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9 Best Gravel Bikes Under $1500 in 2022

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KEY
POINTS

  • Expect to spend between $1000 and $1500 to get a decent entry-level gravel bike.
  • Shimano Sora and Claris are among the most common road bike drivetrain systems for gravel bikes under $1500. Shimano GRX is the only gravel-specific drivetrain on this list.
  • If you’re going to ride more on rough terrain, choose one with 650b wheels. 700c wheels are better for paved roads.

Whether it was the pandemic or inevitability, 2020 was a pivotal time for the bike industry and gravel bikes especially gained in popularity as manufacturers competed for dominance by introducing their own “state-of-the-art” gravel geometry.

Our gravel bike picks cost around $1500, proving that one needn’t spend a fortune for quality.

We’ve spent hundreds of hours researching more than 20 bikes to put together this list of the very best gravel bikes under $1500 on the market.

Our current top recommendation is the Co-op Cycles ADV 2.2 Bike – an excellent lightweight gravel bike with a best-in-class Shimano GRX 2 x 10 drivetrain, flared handlebars, and quick WTB Nano Comp 700c x 40mm tires.


Co-op Cycles ADV 2.2 Bike

-Best Gravel Bike Under $1500-

Brakes: Mechanical Disc | Drivetrain: Shimano GRX 2 x 10 | Weight: 23.4 lbs. | MSRP: $1,599


+ Lightweight aluminum bike frame
+ Gravel-specific Shimano GRX components
+ Wider gear range ( 2 x 10 )
+ Very smooth and stable shifting
Mechanical Disc Brakes
Now priced a bit above $1500



The ADV 2.2’s aluminum frame and carbon fork team up to showcase a durable, lightweight ride enhanced by a Shimano GRX 2 x 10 drivetrain. Shimano GRX Shadow Plus rear derailleur reduces chain slap and noise and prevents chain drop no matter how daunting the terrain. The Shimano 11–36 cassette delivers smooth, stable shifting and nuanced speed control while the Tektro mechanical disc brakes stop on a dime.

Read more: Co-Op Cycles – Everything You Need to Know!

Additional features that help gravel bike riders achieve their goals are flared handlebars for wider upright positioning and WTB Nano Comp 700c x 40mm tires, built for speed, featuring an uninterrupted centerline amid staggered knobs. This unisex bike suits riders of all heights, and there is no shortage of accessories to upgrade it.


Marin Four Corners

-Best for frugal adventurers-

Brakes: Mechanical Disc | Drivetrain: Shimano Sora 3 x 9 | Weight: 29.1 lbs. | MSRP: $1,199


+ Frame is made of CroMo steel and features an upright geometry
+ Smooth disc brakes require little maintenance
+ Affordable price tag
+ Loaded with cage/bottle mounts
+ Ideal for touring or commuting duties
A bit heavy at 29.1 lbs.
Not super-quick


Bicyclers seeking a multi-purpose ride at a price that won’t drain a bank account find in the Marine Four Corners a product that artfully accommodates to various adventures: ride off of the beaten path, sleep outdoors, conquer pavement, dirt roads or hit the track. The heads-up bar position and generous braze-ones are responsible for this bike’s versatility.

Read more: Best Commuter Bikes

Despite its affordability, components have not been given short shrift. This ride is fitted with Shimano Sora 3x9spd 11-34 groupset, TRP cable disc brakes and having the option of choosing a bike that comes in many sizes offers a customized feel. Grippy 42mm WTB Resolute tires plus a triple Shimano Sora chainring delivering 9-speeds plus lots of gear add-ons make this bike a favorite choice of shoppers on budgets.


Trek Domane Al 3 Disc

-Best Affordable All-Roader-

Brakes: Mechanical Disc | Drivetrain: Shimano Sora 2 x 9 | Weight: 23.24 lbs. | MSRP: $1,349.99


+ Smooth, stable, and fun bearing the Trek brand name
+ Updated 2021 technology includes the carbon fork
+ Additional tire clearance
+ Endurance fit and geometry
Tested on light gravel trails – not a gravel bike
No hydraulic disc brakes


The Al3 is engineered to respond to various surfaces, but it’s not the bike you choose if you intend to power through heavy gravel. That stated, this bike has no shortage of features: an 18-speed Shimano Sora drivetrain, integrated brake/shift levers, and riders effortlessly push through a wide range of gears on flats or climbs. Enjoy the lightweight aluminum body and stable Endurance geometry.

Read more: Are Trek Bikes Good?

Fitted with a Domane carbon fork, mounts for fenders, and tubeless-ready rims, you can push this bike longer and harder than you would piloting a heavier bike. The unique IsoSpeed Carbon fork swoops forward toward dropouts, absorbs road vibrations and testers say their arms weren’t fatigued following runs. DuoTrap S compatibility enables wireless tracking so you can see for yourself how much progress you’re making.


Tommaso Sterrata Disc

-Best Gravel Bike Under $1000-

Brakes: Mechanical Disc | Drivetrain: Shimano Claris 3 x 8 | Weight: 25.4 lbs. | MSRP: $925


+ Great for dealing with big hills
+ Affordable price tag
+ Full Shimano Claris groupset
+ Available in 5 sizes (XS to XL)
Low-quality Avid BB5 Mechanical disc brakes


Fitted with upgraded 40c tires for added traction, this Italian bike is not just dynamic and sturdy, but it’s got plenty of curb appeal too. Tommaso encourages riders to crush barriers, offering upgraded disc brakes (Avid BB5) for rapid stops in all types of weather. The brand’s exclusive UltraCompact handlebar provides comfort during drops, reducing wind resistance.

Tommaso ModelDrivetrain
SienaShimano Tourney
SentieroShimano Claris
SterrataShimano Claris
AvventuraShimano Sora
IllimitateShimano Tiagra
Tommaso Models and Drivetrains

Features include the SLA 6061 aluminum frame, Shimano Claris shifters and derailleurs, Tommaso HCT carbon fork, and this bike weighs in at around 24 pounds. For cyclists who won’t consider another manufacturer, the Sterrata piles on extras, including the company’s signature Ready to Ride Build commitment. Techs oversee the 65-point build, so your bike arrives 99-percent assembled, reason enough to put it on your shortlist.

Read more: Tommaso Sentiero Review – An Excellent Bike for Exploration!


Kona Rove AL 650

-Affordable price, great parts-

Brakes: Mechanical Disc | Drivetrain: Shimano Claris 2 x 8 | Weight: 26.8 lbs. | MSRP: $949


+ Comparable to Salsa Journeyman Sora 650
+ 650b wheels with off-road tire clearance
+ A perfect all-roader
+ Comfortable and stable ride
Shimano Claris is not as good as Sora


Whether you’re already a Kona brand fan or you’re just being introduced, this product has been designed specifically for off-road riding at a more affordable price than the AL 700. Among this ride’s features are a 2x Shimano 8-speed drivetrain, Hayes disc brakes, and 47c WTB Venture Comp tires.

The unique Kona Project Two aluminum fork, Shimano Claris 8-speed drivetrain, and FSA Tempo Adventure crankset work in concert to get riders where they want to go in comfort. Building on its reputation for producing high-quality touring bikes, Kona’s gravel models are generating plenty of respect usually reserved for pricier models, and the AL 650 is quickly gaining a reputation for being bikepackers’ first choice.

Read more: Touring Bike vs. Road Bike – Differences and Similarities


Diamondback Haanjo 3

-Best Gravel Bike for Beginners-

Brakes: Mechanical Disc | Drivetrain: Shimano Sora 2 x 9 | Weight: 23.8 lbs. | MSRP: $1175


+ Huge tire clearance
+ Fitted with a 2×9 Shimano Sora drivetrain, 46/30T front cogs, and 11-32T rear cassette
+ Grippy 37 mm tires excel at off-road challenges
No hydraulic disc brakes


While this bike looks fragile, those wide tires and relaxed road frame geometry tell a different story. Weighing 25.1-pounds, the Haanjo 3 has a slightly longer head tube and shorter top tube, both of which help a rider maintain an optimal upright position. The 37mm WTB Riddler Comp tires won’t skid in bad weather.

Read more: Are Diamondback Bicycles Any Good?

This product comes with tools (including a pedal wrench), and engineers say it can take as little as 15 minutes out of the box since assembly only entails attaching wheels, handlebar, saddle, and pedals. Is this bike perfect? Not exactly. At its most extreme, you may feel like you’re riding a harrowing roller coaster, so hang on tight.


Giant Revolt 2

-The Toyota of the Gravel Bikes-

Brakes: Mechanical Disc | Drivetrain: Shimano Sora 2 x 9 | Weight: 22.07 lbs. | MSRP: $1250


+ Reliable and predictable ride
+ Clever and powerful brakes
+ Fast, smooth operation on myriad surfaces
+ Bang for the bucks
Without a single gimmick feature that would really make you want it


The Revolt 2 features a D-Fuse composite seat post, Contact XR D-Fuse handlebar known for road shock absorption and vibration mediation, and the frame compliments the disc brakes, offering extra clearance for tires measuring up to 45mm. Shimano components are well represented in this bike’s build, including Sora shifters, front and rear derailleurs, and brake levers. Tektro MD-C550 mechanical brakes come standard.

The frame is designed with endurance positioning and shorter chainstays, resulting in precise handling and agility. This model comes in two colors and six sizes (XS, S, M, ML, L, XL), so getting a good, comfortable fit for all of your escapades should be no problem. Giant CrossCut AT 2, tubeless 700x38c tires complete the package.


Specialized Diverge Base E5

-Best for asphalt and gravel back roads

Brakes: Mechanical Disc | Drivetrain: Shimano Claris 2 x 8 | Weight: 22.68 lbs. | MSRP: $1300


+ Endurance road bike geometry
+ Great balance of stiffness and comfort
+ Fast and fun on the downhill
+ Whopping 47mm of tire clearance
Climbing is hard, Future Shock can’t be locked out.
A bit pricey


Specialized Diverge Base E5 is a fast and fun-to-ride aluminum gravel bike for beginners. For around $1300, you get outstanding components on top of a perfect frame with endurance road bike geometry.

Specialized claims to have tossed gravel geography status quo out the window when it developed the Diverse Base E5, and if you believe the brand, you’ll take a second look. Escape to gravel back roads for solitary runs or tackle your first gravel race aided by the clever drop bar that gives riders a capable, nimble experience.

Specialized has increased the frame’s reach, introduced a slacker head tube, and designed a longer offset fork with shorter stems. The drive side chain employs a machined alloy beam behind the chainrings without using a fragile dropped chainstay design or increasing chainstay length. Get plenty of rack mounts with this bike since you’ll want to stay out longer than usual, especially if you appreciate expanded tire clearance most of all.


Fuji Jari 2.3

Brakes: Mechanical Disc | Drivetrain: microSHIFT R9 | Weight: 28.6 lbs. | MSRP: $1,299.99


+ Amazing performance and versatility
+ Sable and comfortable long geometry
+ Great stopping power
+ Available in six sizes
A bit cheaper tires
Heavy at 28.6 lbs.


The Jari 2.3 is a bike designed for versatility, with an intended use ranging from gravel riding to touring thanks in part to its tall frame and slack geometry, which positions you further back on the saddle than usual bikes.

This helps deliver increased stability at higher speeds while also providing great braking power throughout all types of weather conditions through Tektro Mira disc brakes – perfect if your plans include either commuting or taking long rides across the country!

It comes with either a microSHIFT R9 entire Drivetrain or Shimano Alivio/Sora combination. Both of the options change gears very smoothly and silently. We at YesCycling prefer the microSHIFT R9 system.

The only component that looks a bit cheap and not on par with the rest of the bike is the tires. Panaracer Gravelking SK is OKeish, but you can find much better tires at this price range. Our advice is to upgrade them as soon as you get the bike.

The Frame

Gravel bikes are manufactured in all of the most common materials: aluminum, carbon, steel, and titanium. Aluminum is the least expensive option because frames are cheap to produce, though aluminum offers a similar degree of stiffness compared to carbon. New alloys are constantly being introduced.

Opt for a steel gravel bike and expect versatility, strength, and a high degree of stiffness. Shoppers find the widest range of pricing when deciding between steel models.

All bikes in our list of the best gravel bikes under $1500 come with an aluminum frame.

What about gravel bike sizing?

It’s important to know that gravel bike sizing differs from that of standard road bikes and since only one model in this review delivers on bikes sized by centimeter, you may have to settle for S/M/L or a similar configuration when making your selection. This shouldn’t stop you from choosing because frequently changing terrain will force you to switch riding positions all the time so that you won’t stay in the same position for long.


Groupset and shifting capacity

The classic 2X Drivetrain features two chainrings at the front and a small cassette at the rear. For bikers intending to spend most time on solid terrain, smaller gear jumps are the most sensible way to ride.

The same derailleurs and shifters you would need on a conventional racing bike work for gravel bikes. One of the drawbacks of 2X drivetrains is an increased shifting frequency which could prompt more maintenance frequency since chainrings can lack reliability when shifting off-road.

A second option is the 1x category. 1X drivetrains are fast becoming a favorite choice since gravel bike designs rely on a similar standard. Cassette sizes are all over the map, ranging from 10-42 and offering a comparable gear range to a compact 2x that can simplify shifting.

A 1x Drivetrain is cheaper, simpler to install, less likely to cause problems, plus they’re less likely to deteriorate quickly due to extreme wear and tear.

Drawbacks? There are a few. Gear-jumps are more problematic, and only SRAM is currently producing 1x group sets with large cassettes specific to drop bar bikes. Alternately, Shimano drivetrains can be set up as 1-speed systems.

On the horizon: More electronic groupsets within the gravel bike niche, as evidenced by the number of manufacturers working to produce the next big drivetrain upgrade destined to drive sales.


Wheels and Tires

1. Wheel size. For all intents and purposes, there are two sizes on the market. The 700c remains the most popular because it’s a standard road bike size, and this type tends to roll the fastest and the smoothest.

The 650B is often marketed as the choice of riders seeking a “rougher, tougher” gravel riding experience and offers the option of installing bigger replacement tires within the same amount of frame/fork area.

2. Rim width. As a rule, the wider the rim, the more compatible it will be when mounting wide tires. Traditional road rim internal diameters run from 16 to 19mm, while those made for gravel bikes can measure up to 25mm wide. New owners are advised not to stretch tires too far if they want to avoid tire trouble.

3. Tire format. Surveys taken of experienced dirt bike riders conclude that tubeless is best. Tire manufacturers are working assiduously to come up with the best fully-sealed tire capable of functioning at low pressure.

4. Rim material. Alloy remains the first choice of material for the rims of gravel bikes because it’s a cost-effective option, delivers a comparable riding experience to pricey carbon, and your rims are more likely to survive intact after harrowing meet-ups with rocks and other obstacles.


Best braking system for gravel bikes

Whether your budget is over or under $1500, there’s no dispute about the best braking system for dirt bikes: “Disc brakes are synonymous with gravel bikes,” say editors at both Cycling News and The Brake Report. “Beyond the superior braking power offered by a disc rotor, they also don’t limit tire clearance [like] traditional rim calipers.”

Whether a gravel bike’s brakes are mechanical or hydraulic, consistent stopping power in the face of the worst weather is guaranteed as long as brakes have been properly maintained. One’s ability to precisely apply power in situations where traction is limited depends upon either of two brake pad types: organic/resin or metallic/sintered.

Organic brakes won’t manage heat as well and can falter more easily when it’s wet and muddy. Metallic brakes are more consistent, but when they get wet, the ear-splitting, loud sounds they make when applied in these conditions can be disconcerting.

Read more: Hydraulic vs. Mechanical Disc Brakes

Hydraulic systems may require more maintenance since operation depends upon making sure fluid levels are always in range. If bike owners use the wrong brake fluid to prime hydraulic braking systems, the result can be catastrophic. Experts say that mechanical disc brakes offer riders more freedom as long as calipers and brake levers function properly, so if asked to choose, new gravel bike riders are encouraged to go with disc brakes.


What is the best gravel bike under $1,500?

Our current top recommendation is the Co-op Cycles ADV 2.2 Bike – an excellent lightweight gravel bike with a best-in-class Shimano GRX 2 x 10 drivetrain, flared handlebars, and quick WTB Nano Comp 700c x 40mm tires.

About Alek Asaduryan

Alek Asaduryan is the founder of YesCycling and has been riding bikes and in the cycling industry since 1991. Since then, his mission is to make cycling more accessible to everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people to achieve that. When he's not out riding his beloved fitness bike, Alek reports on news, gear, guides, and all things cycling related.

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