Ready to venture off the beaten path without breaking the bank?
Navigating the world of gravel bikes can be a journey in itself, but with insights from seasoned riders and my own trail-blazing adventures, this guide simplifies the search.
Believe it or not, a budget-friendly gravel bike can rival those with heftier price tags. Intrigued?
The Mongoose Men’s Elroy Adventure Bike, in particular, is an excellent selection and takes the top honors thanks to its mix of price, build quality, and design. Read on to find out why.
Let’s dive into the best gravel bikes under $500!
In A Rush? Check Out Our Top Gravel Bikes Under $500
Reviews of the Best Gravel Bikes Under $500
Suppose you’re seeking a gravel bike for under $500. The Mongoose can be a great option, especially for those who love long bikepacking rides and tours.
It’s a versatile bike capable of handling different types of roads, which makes it an excellent choice for riders who want the freedom to explore without limitations.
The Elroy Adventure Bike has many valuable features, such as an integrated frame bag for storing essentials, a front rack with a built-in bottle opener, and even rear rack mount options for additional carrying capacity.
With its 14-speed shifters and reliable Shimano Tourney derailleurs, the bike provides smooth and consistent performance on up and downhill rides.
The internal cable routing of this model also offers space for three large water bottle cage mounts. You’ll stay plenty hydrated during your long touring rides 😁.
While Elroy has many positive aspects, there are some drawbacks to consider. The Shimano Tourney groupset is not the highest quality and might not be suitable for more advanced riders.
According to riders, the bike saddle is an issue, as some reviews spoke negatively about the seat quality.
Overall, the Mongoose Elroy is an affordable and versatile gravel bike, best suited for those who love exploring new terrains and long bike tours.
The Vilano best suits riders seeking an affordable and versatile option for mixed terrains. The bike is not just for die-hard gravel enthusiasts but also for those who want a commuter without breaking the bank.
One of this bike’s strong points is its ability to adapt to various surfaces, from city streets to gravel trails. It comes with 700c wheels and 700c x 38c tires, which provide stability and smooth rides on different terrains.
The integrated brake lever/shifters make it effortless to control both braking and shifting, and the mechanical disc brakes give you dependable stopping power. Similar to the Mongoose, the Vilano comes with 14 speeds.
These features combine to make it easy for riders of all levels to enjoy the ride without worrying about complex gear changes or handling issues.
However, the Vilano does require assembly and tuning upon arrival. For those who aren’t familiar with bicycle assembly, this might be a minor inconvenience. However, taking it to the local bike shop should do the trick.
Additionally, while the bike offers excellent value for the price, the components are at the basic end.
As a daily commuter, I know a lightweight and versatile bike is essential.
The Hiland Road Bike offers an aluminum alloy frame that’s light but also stiff and responsive, making it easy to work with. This bike will be able to handle urban roads and gravel terrains easily.
The 14-speed Shimano drivetrain and L-TWOO derailleurs provide a diverse riding experience and control in various situations. Additionally, the 700C tires offer excellent rolling efficiency, giving you a smoother and more enjoyable ride.
Unfortunately, there are some downsides to this bike that I’ve come across. Though lighter and more aerodynamic than disc brakes, the caliper brakes may not provide the same stopping power.
Riders have also mentioned that the seat was uncomfortable during longer rides, but this can be easily replaced with a comfier option or padded shorts.
In conclusion, the Hiland Road Bike is an excellent choice for budget-conscious riders looking for a lightweight bike that can handle urban and gravel terrains.
Weighing in at 28 lbs, the lightweight aluminum frame ensures easy maneuverability while also being corrosion-resistant. This makes it ideal for various riding conditions.
The dual disc brakes work efficiently and effectively to shorten the braking distance, adding an extra layer of safety while you’re out on your adventures. With a 14-speed Shimano shifting system, this bike offers smooth and precise shifts, ensuring you can easily conquer any terrain.
You will enjoy the standard 700x28C tires for their anti-bump capabilities and improved ride comfort. The adjustable foam seat allows for customization based on height. However, some riders might want to replace it for added comfort.
One thing to note is that this gravel bike best suits riders 5’6″ and taller.
Assembly is straightforward, with an available tutorial video, and requires about 25 minutes of your time.
So, you’re looking for a reliable, budget-friendly, versatile gravel bike. In that case, the FOMAS Gravel Road Bike is undoubtedly worth considering. Give it a try, and let me know how much you enjoy your new cycling companion!
Designed with a high-strength 54cm steel frame, this gravel bike is solid and durable, providing a comfortable riding experience. That being said, this bike is one of the heaviest, weighing 35 lbs.
Its versatile 21-speed Shimano thumb shifter allows for easy transitions between slopes and flats, making it suitable for a broader range of terrains than the previous two bikes.
One thing I found impressive about this bike is its 700C x 35C extra-wide tires. These increase stability on rough terrain and provide the high-speed experience of a road bike combined with the off-road capabilities of a mountain bike.
The dual disc brake system ensures reliable stopping power in various road conditions, enhancing ride safety.
Assembly is relatively simple, with 85% of the bike pre-assembled and essential tools provided.
What To Look for in a Gravel Bike Under $500
If you want to pick up a gravel bike under $500, consider these factors to help fine-tune your decision.
Check out the Best Gravel Bikes Under $1,000 if you want higher specs in any of these categories.
The frame of a gravel bike plays a significant role in determining the durability and stability of the model. Make sure to pick out a model that isn’t too heavy and utilizes a wide range of durable materials such as aluminum, carbon, or steel.
Aluminum bikes tend to be the lightest of the lot, so most of the bikes selected are aluminum-based. They’re also economically priced, which makes them easy on the pocket.
The speeds you attain on your bike are only as good as the braking system. Otherwise, it’s nothing more than a hazard for the rider!
There are many types of quality braking systems utilized by gravel bikes, including disc brakes, V-brakes, caliper brakes, and cantilever brakes.
Disc brakes, in particular, offer quick stops to the rider. Still, they need to be handled in a precise and delicate way. If you’re an experienced rider, you should consider using this variant.
The design employed on the handlebar of the bike determines the comfort levels experienced by the user.
If you’re looking at gravel bikes, the handlebar designs that best suit such models include drop bars or flat bars. These designs maximize your efficiency as a rider and allow you to retain the best form.
Your setup should allow your hands to comfortably hold the bars, with a slight bend at the elbows. Ensure there’s not too much stretch in the reach or cramping in your back or shoulders.
The wheel size is directly proportional to the stability experienced by the rider. In this segment, the ideal wheel size you should consider should be 700c.
This allows the bike to retain off-roading capabilities while ensuring your safety as a rider.
Most gravel bikes utilize gear systems to provide various options to tackle diverse terrains.
Gravel bikes, particularly, are well served using 1x or 2x drivetrains. A 1x drivetrain can be seen in mountain bikes, while the 2x variant is used in road bikes.
Check out this video, which explains the pros and cons of a 1x drivetrain:
Want to save some money? See if you can convert an old road bike into a gravel bike!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is upgrading components on a budget gravel bike possible?
Definitely, and I recommend you do it once you’ve gone for a few rides!
One of the benefits of gravel bikes is their modularity. Whether you want to upgrade the saddle, pedals, tires, or drivetrain components. You can personalize your ride based on your preferences and needs.
Is the weight of a cheap gravel bike an issue for climbing?
Gravel bikes in this price range may be slightly heavier due to the materials used, like aluminum frames.
While it’s manageable for most climbs, consider weight a factor if you’re often tackling steep terrains.
How do gravel bike tires in this price range perform on muddy terrains?
While most gravel bikes under $500 will come with decent all-around tires, they might not be optimized for muddy terrains.
However, the frame clearance should allow you to upgrade to more aggressive tire treads for better mud performance.
Are gravel bikes under $500 suitable for both commuting and off-road trails?
Absolutely. Gravel bikes are known for their versatility.
Those priced under $500 might not have all the high-end features, but they can undoubtedly handle city commutes and light to moderate off-road trails.