The world of bikes is so vast that most beginner riders barely scratch the surface. While there are the regular bikes, along with the ever-popular mountain bikes, there are some new subcategories that are slowly gathering speed, threatening to take over the spot of the most popular bike.
One of those bikes is the gravel bike. This article is concerned with the best gravel bikes one can buy when on a budget, under 1000 dollars specifically. In addition to mentioning a couple of great models for you to buy, this article will also cover some elementary information about gravel bikes, just in case you are a beginner or have not heard about this kind of bike.
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What Are Gravel Bikes and Who They Are For?
They do share similarities, like the frame materials and, to some extent, other pieces of gear, but the geometry of the gravel bike, along with its wheels is what makes them characteristically unique. The geometry of a gravel bike allows for more stability and handling while riding off the beaten paths.
The wheelbase is slightly longer than the one on a mountain bike, while the angles are a bit slacker, almost identical to the mountain bikes.
This all results in a riding position that is making the rider to be more upright when compared to other bikes, allowing you to move your weight around, depending on the road obstacles and other conditions, while being more comfortable for overall riding.
The comfort is increased through the rear triangle, which has curved and flattened sections that increase the saddle comfort and vibration absorption.
However, the tires are the thing that makes this bike special. The tire clearance provides the opportunity for wider tires than in a typical bike, and the extra volume allows for lower pressures, which further adds comfort and better control on various surfaces, depending on the tire choice itself.
From the text itself, one can see that the main audience for the gravel bikes are the riders that prefer going off the beaten paths at faster speeds than a regular mountain bike could offer.
Those are pretty much the main characteristics that put gravel bikes in a different basket from regular bikes, however, if you already knew this then you are definitely reading this article because you are looking to buy a gravel bike for yourself.
So, continue reading to see a couple of good choices for people who do not want to spend more than a thousand dollars on a gravel bike.
The Best Gravel Bikes Under $1000
While the average price of gravel bikes may usually be in the range of 2000 and 3000 dollars, there are good models that could only set you back a thousand dollars. Here are some of the interesting models that may tickle your fancy.
- Voodoo Limba
- Head Angle: 70.5 degrees.
- Frame and Fork material: 6061 alloy and steel.
- Weight: 26 lbs (12 kg).
- Wheel size and Tires: WTB Riddler Comp 700, 35mm, and 700c.
- Drivetrain: Shimano CS-HG50, 8 speeds, 11-28T cassette, Prowheel twin crankset
- Gears and Brakes: Shimano Claris R2000, Tektro Mira cable-operated discs.
- Cockpit: Alloy 410/480mm flared drop bar and 80mm stem.
- Size: Small, Medium, Large.
- Excellent price
- Great features and parts
- Small, medium, and large sizes only
- Steel fork adds weight
- Default tires too narrow
The first on this list is the Voodoo Limba gravel bike, a great starting point for beginner riders. The Voodoo Limba is a decent bike that did not go frugal on bike parts, which is expected considering the price tag.
Everything from the rack mounts to the tube angles gives a sleek and quality feel to the bike. The only negative thing that might affect some people is the steel fork, which adds a lot of weight, especially if you are used to carbon material.
As for the geometry of the bike, the Voodoo Limba has a 70.5-degree head angle, with a 74-degree seat angle, on the model medium size. The other parts are great considering the price, you can find the specs further down.
As for the performance, the bike feels loose on gravel paths and fast on regular offroad paths, though it does feel a bit floppy when you shift your weight forward during an uphill ride. Having said that, one oversight that has been noticed in Voodoo Limba is the 35mm tires.
Even though one can fit a 50mm variant to this bike for a genuine feel, it is kind of slightly disappointing to see this slight misstep.
In conclusion, this is a great starter and all-around gravel bike that is enough to pull you into the fantastic world of gravel bike riding.
Vitus Substance 2 Microshift
- Vitus Substance 2 Microshift
- Frame and Fork: Substance Aluminum, 6061-T6 Double Butted Aluminum
- Internal cable routing and Substance Carbon, UD Carbon, Tapered Steerer.
- Handlebar: Vitus 6061 Aluminum Wing (77mm reach, 128mm drop, 3-degree flare);
- Stem: Vitus 6061 Aluminum, 3D Forged.
- Rims: WTB ST i23 TCS 2.0, 700c;
- Wheels: Vee Tire Co., Rail Sport, 700c x 40c (front and rear are the same).
- Crankset: Prowheel Ounce, 50/34T, 8 speed;
- Shifters: Microshift R8, SB-R482 (the left shifter is 2×8 speed, the right one is 8 speed);
- Brakes: Tektro MD-C310 Disc Brakes (front and rear).
- Weight: 24 lbs (11 kg, medium size).
- Great price
- Good components
- Durable on various trails
- Top gear can be too low on asphalt
- Handlebars can feel narrow for tall riders.
The next one on the list is the Vitus Substance 2 Microshift. This model offers a lot more features for the price, in addition to its incredible performance.
One of the top features of this model is the strong and incredibly lightweight aluminum frame. The bike itself is a very versatile model, thanks to the Microshift components that are suited for all kinds of rides: gravel rides, mixed surface fast ones, and even leisure rides around the block.
The aluminum frame coupled with the carbon fork adds to the rider’s comfort, while the big tires go through bumps and road irregularities without a hitch, which makes this model another good choice if you are looking for an amazing all-around bike.
The highlight of this model is the Microshift 8-Speed groupset. The model has a 2x drivetrain, which some people might dislike but the model can be fitted with 1x groupsets if one desires to fine-tune it to the minuscule details, which is why this model is another good choice for beginners who dabble in customizing their riding experience.
To be honest, this model is a great one, but a tune-up is required in order to achieve a good balance of parts if you are an intermediate rider. If you are a beginner, this is still a good buy-and-ride model that is ready for use straight out of the package.
Kona Rove AL 650
- Kona Rove AL 650
- Frame: Kona 6061 Aluminum
- Fork: Kona Project Two Aluminum Disc.
- Chain: KMC Z8.3
- Cassette: Shimano Claris (same model of derailleurs and shifters)
- Brakes: Tektro Mira Cx Mechanical with Tektro Tr169 160mm rotors.
- Rims: WTB SX19
- Tires: WTB Venture Comp 650x47c (front and rear tire)
- Handlebar, Stem: Kona Road handlebar and stem,
- Seatpost: Kona Thumb seatpost.
- Spokes: Stainless Black 14g
- A true all-around model
- Excellent components
- Sturdy but lightweight frame
- A bit pricier than the other models that offer similar performance.
The Kona Rove AL 650 is our next model on the list of best gravel bikes for under 1000 dollars. This particular model is ideal for people who like to occasionally go off the beaten paths but mostly like to ride on flatter surfaces.
For a bike that most leisure riders like, this model has some heavy-duty equipment that can go through any offroad obstacle. The Kona is the perfect bike for any rider, no matter the experience, as it has a bigger tire clearance and more comfortable geometry than the standard gravel bikes.
The AL 650 model has a great combination of components that increase the bike’s agility and control for riding on all surfaces you could imagine.
The frame of Rove AL 650 is Kona 6061 Aluminum, which is known for durability and toughness, as well as being lightweight. As for the wheels and tires, the Kona Rove AL 650 has the standard 700c gravel tires, but with a bit smaller diameter than some people might be used to.
This smaller diameter might help with riding on lower pressures and avoid doing it at the expense of speed. The biggest con of this model is that it is pricier than the previously mentioned ones but it still falls under 1000 dollars.
To conclude, this model is excellent for people who prefer taking more leisure rides, and having an occasional offroad experience, even though the components are great for both worlds, and one would not make a mistake if they decided on buying this particular model.
- Marin Nicasio
- Brakes: Tektro Road 160mm
- Groupset: MicroSHIFT Advent and FSA
- Crankset: FSA Tempo 42T Narrow-Wide
- Cassettes: SunRace 9-Speed, 11-46T, and FSA Vero Pro 1x
- Rims: Double-Wall Aluminum
- Tires: WTB Horizon 650B x 47
- Weight: 28.5lbs (13kg)
- A good bike for gravel riding newcomers
- Low price range.
- Drivetrain is not high-quality
- Gear range is smaller than expected
- Clearance is lacking
The penultimate option on this list, the Marin Nicasio model is another great gravel bike because of a multitude of reasons.
One of the biggest reasons that this bike is oftentimes chosen as an entry point to gravel biking is the affordable price coupled with a sleek and modern look.This model is considered an “endurance” model that favors comfort, whatever the surface.
Marin Nicasio’s frame is made of steel, so have that in mind if you are expecting a lightweight material, which is mandatory for some riders.
Having said that, this bike might be one of the better gravel bikes with a steel frame, mainly due to the strength-to-weight ratio, even though it might be too heavy for some people, but, in a strange way, the weight suits this bike, it does not feel like a disadvantage during rides.
The CrMo Beyond Road frame is compatible with 650b x 47c tires, due to the specific clearance, you cannot fit this frame with bigger than 650b x 47mm tires, which can be discouraging to some riders.
As for the components, they are not top-of-the-shelf components, but they do the job. Mechanical disk brakes, 1×9 speed, which is enough for semi-serious rides with avoiding overly steep trails and going for the long gravel tracks.
All in all, the Marin Nicasio is a great option, but only if you are thinking about trying gravel bike riding, and think that you might not like it. It is an affordable model with moderately good components, the one that is ideal if you want to try out gravel bikes without breaking too much bank.
Decathlon Triban RC 120 Disc
- Decathlon Triban RC 120 Disc
- Cassette: 11-34T with 50/34T chainrings, and a 2×8 Mircoshift transmission
- Brakes: Promax single-piston, cable-actuated Promax 160mm-diameter rotors and semi-metallic pads
- Wheels: Aluminum non-branded rims
- Tires: Triban Protect 700x28mm tires.
- Frame, Handlebar, Seat post: Aluminum (non-specific brand)
- Weight: 24lbs (11kg)
- Looks beautiful
- A good beginner bike
- Probably the cheapest option
- A replaceable derailleur hanger is not present
- Components are mid-to-low
The final bike on our list of best gravel bikes for under 1000 dollars is the Decathlon Triban RC 120. This model from the French company Decathlon oozes modernity and the wish to make gravel bikes accessible and safe for everyone, and to be honest, this is a beautiful-looking bike.
The aluminum frame, the straight-gauge tubes, and beautifully geometric sections in combination with dropped seat stays, it is really a sight to behold, one of the most modern looks in gravel bikes anyone has ever seen.
As previously said, the geometry is excellent, putting the rider in an upright riding position, even though the length of the head tube could have been a bit longer, however, this way it is more suitable for intensive rides. Handling is another thing that must be mentioned, as it feels sporty, in a sturdy and durable way, while riding.
The transmission is 2×8 with a wide 34T cassette, the crank is a non-branded component with steel chainrings and a square-taper bottom bracket. The brakes are single-piston Promax 160mm-diameter rotors.
As for the wheels, there are again non-branded aluminum rims, tubeless-compatible, with 28 stainless spokes, while the tires are 700x28mm Triban Protect. Handlebar, stem, and seat post are made of aluminum.
While these non-branded components are not in favor of this gravel bike, this bike does not feel cheap on rides. Of course, it is not on the level of a super expensive carbon frame bike with high-end Shimano parts, but it behaves magnificently well on road.
The bike is robust and sturdy, it definitely looks like it can take a moderate beating on rides. The weight of the bike can be felt in some instances- on longer and steeper climbs especially, but even then, it is not something that could break the deal.
There are a lot of other good parts of this bike that easily outweigh the possibly bad ones, such as good handling, even when riding around obstacles or aggressively cornering, which is possible due to the longer rear end, increasing the safety of the bike during aggressive riding.
On the other hand, some parts could have been better, wheels and tires specifically. The wheels do feel kind of heavy for this bike, and the Triban Protect tires are too thick and wooden-like, even though they perform well.
All in all, the Triban RC 120 is a good starter bike that will provide you with fun times, but if you are eager to step up your game and commit yourself seriously to gravel bikes, this might not be a long-term solution to your specific needs.
What is Important When Buying a Gravel Bike?
There are a couple of things that you should watch out for when buying a gravel bike. Firstly, watch out for the wheel size, as you should go between 650b and 700c wheels. The rule usually is that bigger tires on smaller wheels are great for traction and comfort. The vice versa will give you a faster-rolling bike at the expense of volume.
Some people value the number of chainrings, as well. The rule of thumb is that two chainrings in the front are a must. A single one in the front will make it glide over technical surfaces, but the number of gears will be low. In conclusion, remember that off-road equals 1x, mixed surface equals 2x. In the end, everything depends on your needs.
Finally, the frame material. Four materials are the most common: aluminum, steel, titanium, and carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is easier to adjust, in the manufacturer sense, and offers lighter weight. However, for gravel bikes under 1000 dollars, carbon fiber is rare, making the aluminum frame the most common one.
Aluminum is light and stiff, while the other common, steel, is heavier and easily repairable.
The world of bikes is amazingly vast and varied, and you would need a lot of time to fully immerse yourself in it. Every day, a new type of bike emerges, slowly but surely gaining popularity among both hobby riders and professional aficionados.
As such, the gravel bike is definitely one of those bikes that everybody is going crazy over currently. Hopefully, you learned something more about gravel bikes, and that you managed to find one that is suitable for your needs.
What is the main difference between a regular bike and a gravel bike?
The main difference between these two types of bikes is in the tires.
The first difference is the tire clearance, as gravel bikes are commonly used in offroad conditions, so the clearance is usually bigger.
The second, the size of the tires. Gravel bike tires are usually wider, ranging from 32 to 50mm. Additionally, the gravel bikes are kitted with 650b or 700c wheels. The bigger the width, the better the comfort and traction. While there are a few more, these are the biggest and most noticeable ones.
Should gravel bikes be ridden on gravel roads only?
No, you can use them practically anywhere. They do excel on light gravel roads and paved surfaces, but you can ride the offroad, as well.
What is the typical price of gravel bikes?
For a good starter gravel bike with good starter components, you should expect to pay less than a thousand dollars. If you wish for better components and frame combinations, then you should be ready to dish out around 3000 dollars, which is not a good idea if you do not plan on using it almost daily or weekly.