13 Best Gravel Bikes Under $1,500 of 2020

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Is gravel riding your new found hobby, but budget an issue?

Well, if your answer is yes, then welcome home! Gravel riding is a popular recreational activity that gives you a break from the monotony of life. After all, who doesn’t like speeding through those off-road terrains on a lovely weekend?

QUICK COMPARISON: Our Top 3 Picks for Gravel Bikes Under $1,500

  • Double-wall rims with aluminum road hubs
  • Schwinn alloy caliper brakes
  • Durable tires mounted to alloy rims
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  • Suitable for most off-road terrains
  • Seamless operating system
  • Efficient brake system
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  • Average-sized integrated frame bag
  • Internal cable routing
  • Twin cage mounts on the fork
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Our search for the most suitable gravel bike left us all confused and exhausted, but we weren’t ready to quit. So, we decided to test the 13 best budget-friendly gravel bikes and share our opinion with you. As a bonus, we’ve also included a comprehensive buyers’ guide to help you select the best option.

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Gravel Bikes Under $1,500

IMAGE PRODUCT
Royce Union RMG Gravel Bike
  • Suitable for most off-road terrains
  • Seamless operating system
  • Efficient brake system
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Schwinn Vantage Rx1 700C Gravel Adventure Bike
  • Double-wall rims with aluminum road hubs
  • Schwinn alloy caliper brakes
  • Durable tires mounted to alloy rims
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Mongoose Elroy Adventure Bike 700C Wheel Bicycle
  • Average-sized integrated frame bag
  • Internal cable routing
  • Twin cage mounts on the fork
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Tommaso Illimitate Shimano Tiagra Gravel Adventure Bike
  • Effective vibration reduction
  • Easy installation of racks and fenders
  • Tommaso TC-40D rims
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Takara Shiro Adventure Bike
  • Padded handlebar tapes
  • Soft Vitesse seat
  • 36-spoke double-wall alloy rim
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Pure Cycles Adventure Gravel Disc Road Bike
  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • Tubeless 700x38C tires
  • Accessory mount for water bottles
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Mongoose Selous Sport Gravel Road Bike
  • Versatile use
  • Alloy rims for stability
  • Strong grip
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Raleigh Bikes Tamland 1 All Road Bike
  • Steering has a light feel
  • Reinforced safety
  • Maximum rider control
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Diamondback Bicycles Century 3 Road Bike
  • Reduces vibration
  • Standard stem size
  • Comes 95% assembled
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Populo Quest 16-Speed Gravel Bike
  • Easy to ride
  • Suitable for urban and rural gravel roads
  • Premium quality chromoly frame
VIEW LATEST PRICE →SEE CUSTOMER REVIEWS →

  1. Royce Union RMG Gravel Bike

First up on the list is the Royce Union Gravel Bike. Its robust aluminum frame provides a stable and lighter ride, without compromising on performance. Equipped with a plethora of performance-boosting features, this model is one of the best entry-level gravel bikes on the market.

Sale
Royce Union Men's Gravel Bike Aluminum, 18 Speed, 700c Tires, Matte...
  • Frame: 21" aluminum rigid hardtail frame is strong...
  • Drivetrain: Shimano Sora 9-speed index & Shimano 2...

Why Did We Like It?

To begin with, we were impressed with its sleek and attractive design. The aluminum hardtail frame is built to last on any terrain with minimal maintenance. Along with a 3-piece alloy crank and rigid steel fork, you get a riding experience that’s quite unmatched.

What makes the RGM all the more appealing are its 16-speed variations. Backed by reliable Shimano Claris drivetrain components, you can be rest assured that speed will not be an issue during your ride.

Moreover, the EZ fire trigger provides for swift gear shifting anytime, anywhere. The pair of 27.5-inch wheels provide extra stability, especially for high-speed rides.

If speed is one of the highlights, it only makes sense to have a reliable brake system, and the mechanical disc brakes do just that. Equipped on the front and rear of the bike, the couple of disc brakes generate optimal stopping power on any terrain.

Lastly, the seat release binder feature allows you to quickly adjust the padded seat’s height before a ride. For its moderate price, there’s nothing more we could’ve asked for!

What Could’ve Been Better?

The only thing we would’ve liked is a couple of bigger pedals to prevent our toes from touching the tires. Although this can be an issue for taller riders, it is far from a dealbreaker given the other top-notch features it offers.

Pros
  • Suitable for most off-road terrains
  • Seamless operating system
  • Good for both uphill and downhill rides
  • Efficient brake system
Cons
  • Smaller pedals
  1. Schwinn Vantage Rx1 700C Gravel Adventure Bike

Closely following our top pick is the Schwinn Vantage Gravel Adventure Bike. Backed by Schwinn’s very own ride technology, this gravel bike is designed to provide a professional riding experience on a budget. What’s more, the range of 4 frame sizes will suit every rider height.

Schwinn Vantage Rx 1 Mens/Womens Sport Hybrid Bike, 22-Speed...
  • Designed for advanced to expert riders who want to...
  • Schwinn Smooth Ride Technology adventure frame...

Why Did We Like It?

Firstly, the positive customer feedback made us want to take it out on a ride, and we’re glad we did. Similar to the Royce Union Gravel Bike, this model also sports an aluminum frame for a robust look and feel. The most striking feature of the design is the brand’s Smooth Ride Technology (SRT), which ensures optimum comfort on every surface.

Backed by an elastomer softail suspension, the mechanism can minimize vibrations, while also reducing the force on the rider’s wrists. Also working for the cause is the model’s TransX Ergo handlebar that provides an ergonomic position for your hands, especially during longer rides.

Thanks to its Shimano Sora drivetrain elements, you get as many as 18 different speeds that let you enjoy a trail or embark on a race. Furthermore, the FSA Vero Compact crank facilitates seamless gearing in all conditions.

And in case the hydraulic brake system doesn’t assure security, then the safety breaker flat protection feature on the wheel’s alloy rims definitely will. For a brand like Schwinn that has a reputation for manufacturing high-end bikes, the affordable Vantage Gravel Adventure Bike does make a mark.

What Could’ve Been Better?

Perhaps a better instruction manual would’ve seen the Rx1 at the top of our list. In its absence, figuring out the assembly and components can be a rather time-consuming job, especially for first-timers. That being said, considering its performance, the extra time is worth it.

Pros
  • Double-wall rims with aluminum road hubs
  • Schwinn alloy caliper brakes
  • Durable tires mounted to alloy rims
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Insufficient instructions
  1. Mongoose Elroy Adventure Bike 700C Wheel Bicycle

For the third pick on the list, we’ve the Mongoose Elroy Adventure Bicycle. Its alloy build and very capable geometry make it one of the most versatile models in the category. Be it for daily commute or the weekend off-road trips; you can trust this bicycle for any purpose or terrain.

Mongoose Men's Elroy Adventure Bike 700C Wheel Bicycle, Blue, 54cm...
  • Versatile adventure touring bike features capable...
  • 2x7 drivetrain with Shimano Tourney derailleurs,...

Why Did We Like It?

No surprises here as the model’s versatility is its biggest highlight. And for this purpose, Mongoose has equipped this adventure bike with just the right features. For starters, the steel alloy frame can tolerate the wear and tear of regular use. Besides, the steel fork design amps up its stability during your off-road adventures.

Assisting its 14 drivetrain speeds are the Shimano Tourney derailleurs for easy gear switch. Plus, the combination of Micro shift shifters/brake lever and mechanical disc brakes will make you stop in a jiffy.

We absolutely loved the brand’s attention to detail in the form of a large front rack, which has enough space to accommodate two panniers. But just in case you want to carry more on those weekend trips, feel free to utilize the rear mount rack.

The trusted pair of wide 700c rims and large 40c tires is what makes this adventure bike truly suitable for gravel riding and racing. If you ask us, we couldn’t ask for any more features, considering its ultra-affordable price tag.

What Could’ve Been Better?

The innertubes on the wheel’s rim and tires are of inferior quality, which can blow out rather quickly. This may be a tactic to keep the overall price, but isn’t that much of an issue since innertubes are anyway inexpensive accessories. However, the low-grade tires are a bit disappointing.

Pros
  • Average-sized integrated frame bag
  • Internal cable routing for triple water bottle cage mounts
  • Twin cage mounts on the fork
  • Fender mounts to keep away dirt from rider
Cons
  • Low-quality tires and innertubes
  1. Tommaso Illimitate Shimano Tiagra Gravel Adventure Bike

Tommaso has been in the industry since the 80s and is a name that needs no introduction. And as such, the Illimitate model from its adventure bike range finds a deserving entry on this list. The blend of compact design and powerful performance makes it a popular choice among riders.

Tommaso Illimitate Shimano Tiagra Gravel Adventure Bike with Disc...
  • DURABLE & RELIABLE: Durable Aluminum Compact Frame...
  • POWERFUL PEFORMANCE & SPEED: 2x10 Shimano Tiagra...

Why Did We Like It?

Honestly, the black aluminum frame enticed us to try the bike in the first place. The durable construction makes it capable of delivering quality performance, no matter the purpose. On top of that, the high modulus carbon fiber fork uniformly distributed the vibration for a seamless ride.

Talking about its speed, the trio of Shimano Groupset, 50/34T Tiagra compact crankset and 11x32T Tiagra cassette work in tandem to provide 20 different speeds. Apart from that, the Shimano drivetrain components also work to provide easy gear shifting in all conditions.

With so much speed on offer, the 700x40c wide tires reinforce stability during your off-road trails. Moreover, the Avid BB5 disc brakes generate optimal stopping force.

We also liked how the sleek handlebars eliminate the discomfort of using overly deep drops. Its design is such that the flat sections in the center relieve the wrists from undue pressure, thereby allowing convenience and comfort.

All in all, its compact frame geometry has been designed to make the model a jack of all trades at a modest price.

What Could’ve Been Better?

We observed that the tires tend to slip in thicker sand and gravel, as well as during uphill and high-speed rides. So, if your adventure takes you on the more rugged paths, we’d suggest a pair of durable tires.

Pros
  • Effective vibration reduction
  • Easy installation of racks and fenders
  • Tommaso TC-40D rims for enhanced durability
  • Brakes work well on both wet and dry terrains
Cons
  • Tires may slip on some surfaces
  1. Takara Shiro Adventure Bike

Going back to the entry-level gravel bikes, our next product is the Takara Shiro Adventure Bike. Sporting an elegant steel frame, this adventure bike is loaded with features that make it suitable for both rural and urban roads. If affordability and ease of ride is on your mind, then this one is worth considering. 

Takara Shiro Adventure Bike, 700c
  • Strong High Tensile Steel Frame
  • Powerful Front and Rear Disc brakes

Why Did We Like It?

At first glance, the otherwise good looking bike didn’t promise much, but we were proved wrong in no time. To start with, the high tensile steel frame accounts for the model’s lightweight yet durable body. Not only that, but its flexibility provides ample support to the heavier riders.

The ever-reliable Shimano Tourney groupset provides the model with 21-speed variations, which is more than what we expected for a beginner’s bike. Furthermore, the bike’s easy swivel action, Revo twist shifters and Tourney derailleurs facilitate easy gear change on hilly and flat terrains alike.

What also stood out for us is the model’s powerful cable-actuated disk brakes. Like the Royce Union Gravel Bike, the brakes are located on the front and rear to stop the operation at any given speed.

The 40mm high volume tires sit firmly on the 70c rims, and are equipped with a special shock absorbency feature to counter the regular jerks upon riding on irregular surfaces. This, in turn, enhances safety and prevents the rider from losing control.

What Could’ve Been Better?

At about 35 pounds, you may think that the bike is slightly heavier, but since it’s weight doesn’t interfere with the overall control, it didn’t bother us. However, we feel that the rear derailleurs require extra attention in terms of maintenance.

Pros
  • Padded handlebar tapes
  • Soft Vitesse seat
  • 36-spoke double-wall alloy rim
  • Hassle-free set up
Cons
  • Requires frequent maintenance
  1. Pure Cycles Adventure Gravel Disc Road Bike

Another one of our versatile favorites, the Pure Cycles Gravel Disc Road Bike is our sixth pick of the day. As the name suggests, this adventure bike has been specially designed for gravel riding. And if you want to use it for daily commutation, we bet you won’t be disappointed.

Pure Cycles Adventure Gravel 16-Speed Disc Road Bike, Floyd Green,...
  • Lightweight adventure bike with super strong 4130...
  • 16-Speed Shimano Claris STI drivetrain delivers...

Why did We Like It?

For a bicycle that’s designed for adventure, a lightweight frame is imperative, and the chromoly steel frameset just does that. In fact, this is what enables the model to cater to various riding needs- be it on flat roads or rocky hills. Here again, the 16 speed Shimano Claris STI drivetrain packs a punch.

Moving on to the rest of its elements, we are satisfied with how the 3-piece FSA Tempo Adventure 48/32t crankset boost the bike’s performance.

An all-out highlight is the Hutchinson Override tires, which are also compatible with 605B wheels. While the tires ensure appropriate balance, you can customize the wheels to increase the bike’s stability as per the requirement. On a side note, the 32 hole rim with stainless steel spokes is durable enough to withstand daily use.

Lastly, the adjustable drop bar-style handle, along with a gel-padded tape will suit a variety of hand positions, minus the strain and pain. While we opted for the smaller variant, you can choose from the 5 other size options.

What Could’ve Been Better?

Since the disc brake rotors are bolted on to the frame, they become more susceptible to rust than others. We feel that a center lock design would’ve solved this problem, without adding on to the price.

Pros
  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • Tubeless 700x38C tires
  • Accessory mount for water bottles
  • Cost-effective
Cons
  • Disc brakes are prone to rust
  1. Mongoose Selous Sport Gravel Road Bike

Almost halfway through the list, and we are back with another product from Mongoose. Although the model promises to be a true gravel grinder, it doesn’t shy away from being an adept player in the fitness riding and trail gliding categories. If you’re looking for multi-utility performance on a budget, then this might just fit your needs.

Mongoose Selous Expert Gravel Road Bike 700cm Wheel, Red, 58 cm/Large
  • Mongoose gravel grinder double-butted aluminum...
  • Shimano 105 derailleurs with FSA gossamer 34/50T...

Why Did We Like It?

We desperately wanted to break the monotony of steel frames when we stumbled upon this Mongoose model. The double-butted aluminum build finds its perfect match in full alloy forks for enhanced strength. Not only that, but it provides adequate clearance for 40c tires to conquer gravel roads with ease.

The Shimano Sora 18-speed drivetrains are ably assisted by Sora STI shifters for an incredibly smooth gear shifting experience. As a result, the rider has complete control over the operations from the get-go. Moreover, the 3D forged 6061 stem has a 31.8mm clamp that combines with the drop handlebar to put you in total command.

Similar to the Pure Cycles Gravel Disc Road Bike, this gravel adventure bike is also equipped with Promax mechanical disk brakes. The 160mm rotors deserve all the credit for the bike’s unmatched stopping power in any condition.

Last but not least, the Light Alex DP-23 tubeless-ready alloy rims are compatible with the standard 700x40c tires for better grip and traction. So, no matter if the surface is wet or dry, your chances of tumbling over are almost zero.

What Could’ve Been Better?

Considering that the other models in the price range come with all related parts, the missing pedals on this one was a bit of a bummer. While we are okay with professional assembly, shedding extra bucks to buy something this essential is not what we were looking for.

Pros
  • Versatile use
  • Alloy rims for stability
  • Strong grip
  • Double-butted drop handlebars
Cons
  • Pedals not included
  1. Raleigh Bikes Tamland 1 All Road Bike

The eight spot on the list goes to the Raleigh Bikes Tamland 1 All Road Bike. If it’s meant for riding on ‘all roads’, there’s no reason why you can’t take it out on the gravel paths. Complete with mechanical disk brakes and seamless shifters, this gravel bike is sure to please the racer in you.

Sale
Tamland 1 Gravel Bike, 56cm/LG Frame
  • Reynolds 631 steel frame dampens road vibrations...
  • Shimano 105 2x11-speed drivetrain with Praxis...

Why Did We Like It?

For starters, we were impressed with the tried and tested chromoly frame that has become equivalent to stability and balance. Now, if you’re wondering what sets it apart from the rest, allow us to praise the Reynolds 631 variant, which comes with a special bump-absorbing feature.

Furthermore, the alloy or carbon tapered steel fork eases the steering for effortless operation. Its front and rear-thru axles take adequate care of your safety while you speed up to your heart’s content with the Shimano 105 2×11-speed shifters.

From our experience, we had anticipated the efficiency of the mechanical disk brakes, and the TRP spyre dual actuated brakes proved us right. Perhaps the biggest plus point of this bike is how well it combines all the features to provide a responsive performance. In simple words, the rider has optimum control for a highly customized ride every time.

What Could’ve Been Better?

We are not really pleased with the positioning of the seat, which becomes uncomfortable during longer rides. This, in turn, can cause the rider to lose balance or control over the gears. Also, the weight of the bike is a bit on the higher side for stability purposes.

Pros
  • Steering has a light feel
  • Design can absorb bumps to prevent damage
  • Reinforced safety
  • Maximum rider control
Cons
  • Uncomfortable seating
  1. Diamondback Bicycles Century 3 Road Bike

No list on gravel bikes is complete without mentioning Diamondback Bicycles. So, for the ninth pick, we have selected the Century 3 Road Bike. It’s been constructed around a robust aluminum alloy frame, and the ergonomic geometry makes the bike quite popular among cycling enthusiasts.

Diamondback Bicycles Century 3, Road Bike, 52CM
  • 7005 aluminum alloy frame with enhanced...
  • Continuous fiber technology full carbon fiber fork...

Why Did We Like It?

Before getting into the thick of things, we should mention that the Century 3 model identifies as an endurance bike that promises top-notch performance in any condition. One of the first components to justify its claim is the continuous fiber technology carbon fork. Apart from absorbing vibrations up front, it also provides for precision steering.

Moreover, the Shimano 105 2×11 drivetrain racks up its performance with the range of gears on offer. Be it a quick off-road stroll or an intense weekend race; the Century 3 can do it all. Its frame geometry is such that you can spend hours riding, without straining your neck or shoulders.

Much like the Raleigh Bikes Tamland 1 All Road Bike, the spyre mechanical brakes on this one balances the speed with maximum stopping power. The potent system is designed to make clean stops that doesn’t necessarily corrode any part of the bike.

Lastly, the Hed Flanders C2+ disc wheelset is perfectly durable and allows the rider to make quick and easy accelerations.

What Could’ve Been Better?

Although the seat is located conveniently, we’d have liked it to be softer. For a bike that facilitates racing, comfortable seating is of utmost importance, but the hardcover on this one misses the mark. Additionally, the spokes on the rear wheel are prone to damage after a few rounds of heavy use. Other than that, maintenance won’t take a lot.

Pros
  • 142x12mm thru-axle for precision handling
  • Reduces vibration
  • Standard stem size
  • Comes 95% assembled
Cons
  • Hard seat
  1. Pinnacle Arkose Dirt D3

The Pinnacle Arkose Dirt D3 was built on the lines of a cyclo-cross design, but the recent twerks have completed its transformation into a gravel bike. Backed by a solid aluminum construction, the Arkose Dirt D3 is equipped with big tires to take on a variety of surfaces with ease.

No products found.

Why Did We Like It?

Despite starting off as a cyclo-cross bike, this gravel oriented bike doesn’t leave out the versatility aspect. Firstly, the heat-treated alloy with a triple-butted top can take a few knocks while shielding damages. Additionally, the clearance on offer allows you to swap the tires for whatever your commuting needs are.

Similar to the Diamondback Bicycles Century 3 Road Bike, the all-carbon fork makes your life easy with its effortless steering. However, this doesn’t compromise rider-control, which is a bonus.

The Shimano 105 drivetrain comes with premium quality hood and levers, in addition to the highly effective hydraulic brakes. In the absence of a shock absorption mechanism per se, you can trust the 27.2mm aluminum seatpost to absorb the vibration for a comfortable experience.

And if that’s not enough, the wide 700x45c tires won’t make you feel a thing. Last but not least, the internal routing leaves enough space for mounting front and rear dynamo lightings to ride in the dark.

What Could’ve Been Better?

For some reason, the gravel bike loses efficiency when it comes to uphill riding. We ended up putting a lot more effort even for less steep gradients. So, if you’re looking to conquer those hilly terrains, the Pinnacle Arkose Dirt D3 may not be your go-to option.

Pros
  • 48/32 ring combination for superior gearing
  • Rear rack
  • Full mudguard
  • 77mm bottom bracket drop for improved stability
Cons
  • Not ideal for uphill rides
  1. Giant Revolt 2

The next pick on our list is the Giant Revolt 2. Its versatile performance is at par with some of the high-end gravel bikes on the market. With a range of features and gravel geometry, this model brings comfort and performance at an affordable price. 

No products found.

Why Did We Like It?

For starters, we liked the ALUXX aluminum frame, which stands out among similar looking bikes. Its robustness provides the right amount of balance for riding on varied surfaces, without piling on the weight.

The full Shimano Sora drivetrain, with front and rear derailleur offer 8 distinct speeds. Although it might not sound a lot, there’s nothing more that we can ask for, considering its modest price tag. Moreover, we  didn’t face any significant problem in riding on pavement and gravel paths.

We were also impressed with the combination of its composite fork design and hydraulic brake system. While the former dampens road and trail vibrations, the latter produces sufficient stopping power. Furthermore, the Contact XR D-Fuse handlebar allows comfortable wrist positioning.

Lastly, the Giant S-X2 Disc wheelset is compatible with tires measuring up to 42c, and the 700×38 stock tires have a reliable grip for gravel riding.

What Could’ve Been Better?

The model’s D-fuse seatpost, though comfortable, is integrated into the frame, meaning you cannot replace it. Also, the fork’s single eyelet is not suitable for mounting cargo cages, just in case you want some extra storage space.

Pros
  • 48/32T crankset
  • Giant Contact XR Ergo-Control shock-absorbing handlebar
  • Responsive performance
  • Vintage look
Cons
  • Seat can’t be replaced
  1. GT Grade Expert

For the penultimate spot, we bring the GT Grade Expert. Known for its unique triple triangle frame design, this durable gravel bike is expert by name and game. Its pocket-friendly price may tell you otherwise, but the brand makes no compromise with speed and efficiency. 

Why Did We Like It?

First things first, the Shimano 105 drivetrain components complement the triple triangle frame design to provide 11-speed variations. In addition, the lower bottom bracket with 15mm long chainstays ensure optimum stability across terrains.

The adjustable fork dropouts feature allows you to change the offset from the stock 55mm to 70mm for 57mm and 39mm trail, respectively. This mechanism has been missing in some of the high-end models, so count the brownie points!

If you’re worried about tire clearance like other gravel riders, then you’ll be happy to know that the wheels are compatible with tires ranging from 35mm to 42mm. Here, we should mention that the package ships with a pair of 37mm tires.

What Could’ve Been Better?

The brand doesn’t claim to have the best flex on the market, and it’s not tunable either. But there are a lot of other factors that influence how much flex is generated. To keep the stays visibly flexed, you may have to look down while riding.

Pros
  • Light front wheel
  • Lower seat tube
  • Top tube bag mount
  • Triple water bottle mounts
Cons
  • Flex is not tunable
  1. Populo Quest 16-Speed Gravel Bike

The final product of the day is this 16-speed gravel bike from the house of Populo Quest. One of the most affordable models in the category, this bicycle is ideal for people who’ve just ventured into gravel riding. The simple yet effective design comes at an ultra-affordable price. 

Populo Quest 16-Speed Gravel Bike, Chromoly Steel Dirt/Road Bicycle
  • Durable 4130 double butted Cro-Mo steel
  • Shimano Claris 16-speed drivetrain

Why Did We Like It?

The Populo Quest 16-Speed Gravel Bike is a no-nonsense product that stays true to its purpose. It makes no fancy claims but does more than enough to serve the basic need. Firstly, it’s 4130 double-butted chromoly frame is so lightweight that you can lift the bike without breaking a sweat.

The Shimano 16-speed Shimano drivetrain, along with the 160mm Treko disc brakes, strike the right balance between speed and control. Unlike the GT Grade Expert, the forks come with multiple eyelets that facilitate mounting racks and fenders.

Owing to its quick front-wheel release, you can store the bike in the most cramped garages. Moreover, the Velo Venture saddle places the seat in the most appropriate position for a comfortable ride.

What Could’ve Been Better?

In comparison to its minimal design, the frame does feel a little overweight, but nothing that won’t make us consider buying this. However, you may require to spend some time adjusting the gear shifter for specific needs.

Pros
  • Easy to ride
  • Suitable for urban and rural gravel roads
  • Premium quality chromoly frame
  • Highly cost-effective
Cons
  • Gear shifter may need adjustment

Gravel Bikes Buyers’ Guide

Just because we had fun riding the 13 different gravel bikes on our list doesn’t mean that we will let you buy any one randomly. So, what will we do? Yes, you’ve guessed it right. We will now quickly walk you through an extensive buyers’ guide. Trust us, we’ve covered every important detail to consider.

Geometry

One of the first things to consider in a gravel bike is its geometry, which simply means the overall structure and positioning of elements. Since gravel riding doesn’t happen on flat terrains, your bike should keep you comfortable and in better control of the process.

A good way to ensure ergonomic geometry is by looking for features like taller head tubes and lower bottom brackets. While the former corresponds to a relaxed and upright position, the latter is responsible for smoother accessibility. However, excessively tall head tubes or low bottom brackets can cause significant discomfort.

Mechanical vs. Hydraulic Disc Brakes

Although there are a lot of technical differences between the two, we won’t bore you with jargon. Instead, we’ll state the key factors that will help you to understand better.

Mechanical disc brakes are powerful and inexpensive. That’s the reason why most budget models are equipped with this kind. Not only that, but their operation is also comparatively simple. However, they do add on to the bike’s frame. If you’re looking for a pocket-friendly option with an efficient braking system, we’d recommend mechanical brakes.

Hydraulic disc brakes, on the other hand, are more responsive and require less applied force. They are lightweight in design, but cost more than their mechanical counterparts. If budget is not a constraint, we’d suggest a model that has hydraulic brakes.

Gearing

Another important aspect is the gearing of the gravel bike. If you plan to spend a lot of time on smooth gravel paths, and would also like to climb up and down the slopes, we’d recommend investing in a 2x drivetrain. Alternatively, the 1x drivetrain models are more suited to tackle rough trails.

 If you ask us, we are slightly in favor of the 1x gearing, simply because they are less likely to go wrong.

Wheel Configuration

Generally, the most preferred measurement of gravel bike tires is 700x40c. The width, in combination with the groovings, provides better friction and stability to keep them from slipping. But since a lot of models are designed to be versatile, the wheelbase is made to be compatible with a range of tires. For instance, a range like 35mm to 42mm will serve almost all riding purposes.

Carbon Fork Design

In our opinion, carbon forks work better to minimize operational vibration, besides providing for a seamless steering experience. So, no matter the material of the frame, we’d highly recommend choosing a full carbon fiber fork design.

Having said that, our experience with the steel forks wasn’t bad either. Long story short, if you’re looking for a change from the more commonly found carbon forks, steel is a good alternative.

Frame

Before you get into the deets, we’d like to start by stating the four main types of frame, viz. aluminum, carbon, steel and titanium.

Aluminum frames are pretty cost-effective and are considerably stiff in their design. In tandem with carbon forks, these heavyweight frames can minimize vibrations and increase rider comfort for long riding hours.

Carbon fiber frames provide similar stiffness to that of the aluminum ones, but come with a higher degree of customization. This means that manufacturers can design each part of the frame in accordance with the required flexibility. But there’s a downside- they are more prone to sustain damages.

Although we’ve no doubts about the strength of steel frames, their effectiveness depends mostly on the type of tube and alloy in use. In this regard, we found that the high tensile and chromoly steel alloys dominate this category.

Titanium frames are light, corrosion-resistant and as durable as any other material, but require greater customization.

Storage Space

While some models are equipped with water bottle mounts and rear mount racks, others may lack the feature. In such cases, they make room for internal cable routing, so that you can fit additional cages and mounts for carrying things on the go. However, in doing so, make sure that the extra weight doesn’t interfere with the balance and overall operation.

Mudguards

Gravel riding comes with a set of challenges, and perhaps the most annoying one of them is getting smeared with dirt and mud. But with mudguards on board, the chances of getting sludge on you are significantly reduced.

Padded Seat

Without a doubt, padded seats make the overall riding way more comfortable, especially on bumpy terrains. As an add-on, you can look for such a seatpost design that allows you to change the seat or adjust the position to suit your style of riding.

Setup/Installation

Almost every gravel bike requires some type of installation or setup before use. While experienced riders are familiar with the process, we’d recommend professional help for first-timers. This way, you can be assured of correct assembly for optimum performance.

Verdict

Gravel riding is fun, and with this guide to help you, buying the perfect, affordable gravel bike should be fun as well.

But if you need just one more nudge in the right direction so that you may select one of our recommendations without any second thoughts, here are our favorites.

The Royce Union Gravel Bike is one of the best entry-level gravel bikes, and the Mongoose Elroy Adventure Bicycle can serve various purposes. The Raleigh Bikes Tamland 1 All Road Bike is suitable for all terrains, and the Takara Shiro Adventure Bike ensures optimum safety.

With this, we come to the end of this extensive guide. Hope our efforts can help you find the ideal ride for all your needs. We’d love to hear about your suggestions in the comments down below.

Till next time, Adios!

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