Gravel bikes are all round bikes that add to the adventure of riding in a variety of terrain. The bikes can replace your city, road and mountain bike. You can carry them off to your next camping trip.
However, as the demand for gravel increases consumers are lost for choice as different brands keep releasing new models into the market. Choosing the right gravel bike is not straightforward and it can be confusing sieving through the various brands in the market.
In this review, we have done the research for you to present the best gravel bikes under $1,500.
Table of Contents
- The Best Gravel Bikes Under $1,500 – Comparison Table
- Reviews for the Best Gravel Bikes Under $1,500
- Buying Guide for the best Gravel Bikes Under $1,500 in 2023
The Best Gravel Bikes Under $1,500 – Comparison Table
|Diamond Bicycles Haanjo 3||Aluminum||700c x 37||Check Price|
|2019 Trek Checkpoint AL4||Aluminum||700c x 32||Check Price|
|Giant Toughroad SLR GX1||Aluminum||700c x 42||Check Price|
|GT Grade Elite||Aluminum||700c x 42||Check Price|
|Giant Revolt 2||Aluminum||700c x 45||Check Price|
Reviews for the Best Gravel Bikes Under $1,500
Diamond Bicycles Haanjo 3 – Best Geometry for Gravel Bike
The Diamond Haanjo 3 comes in a durable aluminum alloy frame that is both durable and lightweight. With this frame you are assured of all day comfort with great handling. The bike is built on more relaxed road frame geometry that allows you to fit larger tires on the bike.
In this regards, you can have 700x45mm or 650×2.1” wide tires. This model comes with WTB riddler comp 700x37c tires.
The bike comes with Shimano Sora 2×9 speed drivetrain which is quite comfortable to ride in different terrains. It also features Tekro Lyra mechanical disc brakes that give you enough stopping power. The Diamond bike is suitable for mid-level riders.
For accessories the bike is equipped with three mounting points for bottle cages. The bike comes with pedals and lifetime limited frame warranty.
2019 Trek Checkpoint AL4 – Best Sleek Design
The Checkpoint still remains one of the best entry level gravel bikes under $1,500. The bike has the distinguishing factor of being made from high quality and durable materials. It is designed with some sophisticated tubing and this enhances its strength.
This bicycle is paired with a lightweight fork that is accompanied with carbon fiber legs. This will help you in trails by absorbing most of the shorks in rough roads.
It’s features what the company calls a control freak cable management system. Here you have a combination of brake, shift, lockout and dropper post lines all passing through the frame for an enhanced look.
The Trek checkpoint comes with a Shimano Tiagra 50/34 compact crank. The bike also features a DuoTrap S compatible which seamlessly integrates an ANT+ sensor into the frame, Bluetooth with no affect to the aerodynamics.
Giant Toughroad SLR GX1 – Best Tubeless Tire Gravel Bike
The Giant toughroad is the perfect all round gravel bike at an affordable price. The bike comes in a variety of options from flat bar to drop. You can also choose it with a front and rear racks for your goods if you like.
The giant toughroad distinguishes itself by coming with a sturdy ALUXX SLR aluminum frame which makes it quite lightweight. It also has a composite fork with high volume 50c giant tubeless tires.
The tires while not the best for road and gravel use are quite ideal for adventures deep into the wild. This is because they give you low pressure which is ideal for traction and comfort.
The bike comes in an ingenious X-Defender frame protection which guards you from the dirt that comes when you ride off-road. The frame also provides smooth cabling and this prevents you from entangling yourself as you ride along.
Lastly, the Giant toughroad comes D-Fuse seatpost that dampens vibrations and this provides a smooth ride.
GT Grade Elite – Best Carbon Fork Bike
The GT grade elite is a tubeless ready alloy gravel bike that also features a carbon fork. The bike is quite stylish while remaining functional.
The tubeless ready WTB rims are built upon 12mm thru axle hubs and this makes it quite a versatile bike capable of going almost anywhere.
The GT grade is equipped with 2×8 Shimano Claris groupset, this is reliable and fast. The gears are supported with Tekro mechanical disc brakes that give you enough speed no matter the speed. The GT grade is quite lightweight due to its aluminum frame and carbon fork.
You can also change the 37mm riddlers for 42mm rubber.
Giant Revolt 2 – Best Geometry for Absorbing Vibrations
The Giant revolt 2 2020 model still remains a great bike even today. It features a D-Fuse seatpost with contact XR D-Fuse handlebar that ensures the bike absorbs vibrations and road shocks.
The frame is designed to accommodate disc brakes and with a large tires tires of up to 45c you have enough ground clearance for off-road rides.
The gear system is smooth and this gives you the confidence to ride on some difficult terrains. The bike features a 2×9 speed Shimano Sora gear system.
For many bike enthusiasts the giant tends to be their first bike. The bike’s components are high quality and made to last long.
Buying Guide for the best Gravel Bikes Under $1,500 in 2023
You do not have to spend much for a gravel bike when you can get one for less than $1,500 with some amazing features. The bike is great for your outdoor adventures and features some decent ground clearance, comfortable seats and powerful disc brakes.
However, the market for gravel bikes is a competitive one and this means you have many models available in the market. Here are some factors you should check out for the best gravel bikes under $1,500 in 2023.
Frame and Geometry
Most of the gravel bikes available in the market tend to come in aluminum and steel frames.
The aluminum frames come with the benefit of being lightweight and durable. The steel frames are more sturdy but have the disadvantage of being susceptible to rust.
The steel frames are more robust hence making them ideal for bikepacking adventures. Gravel bikes are great for speed but they also come with a more relaxed geometry that makes them great bikes for leisure rides.
With a touring geometry you are able to ride comfortably for long distances while having better control of the technical trails. Compared to touring bikes the gravel bikes have shorter wheelbases.
Most of the gravel bikes do not come with suspension and this contributes to them being lightweight.
Another thing you need to consider is the bolt-thru ratio. This is the axle size and configuration. For older bikes you will find a quick-release system while for newer models you will find thicker and more robust thru-axles.
Why is this crucial when choosing the ideal gravel bike. The axle thru determines he kind of stiffness in the bike.
If you go with a bike with the latest thru-axle standards then you are going to enjoy some level of superior tacking stability and this creates some sort of balance on tough terrains.
It is also easier to remove the thru axles than the quick release skewers.
Wheels and Tires
For the most part gravel bikes tend to come with large and wider tires that offer a more comfortable ride. With the tires you are assured of superior performance in both tarmac and trails.
Compared to the road bike the gravel bike has wider tires and this helps give it better control and traction in gravel and uneven surfaces. It is common to find tires of size 38mm to 45mm.
For some bikes the tires will be tubeless with some using some advanced technologies to improve traction. Look for a bike that allows you to change the tires depending on the circumstances.
Internal Cable Routing
The cable of routing of a bike can either be external or internal. When internal routing is done well it prevents cables from entangling each other. It is also provides the right aesthetics for the bike.
Depending on the model of the bike the internal cabling can be nicely done or it can be annoying where you hear things rattling inside the frame as you brake or shift gears.
If you are planning on using your bike for adventure go with the internal cabling as it provides you with space for your cargo.
Most of the gravel bikes will come with disc brakes which provide good stopping power. The cable linked disc brakes tend to be more powerful than the rim brakes and this makes them more ideal for gravel bikes. However, the best braking system is the hydraulic brakes.
This provide the best stopping power but have the disadvantage of being hard to find and require more maintenance than the other braking systems. Problems with hydraulic brakes begin with the fact that you need to bleed them occasionally.
However, it is worth it when you consider you are getting reduced finger fatigue which comes in handy for those long rides.
This is at the heart of the bike components as it determines what the bike is capable of handling. The best gear system for the gravel bike is the SRAM GX or Shimano GRX.
While both gear sets are engineered for mountain bikes they do work well for the gravel bikes. For the $1,500 price range you will find the Shimano Tiagra RX400 which has the disadvantage of being heavier, and does not come with a clutch unlike the other higher end Shimano gear sets.
If weight is such a problem you can go with the SRAM GX Eagle. The bikes do come with some superior disc brakes that handle well on dirt roads.
Gravel bikes offer a more relaxed geometry which is great for riding for long distances. They have big tires and comfortable seats that absorb vibrations even when you are riding through tough terrain.
The bikes are mostly made from steel or aluminum and this makes them a bit durable and lightweight. The shorter wheelbase compared to the touring means that the gravel bike is more agile and nimble. The tires are also large and this gives you some ground clearance.
Which has a larger wheelbase – touring or gravel bike?
The gravel bike has a shorter wheelbase and this makes it more agile. The bikes are great for outdoor adventures and the lack of suspension in most of them makes them quite lightweight.
How large are the gravel bike tires?
Most of the bikes will come with large and wide tires measuring 38mm to 45mm. The tires can be tubeless or not. The wide tires come in handy when you are doing trails as they are comfortable and offer the right traction.
How good is the gear set for the gravel bikes?
While gravel bikes are not designed for speed they do come with an efficient gearing system that enables you handle mountains with ease. For the entry level models you will find them spotting Shimano Tiagra RX400 gear system or the SRAM GX Eagle.