Gravel bikes are built for multi-purpose use. In this article, we’ll explore this product style to help you understand what makes them unique and efficient.
As you’ll notice, gravel bikes have hybrid features, which make them suitable for both road and off-road adventures.
If you are just getting into adventure biking and want to test the waters with an entry-level bike. We’ve looked at some affordable gravel bikes which all go for under $1,000. The following are our top choices for the best gravel bikes in this price range:
- Salsa Journeyman Claris 650 Bike – Best Overall
- Raleigh Merit 2 – Best for Beginners
- Co-op Cycles ADV 2.1 Bike – Best Customizable Bike
- Diamondback Bicycles Haanjo 1 Gravel Adventure Road Bike – Best-Looking
- Tommaso Forcella Endurance Aluminum Road Bike – Best Brakes
What To Expect In A Gravel Bike Under $1,000
If you took your cyclocross bike off-road and tried navigating rocky or uneven terrain, you probably wouldn’t get very far. Certainly, you’d have an uncomfortable ride and you’d have to push your bike on foot at certain moments.
At the same time, using your mountain bike for on-road racing events or daily commutes could lead to dismal performance. You’d never pick up the speed others achieve, and the wide tires would make turning difficult and slow.
This is where gravel bikes come in. Benefits include:
- Versatility – Tackle different terrains, in different seasons with a gravel bike
- Low-gear ratios – Climb challenging hills, even with the added weight of your travel essentials onboard
- Adaptability – Easy to customize your bike including adding tubeless tires
- Comfortable ride – Most gravel bikes feature endurance-style geometry or dimensions. It provides for better stability and comfort when riding for long periods
Features To Look for in a Gravel Bike Under $1,000
Thankfully, it’s not difficult to score a quality gravel bike for under $1,000. Knowing what to look for is half the battle. Here are some features to keep in mind:
A great gravel bike gives the space allowance to fit multiple wheel sizes. You should be able to change out 700c with 650b MTB tires, for example. This compatibility enables you to switch tires depending on the route you’re taking on a particular day, whether on or off-road.
Disc brakes are our top pick for gravel bikes because they offer reliable, quick stops, and they’re safer because they rarely fail.
In general, you’ll want a gravel bike with a super-efficient braking system. This will allow you to achieve your chosen speed, regardless of terrain, without worrying about a less-than-smooth stop at a moment’s notice.
Weight is a critical aspect because you don’t want to feel like you’re lugging around bricks. At the same time, a bike that’s too light may not offer the stability and force you need.
A standard gravel bike will weigh around 25 to 30 pounds, give or take. Do keep in mind that sturdier materials are usually heavier, so finding a bike in the middle range is a good choice.
Frame and Fork Material
The frame and the fork should be strong and shock-resistant to prevent bending and breaking.
These parts are responsible for steering and control, and they should also be light for easier handling. Aim for a gravel bike with high-quality steel, aluminum alloy, or carbon material construction.
Groupset and Drivetrain
Gravel bikes require gearing systems that adapt to changing slopes and terrains. You should make sure that the drivetrains match these specs. 1x or 2x drivetrains are a common option here and they can shift gears quickly to allow for fast speed transitions.
Related article – Best Gravel Bikes Under $500
5 Of The Best Gravel Bikes Under $1,000
This gravel bike by Salsa is designed for beginners. It’s great for gravel races but most of my cycling buddies love the Journeyman for its high-quality design and aluminum construction.
It’s gorgeous to look at too, with a slick colorway inspiring off-road adventures. Behind the aesthetics, this gravel bike offers unmatched utility. This includes three mounting eyelets on both sides of the fork, which allow you to carry extra gear, water, and adventure trophies.
This bike also features tough, 2.1 inch tires for a multitude of surfaces. The tubeless tire technology should have your back as it helps avoid unforeseen punctures.
Salsa takes endurance geometry seriously for comfortable rides. It gives you reliable control over changing slopes and rough terrains via a sturdy and lightweight (27 pounds) construction.
This gravel bike is suited for everyone, including enthusiastic beginners who are rough on their bicycle.
It’s sturdy yet lightweight (23.5 pounds), thanks to its superb aluminum frame. Both the frame and fork are butted, reinforcing the build for off-road shocks and bumpy rides.
The geometry complements an upright posture for comfort and has a hardtail for extra stability. It makes this hybrid bike suited for all types of riders.
The double, bottle-cage mounts, and rear rack mounts are a big plus here. You can pack them up and keep them fresh and clean with the addition of mudguard mounts too.
This gravel bike’s ultimate attraction is its Shimano drivetrain. It features 16 gears for terrain adaptability and eight speeds for fast mobility. The Shimano Claris cable disc brakes enhance safety by initiating timely stops.
This gravel bike gives plenty of allowance for upgrades and customization, which means you can personalize it for your cycling needs. It features multiple mounts and racks for extra carrying capacity. It also has a wide compatibility-range with road and gravel tires.
The bicycle is tough and shock-resistant, thanks to the use of steel. It’ll cost you where weight (~30lbs) is concerned though. This strength is reinforced through high-quality double-butted tubes.
An adjustable drop bar offers a secure fit for different riders. Also, the crankset is compatible with flexing-surfaces geometry. This will really help you overcome changing slopes and terrains.
You can ride comfortably and take control of mobility with the disc brakes, which empower you to maneuver around challenging corners.
This bike can mount 650 tires for fast road commutes and 700 tires for cross country rides on bumpy paths.
This model is quite the looker with captivating endurance geometry and a glossy, grey finish. On top of that, it’s durable, reliable, and easy to use.
An aluminum alloy frame makes it strong and light. Moreover, the gear ratio is versatile, depending on your stamina and tire sizes. It’s no wonder this bike easily achieves high speeds, thanks to the Shimano drivetrain and shifters.
This bike is designed for comfort, too, with a stack/reach ratio of 1.52 for upright riding. The hardtail is low and stretched for stability.
Tektro Aries mechanism disc brakes match the demanding nature of bumpy rides and on-road racing. The safety offered is optimized by efficient, accurate braking that enhances steering control.
The only heavy aspect of this bike is the steel fork, meaning it should hold up against some rough usage overtime.
This brand is known for quality and it shows in this product.
The bike is built with an HCT Carbon Fork adding long-term potential to the aluminum frame. It’s drilled for rack mounts if you need to load up gear for your upcoming adventure.
Overcoming sloped terrains with this bike is possible, too, thanks to its cable disc brakes that provide reliable, timely stoppages for enhanced control.
The Shimano Claris drivetrain powers you through high and low gradients. Sturdy aluminum handlebars help you maximize grip along bumpy rides.
Safety is a big perk with this product, from the braking to the light, tubeless-tire technology. The latter minimizes puncture blowouts. Additional convenience is delivered by the standard mudguard.
The best gravel bikes for under $1,000 features a bit of something for everyone wanting an adventure, on or off the path.
If we had to choose just one bike here as our favorite, the Salsa Journeyman wins. At 27 pounds, it’s a middle-range weight while still offering a solid construction. If you have to load it up, the mounting eyelets are waiting for you.
The tough tires are meant to withstand a variety of circumstances, too. Did we mention this bike comes with a visual appeal? It’s a beauty and we appreciate that.
Are speed and a minimal load essential for you? You might want to opt for an even lighter bike like the Raleigh Merit 2. It weighs a good 5 pounds less than the Journeyman. While it doesn’t sound like much, each pound matters when you’re cycling up a steep gradient.
Regardless of your choice, do remember to check your bike’s frame and fork materials, brake quality, and wheel compatibility before you make your purchase. Each bike on our list offers a fun ride, it’s up to you to determine what style suits you best!