Disclaimer: Bikexchange is reader-supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through the links on our site. Learn more.

Best Cheap Gravel Bikes of 2021 – Under $2,000

The mighty gravel bike – one of the latest trending sub-categories in the cycling industry besides electric and fat-tire bikes.

Cycling in essence is quite convenient already as you can follow paths that are not accessible by a car, and comfortable enough for distances that might take too long to walk. Riding a gravel road or light trail with a mountain bike is truly fun,   don’t get us wrong,   but if you’d like to travel long distances with better speed by not losing the momentum that the MTB suspension swallows, you might want to consider looking into gravel bikes!

The selection of gravel bikes in 2021 is quite diverse as most large bike brands have produced their own series of gravel bikes. Starting as low as $800, there is a quite good selection of bikes for all skill levels and riding preferences.

bicycle leaning on rock formation

Gravel bike riding features light trails, long bikepacking trips, and fast sections on gravel roads.

One for all – Mud / Gravel / Trail / Bikepacking / Fast city commutes

Is $1,000 to $2,000 enough for a gravel bike?

And what to expect?

Depending on your purposed field of use, a $1,000 price tag gets you a nice gravel bike with a steel frame & steel fork with mechanical disc brakes front and rear. Best suited for recreational commuters, these bikes have quite entry-level components in terms of gravel riding but stand the test of time for the purposed field of use.

Although, a $2,000 and $1,500 budget can get you a decent bang for the buck!


 

Table of Contents

Gravel Bike 101

Best of – Under $2,000

Best of – Under $1,500

Best of – Under $1,000

FAQ


 

Gravel Bike 101

 


What Makes a Gravel Bike a Gravel Bike?

Road bike geometry with wide clearance – Position on a gravel bike resembles riding a road bike, there’s a lot of torque output from the right body position. Add a rigid fork and you’ve got the fastest off-road bicycle on the market.

Wide Clearance – This is where the geometry moves from the road towards the trails. Wider clearances allow running 650b and 700c wheels with wide and knobby tires.

Single or double front chainring – Again, this is where the latest of the mountain and traditional road bike drivetrain preferences meet. If you are looking for a performance gravel bike to start competing, a single front chainring is well represented among high-end bikes

Drop bar handlebar – Thanks to the wide tires, the drop bar is super comfortable for a wide variety of uses. Three main positions to choose for each occasion – for fast and flat sections, technical trails, or light gravel cruising – switch to the right position to give your hands a rest.


650b vs 700c wheels on a gravel grinder?

Wheel size preference is a main concern when choosing a gravel bike

650b rim diameter = 584mm (23″)
700c rim diameter = 622mm (24.5″)
*650b tires are often more volumic, which means they can often be larger than 700c wheels & tires

650b gravel wheels
Allows fitting larger volume tires which are more suitable for technical riding.
Tire width goes up to 40mm (650bx40mm (650b x 2.1″)

700c gravel wheels
Narrower contact path which rolls faster on hardpack. Keeps the momentum better than the 650b. For those who prefer speed over technical riding.
Average tire width = 35 to 42mm (Marked as 700x35c / 700x42c)

🏆 More information found at the bottom of the Best Gravel Bikes of 2021 page.


Gravel Bike Groupset Hierarchy

A bicycle drivetrain is one of the most important factors when it comes to price & durability ratio. Gravel-specific drivetrains are a mixture of road and mountain and since they have to provide a wide variety of gears and stand the test of time offroading, they do cost slightly more than your average road or mountain bike drivetrains.

*The mountain biking industry is dominated by SRAM, while Shimano dominates the gravel bike groupset market

shimano sram sunrace campagnolo microshift

Bicycle Groupset Full Comparison (Shimano, SRAM, Campagnolo, microSHIFT, SunRace)

SHIMANO Gravel – GRX

Pro – RX800 (Ultegra equivalent)

Mid – RX600 (105 equivalent)

Entry – RX400 (Tiagra equivalent)

SHIMANO Road

Entry/Mid – Claris, Sora, Tiagra

Mid – Ultegra, 105

Pro – Dura-Ace

SRAM

Entry – Apex

Mid – Rival, Force, Force eTap AXS

Pro – RED, RED eTap, RED eTap AXS


Brakes – Hydraulic vs Mechanical

The hydraulic disc brakes have better performance compared to mechanical (cable-actuated) disc brakes. The good news is that some cyclocross and gravel riders prefer mechanical disc brakes as you don’t need to entirely ‘block the wheel’ on uneven paths, and bikepackers prefer the mechanical brakes as they are easier to maintain on the road.

gravel bike riding


Frame – Steel vs Alloy

Steel is believed to be real, especially among gravel bikes’ closely related cousin community – touring bikes. Steel is affordable, great strength-to-weight ratio, and with rather good bump-absorption qualities. Aluminum on the other hand is known to be quite light, and also durable. Those two main frame materials have quite similar prices although the feel to the ride is completely different.

Read more from the Bicycle Frame Materials Guide

Gravel Bikes Forks – At this price range, most gravel bikes rock steel or carbon fork. Carbon is more advanced, but the lacks the availability to add pannier bags on it.


 

Best Gravel Bikes Under $2,000

Specialized – Diverge E5 Elite

Co-op Cycles – ADV 2.1

Masi – Brunello

Priority Bicycles – Apollo Gravel

Salsa Cycles – Stormchaser

Surly – Disc Tucker


 

Specialized – Diverge Elite E5

specialized diverge elite e5 gravel bikes

Widest variety of gravel bikes for men & women

MSRP $1,900 Mikes Bikes

Anyone coming from a mountain bike background will find this as a superb gravel bike appealing at an affordable rate. Yes, it will be a smoother transition than getting a cyclocross bike, as this 700c wheel bike is a true gravel warrior on its own league. This is a great bike for those who are looking for a more capable and faster roundabout bicycle than you’d get from a standard hybrid bike.

Designed for gravel riding, the Specialized Diverge Elite E5 bike is equipped with parts that are equal to mid-range component durability level that is focused on comfort and long-lasting performance, rather than performance. Rated ideal for Gravel, Adventure, Touring, and as a commuter bike – the aluminum frame and gravel-rated components provide a smooth and enjoyable ride for sure!

  • Aluminum frame & carbon frame
  • 2x10speed – Shimano GRX RX600
  • 700c x 35mm
  • Hydraulic disc brakes by Shimano RX GRX600

Availability

Mikesbikes.com


 

Co-op Cycles – ADV 2.2

Best Value Gravel Bike series!

co-op cycles white adventure gravel bike

MSRP $1,599 REI

REI’s gravel bike selection is best-suited for those who are looking at the best value bicycle on the market without losing on quality components. They offer a fine selection of well-known gravel bikes by known brands such as Salsa and Cannondale, plus they have their own line of bikes known as the Co-op Cycles. Most other Co-op Bikes selection has been selling out really well, and the ADV series is no different from that! The ADV-series gravel bikes are equipped with essential components you’d expect from bikes with a slightly higher price tag.

Co-op Cycles ADV Series – Comparison Chart

Co-op Cycles MSRP Wheels Frame Gears Group Brakes – Disc
ADV 1.1 $1,399 700c Steel 3×10 Deore Hydraulic
ADV 2.1 $1,099 700c Aluminum 2×8 Claris Mechanical
ADV 2.2 $1,499 700c Aluminum 2×10 GRX Mechanical
ADV 2.3 $2,199 700c Aluminum 1×11 GRX Hydraulic
ADV 3.1 $1,399 650b Steel 2×10 Deore Mechanical
ADV 3.2 $1,799 650b Aluminum 2×10 Deore XT Hydraulic
ADV 4.2 $2,099 27.5″ Aluminum 2×11 SLX Hydraulic

ADV-series full review

The ADV-, also known as the Adventure series has a great variation of set-ups and designs to choose from, and the ADV 2.2 has the best feedback on the list (4.6/5). Co-op Cycles is also well known for its production of bike frames for men, women, kids and a large number of unisex frames which makes it most likely the best selection of gravel bikes for women in this list.

  • Shimano GRX Drivetrain & Crankset
  • 700c x 40mm WTB Nano Comp
  • Tektro MD-C550 cable mechanical Disc brakes
  • Aluminum frame & carbon fork

Availability

REI.com


 

Masi – Brunello GRX11 🏆

1x11speed

masi brunello gravel bike

MSRP $1,999 JensonUSA

When it comes to gravel gravel grinders, Masi is definitely a name to consider. Their Brunello GRX11 boasts awesome set of components that are hard to see at the $2,000 line. It is also the only single front chainring, and carbon seat post bike in this list. The head tube of 70-71.5 degrees, and a seat tube of 74-73 degrees is best for both gravel and adventure riding.

We can’t oversee this funky paintwork, and the wavey front fork which give a lot of character to the bike. The Brunello is definitely an awesome bike that is one of the best under the $2,000 line. Do you think you have the guts to wear this bike out?

  • Alu frame & carbon fork and seat post
  • 700x40c Kenda Flintridge
  • Masi Gravel Performance saddle
  • 1x11speed Shimano GRX RD-RX812
  • 11-42T cassette, Shimano CS-M5100
  • Tubeless ready wheels and rims

Availability

JensonUSA.com


 

Priority Bicycles – Apollo Gravel

No image available

Maintenance-free, clean, and silent drivetrain

MSRP $1,699 Priority Bicycles

Priority Cycles‘ Apollo Gravel is a unique dirt and singletrack bike with an internal hub and belt-driven drivetrain. This makes it far easier to keep clean and reduces the overall maintenance and upkeep costs. Although its main function is as a gravel bike, it’s a highly versatile bike with multiple uses, including commuting, touring, and bikepacking. The best thing about the belt drive is that the belts’ expected lifespan is around 19,000 miles!

Also Featured In Best Belt-Drive Bicycles in 2021

The Apollo Gravel is designed to take both the 700c and the 650b wheels, so there’s no fuzz there for personal preferences!

Belt Drive = Silent – Clean – Basically maintenance-free

What about the downsides? While internally geared hubs do offer a much cleaner system with lower maintenance, they can be difficult to fix on the rare occasions that they do break. Most hubs can’t be opened with simple tools and need to be returned to the manufacturer for repairs. This means if you break down far from a city with a dedicated bike shop or mechanic you could struggle to get your hub repaired.

If you are still unsure about belt drives, we’d strongly recommend checking out CyclingAbout’s YouTube video.

  • 11-speed 400% gear range
  • 700c x 40mm WTB ByWay
  • Aluminum frame & carbon fork

Availability

PriorityBicycles.com


 

Salsa Cycles – Stormchaser

A single-speed gravel bike

2020 Salsa Stormchaser Single Speed fixed gear bike

MSRP $1,699 Salsa

The Salsa Stormchaser is a single-speed gravel bike designed specifically to handle extreme weather conditions. Its aluminum frame and carbon fork benefit from Salsa’s own ‘Vibration Reduction System’ (VRS) and include internal cable routing to protect from wear.

With no derailleurs or cassettes to gather mud, the Stormchaser is ideal for those muddy conditions. It has TRP Spyre disc brakes and two rear cogs (17t, and 18t) with an Alternator Flat Mount dropout to allow easy changing depending on conditions. With WTB ST i23 rims and Teravail Rutland 42mm tires, this is clearly a bike aimed at some serious off-road exploring. Of course, with only one speed, you had best avoid any steep hill climbs.

  • TRP Spyre-C Flat Mount disc brakes
  • 700c x 42mm Teravail Rutland
  • Aluminum frame & carbon fork

Availability

SalsaCycles.com


 

Surly – Disc Tucker

Equal durability & character

surly disc tucker gravel bike

Built for long-distance touring – it is hard to overlook Surly bikes when looking for a gravel bike

MSRP $1,749 JensonUSA

What a legend, the disc ducker is one funky gravel machine, built for long-distance touring. We have always been amazed to see price tags on Surly bikes as they borrow high-end components from performance bikes.

On the Disc Tucker, you’ll see a 3×9 Shimano drivetrain (Shimano Alivio on the rear and Shimano Sora on the front) which by means is not high tech, but they last as long and well as some higher-end models. As comfort plays a huge role riding a road bike on gravel roads, this is where Surly truly shines – you got the legendary 4130 ChroMoly Steel frame and fork, and Alex Adventurer 2 Rims on Novatech Hubs.

Mechanical disc brakes are chosen for this bike as they are easy to maintain on a long haul, and Surly’s own ExtraTerrestial 700x41mm tires definitely something to rely on. Add that retro light-green color (Pea Soup Green) and you’ve got a modern bike to tackle any bikepacking trip. Getting a bike made by Surly is like stepping into a cult, a decision to prefer something out of the ordinary, and all that in a good way!

  • Cane Creek 40 1-1/8″ headset
  • KMC X9 chain
  • WTB Volt Sport saddle
  • It is a Surly bike!

Availability

JensonUSA.com


 

Best Gravel Bikes Under $1,500

Rocky Mountain – Solo 30

Tommaso Bikes – Illimitate Disc 40C

Co-op Cycles – ADV 2.1


 

Rocky Mountain – Solo 30

rocky mountain solo

MSRP $1,399 JensonUSA

Plenty of well-known components at a low price tag – the Solo 30 is as good as it looks, inside out.

Although you can use this for both light performance rides and as an everyday commuter, the Solo 30 is a road-bike-focused gravel bike due to its carbon fork in the front. Mechanical disc brakes are more than enough for uneven paths as you don’t need as strong stopping power as you’d need on mountain bikes, and the TLR wheel&hub mixture seems to be a quite interesting solution as well.

Rocky Mountain bikes have produced a large number of mountain bikes, and the Solo series is definitely something to keep an eye on. Check out the features and bike to get a better overview from JensonUSA!

  • Sram Apex 1 drivetrainTRP Sypre brakes
  • 6061 alloy frame & carbon fork
  • TLR WTB rims (Shimano MT400 hubs)
  • Clearances up to 700x40c and 650bx2.2″

Availability

JensonUSA.com


 

Tommaso Bikes – Illimitate Disc 40C

Best Gravel Bike Under $1,500

Tommaso Illimitate Disc - 40c black gravel bike

MSRP $1,175 Giantnerd

If you want a quality budget gravel bike with a carbon fork and decent gears, you’ll struggle to beat the Tommaso Illimitate. It offers excellent value for money, considering it hosts a full Shimano Tiagra 20-speed drivetrain along with Avid BB5 disc brakes.

Admittedly, the 6061 aluminum frame is fairly stock standard and Tommaso uses their own brand for the wheelset as well as many other small parts. However, it rolls very nicely on the fat CST Tirent 700x40c tires, and at only 25 lbs (11.3kg) is comparatively lightweight for a bike in its price range.

  • Shimano Tiagra Derailleurs
  • 700x40c CST Tirent All-terrain
  • Avid BB5 Mechanical Disc Brakes
  • Aluminum frame & carbon fork

Availability

Giantnerd.com


 

Co-op Cycles – ADV 2.1

Road-focused bikepacking bike with a carbon fiber fork

co-op cycles adv 2.1

Allow frame & carbon fork

MSRP $1,249 REI

This aluminum & carbon mixture Co-op gravel bike will appeal to traditionalists looking for a strong, dedicated touring or bikepacking bike. It features lightweight materials and aggressive race geometry of some top gravel bikes but makes up for this in strength and durability at a decent price tag.

Unfortunately, the lack of mount points on the carbon fork (for obvious reasons!) stops this bike from being a full-scale, long-distance expedition bike. But, as it is a road-focused bikepacking bike, it offers a more comfortable upright seating position and the 16-speed Shimano drivetrain will ensure you never struggle up steep ascents.

Some components like the Promax mechanical disc brakes and alloy rims could be better, but overall, everything fits well in the price bracket.

  • 2×8 speed Shimano Claris
  • 700c x 35mm
  • Alloy frame & carbon fork
  • WTB Silverado Comp Saddle
  • Promax DSK-718R mechanical brakes

Availability

REI.com


 

Best Gravel Bikes Under $1,000

Pure Cycles – Adventure Bike

Marin – Olema

Tommaso – Sterrata Disc


 

Pure Cycles – Adventure Bike

Best Budget Gravel Bike

pure cycles gravel bike

MSRP $899 REI

It’s hard to believe that you can get such a good-value gravel bike at this kind of price level. Believe it or not but it is true, and it is up for grabs! Best for beginners, the new Pure Cycles Adventure bike will definitely be a bike for many recreational cyclists who are looking for a bicycle to be used as a fast everyday commuter or get

into mild gravel riding. Mechanical disc brakes and 38mm tires are a great choice to be used as an all-rounder bike, and the Shimano Claris drivetrain will definitely satisfy the needs of a recreational cyclist for sure.

Steel gravel bikes are preferred due to their vibration-reducing qualities and also the affordable price is something that can’t be overlooked!

  • 2×8 speed Shimano Claris
  • 700x38c tires
  • Steel frame & steel fork

Availability

REI.com


 

Marin – Olema 650b

Best first gravel bike under $1,000!

marin olema gravel bike

MSRP $799 JensonUSA

Best for leisurely rides and gravel commutes, this 650b bike deal is hard to pass by.

Equipped with Shimano Claris drivetrain, aluminum frame & fork and mechanical disc brakes – there’s plenty to explore all sorts of trails. Eight-hundred dollars for a gravel-specific commuter bike (Especially when it is made by such a legendary bike brand – Marin) is something we’d like to see more in the future.

Ideal first gravel bike for anyone who hasn’t had the change to try one out before.

It doesn’t matter whether you come from a mountain- or road background, this bike can get you from A to B with style and speed. Follow those alternative roads you always wanted to explore! The bike is lightweight and versatile, great for backcountry roads and bumpy city streets due to the vibration-reducing bar tape. 650b x 47mm combination is fast and suitable for technical sections alike!

  • 6061 Aluminum frame & fork
  • Shimano Claris 2×8 speed drivetrain
  • Tektro Mechanical Disc Brakes
  • 650b x 47mm

Availabiltity

REI.com


 

Tommaso – Sterrata Disc

Best Cheap Gravel Bike

Tommaso Sterrata Disc 40c gravel bike

MSRP $975 Giantnerd

Another Tommaso on the more affordable price range – this time under $1,000 for the Sterrata Disc (Sterrata=Gravel in Italian).

This model is built on an alloy frame, runs 700x40c CST Tirent All-Terrain tires, its got the Shimano Claris 3x8speed drivetrain. The overall weight of the bike is just 25.4 lb! You’ll also find the Avis BB5 mechanical disc brakes and a carbon fork on the frame. The saddle is the one most riders can’t go wrong with – the WTB Volt. At this date and time, it’s unlikely to get such a good deal for this amount of money.

  • 3×8 speed Shimano Claris
  • Alloy frame & Carbon fork
  • Cable-actuated mechanical disc brakes

Availability

Giantnerd.com


 

RELATED REVIEWS

Best Gravel Bikes of 2021 [+Buying Guide]

Best Touring Bikes

19 Different Types of Bikes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *