The 8 Best Gravel Bikes Under $1500 [2021]

The Best Gravel Bikes Under 1500

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These are the best gravel bikes under $1500. Take advantage of my 15+ hours of market research where I evaluated reviews and experiences of the riders and selected the top gravel bikes available online.

The best gravel bikes from each category are:

In the first part of this article, you find out why I think these gravel bikes are the best in these categories, and also much more about their features & benefits.

The second part of this article explains what wheel size is better for your riding style, what to be aware of when choosing a gravel bike, what to expect in the below $1500 range.

Let’s dive in!


What Are the Best Gravel Bikes Under $1500?

The following selection of gravel bikes includes gravel bikes ideal for bike touring, as well as for light and rough terrain.

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

Co-op Cycles ADV 1.1 (Best Gravel Bike for Bike Touring)

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Source: rei.com

Main Features

  • Ideal bike for bike touring
  • Front and rear rack included
  • Bar-end shifters
  • Hydraulic disc brakes
  • Comfortable gel bar tape

Technical Specifications

  • Frame material: Steel
  • Weight: 30 lbs (13.61 kg) [M]
  • Gearing: Shimano Deore LX 3x10spd (11-34 cassette)
  • Wheel size: 700c
  • Tires: Schwalbe Marathon with puncture protection, 700 x 38mm

This bike was designed for bike touring and bike adventures. Its main and most obvious features are the included front and rear rack.

You can use them for attaching panniers to store more things that you will need during your journey. Thanks to them, you can increase the volume of the cargo space.

You will be able to store clothes, tools, water, food, a tent… It is completely up to you. Just remember, the panniers are not included.

ADV 1.1 is perfect for long-distance trips thanks to 700c wheels equipped with 38mm tires. They are quick and efficient so you will ride lots of miles with ease.

You also don’t have to be afraid to ride in light terrain on dirt roads or light gravel because the 38mm tires can handle it.

Thanks to Shimano Deore, you will be able to choose one of 30 gears. Find the one that will suit you for hills, flats, or descents.

The gear shifter is located on the bar end (traditionally it is integrated with the brake lever). It takes a few rides to get used to it. On the other hand, the brake levers are not bulky.

The hydraulic brakes and bar tape are also worth mentioning. Brakes will provide you with effective braking in any weather, and the tape is very comfortable so your rides will be more pleasant.


TIP: Equip your touring bike with a bike phone mount and use your smartphone as navigation.


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

state bicycle co 6061 all road gravel dark woodland 1
‘Dark Woodland’ Color | Source: statebicycle.com
state bicycle co 6061 all road gravel deep pacific 10
‘Deep Pacific’ 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 the purchase, you can choose whether to buy it with 650b or 700c wheels (or both).

Wide, knobby tires provide enough grip that is needed for bumpy roads, singletracks, forest roads, gravel, mud, and similar types of terrains.

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

1X shifting is very intuitive. A small disadvantage is the limited number of gears. However, the 11-42 cassette provides a wide enough 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?


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

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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 lbs (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 lots of miles maintaining your fitness level.

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

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

Its carbon fork makes the ride more comfortable because it absorbs a lot of vibrations.

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

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

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

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


Fairdale Weekender Nomad

fdx 268 bu
Source: performancebike.com

Main Features

  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • Platform pedals included
  • Well built

Technical Specifications

Steel frame fans, be aware! I know there are a lot of you out there, so I had to include this gravel bike as well.

Fairdale Weekender Nomad will accompany you on your journeys as a faithful companion that you can always rely on.

It is equipped with quality FSA and SRAM components. Mechanical disc brakes will provide you with enough stopping power in any weather, and at the same time, you will be able to maintain them relatively easily at home.

Weekender Nomad offers 1X shifting and 11 gears. This gear range is enough to overcome climbs and for riding on flats.

This bike is equipped with 650b wheels with wide tires that are ideal for the terrain. So, if you look for a versatile bike for various types of terrains, this might be the one.

And, as a bonus, this bike has included platform pedals.


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


Devinci Hatchet

bi001818 full sand
Source: jensonusa.com

Main Features

  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • 3 bottle cage ready spots + 1 one additional mount
  • Compatible with racks and other accessories
  • Internal cable routing

Technical Specifications

Devinci Hatchet is a relatively light gravel bike that you can easily equip with other 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 comes with 700c wheels, however, it is also compatible with 650b wheels and tires up to 2.1″ wide. With these tires, even rough terrain won’t stop you.

As for the above-mentioned mounts for bottle cages, there are 4 on the bike. However, one is placed on the frame top tube. So, it is better to use it for a top tube frame bag.

I am sure you will also appreciate the 18 gears. This range is enough for climbs, flats, even downhills.

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


Marin Gestalt 2

bi001983 gloss black~chameleon
Source: jensonusa.com

Main Features

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

Technical Specifications

If I would pick a bike based on its design, Marin Gestalt 2 would be my favorite. Of course, we all have slightly different tastes, so I am going to 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 will provide you with enough grip and comfort.

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

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

So, if you want a nice looking, well equipped, and versatile bike, go for it.


Salsa Stormchaser

Salsa Stormchaser Single Speed Bike BK8105 1920x1080px uc1
Source: salsacycles.com

Main Features

  • Unique color with superb finishing
  • Carbon fork
  • Single-speed
  • Internal cable routing

Technical Specifications

I had to include this bike. I was especially interested in the unique ‘copper’ color and also the fact that it is a single-speed gravel bike.

So if you want to make your trips special, more physically difficult but also more challenging, you should consider Stormchaser.

Stormchaser weighs less than 22 lbs (10 kg) due to the absence of gears and thanks to a lightweight aluminum frame. This comes in handy especially when climbing.

The extra-wide drop bars will also help you to conquer steeper sections of your trip thanks to added leverage.

I also like the internal cable routing that makes this bike look clean and minimalistic. So what do you think? Is this going to be your next gravel bike?


Masi Giramondo

bi002010 raw steel
Source: jensonusa.com

Main Features

  • Ideal bike for bike touring
  • Front and rear rack included
  • Bar-end shifters
  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • Internal cable routing

Technical Specifications

Masi Giramondo is an alternative to Co-op Cycles ADV 1.1. These are very similar bikes with one big difference and a few smaller ones.

The main difference is the geometry. Giramondo geometry is more relaxed. This means that it allows you to ride in a more upright position that tends to be more comfortable.

This bike has rear and front racks included so you attach panniers and bike bags. Thanks to this additional cargo space, you will be able to use this bike for really looong trips and bikepacking adventures.

The 700c wheels are equipped with 45c tires that are good for paved surfaces as well as for terrain. So, if you will suddenly have to ride on a bumpy road that is full of potholes, dirt, or gravel, you will not have a problem.

What Giramondo loses a bit compared to ADV 1.1, there are brakes. The Giramondo is equipped with mechanical brakes (learn more).

To wrap this up, this bike is a way to go if you are a fan of steel frames and bikepacking.


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 for commuting to and from work, exploring 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):

Co-op Cycles ADV 1.1 is the best gravel bike for bike touring. It comes with included front and a rear rack that you can use for attaching panniers or bike bags that are essential for bike packing.

It comes with 700c wheels and narrow tires so it is fast on paved roads but can handle light gravel as well. It has bar-end shifters that take a while to get used to.

You won’t have a problem efficiently break even in the rain thanks to hydraulic disc brakes. And, the gear range is also rich.

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 wide tires that will provide you with enough grip and comfort in rough terrain.

Or, you can buy this bike with 700c wheels with 38c wide tires that are more suitable for paved surfaces.

And, if you are a demanding rider, buy both pairs of wheels at one – the State Bicycle allows that as well.

Trek Domane AL 3 Disc is the best gravel bike for light terrain. It was designed with a road bike in mind. However, thanks to the wider tire clearance, you can fit it with wider tires, making this bike a synonym for speed, aerodynamics, and pure joy.

However, it doesn’t sacrifice essentials like additional bike bottle cages, compatibility with bike racks, and other bike accessories.

The build quality, integrated speed sensor, and beautiful colors are an imaginary cherry on the top of the cake.


How to Choose a Gravel Bike?

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

To help you choose the best gravel bike under $1500, I am going to explain to you in the following part, what you can expect in this price range and what to be aware of when choosing your new 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 compared to steel or carbon frames. Aluminum frames are not as stiff as steel or carbon frames, but they are lighter compared to steel frames. Aluminum gravel bikes are an ideal entry-level point for beginners or people with a tight budget. The biggest downside of the 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 that 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 they need to be inspected for cracks after a heavy crash to prevent failure under stress.

Sources: CyclingWeekly, SheldonBrown, ScienceDirect

Frame MaterialWeight of the Bike
Carbon7.5 to 10 kg
Aluminum9.5 to 12 kg
Steel11 to 13.5 kg
The estimated weight of the gravel bike depending on the frame material

The estimated weight is based on the market research I did and the comparison of weights of gravel bikes. The bike weight also depends on the components used on the bike. Carbon bikes usually have better and lighter components so the overall weight is also lower.

Speaking of gravel bikes under $1500, their frames are mostly made of aluminum or steel. 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 compared to 2X shifting.

The overall weight of 1X shifting is logically lower compared to 2X shifting thanks to fewer parts. So, if you care about the overall weight of the bike, 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.

TIP: If you ride a bike with 2X or 3X shifting, make sure you avoid cross-chaining. It is a situation when you ride with the chain on the small chainring and the smallest sprocket on the cassette (and vice versa).

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

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

1x chainring
1x chainring
2x chainring
2x chainring
3x chainring
3x chainring

The groupsets are usually supplied by companies like Shimano or SRAM, 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 that is needed for these types of terrains.

This wheel size is also more comfortable thanks to wider tires. They are better at absorbing 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 the need to spend as much energy.

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

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 terrain? 650b wheels are the way to go.

Brakes

During my market research, I was not able to 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 which creates 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 brakes provides braking consistency in any riding conditions. 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 (but there are some exceptions). The hydraulic disc brakes are used on more expensive gravel bikes.

Accessories Compatibility

Another thing you should consider when 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 to take with you.

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 find out what to pack for your next bikepacking trip.

Bike Size

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

You can also read my other article where I explain How to Choose a Bike Size. It contains a bike size calculator that will calculate the correct gravel bike size for you within seconds.


Gravel Bikes FAQ


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

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