If you are looking for the best gravel bikes that are less than $1500, you are in luck – many manufacturers are making bikes suitable for budget buyers, while still retaining the high quality you would expect from a premium choice.
If you want a session of adventurous riding off-road that still gives you the benefits of mindfulness and a better experience than a mountain bike would, the gravel bike is the best option you have. In recent years, the popularity of these bikes has increased exponentially, so this has led to more availability and lower price points.
Generally, gravel bikes are an explosive market. You can expect to find numerous brands putting out both new and redesigned models, but this also creates a problem where it is difficult to find a bike unless you know what to look for. If affordability of the bike is a concern for you due to quality issues, you will not need to worry about it either – it is possible to upgrade the components such as wheelsets and transmission later.
In this article, we will review 5 of the best gravel bikes under $1500 we have found, while also providing some useful advice and characteristics you should look for on a gravel bike. Most brands will like to term all their bikes as ‘gravel’ ones, but bikes are different, and it always helps to know what options will suit your purposes, preferences, and styles.
Best gravel bike under $1500 – Comparison table
|Bike model||Frame||Drivetrain||Tire clearance||Availability|
|Fuji Jari 2.3 Gravel CX road bike||Alloy||Shimano 2x9||42mm||Check price here|
|Arkose 2 Gravel bike||Aluminum||Shimano Tiagra||45mm||Check price here|
|GT Grade Elite gravel bike||Alloy||Shimano 2x8||37mm||Check price here|
|Genesis Day One 10 gravel bike||Chromoly||Samox AF13 – 42T||38mm||Check price here|
|Marin Four Corners bike||Steel||Shimano Sora 3x9||47mm||Check price here|
Best gravel bike under $1500 – Reviews
Here are some of the best gravel bikes you can find on the market and cost less than $1500.
Fuji Jari Cyclocross 2.3 Gravel CX road bike – best entry-level bike
If you want an entry-level gravel bike that gives you decent riding experiences, the Fuji Jari 2.3 is worth considering, as it is suitable for a wide usage range including backpacking, light touring, and gravel races. There are still some drawbacks despite the bike’s marketing painting it as a jack of all trades, but it still gives you plenty of value for your money.
The geometry is long and slack, which will inspire confidence despite the terrain you use it on. Considering it is an entry-level bike, it has plenty to offer, such as the tire clearance which is quite impressive at 42mm, and includes a wide range of mounting options for your accessories.
Thanks to its mix of Sora and Shimano Alivio drivetrain parts, it will give you 2×9 gearing and a solid performance in Japanese shifting – even though the gearing is not high in the groupset hierarchy. Adding the 160mm rotors and Tektro Mira mechanical disc brakes gives you a great level of service when comparing it to similar bikes.
- Very good tire clearance
- Excellent price range
- It provides many options for bottle, rack, and fender cages
- Its budget components might require upgrading
Pinnacle Arkose D2 Gravel Bike – best for bikepacking and adventure cycling
The British Brand Pinnacle Bikes is well known for their cyclocross, hybrid, and urban bikes – including the Arkose D2, which is a cyclocross bike. The Arkose series of bikes were their initial foray into gravel bikes, with the earliest model coming in 2013 before gravel bikes were a trend. The Arkose 2, in particular, is a 2020 redesign that improves on the features of its predecessors and gives you a worthwhile biking experience.
You will be impressed by the frame, which has full compatibility for wheel sizing, Di2/cable gearing, and rear axle options. With its 45mm tire clearance, it guarantees you excellent performance if you want to take it on a long-distance ride or on a challenging off-road environment.
Its geometry looks similar to an adventure or tourer bike, with extra stability under loads being thanks to the long chainstay and wheelbase. This ultimately gives you more upright stability compared to what other bikes may give you, which also makes it a great choice for bike packing.
The bike also comes with a 48-32 tooth chainset and the standard cassette of 11/34T, making it a great range if you want a light-loaded or unloaded ride. It also comes with rack eyelets, mudguard, and three bottle-cage mounts, which is similar to what you would find on a serious touring bike.
- Frame is full of convenient, useful features
- Very good group set
- Its frame allows for improved handling
- Comes with a non-flared bar
GT Grade Elite gravel bike – best versatile gravel bike
It is hard to fault the GT Grade Elite bike at its price point. When looking at its tubeless-ready rims, carbon fork, and aluminum frame, all built around a series of 12mm thru-axle hubs and accompanied by WTB Riddler tires, it is an affordable bike that is versatile enough for multiple situations.
The frame is comprised of an advanced carbon grade and aluminum combination, making it responsive and lightweight enough to give you a reliable response when going on rough terrain. Due to the addition of the triple triangle design, the seat is a floating one and gives you comfort as you move through rugged surfaces. The carbon fork also enhances your comfort through its ability to dampen vibrations from the surface.
The stable geometry specs will ensure you retain balanced handling, although it is possible to alter this through the integrated flip chip on the fork to give more composure and steering agility. The clearance on the tires goes up to 42mm for better line accuracy and elevated traction, while you will remain well-equipped throughout longer trips as it has multiple mounting options.
- Includes a carbon fork
- Tubeless-ready rims
- Decent tire clearance
- Lacks fork mounts
Genesis Day One 10 Gravel bike – best for year-round use on flatter terrain
You may wonder why a single-speed bike is on the list of the best gravel bikes, but there is one thing that makes it stand out – low maintenance and high efficiency. Other than that, the single-speed bike is rising in popularity as an adventure bike, and that includes the Genesis Day One 10 gravel bike.
If you live in an area that is mainly flat, single-speed bikes such as this one are a great investment. The fork and frame are comprised of high-quality steel, while the mudguards have ample space to accommodate year-round and off-road cycling sessions. Additionally, the use of Promax DSK-300 disc brakes give it sufficient stopping power.
For extra portage and hydration, the bike’s frame includes two bottle cage bosses. Large, flat plate dropouts are spaced 135mm apart to enhance their sliding along the wheel as you move, and also make it easier when you want to change the gear ratios. The brake levers are slightly flexy, but it is important to check the tightness of the crank bolts after the first few rides.
- Very easy to maintain
- Runs efficiently, even at long distances
- Very good geometry
- Unsuitable for very hilly areas
Marin Four Corners gravel bike – best classic-looking dirt tourer
If you are a biking enthusiast that loves the adventures of cycling and wants to keep things as real as possible with a steel frame bike, the Marin Four Corners gravel bike is probably what you are looking for. Thanks to its chromoly tube set, it is heavier compared to other bike frames you will find, but it gives you the guarantee of dampening shocks and leaving you less fatigued after a long cycling session.
There is also some extensive feature addition in the bike through its traditional drivetrain configuration. In most gravel bikes, you will notice they have a double up front, while the Marin Four Corners bike takes a slightly different approach by using a 3×9 drivetrain. This makes it versatile enough to conquer any route, thanks to its abundance of gear option adjustments.
You can also get it in various sizes, complete with different fork lengths. The smaller frames have forks mounted at a 43mm offset, while the larger frames have a fork offset of 49mm – so in both cases, you will get an agile steering response. Similar to numerous frames that use the classic steel style, this bike does not have the latest thru-axle configurations, although this gives you additional flexes laterally than you may assume.
Additionally, the tire clearance stands at 42mm, which gives plenty of air volume balancing for better traction and ride quality, even when moving along loose terrain.
- It comes with a wide range of gears for multiple needs
- Includes plenty of mounting points for those who love adventure touring
- Ride quality steel compliant frame
- Excellent geometry
- Lacks thru-axles at the rear end
- Steel frame makes it quite heavy compared to alloy bikes
Buying guide for the best gravel bikes under $1500
In recent years, it is easy to see the explosion of popularity in gravel bikes, thanks to the versatile experiences they offer for everyday cyclists. Before looking at what you should be looking at when buying them, it is good to know what they are first.
What is a gravel bike?
The gravel bike is a misunderstood instrument, and it is not people’s fault – it is caught up in the performance-driven, frenzy world of road cycling, and many people assume it is a mix of a road and cyclocross bike. However, this discounts the versatility that it offers, and the opportunities it gives you for a more leisurely riding session.
Gravel bikes are drop-bar bikes that are meant to handle a wide range of surfaces. Thanks to their road bike-like design and drop handlebars, they allow you to make good cycling progress when doing on-road cycling, while including stable handling, lower gearing, and wider tires that provide multiple opportunities for off-road driving.
Riding gravel bikes ultimately allows you to link together routes in new ways, as you can move across multiple surfaces effortlessly or load the bike with camping kits for your bikepacking adventures.
What makes gravel bikes stand out from other bikes?
Addition of certain components
Gravel bikes are excellent on both muddy and tarmac surfaces, and will guarantee you excellent performance in exchange for comfort. They have features that you will not get on the usual road bike, such as mounting points, eyelets, fatter tires, and disc brakes, which makes gravel bikes ideal when you want to take on bikepacking adventures.
Additionally, the geometry is more relaxed in a gravel bike compared to a road bike. The head angle is slicker and the head tube is taller in many cases, which allows for relaxed steering. These elements also make it similar to aggressive touring bikes, which are the main inspiration for gravel bikes.
The use of a sloping top tube also makes it unique, as it gives you a greater stand-over height to make it easier when getting off. The inclusion of taller head tubes will also give you more comfort when you are in a more upright cycling position.
Gravel bikes also stand out from other bike types due to their longer wheelbase, which allows them to remain stable even when moving across dirt and asphalt tracks. This also helps in providing you a comfortable cycling experience over longer distances, and also helps to handle medium or heavy loads when you need to go on a bikepacking trip lasting multiple days.
The gearing arrangement in gravel bikes is also unique, in contrast to cyclocross bikes that need a narrower gear range due to their use in short circuit cycling. Since a gravel bike is meant for longer distances and varied terrain, the gear choices are wider, usually towards a 1×10 or 2×11 arrangement – in many cases, the big sprocket goes up to 36T or 42T.
What should you look for in a gravel bike?
Similar to any bike category, different gravel bikes from different manufacturers can appear and perform differently from each other. For instance, some gravel bikes will bear close resemblance to mountain bikes, while others work better for light off-road riding and road speed activities.
Therefore, it is important to take time and look into the features you should look out for and general considerations when searching for a gravel bike in the market.
The terrain you will mainly move on
Before considering anything else, ensure you know where you will use your potential gravel bike. These bikes sit on a wide spectrum, which can range from bikes that are similar to mountain bikes to the almost-road bike, which accounts for the differences among bikes.
For instance, if you plan to move on a 50/50 mix of dirt and pavement paths, you will work best with a gravel bike that is on the road side of the spectrum. On the other hand, using the bike on rougher or single-track trails will require you to choose a gravel bike that is more on the mountain bike side.
You will also need to think about your skills in off-road cycling. Some bikes are more stable and long compared to others, which inspires more confidence on pavement surfaces, while other bikes are more playful but less forgiving.
- Trail – this indicates the intended use, and is the combination of head angle and fork offset. The bigger it is, the more the bike will feel like a mountain bike due to slower handling and more stability.
- Head tube angle – this can substitute for trail if you cannot find it. Any bike with an angle less than 71O is closer to a mountain bike, while high angles are closer to road bikes.
- 1x or 2x drivetrains – if you plan to move primarily on gravel or smooth roads, it is best to choose a 2x drivetrain due to its good gear range and small gear gap changes. 1x drivetrains are better for rougher roads, as they offer the same range of gears with bigger gear gap changes.
- Gravel tires – the gravel spectrum will also determine the drivetrain consideration. A more road-end users will be happy with tires within the 32 to 40 mm range, while mountain-end users will love greater wheel clearances beyond the 42mm range.
What is the best average speed I should expect when cycling a gravel bike?
It depends on the surface you are cycling on. For instance, using it on a paved roadway will give you an average speed of 15 or 16 mph, while speed varies on mountain terrain.
Are gravel bikes slower compared to road bikes?
Yes, they are, although this is on a marginal basis. This is mainly due to the riding positions and the tires.
Is it possible to use a gravel bike as a road bike?
Yes, it is possible – and it is more comfortable than a traditional road bike in many ways. This is due to the use of wider tires in gravel bikes, greater turning power, and more responsive stopping.
Choosing a great gravel bike under $1500 does not need to be a complicated process, as there are numerous manufacturers willing to put out high-quality products for budget buyers. Depending on your needs, these five bike options should give you a good starting point when searching for the best choices today.