650b or 700c wheels (or both).

Wide, knobby tires provide enough grip for bumpy roads, singletracks, forest roads, gravel, mud, and similar terrains.

However, with this bike, you don’t have to limit yourself to the terrain only. It can also handle paved roads (especially with 700c wheels and narrower tires).

1X shifting is very intuitive. Its small disadvantage is the limited number of gears. However, the 11-42 cassette provides a wide range for steep hills and flats.

Another advantage is that you can opt for accessories such as pedals, saddle type, water bottle cage, and lock, so you do not have to buy them separately.

I also like the unique ‘Dark Woodland’ and ‘Deep Pacific’ colors. Which one do you choose?

Marin Gestalt 2

Marin Gestalt 2 gravel bike with disc brakes
Source: bikesonline.com

Main Features

  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • Carbon fork
  • Unique ‘chameleon’ color
  • Compatible with racks and other accessories
  • Internal cable routing

Technical Specifications

If I had to pick a bike based on its design, Marin Gestalt 2 would be my favorite. But, of course, we all have slightly different tastes, so I will focus on its other features.

You will especially appreciate its riding characteristics on paved surfaces. It is equipped with 700c wheels with 32 mm tires. Therefore, Gestalt 2 is not far from a road bike.

However, the frame offers tire clearance for 700 x 35c tires. These are ideal for the terrain because they provide enough grip and comfort.

Marin Gestalt 2 offers 20 gears, so you won’t have a problem climbing a hill and descending quickly.

Of course, this bike is compatible with racks, fenders, and other bike accessories. Thanks to them, you can go on a long trip without worrying about food, water, spare clothes, etc.

So, if you want a nice-looking, well-equipped, and versatile bike, go for it. Or, you can check out the more affordable Gestalt 1 with lower-end components.

Co-op Cycles ADV 2.2

White Co-op Cycles ADV 2.2 gravel bike with disc brakes
Co-op Cycles ADV 2.2 | Source: rei.com

Main Features

  • Ideal bike for light terrain
  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • Carbon fork
  • Compatible with a rear rack

Technical Specifications

Co-op Cycles ADV 2.2 is an improved version of its predecessor ADV 2.1. Although it slightly exceeds the $1,500 mark, its price is fully justifiable. Let me explain why.

It has 700c wheels and 40mm tires that handle light gravel or dirt roads and are fast on the tarmac.

Thanks to Shimano GRX 2x10spd, you can use one of the 20 gears (this is more than the previous version). This makes the jumps between gears smaller, and you will always find the right gear.

You don’t have to worry about stopping when needed, even in the rain, because the mechanical disc brakes will provide enough stopping power.

The main downside of ADV 2.2 is that it has no additional slots for bike bottles except the standard two.

The Co-op Cycles ADV 2.2 is perfect for maintaining fitness, training, commuting, and recreation.

Cannondale Topstone 4

Black Cannondale Topstone 4 gravel bike with mechanical disc brakes
Cannondale Topstone 4 | Source: rei.com

Main Features

  • Ideal bike for light terrain
  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • Carbon fork
  • Compatible with racks and fenders
  • Gears for steep climbs

Technical Specifications

Are you looking for an affordable gravel bike from a well-known brand? Then check out the Cannondale Topstone 4.

It’s designed for versatility and adventure. It has a lightweight aluminum frame and a carbon fork, which provides a smooth and responsive ride.

It has only 10 gears but a wide range – allowing you to tackle steep hills and flats with ease.

The Topstone 4 also has a relaxed geometry, which puts you in a comfortable and upright riding position, making it ideal for all-day adventures.

You will also appreciate the up to 40mm wide tire clearance. This gives you the ability to run a wider range of tires for different conditions.

The additional mounts give you an ability to mount multiple water bottles, fenders, and racks. This makes it a great bike for bikepacking, touring, or commuting.

It’s a shame the Topstone 4 comes with mechanical disc brakes and not hydraulic ones. But those are rare at this price range. The mechanical ones are still fine for beginners.

Overall, the Cannondale Topstone 4 is a good option for anyone looking to explore new roads, whether they be paved or not.

Also available at mikesbikes.com

Improve your riding comfort with proper shoes. These shoes for gravel bikes will do the work, especially with gravel bike pedals.

Polygon Bend R2

Blue/black Polygon Bend R2 gravel bike
Polygon Bend R2 | Source: bikesonline.com

Main Features

  • Mechanical disc brakes (learn more)
  • Relaxed geometry
  • Carbon fork
  • Front and rear racks compatible
  • Partial internal cable routing
  • Lifetime frame warranty

Technical Specifications

The Polygon Bend R2 is around $1000, so you will have money left for other accessories.

Its relaxed geometry and lowered top tube make it suitable for women and people who prefer an upright riding position or are less flexible.

Like most gravel and adventure bikes, R2 is compatible with front and rear racks, so you can easily extend your storage capacity.

Polygon Bend R2 comes with 650b wheels and wide tires, allowing you to tackle rougher terrains. Unfortunately, the wheels are not tubeless-compatible.

Another disadvantage of the Polygon Bend R2 is its high weight compared to other gravel bikes in this roundup.

On the other hand, which bikes come with a lifetime frame warranty?

Salsa Journeyer

Screenshot2022 09
Salsa Journeyer 650b
salsa journeyer sora 700c black BK9448 1920x1080 uc
Salsa Journeyer 700c

Main Features

  • Mechanical disc brakes (learn more)
  • Relaxed geometry
  • Carbon fork
  • Front and rear racks compatible
  • Dropper post compatible
  • Partial internal cable routing

Technical Specifications

  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 23 lb (10.4 kg)
  • Gearing: Shimano Sora 2x9spd (11-34 cassette)
  • Wheel size: 650b or 700c
  • Tires: Teravail Washburn, 650b x 47 mm or Teravail Washburn, 700c x 38 mm

The relaxed geometry is the most notable feature of the Salsa Journeyer 650b and 700c bikes.

It was designed with comfort and stability in mind. So, continue reading if you are not super flexible and appreciate the more upright position. Additionally, this geometry results in better stability, especially in descents.

Journeyer, as the name suggests, is also perfect for bikepacking. It has multiple additional mounts, so you can easily mount bags, panniers, or fenders.

You can choose the option with the 650b or 700c wheels, depending on what terrain you prefer. Get the 650b wheels for rough terrain and 700c for light terrain (learn more).

It’s a shame it only has a Shimano Sora groupset with 2×9 gears and mechanical disc brakes. However, you also pay for the brand. Salsa is well-known and respected.

Trek Domane AL 3 Disc (Best Gravel Bike for Light Terrain)

Green Trek Domane AL 3 Disc gravel bike with disc brakes and Shimano Sora groupset
Source: trekbikes.com

Main Features

  • Ideal bike for light terrain
  • High built quality
  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • Carbon fork
  • 3 bottle cage-ready spots
  • Inbuilt speed sensor
  • Internal cable routing

Technical Specifications

  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 23.24 lb (10.54 kg)
  • Gearing: Shimano Sora R3000 2x9spd (11-32 cassette)
  • Wheel size: 700c
  • Tires: Bontrager R1 Hard-Case Lite, wire bead, 60 TPI, 700x32c

The Domane line is a line of road endurance bikes from Trek. However, thanks to the wider tire clearance and 32mm tires, this road bike became a fast gravel bike ideal for riding many miles while maintaining your fitness level.

Take advantage of its sporty geometry and decades of experience of the Trek design team.

Compared to other bikes in this selection, the Trek Domane AL 3 Disc is relatively lightweight, even though it is equipped with more affordable components and its frame is aluminum. So, be aware of its weight limit of 275 lb (125 kg).

Its carbon fork makes the ride more comfortable because it absorbs many vibrations.

You can also track your speed, distance, etc., with the inbuilt DuoTrap S sensor compatible with smartphones and head units (it uses Bluetooth connectivity).

Trek Domane AL 3 Disc is compatible with rear racks, 3 bottle cages, and other useful accessories for gravel bikes.

This means you can equip your bike with the cargo necessary for long-distance trips.

These features make Domane AL 3 Disc an ultimate road/gravel bike.

Do you use platform pedals? You may also be interested in the best non cycling shoes for cycling.

Vitus Substance V-2

White/gray Vitus Substance V-2 gravel bike with disc brakes
Vitus Substance V-2 | Source: wiggle.com

Main Features

  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • 3 bottle cage-ready spots
  • Compatible with racks and other accessories
  • Internal cable routing

Technical Specifications

  • Frame material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 23.68 lb (10.74 kg)
  • Gearing: Shimano Sora R3000 2x9spd (11-34 cassette)
  • Wheel size: 650b
  • Tires: WTB Byway TCS Road Plus, 650b x 47

Vitus Substance V-2 is a relatively light gravel bike that you can easily equip with accessories, including rear and front racks, up to 3 water bottle cages, panniers, bags, etc.

Thanks to these features, it is perfect for long (even several-day) bike trips, during which you can take full advantage of additional cargo space.

This bike has 650b wheels and 47mm wide tires, so riding through rough terrain will be fun.

Vitus bikes are known for their great price-value ratio, so you also get the Shimano Sora groupset, except for the modern look and well-built quality.

I am sure you will also appreciate the availability of 18 gears with an 11-34T cassette. This range is enough for climbs, flats, and even downhills.

And last but not least, the mechanical disc brakes will provide you with enough stopping power even in rainy weather.

Marin Nicasio Plus

Silver Marin Nicasio gravel bike with disc brakes
Marin Nicasio Plus | Source: marinbikes.com

Main Features

  • 650b wheels
  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • 3 bottle cage-ready spots
  • Platform pedals included
  • Compatible with fenders, front and rear racks

Technical Specifications

  • Weight: n/a
  • Gearing: MicroSHIFT Advent (11-46T cassette)
  • Tires: WTB Horizon tires
  • Frame material: Steel

Fans of steel bikes, be aware! The Marin Nicasio Plus is a stylish gravel bike suitable for adrenaline junkies.

It comes with MicroSHIFT Advent 1×9spd shifting (11-46T cassette) and 650bx47 tires. This combination is ideal for rough terrain. However, you can also equip it with 700c wheels (up to 35mm wide tires) if you want to transform it.

Nicasio Plus is ideal for people who appreciate style, functionality, and durability.

The steel frame is also easily repairable, making this bike perfect for those who love to seek adventure far away from home.

You will appreciate the extra bottle cage mount during longer trips so you won’t run out of water quickly and mounts of fenders and racks.

The fenders keep you dry in wet conditions, and the racks extend your storage capacity for trip essentials.

There are not many reasons not to love this bike. Maybe the weight of around 28 lbs (13kg) could be lower.

Did you not choose any bike from this selection? Check the Best Gravel Bikes Under $1000.

My Verdict

Gravel bikes are popular thanks to their versatility. You can use them to commute to and from work, explore your countryside, bike packing, for adrenaline rides in the terrain, or any other ride.

Make sure you choose your next gravel bike depending on your riding style and the terrain you want to ride in (read the How to Choose a Gravel Bike section to learn more).

I selected the best gravel bike from 3 main categories (for bike touring, rough terrain, and light terrain):

State Bicycle 6061 Black Label ALL-ROAD is the best gravel bike for rough terrain. You can opt-in for 650b wheels (tubeless compatible) with wide 47c tires to provide you with enough grip and comfort in rough terrain.

Marin Gestalt 2 is the best gravel bike for light terrain. It was designed as a road bike – just with wider tire clearance. It’s a synonym for speed, aerodynamics, and pure joy.

Co-op Cycles ADV 2.2 is the best gravel bike for bike touring, thanks to its compatibility with accessories like panniers, making it a great option for long journeys.


How to Choose a Gravel Bike?

Gravel bikes (also called adventure bikes) come with different frames, components, wheels, etc.

To help you choose the best gravel bike under $1500, I will explain in the following part what you can expect in this price range and what to be aware of when choosing your new gravel bike.

You can also read the full-length guide on How to Choose a Gravel Bike.

Frame Material

The frame is the spine of every bicycle. Gravel bike frames are mostly made from aluminum, steel, or carbon.

  1. Aluminum gravel bikes are the most affordable because aluminum is relatively cheap and easier to manufacture than steel or carbon frames. Aluminum frames are not as stiff as steel or carbon frames but are lighter than steel frames. Aluminum gravel bikes are ideal for beginners or people with a tight budget. The biggest downside of aluminum frames is that they fatigue and corrode over time.
  2. Steel gravel bikes are the heaviest. Steel frames are stiff and durable. This means they provide good power transfer, won’t crack after a first crash, and last longer than aluminum frames. I also like their ‘retro’ look and their uniqueness. Steel frames can be repaired relatively easily.
  3. Carbon gravel bikes are very stiff and light. Their stiff-to-weight ratio is the highest. They are suitable for performance-oriented people. On the other hand, they are expensive and need to be inspected for cracks after a heavy crash to prevent failure under stress.

Sources: CyclingWeekly, SheldonBrown, ScienceDirect

Learn more about gravel bike frame materials in this comparison article.

Frame MaterialWeight of the Gravel Bike
Carbon7.5–10 kg
16.5–22 lb
Aluminum9.5–12 kg
21–26.5 lb
Steel11–13.5 kg
24–30 lb
The estimated gravel bike weight is based on the market research I did and the comparison of weights of gravel bikes. The weight also depends on the components used on the bike. For example, carbon gravel bikes usually come with better and lighter components, so the overall weight is also lower.

Gravel bikes for under $1500 mostly come with aluminum or steel frames. Don’t expect carbon frame gravel bikes in this price range. Carbon gravel bikes start at around $2000.

Groupset

Generally speaking, bicycles use 1X, 2X, or 3X shifting, and gravel bikes are no exception. However, 3X shifting is not very common for gravel bikes.

1X shifting (1 chainring) offers fewer gears. This means it is simpler and ideal for beginners. On the other hand, the jumps between the individual gears are larger than 2X shifting.

The overall weight of 1X shifting is lower than 2X shifting, thanks to fewer parts. So, if you care about the bike’s overall weight, you should consider going for 1X shifting (among other things like the frame, wheels, etc.).

2X shifting (2 chainrings) offers a wider gear range. You can use a gear that suits you the best based on your preferred cadence and the terrain.

Cross-chaining vs. good shifting - illustration of the wrong and right chain positions
Avoid cross-chaining to reduce chain friction and drivetrain damage. Follow good shifting best practices to improve efficiency.

The downside of the 2X shifting is that it is more prone to failure and damage due to many parts and things that can go wrong.

3X shifting (3 chainrings) is not popular among gravel bike riders. This shifting is complex, prone to failure and damage, and heavier than 1X or 2X shifting.

An illustration of a 1x chainring
1x chainring
An illustration of a 2x chainring
2x chainring
An illustration of a 3x chainring
3x chainring

Companies like Shimano or SRAM usually supply the groupsets, but you may also find other, less-known manufacturers like MicroShift, or custom groupsets by the bike manufacturers themselves.

In the below $1500 price range, expect groupsets like Shimano Sora, Shimano Claris, Shimano Tiagra, SRAM Apex, MicroShift Advent X, etc.

Wheel Size

Gravel bikes use 650b or 700c wheels.

650b wheels are smaller but use wider tires. They are perfect for rougher terrain like bumpy roads, mud, forest roads, single tracks, etc. Thanks to knobby tires, they will provide you with enough grip needed for these terrains.

This wheel size is also more comfortable thanks to wider tires. They better absorb bumps and other vibrations that make the ride uncomfortable.

700c wheels are bigger and use narrower tires compared to 650b wheels. This makes them better for light terrain and paved surfaces like the tarmac because they allow you to ride faster without spending as much energy.

According to La Velocita, 700c wheels combine the best weight, grip, and rolling resistance ratio.

An illustration of a 700c vs. 650b wheel size
700c vs. 650b wheel size

When buying a new gravel bike, think about the terrain you want to ride in. Do you prefer paved surfaces and light terrain? Good, go for 700c wheels.

Do you want to experience more adrenalin and fun in the terrain? Then, 650b wheels are the way to go.

Brakes

During my market research, I could not find a gravel bike with rim brakes. Gravel bikes use almost exclusively one of the 2 types of disc brakes:

  1. Mechanical disc brakes work similarly to rim brakes – a steel cable moves the pistons, creating friction that slows the bike. The advantage is that they are compatible with standard rim shifters and are easier to maintain at home. Their disadvantage is that the steel cable can wear out more easily and break when you don’t expect it.
  2. Hydraulic disc brakes use fluid filled in the system. As CyclingAbout explains, when you pull the brake lever, the fluid rushes down to the caliper, closing the brake pads. This type of disc brake provides braking consistency in any riding condition. On the other hand, they are more difficult to maintain at home due to their complexity.

Gravel bikes under $1500 are usually equipped with mechanical disc brakes (except for a few exceptions). The hydraulic disc brakes are used on more expensive gravel bikes.

Accessories Compatibility

Another thing you should consider before buying a gravel bike is its compatibility with accessories.

If you plan to ride long distances, you will need to attach additional accessories to your bike to store clothes, food, tools, bike lock, or whatever you need.

Gravel bikes usually allow you to attach more than 2 bottle cages, bike racks, handlebar bags, frame bags, saddle bags, etc.

I recommend watching the following video to learn what to pack for your next bikepacking trip.

Bike Size

Choosing the correct bike can be tricky when you can’t try it. Online retailers publish bike size charts and bike geometry info to pick the bike size based on your height, inseam length, and other body dimensions.

You can also read my other article explaining how to choose a gravel bike size. It contains a bike size calculator that will calculate the correct gravel bike size within seconds.

TIP: To compare geometries of not only gravel bikes, use the Bikeinsights tool.


Gravel Bikes FAQ


This post is regularly updated to provide you with the most up-to-date product tips. If you find a product that is not up to date, please, contact me.

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