If you’ve tried gravel riding before, you must know it’s such a struggle! That’s why you need a gravel bike that is specifically designed for gravel roads to survive through all the rocks and bumps.
Gravel riding has become incredibly popular over the past few years. The industry has launched so many models that it can be quite challenging to choose one that suits your needs and budget. After a long research and testing session on these bicycles, we eventually finalized the best gravel bikes under $1500.
We’ve also included a buying guide to inform you about every feature of a gravel bike you must consider before your purchase. Here’s your chance to have an amazing gravel riding experience without breaking the bank!.
Why Should You Buy A Gravel Bike?
Gravel bikes are specifically designed for riding on gravel. They are extremely durable. They are pretty much capable of running on any terrains since they have wider tires. They are extremely popular these days among bike riders. A gravel bike offers you a lot of amazing features.
This bike gives you so many cycling options. You can use it as a road bike to ride on flat surfaces. You can use it as a race cyclocross too. Whether you use it for winning a racing competition or for a tour, you’re sure to get a lot of comfort as well as fun by riding on a gravel bike.
You can also put on fenders to use them as bicycles for regular commutes. And of course, you can use a gravel bike for any adventurous ride. It’s always a good idea to use only gravel bikes for gravel, because they provide the maximum support to the rider.
Gravel Bike: A Comprehensive Buying Guide
1. Frame Material
Gravel bikes can come in different materials including steel, carbon, and aluminum. Carbon is the lightest and most durable frame material. Aluminum is lighter than steel, but steel is more durable than aluminum. Consider the weight and durability and choose what works best for you.
A gravel bike’s wheelbase is quite long due to its long chainstays and head-tube angles. The rider can have an upright and more relaxed position because of the tall head tubes. You’ll also find the bottom brackets lower. Because of such geometry, you’ll feel more confident and comfortable when riding on a gravel bike.
It’s extremely important that you consider the weight of your bike. A light bike will be portable and make your ride more enjoyable. As we mentioned earlier, the frame material has the biggest role in determining a bike’s weight.
Brakes are an extremely important part for a bicycle. You can get a gravel bike with different brake options including cantilever, mechanical disc, and hydraulic disc brakes.
Gearing is another important factor. Depending on the terrain, gravel bikes generally feature wide-range cassettes and compact gearing. 48/32t or 50/34t cranksets are most common.
6. Bike speed
Some bikes come with a single-speed option while some bikes’ speed can be adjusted. It depends on personal needs and preferences. But bear in mind that more speed options can sometimes lead to a system failure.
A gravel bike has an in-built active or passive suspensions system. It can be in the form of a bowed top-tube, slender chainstays, or skinny seatpost. Some bikes even use suspension forks like Lefty Oliver or Lauf-Grit fork.
8. Type of Shifters
Shifters allow you to adjust gears according to the terrain. The most common type shifters include road shifters, indexed shifters, MTB shifters, and friction shifters.
Given the terrain, gravel bikes come with different types of tires. Most tire sections are wide and usually range between 30 to 48 mm. If you intend to use the bike on the road, you should get very smooth tires to limit rolling resistance. But for rough terrains, get tires that have crampons since they will provide more traction.
10. Tubeless or Inner Tube
Many riders prefer tubeless tires for their gravel bikes. They are a go-to option. They are usually more resistant and require lower pressure.
You may use a compact with 11/32 or 11/34 cassette, which make the bike versatile both vertically and horizontally.
12. Gravel hanger
Most gravel bikes are used with hangers unlike other regular bikes. You can either choose a flat hanger or a customized gravel hanger. It all depends on your experience, choice, and practice.
The drivetrain is actually the engine of your bike. If you ignore this part, it will cost a lot when the drivetrain will have issues. So, make sure the drivetrain if your gravel bike is a good one.
These are entry-level bikes, mainly for beginners.
These bikes are great for your money. They make a balance between features and cost.
Now, these are the most advanced bikes with high-end features.
Care & Maintenance Tips
A gravel bike needs a lot more care and maintenance than a regular bike. We have some useful tips for you to make sure your bike lasts longer and performs better.
- Make an inspection on your bike components before every ride. You can make adjustments to loose components with any bike multitool.
- Keep your tires properly inflated. Check the sidewalls for tire pressure. Also, make sure to have your pump and patch kit before riding.
- Squeeze the brake levers to check whether the brakes function smoothly. If your brake pads have wear indicators, don’t go beyond that indicated line.
- Always keep the chain lubricated and the gears clean. You can easily do that with a clean rag, brush, and bike chain lubes. Don’t over-lubricate. Carefully wipe away excess lube.
- Remember to keep all the nuts and bolts tight. Loose parts can cause wear and tear, leading to a poor performance. Don’t over-tighten because the components can get damaged.
- Get your bike serviced from a bike mechanic at least twice a year.
Gravel Bike Riding Tips
- Keep your elbows bent and have a relaxed grip over the handlebars. Just stay relaxed because if there is any tension in your body, you won’t be able to handle the bike.
- Keep your knees soft when descending. Also, keep them apart so that the bike can soak up the road bumps.
- When you corner on the road, lean your body with the bike. When on off-road terrains, keep your body upright.
- Always focus on your line and look ahead to the trail.
- When you’re skimming over a rough section, unweight your bike.
- If your gavel bike uses tubeless tires, run on lower pressure.
- Wear mountain bike shoes with two-bolt (SPD) cleats.
- Always ride at a healthy speed and have a good control over your gravel bike. Don’t go too fast or too slow.
We tried to discuss all the points and give a detailed and comprehensive guide so that you can choose the perfect model among the best gravel bikes under 1500 dollar.
We think the most important things you should consider before buying a gravel bike are your needs, riding style, and of course, your budget. Among all the bikes we tested, the Tommaso Illimitate and Sterrata are the best you can get as far as versatility and comfort are concerned. We would recommend you the Mongoose Men's Elroy any day if you’re on a tight budget.
If you’re particularly looking for a bike for racing, our award goes to the Tommaso Sentiero.
We hope we could contribute in your search to find your dream gravel bike. As gravel biking is becoming more and more popular every day and many other new models are coming on the way, we’ll keep testing and reviewing new products and update you with the best products on the market.
1. What is the difference between mountain bike and gravel bike?
Ans: The main difference is speed. A gravel bike is way faster compared to a mountain bike. It’s also more versatile. Gravel bikes can handle various terrains without compromising your comfort.
2. What is the difference between gravel bikes and road bikes?
Ans: A gravel bike is a combined form of a road bike and cyclocross. There are still some differences between a gravel bike and road bike. A gravel bike is usually more durable. It has wider tires to comfortably handle rough surfaces. It also mostly uses hydraulic disc brakes unlike a road bike.
3. Is there any difference between Cyclocross and gravel bikes?
Ans: Although there are many similarities between a gravel bike and cyclocross, there are a few significant differences too. A gravel bike’s frame is heavier compared to a cyclocross. The former has eyelets for mudguards, which the latter lacks. Moreover, the riding position on a gravel bike is upright.
4. Can you ride on gravel with a road bike?
Ans: The tires of a road bike is designed for flat roads. But you still can ride on gravel with a road bike. However, the handling and ride quality won’t be as it is with a gravel bike.
5. What should I bring on a gravel ride?
Ans: The basic things that you should bring on a gravel ride include:
- A spare sealant and tire plug
- A patch kit
- A mini pump
- Two tubes
- Tire levers
- A tire boot
- Chain lube
- A chain tool
- Derailleur cable
6. Are gravel bikes good for touring?
Ans: A gravel or adventure bike is great for covering long distances. It’s excellent for touring. You can ride on different trails. So, no matter on which surfaces you’ve to ride on during your tour, you’ll have a fun ride with a gravel bike.
7. Are gravel bikes a fad?
Ans: They are more than just a fad. Gravel bikes are extremely popular because it’s really fun. You can use it as a road bike, cyclocross, or a tour bike. It also provides you supreme comfort.