The Best Gravel Bike Under $1000: the Best Entry-Level Gravel Bikes

Best Gravel Bikes

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If you enjoy an adventurous ride, you’ll require a gravel bike that can keep up with you by maximizing power and efficiency. It’s also important that your chosen bike has many high-quality features.

With 18 speeds on offer and a carbon fork to boost the bike’s suspension system, the Schwinn Vantage Men’ s/Women’s Hybrid Road Bike is one of the best gravel bikes under $1000. This model is suitable for a range of terrain, and you can endure adventurous rides without feeling the impact.

IMAGE PRODUCT DETAILS  Rating price
Best OverallSchwinn Vantage Men' s/Women's Hybrid Road Bike Schwinn Vantage Men’ s/Women’s Hybrid Road Bike
  • Main Feature: Aluminum frame and carbon fork absorb shocks and vibrations
  • Main Feature: Mechanical disc brakes operate safely and reliably even when it’s raining
  • Speed: 18
10
Best Runner UpCheckpoint AL 3 Trek Checkpoint AL 3
  • Main Feature: Tires accelerate quickly so that you can attack steep hills
  • Main Feature: Cushioned seat provides a comfortable and supportive feel
  • Speed: 18
10
Tommaso Forcella Endurance Aluminum Road Bike Tommaso Forcella Endurance Aluminum Road Bike
  • Main Feature: Compact frame geometry and premium compact handlebars offer increased power
  • Main Feature: Diverse range of gears to tackle different terrain
  • Speed: 24
9
Diamondback Bicycles Haanjenn Diamondback Bicycles Haanjenn
  • Main Feature: Wide 40mm tires can soak up debris and potholes
  • Main Feature: Flat bar makes the bike suitable for riding across the city
  • Speed: 16
9
Tommaso Illimitate Shimano Tiagra Gravel Adventure Bike Tommaso Illimitate Shimano Tiagra Gravel Adventure Bike
  • Main Feature: Frame is pre-drilled so you can install racks, renders, and more accessories
  • Main Feature: 700x40c tires provide stability and are built for a range of terrain
  • Speed: 20
9
Schwinn Sporterra Adventure Adult Gravel Bike Schwinn Sporterra Adventure Adult Gravel Bike
  • Main Feature: Aluminum frame helps you to ride at your fastest and brings vibrations to a minimum
  • Main Feature: Multi-terrain tires are suitable for off-road riding in various conditions
  • Speed: 14
9

The Best Top 6 Gravel Bikes Under $1000

To create a list of the best gravel bikes under $1000 right now, we looked at the materials used, speeds available, shock-absorption features, brakes used, and any additional features that make your gravel riding experience smoother and more reliable. 

Each of our six findings are unique in their own right and great for different riding styles and environmental conditions. Don’t forget to review the buying guide further on to discover which makes the best model for your needs. 

Schwinn Vantage Men’ s/Women’s Hybrid Road Bike—Best Overall

This is one of the best gravel bikes under $1000 you can buy in 2020. It comes equipped with an aluminum frame, which is great for keeping the road bike lightweight as well as remaining durable and resistant to rust. In fact, this aluminum made frame absorbs shocks and vibrations, so you can ride the gravel bike on rough terrain and on and off curbs without any discomfort.

Also, the bike’s carbon fork supports the frame and boosts the bike’s suspension system, allowing you to ride it on any surface without feeling a harsh impact.

With 18 speeds on offer, you won’t be short for choices with this Schwinn road bike. It ensures easy shifting and a smooth ride, so you can adjust your speed and riding preferences as you wish. In fact, this range of speed levels allows you to climb up hills and travel to a far destination with ease. You can even make the ride more challenging if you wish to use this gravel bike for fitness purposes. 

This high-quality road bike uses mechanical disc brakes that are capable of coming to a stop whenever and wherever you want. In particular, you won’t ever face a problem of reducing your speed when you’re cycling down a hill. You can even ride this road bike when it’s raining and these mechanical brakes will reliably bring you to a stop.

Pros

  • Reliable mechanical disc brakes
  • 18 speeds for versatility when riding on various surfaces
  • Carbon fork suspension to absorb shocks

Cons

  • Some riders prefer more hydraulic disc brakes

Trek Checkpoint AL 3—Best Runner Up

Checkpoint AL 3

The Checkpoint AL 3 gravel bike is ideal for rough terrain. In particular, its aluminum frame and carbon disc fork help to absorb shocks and reduce vibrations while you’re cycling over gravel and bumps. Plus, the mechanical brakes are suitable for all weather conditions, allowing you to ride the Checkpoint AL 3 model when it’s raining and snowing, too.

Although it’s manufactured as a gravel bike, you can use the Checkpoint AL 3 as a commuter bike, too. It features two cage mounts that both offer high or low fitting positions to suit your height and riding comfort. The frame bag fitment is another nice touch for carrying your essentials with you while you’re on the go.

This bike aims to deliver a smooth and cushioned ride. Its wide Affinity rims support the tires and can easily be converted to tubeless options for a smoother ride. The tires accelerate quickly, allowing you to attack hills easier. Furthermore, the 61mm trail and 1021mm wheelbase are a great balance of stability and agility. 

Take the Checkpoint AL 3 bike with you, even with the surfaces and environmental conditions that are challenging. The internal routing protects your cables, even when the gravel gets muddy, helping to prevent any damage and reduce maintenance. 

Finally, this gravel bike features a seat with a 73.5-degree angle and padding, allowing you to remain comfortable while riding at your fastest. 

Pros

  • Suitable for a range of weather and environmental conditions
  • Frame and carbon disc fork absorbs shocks
  • Delivers a smooth, cushioned ride

Cons

  • Some reported issues with the brakes

Tommaso Forcella Endurance Aluminum Road Bike—Best for Speed

Tommaso Forcella Endurance Aluminum Road Bike
146 Reviews
Tommaso Forcella Endurance Aluminum Road Bike
  • DURABLE & RELIABLE: Lightweight Aluminum Compact Frame combined with a HCT Carbon Fork for added vibration dampening and weight savings, backed up with our industry leading Lifetime Frame & Fork Warranty. Frame is drilled for all varieties of racks and fenders, making the Forcella a great commuter
  • POWERFUL PEFORMANCE & SPEED: 3x8 Shimano Claris Groupset, featuring a 30/39/50T Claris crankset and 12x25T Claris cassette. Perfect for varying terrain, from flats to hills, offering a wide range of gears for all levels of riders in all conditions
  • PRECISION SHIFTING: Shimano Claris STI shifters provide smooth and consistent shifting in all riding conditions. By keep a full groupset, Tommaso bikes offer a level of performance shifting and responsiveness that the competition can’t touch
  • OPTIMIZED FIT FOR ADDED COMFORT: Compact frame geometry and premium compact handlebars offer increased power and comfort in a sleek package. Every part of the Forcella is designed for maximum comfort and efficiency, so you are getting the most out of every ride, whether it is 10 miles or 100 miles. SIZING: If in-between sizes, sizing down is a more comfortable ride and sizing up is a more aggressive, race feel.
  • PROFESSIONAL ASSEMBLY REQUIRED: To ensure optimal performance and to validate the warranties of your new bike we recommend that you have it professionally assembled before riding.

Love to ride fast? Then the Tommaso Forcella road bike is for you. This model features a full-performance 3×8 Shimano Claris groupset, featuring a 30/39/50T Claris crankset and 12x25T Claris cassette. These features make this road bike great for different terrain, including from flats to hills. Plus, the wide range of gears makes it suitable for all rider levels and conditions.

The Tommaso Forcella gravel bike features Shimano Claris STI shifters that provide smooth and consistent shifting in all riding conditions. This provides a level of responsiveness in all weather conditions, helping to keep you safe.

It has an optimized fit for added comfort. In particular, the compact frame geometry and premium compact handlebars offer increased power and comfort in a sleek package. In fact, the Forcella was designed with comfort and efficiency in mind. So no matter if you’re cycling 10 miles or 100, you’ll enjoy a smooth ride on this road bike.

Another great feature of this bike is its attention to detail. Its design includes small details that enhance your off-road riding experience. For example, all of Tommaso’s frames are drilled to accommodate a range of racks, fenders, and more accessories. 

Pros

  • Can accommodate racks, fenders, and more accessories
  • Suitable for riding on different terrain
  • Premium compact handlebars for power and comfort

Cons

  • Bike pedals are quite sharp

Diamondback Bicycles Haanjenn—Best for Tough Surfaces

This gravel bike is specifically built for women, as the frame is designed and shaped for a female’s body. Its frame is made from butted and formed aluminum for all-day riding comfort as it can absorb shocks and vibrations when you’re traveling on different terrain. Plus, the bike’s frame can handle a lot of abuse and keeps you in an upright riding position so you can ride farther without any strain.

This Diamondback Haanjenn gravel bike features a flat bar that’s ideal for commuting across the city. Plus, you aren’t limited to environmental conditions as the wide 40mm tires can soak up potholes and debris while providing extra traction on wet and snowy roads. 

It features Tektro mechanical disc brakes for fast and efficient stopping power on any terrain. But the best gravel bike goes further to provide endurance and increase power; it features Shimano Sora 2×9 shifting that makes it convenient to get onto the bike and start cycling, even if you’ve been shy from riding in a while.

Pros

  • The frame is specifically designed for a female body
  • Wide tires absorb shocks from the road
  • Powerful and reliable mechanical brakes

Cons

  • Not suitable for riders above 5’11”

Tommaso Illimitate Shimano Tiagra Gravel Adventure Bike—Best for all Riding Levels

Next on the list of the best gravel bikes under $1000 is this Tommaso model. It’s durable and reliable, featuring a sturdy, lightweight aluminum frame that’s combined with a carbon fiber fork. Together, these elements maximize vibration dampening and overall comfort. The frame is also drilled so you can easily install racks and fenders, making this gravel bike suitable for commuting, too. 

It also features a powerful 2×10 Shimano Tiagra groupset and 22x32T Tiagra cassette for a range of speeds. This allows you to ride the gravel bike as you wish, making it suitable for a range of riding levels, so you can face anything that’s thrown your way.

Another way that this gravel bike is built for all types of terrain is the Tommaso TC-40D rims that are rugged and durable. Plus, with the help of a 28-spoke rim, these tires keep rolling while tackling tough terrain and gravel. The 700x40c tires offer great versatility and stability to provide you with the grip and control you need for off-road conditions. 

Then, when it’s time to come to a stop, the mechanical brakes provide excellent stopping power in adverse weather conditions, enabling you to ride this gravel bike wherever and whenever you prefer.

Pros

  • Reliable mechanical disc brakes
  • The frame is drilled to install accessories 
  • 700x40c tires are stable and provide control

Cons

  • Some riders prefer a carbon fiber frame

Schwinn Sporterra Adventure Adult Gravel Bike—Best for Tall Riders

Schwinn Sporterra Adventure Adult Gravel Bike
77 Reviews
Schwinn Sporterra Adventure Adult Gravel Bike
  • Schwinn aluminum gravel/adventure frame with rigid fork is great for fast riding on varied terrain. 700c wheels fit riders 5’4” to 6’2” in height.
  • 14 speeds with Shimano shifter / brake lever combo and Shimano rear derailleur provide quick gear changes.
  • Alloy mechanical disc brakes deliver superior stopping power.
  • Schwinn 700 x 38c Multi -Terrain tires provide go-anywhere traction.
  • Quick release seat post makes for easy saddle height adjustment.

Finally, for the best gravel bikes under $1000 is the Schwinn Sporterra model. You can ride this gravel bike on a variety of terrain, including over bumps and rocks, and at high speeds cycling up a smooth hill. This makes it suitable for most cyclists and those who love riding for an adventure.

This Schwinn bike’s frame makes it suitable for riders between 5’4″ and 6’2″ in height, and the 700c wheels also accommodate this size. To customize this gravel bike for your body, the seat post features a quick-release system that makes it easy to adjust the height on the saddle.

The bike comes equipped with an aluminum frame that allows you to ride at your top speed without the frame holding you back. Plus, this material helps to absorb shocks and reduces to minimize vibrations, thus, providing a smooth and enjoyable ride. 

It has high-quality 700x38c multi-terrain tires that provide excellent traction anywhere and everywhere you go. In fact, these tires allow you to comfortably and safely ride when it’s raining, although they aren’t thick enough to ride through snow.

Finally, with 14 speeds with Shimano shifter and brake lever combination, you’ll get peace of mind that you are fully in control of this gravel bike. Plus, you can comfortably come to a stop whenever you need it—even when it’s raining.

Pros

  • The seat post can be adjusted for comfort
  • Suitable for riding in tough terrain
  • Confident and reliable brake lever

Cons

  • There’s a wire that’s quite close to the pedals

Buying Guide

Not sure which of the above gravel bikes you’ll choose? We’ve created a user-friendly buying guide that will help you choose the best model for your preferences and needs. Make sure to review the below features before making your final decision. 

Gears

First, let’s take a look at the number of gears you’ll need for your gravel bike. There’s no set number for every rider, as it all depends on personal preference and your riding conditions. 

In particular, if you want to ride on smooth surfaces, tough terrain, and up and down hills, we recommend a gravel bike with a variety of gears. An extensive range (of anything over 16 gears) means you can adjust your bike’s speed according to the surfaces and environment so you’re more in control.

Alternatively, if you only plan to ride your gravel bike on a smooth, flat surface, you won’t need as many gears. In fact, a one-speed bike will suffice as you don’t need as much control and the ability to adjust between varying surfaces. 

More: Trek FX2 Review: Is It a Good Entry-Level Hybrid Bike To Buy?

Bike Suspension

Not sure which suspension system to choose out of hardtail and full suspension? We’ve got you covered by looking at the benefits, features, and disadvantages of both types.

Full-Suspension

A full-suspension bike comes with suspension on the front and rear, which improves your riding comfort and makes the gravel bike much smoother to cycle. This feature provides more support when you’re riding over rough terrain, bumps, and gravel. As a result, the bike will absorb the impact and minimize vibrations, so you can endure a smoother ride.

However, with an additional suspension system on the gravel bike, you’ll encounter more weight, which means you’ll have to put in more effort when cycling, as well as making it more challenging to ride uphill.

Hardtail 

This system contains less suspension benefits, so you’ll feel the impact more when riding on challenging terrain. But the biggest benefit is that a hardtail gravel bike is less expensive to purchase, making it budget-friendly and great for entry-level cyclists. 

With half the suspension system, the gravel bike will weigh less than a full-suspension bike, which is great for helping you to ride uphill and reach a top speed without feeling like you’re struggling. 

You might be concerned with how a hardtail bike doesn’t provide a smoother ride, but some cyclists prefer this feature. In fact, a hardtail suspension system offers a more adventurous ride, so you can feel the turns and surfaces beneath your feet.

More: Trek Verve 1 Review: Is It A Good Bike To Have?

Brake Type

These are two brake types to consider: hydraulic and mechanical. Each of these brake types has a unique quality and are suitable for a range of environmental conditions and cyclists. To look at the advantages, disadvantages, and features of both brake types, let’s look at them individually.

Hydraulic

This brake type has excellent modulation, which means that you can control how fast or slow you stop without damaging or locking your tires. This level of control is ideal for experienced riders or those who take cycling seriously. This level of customization can also be beneficial to your gravel bike.

You don’t need much effort to apply hydraulic brakes when in action. In fact, you’ll only require one finger to press the lever, which makes it great for those who aren’t capable of applying much pressure but also makes it easier and more convenient to use the brakes. 

Hydraulic disc brakes use a system that’s fully enclosed, so there’s less chance of dirt, debris, and water entering the bike’s system. Not only will this help your bike to remain cleaner and require less maintenance on your part, but it’ll also allow your bike to last longer.

Most importantly, braking is much smoother with hydraulic brakes and much more responsive, making this option the most preferable of both types. However, it’s more expensive, which increases the overall cost of the gravel bike.

Mechanical

Alternatively, you have the option of mechanical disc brakes. This is a budget-friendly option and popular amongst beginners and those who don’t plan on cycling as much. There’s also less maintenance involved, which is ideal for busy individuals and doesn’t involve much stress owning mechanical brakes. In fact, you don’t need any experience to operate them either.

If you need to make any adjustments to the brakes, should a wire come loose, it’s easy to do so; you can even do this in a field without any tools. This benefit helps to eliminate the fear of breaking down because you know that you’ll always be able to make an adjustment as and where you need it.

Unfortunately, mechanical brakes aren’t as responsive and don’t have quite the same level of power. This means that you won’t be able to come to as quickly a stop as you would with hydraulic disc brakes. 

Plus, dirt, debris, and water can enter the bike’s system much easier, which could create some maintenance issues down the line.

More: Trek Dual Sport 2 Review: Is DS2 Worth It?

Bike Frame Materials

There are many materials to choose from for your bike frame, including aluminum and carbon fiber. It’s not extremely common to have steel gravel bikes or a steel-frame gravel bike as the material isn’t as lightweight and ideal for off-road terrain. So, let’s take a look at some of the main features of an aluminum and carbon fiber frame (carbon gravel bikes).

Aluminum

Recent manufacturing developments mean that aluminum has become more flexible and can be shaped into various designs. In fact, the tube within the bike’s walls makes it lightweight while creating a stiff structure for durability and longevity. This is referred to as ‘butting’ and means the centre of the rubes are thin for weight reduction while retaining its original strength.

One of the biggest benefits of an aluminum frame for a gravel bike is its lightweight which helps you to pick up speed quickly and obtain your maximum speed without having to struggle. Aluminum remains a strong material, too, so you can rely on it to not fold from underneath you should you encounter an accident. 

You can also trust that aluminum will enhance your ride, making the experience smoother and more enjoyable. It achieves this by absorbing any impact as you ride over bumps and through rough terrain. This material is also designed to minimize vibrations, helping to prevent your gravel bike from shaking as you cycle.

On the other hand, aluminum can be difficult to maintain and repair if it encounters any accidental falls. Not to mention that it’s not as durable as other materials, so your aluminum bike won’t likely last you a lifetime.

Carbon Fiber

Alternatively, you may consider a gravel bike with a carbon fiber frame. Due to the material’s ratio of stiffness to weight, most manufacturers can customize the frame shape to make it more aerodynamic and ergonomic. This is great for comfort and performance levels. Carbon fiber is easily moldable and can be shaped into almost any shape.

Carbon fiber is one of the lightest materials you can use for a bike frame. This feature makes it especially beneficial for those hoping to cycle at a fast speed without the frame being too enduring on your body. At the same time, the frame will have stiffness in the head tube areas and bottom bracket which helps the bike to excel forward for power delivery and control. Plus, compliance in the seat tube helps you to stay comfortable and in control on your bike.

Another top highlight of a carbon fiber frame is its comfort levels. Whether you’re a competitive rider or beginner, you’ll want a frame that dampens as many vibrations as possible, helping to improve the overall quality of your ride and providing a smoother experience. Most carbon fiber frames come equipped with a carbon fork that provides further suspension to keep you stable.

Alternatively, this frame can be expensive, thus increasing the overall cost of your gravel bike. Although this material is long-lasting if you’re careful and cautious with your bike, if it’s involved in an accident or fall, it’s not repairable so you’ll have to purchase an entirely new gravel bike.

More: The Best Hybrid Bike Under $1000 [Review and Buying guide]

What are Gravel Bikes? 

You might have an idea but be wondering what exactly a gravel bike is. What qualities and features make a gravel bike unique?

These are drop-bar bikes that enable you to move off smooth surfaces onto challenging terrain. This type of bike is suited to handle bumps and uneven conditions, even including cycling over rocks and tree stumps without any damage to your gravel bike.

This type of bike is also nimble on paved surfaces compared to fat-tired mountain bikes, which are solely designed for tough terrain. In fact, a gravel bike’s versatility and ability to switch between varying surfaces is one of the main benefits and unique factors of this type of bike.

Most impressively, most gravel bikes are equipped for being versatile and perform the same as on smooth surfaces compared to tough conditions. This means you only need one bike for such occasions.

Gravel vs Mountain Bikes

From reading our description of gravel bikes, you might be wondering what the difference is between this type of bike and a mountain bike. While there are similarities between both types, we must point out that they’re both unique in their own right.

Tire clearance is a big difference between gravel and mountain bikes. Thwe best Gravel bikes tend to have wider tires with a range of 38-45mm. This width allows you to travel in tough terrain because the increased tire volume enables lower tire pressures, so your comfort and traction is improved while cycling.

But despite this larger tire, they’re still narrower than most mountain bikes. This is because mountain bikes typically have tires with a width ranging from 2.1-2.4 inches, which allows for more rolling resistance and comfort, as this type of bike is typically faced with tougher conditions.

Suspension system is another factor that makes these two bikes unique. While most mountain bikes feature a suspension fork at the bare minimum, gravel bikes tend to use rigid designs

Suspension takes the edge off of the bumps and it will increase off-road comfort and control. Most mountain bikes have at least a suspension fork, but the majority of gravel bikes use rigid designs to act as a suspension for minimizing vibrations and absorbing shocks.

A gravel bike with a suspension system would increase the bike’s overall weight and lose efficiency, thus reducing the feeling of being on an adventure on your bike. Alternatively, most mountain bikes feature suspension forks that add a couple of pounds over a rigid carbon fork. This decreases efficiency as you’ll lose a small mount of pedaling power.

Also, gravel bikes keep riders in an upright position. This enables the rider to remain in control and stable while retaining comfort during off-road conditions. The wheelbase and chainstays will be longer than that on a mountain bike to further improve stability.

On the other hand, mountain bikes have a geometry that is even more upright to provide further stability and control, as most of the time spent on a mountain bike will be enduring tough terrain, bumps, and over rocky surfaces. Mountain bikes won’t spend as much time on smooth gravel and quick-handling surfaces compared to gravel bikes, which is why further stability and comfort is required.

Gravel vs Road Bike 

In a nutshell, gravel bikes are built for the environment whereas road bikes are built for speed and performance. Some many features and factors make these bikes unique in their own right.

First, there’s the difference in durability. A gravel bike will be more durable and long-lasting than a road bike. This means that they’ll require a hard-wearing frame with high-quality components that will add some weight to the bike. Compared to road bikes, you can attach racks and bags to the frame without worrying about any additional stress and weight you’re adding to the frame.

Next is comfort. Gravel bikes are designed to pair comfort with efficiency to make the bike an all-in-one package. Compared to road bikes, they feature a more aggressive geometry that’s designed for racing to allow you into a lower aerodynamic position, gravel bikes let you sit more upright and relaxed for stability. 

Also, a road bike will have tires that have the least rolling resistance position, which is typically between 23 and 25mm with a pressure of 90 to 100 PSI. These figures allow the bike to travel at its fastest possible speed on the road. But the downside of this is that you’ll feel every bump and imperfection from the road’s surfaces. 

Alternatively, gravel bikes are designed to maintain traction on mixed terrain, so their tires will measure between 30 and 40mm and have about 40 PSI. This low PSI means that the tire can absorb most of the bumps from the trail while retaining efficiency and comfort for the rider—even during a long gravel course.

Finally, disc brakes are common with mountain biking, but they haven’t been on the scene for road bikes for as long. Gravel bikes will typically use disc brakes for the stopping power. This is mostly because this type of bike has a larger-volume tire that a traditional rim brake isn’t big enough to fit around. Disc brakes also provide better, more efficient stopping power in a range of conditions, including mud and wet, making them a reliable and efficient option.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed reading about gravel bikes under $1000 review. If we could only select two models as the runner’s up, it’d be the Checkpoint AL 3 bike and Diamondback Bicycles Haanjenn bike.

The Checkpoint AL 3 features a carbon disc fork that minimizes vibrations and absorbs shocks from the gravel and bumps. Plus, with mechanical brakes, you can ride in a range of weather conditions, including the rain and snow.

Also, the Diamondback Bicycles Haanjenn bike makes another great contender. It’s specifically built for women and provides long-lasting, all-day comfort that minimizes shocks and vibrations. This bike’s frame can also handle plenty of abuse from tough surfaces, so you aren’t limited to where you can cycle.