These 12 Entry-Level Gravel Bikes Don’t Compromise on Performance
Featured: the All City Space Horse a beautiful gravel bike priced at $1,999 at Backcountry.com.
Gravel bikes have become hugely popular among cyclists and endurance athletes at large. A welcoming blend between mountain bike and road bike, a gravel bike provides efficient road-like geometry with wider tire clearance and greater utility to explore.
Even a budget gravel bike allows a rider to experience a wider range of on- and off-road riding. Gravel bikes are the perfect option for those who want greater versatility and the ability to explore unpaved roads.
If you don’t have $5K+ to drop on a high-end gravel bike, we get it. The good news is you can find a high-quality entry-level gravel bike that’s just as capable and reliable as the expensive options. You just might not have the electronic shifting, the best drive, or carbon wheels.
To help you find the best entry-level gravel bike to match your budget, here are eleven great choices worth a look (the first four fantastic gravel bikes under $1,500.)
The SCOTT Speedster Gravel 40 EQ is a smooth-rolling gravel bike that’s designed for unpaved adventure. Wrapped with Schwalbe G-ONE Bite tires, the Speedster Gravel 40 EQ is equally equipped for gravel bike racing.
Built with the smooth-shifting Shimano Tiagra drivetrain, the Speedster Gravel 40 gravel provides a 20-speed range, but with SCOTT’s Speedster series endurance geometry.
For more info or to purchase, see the Speedster Gravel 40 EQ on Als.com for $1,799.99.
The Haanjo 2 is Diamondback’s entry-level gravel bike in the Haanjo series. Endurance geometry and steel fork provide added comfort and durability for long-distance riding. The Haanjo 2 is a capable bike, offering an abundance of fender/rack mounts, Tektro Lyra mechanical disc brakes, and the Shimano Claris drivetrain.
Gearing-wise, the Haanjo 2 is built as a 2 x 8-speed (2 chainrings up front and an 8-cog cassette in the rear). While more of a road setup, this gearing provides ample range for big climbs or touring rides. You can also expect 700x38c stock tires, so about average for an entry-level purchase.
Available in a beautiful green gloss color and in multiple sizes, you can find the Diamondback Haanjo 2 for around $925 on REI.
The Siena gravel bike from Tommaso is a great budget option for those looking for a capable and reliable bike for touring, community, and off-road adventure riding.
In addition to offering multiple attachment points for racks and bags, what makes the Tommaso Siena stand out is its steel fork design (and aluminum frame). This provides added durability and vibration dampening for rough terrain riding.
Siena’s driven by the dependable Shimano Tourney drivetrain and the wheels are wrapped in an in-house 700x40c tire. The specs check out and reviews are promising. This Italy-born gravel bike is worth a look with 4.3 out of 5-star rating and is priced at $899 on Amazon.
A well-known brand in the gravel bike scene, Salsa offers a budget-friendly option known as the Journeyer Advent. This particular model is built with 650b wheels and tires (but still capable of rolling 700c) but this setup comes preferred for many types of gravel riding, especially rough, rocky, and sandy terrain.
The tires are Teravail Washburn, which are juicy 650b x 47mm tires that delivers big confidence and superb rolling in a wide range of conditions. Mechanical disc brakes provide necessary reliability and stopping power.
Designed with sleek internal cable routing, the Journeyer Advent 650b costs around $1,099 on REI.
Another worthwhile mention from the Italian brand Tommaso, the Sentiero is a fantastic gravel bike for under $1,000. With a 4.3 out of 5 average star rating at the time of this article being published, the Sentiero proves itself worth as a budget gravel bike that delivers on all fronts.
The Sentiero comes with a 3×8 Shimano Claris drivetrain, so riders will have more than ample gearing for a range of riding. It also comes stock with 700x40c tires for substantial rolling confidence. The Sentiero is also built with a steel fork for added durability and vibration dampening over rough terrain.
If you’re on a budget, the Tommaso Sentiero is a terrific buy at $949.99 on Amazon.
SAVADECK is an emerging brand that provides high-performance technology at budget prices. An aggressively-designed carbon fiber frame is paired with the go-to Shimano Sora 2×9 drivetrain. It’s a stiff and lightweight bike that’s gravel race ready.
You can find the SAVADECK carbon gravel bike price around $1,659 on Amazon.
The stunningly beautiful Space Horse from All City Bicycles is an emerald-mint-colored gravel bike that offers a classic look but doesn’t falter on performance.
Built with the road-oriented Shimano Tiagra drivetrain and a 612 Select Chromoly Steel frame, Space Horse is arguably one of the best gravel bikes under $2,000.
You can score this All City Space Horse for around $1,999 at Backcountry.com.
A similar frame design as the Haanjo 2 and 4, the Haanjo 5 delivers a Shimano GRX600 drivetrain that delivers gravel-specific gearing. It also comes with a carbon fork for added absorption and responsiveness.
The wheel setup on this build is not messing around with HED Tomcat wheels wrapped in WTB Riddler’s 700x37c. Let’s not overlook the craft and design of the Haanjo frame, an ole’ reliable in all-road gravel cycling.
Truly an optimal combination of race-ready capability and adventure utility, the Diamondback Haanjo 5 delivers. And at a price point of $2K. The best place to find the Haanjo 5 is for $2,050 at Backcountry.com.
All City’s Gorilla Monsoon is a beast of a bike that has a classic steel aesthetic (both frame- and fork-wise) but packs a punch in terms of sheer off-road prowess. Bikepack ready, the Gorilla Monsoon has loads of attachment points and comes stock with WTB Riddler’s (despite showing Terevail Ehlines in the photo).
It has a SRAM Apex groupset, a SunRace 11-speed cassette (11-42t), a Cane Creek headset, and an FSA Comet crankset – so it’s quite a diverse build with all high-quality components. You can also expect Tektro’s mechanical flat mount disc as well.
The All City Gorilla Monsoon also serves as a terrific 650b/27.5 setup that clears up to 2.4″ wide tires. You can buy this bike for $2,649 on Backcountry.com.
Offing the same frame as the $1,849 version above but in a sexy matte black, this SAVADECK gravel bike build is upgraded with a Shimano Ultegra groupset and R800 crankset.
For added stopping power, this model has hydraulic disc brakes as well as 700x40c CST Tirent tires that deliver exceptional protection and rolling resistance. If you’re looking for a race-worthy gravel bike, this bike pulls out the stops.
Notably reviewed at 4.8 out of 5, you can find this bike priced at around $2,659 on Amazon.
The Cervélo Aspero is a carbon frame/carbon fork gravel bike that’s stiff, responsive, and lightweight (weighing just 18.5 pounds). It’s a meticulously-crafted machine geometry-wise that’s built with high-end components but comes in at mid-range pricing.
Equipped with a SRAM Apex 1 groupset (single chain ring up front), 11-speed SRAM PG-1130 cassette, and 700x40c Donnelly X’plor tires, the Aspero is equally adventure-ready as it is race ready.
Available in a stealth satin black color, the Cervélo Aspero Apex 1x Gravel Bike is available for around $3,100 at Backcountry.com.
As one of Schwinn’s entry-level aluminum gravel bikes, the Sporterra is superiorly designed for cross-country adventure rides, paved rips, and multi-terrain jaunts. It’s rigid enough for race-ready competition but affordable enough to spring for a new set of SPD pedals.
The Schwinn Sporterra is built around a 14-speed Shimano drivetrain, mechanical disc brakes, and Schwinn’s 700x38c gravel-friendly tires. All-in-all, it’s a solid build for the buck and it also comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Bear in mind that the Schwinn Sporterra gravel bike is a single-size frame designed for riders 5’4” to 6’2” in height. So while you might compromise on dialing in the perfect fit, it comes at a great price around $679 on Amazon.
If you’re looking to upgrade from an entry-level option to a more capable and high-performance, here are a few recommendations. A couple of options we suggest in terms of quality are Niner RLT 9 Aluminum and the Salsa Warbird.
We’re also really big fans of what Bearclaw Bicycle Co. is doing with its titanium gravel bikes.
We’re privy to the THUNDERHAWK titanium gravel bike which is an all-road gravel race bike that comes equipped with a titanium frame and carbon gravel fork. THUNDERHAWK is a true race bike that handles performance cycling, adventure bikepacking, and anything in between.
Another interesting off-shoot in the gravel bike market is e-bikes. While certainly designed more for accessibility and commuting versus racing, gravel e-bikes have gained interest in the unpaved world.
Among the most progressive options in this category is the Specialized Turbo Creo SL, which delivers a 120-mile range and no compromise on performance. For more insights into this category, check out these top e-bike reviews.
Or if you’re looking for additional gravel bikes in the beginner category, check out this article that researches several of the best gravel bikes for your money.
Beginner FAQs About Gravel Bikes
Because gravel cycling is new territory for some people, it comes with a lot of questions. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about gravel bikes.
How is Gravel Bike Fit Different Than Road Bike Fit?
When it comes to comparing bike fit and geometry, a gravel bike fit is going to have a steeper headtube angle, taller head tube, and a lower bottom bracket versus a traditional road bike fit, making a gravel bike more stable in a seated position.
Cyclists will often find that gravel bikes are more comfortable than road bikes. However, gravel bikes can be positioned to be just as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than road bikes. This is particularly the case with the addition of aerobars and more race-specific geometry.
Are Gravel Bikes Worth It? Or Just a Fad?
While gravel cycling is particularly trendy in the cycling community, gravel bikes are more than just a fad and are most certainly here to stay. For cyclists who wish to enjoy a multitude of terrain, including paved, gravel, two-track, and single-track, investing in the right gravel bike is most certainly worth it.
Not only do gravel bikes enable endurance cyclists to diversify their training without compromising too much speed like mountain biking, but gravel bikes are also a safer option. In addition to allowing wider tires compared to road bikes, gravel bikes also have a longer wheelbase as well as disc breaks, offering greater control and stability.
And as mentioned above, gravel biking allows cyclists to ride more remote, less-busy routes where road bikes can’t always go. Not only is this a safety benefit, but it also makes for a more interesting and exciting cycling experience.
Why is Gravel Biking So Popular?
Gravel biking has gained tremendous popularity in the cycling world for its mixed terrain versatility, adventure-ready potential, and go-fast capabilities. Often designed with drop bars commonly seen on road bikes, gravel bikes accommodate wider tires and thereby a plethora of unpaved riding surfaces.
Alternative racing styles, like ultra-distance gravel races and bikepacking adventure races, are gaining interest from all types of endurance athletes, including professional tour cyclists, like Team EF at Dirty Kanza 2019.
Compared to conventional road cycling, a major draw to gravel biking is the ability to access lesser popular, unpaved roads with low traffic. In addition to safety, gravel cycling, in the general sense, helps keep the journey fun, novel, and adventurous.