Gravel Bikes: The New Trend on Two Wheels
Gravel bikes are taking the cycling world by storm. Everywhere you look, from city streets to countryside trails, these bikes are becoming a common sight. Why? Because they’re designed to handle just about any terrain. Whether you’re cruising on smooth roads or tackling rough trails, a gravel bike has got you covered.
Versatility at Its Best
The real charm of gravel bikes lies in their adaptability. Imagine having one bike that’s perfect for both your daily commute and weekend adventures. That’s the magic of these bikes. They’re built to be sturdy, comfortable, and ready for whatever path you choose. And the best part? You don’t need to break the bank to own one. There’s a fantastic range of gravel bikes available, especially between the $1000 to $1500 mark, offering great value for every cyclist out there.
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What Makes a Good Gravel Bike?
The Backbone: Frame and Geometry
The frame is like the backbone of any bike, and for gravel bikes, it’s no different. A sturdy frame ensures that the bike can handle rough terrains without falling apart. But it’s not just about strength; the geometry of the frame plays a crucial role too. A comfortable geometry means you can ride for hours without feeling strained or uncomfortable. It’s all about finding that perfect balance between durability and comfort.
The Heart and Soul: Components
Think of the components as the heart and soul of your gravel bike. Reliable gears make sure you can tackle both steep inclines and speedy descents with ease. Good brakes? They’re your best friend when you need to make sudden stops or navigate tricky paths. In essence, top-notch components ensure your bike responds well, no matter what challenges the trail throws at you.
Rolling Smooth: Wheels and Tires
Now, let’s talk about what keeps you rolling – the wheels and tires. For varied terrains, you need wider tires. They provide better grip, especially on loose or slippery surfaces. And the wheels? They need to be strong. After all, they bear the brunt of all those bumps and rough patches. So, investing in durable wheels and wider tires is a smart move for any gravel bike enthusiast.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Gravel Bike
Purpose of the Gravel Bike
Gravel bikes are versatile. If you’re planning on long-distance touring, a gravel bike can be your best companion. They are designed to handle rough terrains, making your journey smoother and more enjoyable.
For those who commute daily, a gravel bike offers the perfect balance between speed and comfort. Its design ensures you can navigate through city traffic with ease, and its durability means it can withstand daily wear and tear.
If you’re someone who loves weekend getaways, a gravel bike is ideal. Whether it’s a trail in the woods or a countryside road, these bikes are built to tackle various terrains, ensuring your weekend adventures are always thrilling.
Material of the Gravel Bike
Pros: Lightweight and affordable. Aluminium frames are a popular choice for many due to their cost-effectiveness and reduced weight.
Cons: They can be a bit stiff, which might not offer the smoothest ride on bumpy terrains.
Pros: Known for their durability and comfort. Steel frames provide a smoother ride as they can absorb more shocks.
Cons: They are heavier than aluminium and can be prone to rust if not properly maintained.
Pros: Extremely lightweight and strong. Carbon frames offer the best in terms of performance and comfort.
Cons: They are on the pricier side and can be less durable than steel in certain situations.
Size and Fit of the Gravel Bike
Getting the right size and fit is crucial when buying any bike, and gravel bikes are no exception. A bike that fits well will not only be more comfortable but will also improve your riding efficiency.
Every individual has a unique body type. It’s essential to choose a bike that complements your physique. For instance, a taller person might need a larger frame, while someone shorter might be more comfortable on a smaller one.
Your riding style plays a significant role in determining the right fit. If you prefer an upright position, you might want a bike with a higher handlebar. On the other hand, if you lean forward while riding, a bike with a lower handlebar might be more suitable.
Remember, the key to enjoying your gravel bike rides is to choose the right bike that suits your needs and style. Take your time, do your research, and make an informed decision. Happy biking!
Top 10 Gravel Bikes Under $1500
1. Surly Bridge Club All-Road
Price: $1,499 USD
Surly’s Bridge Club All-Road is a versatile bike designed for both on-road and off-road adventures. Its sturdy build and adaptable features make it suitable for a variety of terrains and uses.
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- Highly versatile for various terrains.
- Durable build quality.
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2. Devinci Hatchet A G Sora
Price: $1,399 USD
The Devinci Hatchet Sora 18S is a gravel bike designed for diverse terrains, blending off-road capabilities with road cycling efficiency. It features MTB-inspired geometry for better handling on technical terrains.
- Frame: Aluminum Optimum R03
- Fork: Devinci Full Carbon
- Tire Clearance: Up to 700c x 45mm or 650b x 2.1’’
- Drivetrain: Shimano Sora R3000
- Brakes: 160mm flat-mount
- Weight: Approx. 11.38 kg (medium size)
- Versatile for various terrains.
- Enhanced handling with MTB-inspired geometry.
- Generous tire clearance.
- Weight: The Hatchet is on the heavier side, which can affect its climbing performance.
- Odd Sizing: Some test riders felt that the bike felt larger than expected for a 54cm frame, especially with the long top tube and 44 cm-wide handlebars.
- Tire Tread: The slick tires require caution when riding on dirt roads.
- Potential Upgrades Needed: While the bike offers good value, there might be a need to upgrade certain parts, like the aluminum wheels, to enhance performance.
3. Raleigh Bikes Willard 3
Price: $1,350 USD
The Raleigh Bikes Willard 3 is a versatile gravel bike tailored for riders who desire a blend of on-road and off-road performance. With its unique geometry, it’s designed to instill confidence when navigating loose gravel or dirt, making it an ideal choice for those who often switch between paved roads and rugged trails.
- Frame: Standard alloy frame that’s both robust and designed for gravel rides.
- Fork: Carbon Monocoque Tapered Steer, Flat Mount Disc, 12mm Thru Axle.
- Drivetrain: Mid-range SRAM Apex 1 groupset with a 1×11 speed setup.
- Crank: Praxis Works Alba M30, 38 Tooth Direct Mount.
- Cassette: SRAM PG1130, 11 Speed, 11-42T.
- Brakes: TRP Spyre-C Mechanical Disc, with 160mm Rotors.
- Tires: Donnelly X’PLOR MSO, 700x40c, 60TPI – wider tires that provide excellent traction on gravel and smooth rolling on pavement.
- Versatile for both city streets and off-road terrains.
- Features a simple 1×11-speed drivetrain for easy shifting.
- Comes with wider tires for enhanced grip and stability on varied surfaces.
- Carbon fork for better shock absorption.
- As an entry-level gravel bike, some materials might not be top-tier.
- Weighs around 23 to 24 pounds, which might be on the heavier side for some riders.
4. Cannondale Topstone 4
Price: $1,325 USD
The Cannondale Topstone 4 is a versatile gravel road bike designed for those who seek adventure. Whether it’s chasing horizons, exploring lesser-travelled routes, or simply accelerating your daily commute, this bike promises a blend of comfort and performance.
- Terrain Adaptability: Built to thrive on gravel roads and withstand the elements.
- Construction: Light and durable SmartForm C2 Alloy Frame complemented by a full carbon fork.
- Shifting Mechanism: Features microSHIFT Advent X 10-speed shifting for smooth transitions.
- Braking: Equipped with Promax mechanical disc brakes for reliable stopping power.
- Tires: Comes with WTB Riddler Comp tires, sized at 700 x 37c, suitable for diverse terrains.
- Versatility: Designed for various terrains, especially gravel roads.
- Durable Construction: Made with a robust alloy frame and carbon fork.
- Efficient Shifting: 10-speed shifting mechanism ensures smooth rides.
- Positive Reviews: High average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars from users.
- Quality Concerns: Some users, like Britteny, mentioned concerns about the bike’s build quality.
- Brake Rubbing: A user noted minor issues with brake rubbing.
5. Salsa Journeyer Sora 650b
Price: $1,299 USD
Unlock new roads with the Journeyer Sora 650b, suitable for gravel roads, bike-packing, or city rides. Features like the aluminum frame, Waxwing carbon fork, and Shimano’s Sora 2 x 9-speed groupset make it a popular choice among gravel bike enthusiasts.
- Frame: 6061-T6 Aluminum with thru-axle for stiffness.
- Fork: Waxwing carbon with aluminum steerer, offering multiple mounts and large tire clearance.
- Comfort: Designed for both daily drives and off-road adventures.
- Brakes: Flat-mount, compatible with most modern offerings.
- Mounts: Multiple options including front/rear rack and bottle mounts.
- Wheels: 650b size with 47 mm Teravail Washburn tires.
- Drop Bars: Multiple hand positions with a 12° flare.
- Versatile for various terrains.
- Multiple mounts for gear.
- Quick acceleration with 650b wheels.
- Stubby Seat Tube Lengths: The seat tube lengths of the Salsa Journeyer Sora 650b are described as “stubby,” which can make the sizing feel odd for some riders.
- Potentially Over-geared: For those looking to adventure on big tires, the bike might feel over-geared.
- Mechanical Disc Brakes: The mechanical disc brakes on the bike are described as only being “so-so” in performance.
- Cable Maintenance: The cables on the bike might require more maintenance than some riders would prefer.
6. Co-op Cycles ADV 2.1
Price: $1299 USD
Co-op Cycles ADV 2.1 is a versatile gravel bike designed for both adventure cycling and daily commuting. Its sturdy frame and reliable components make it a top choice for those looking for a balance between performance and value.
- Drivetrain: Efficient gear shifting for varied terrains.
- Brakes: Reliable stopping power in all conditions.
- Frame/Fork: Durable and lightweight for long rides.
- Suitable for multiple terrains.
- Reliable components for the price range.
- Comfortable geometry for long rides.
- Might be slightly heavier than some competitors in the same price range.
7. Diamondback Haanjo 3
Price: $1300 USD
The Diamondback Haanjo 3 is perfect for those who want a balance between performance and comfort. Whether it’s for daily commutes or weekend adventures, this bike delivers.
- Frame: Aluminum frame that’s both lightweight and sturdy.
- Drivetrain: Efficient gear system for varied terrains.
- Tires: Designed for grip and stability.
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver.
- Suitable for both city and off-road rides.
- Reliable braking system.
- Basic design might not appeal to everyone.
- Requires regular maintenance for optimal performance.
8. State Bicycle Co. 6061 Black Label All-Road
Price: $1199 USD
The 6061 Black Label All-Road by State Bicycle Co. is a high-performance gravel bike that offers speed on roads and versatility off-road. It’s designed for riders who want the best of both worlds.
- Drivetrain: State Bicycle Co All-Road 1×11 for efficient gear shifting.
- Brakes: Mechanical Disc for reliable stopping.
- Frame/Fork: Aluminium/Carbon for durability and reduced weight.
- Option for both 650b and 700c wheels.
- Lightweight, making it easier for uphill rides.
- Versatile for both on-road and off-road cycling.
- Gearing might not be the best for very challenging terrains.
9. Salsa Journeyer Flat Bar Deore 650B
Price: $1,199 USD
The Salsa Journeyer Flat Bar Deore 650B is crafted for the adventurous spirit. With its new aluminum frame and Fantail aluminum fork, it promises comfort and confidence on diverse terrains, from city streets to gravel roads. The Journeyer is equipped for multi-purpose rides, be it daily commuting, gravel grinding, or bikepacking trips. Its 650b x 47 mm tires offer a substantial contact patch, ensuring traction and stability. Powered by Shimano’s reliable Deore drivetrain, this bike is a versatile gravel companion suitable for both novices and seasoned riders.
- Frame: Custom alloy tubing developed specifically for the Journeyer, heat-treated to T6 standards for added strength.
- Fork: Fantail Deluxe fork with aluminum alloy construction, 12 x 100 mm thru-axle, and massive tire clearance.
- Drivetrain: Shimano Deore M5120 SGS, 10/11-speed with a 10-speed, 11–46t cassette.
- Brakes: Tektro HD-R280 with TR-160-22 rotors.
- Tires: Teravail Washburn 650b x 47 mm, designed for both traction and smooth rolling.
- Handlebar: Salsa Salt Flat with 11° back sweep, 6° up sweep, and zero rise.
- Wheel Compatibility: Fits both 700c and 650b wheel sizes.
- Mounts: Equipped with front and rear rack mounts, Three-Pack mounts, top tube mount, down tube mount, and multiple bottle mounts.
- Additional Features: Internal dropper post routing, full-length housing for improved shifting, and flat-mount brakes for a sleek look.
- Versatile design suitable for various terrains and purposes.
- Generous tire clearance for adapting to different riding conditions.
- Multiple mounting options for carrying gear and accessories.
- Reliable Shimano Deore drivetrain for consistent performance.
- Weighs around 25 lbs, which might be slightly heavy for some riders.
10. Tommaso Sterrata
Price: $1099 USD
The Tommaso Sterrata is designed for those who crave versatility in their rides. It’s built to handle both city streets and rugged trails with ease.
- Frame: Durable with a comfortable geometry.
- Gearing: Efficient and smooth gear transitions.
- Brakes: Reliable and responsive for safe rides.
- Versatile for various terrains.
- Durable and long-lasting build.
- Smooth gear transitions.
- Might be slightly heavy for some riders.
- Limited customization options.
|No.||Bike Name||Estimated Price||Frame Material||Drivetrain||Brakes||Tire Size||Key Features|
|1||Surly Bridge Club All-Road||$1,499 USD||Not Specified||Shimano Deore 11-speed||Tektro Hydro Disc||27.5 x 2.4″ or 700c||Highly versatile for various terrains. Durable build quality.|
|2||Devinci Hatchet A G Sora||$1,399 USD||Aluminum R03||Shimano Sora R3000||160mm flat-mount||Not Specified||MTB-inspired geometry for better handling on technical terrains.|
|3||Raleigh Bikes Willard 3||$1,350 USD||Alloy||SRAM Apex 1 1×11 speed||TRP Spyre-C||Donnelly X’PLOR MSO 700x40c||Carbon Monocoque Tapered Steer fork, SRAM PG1130 11-42T cassette.|
|4||Salsa Journeyer Sora 650b||$1,299 USD||6061-T6 Aluminum||Shimano Deore M4100-10, 11–46t, 10-speed||Tektro HD-R280||Teravail Washburn 650b x 47 mm||6061-T6 alloy frame, Flat mount brakes, Internal cable routing including stealth dropper post routing.|
|5||Co-op Cycles ADV 2.1||$1,299 USD||Aluminum||Shimano 105 2×11 Speed||TRP Spyre C Mechanical Disc||700x40c||Suitable for multiple terrains. Reliable components for the price range.|
|6||Cannondale Topstone 4||$1,325 USD||SmartForm C2 Alloy||microSHIFT Advent X 10-speed||Promax mechanical disc||WTB Riddler Comp 700 x 37c||Terrain Adaptability, Light and durable SmartForm C2 Alloy Frame complemented by a full carbon fork.|
|7||Diamondback Haanjo 3||$1,300 USD||Aluminum||Shimano Sora 2×9 Speed||Tektro Lyra Mechanical Disc||700x37c||Lightweight and easy to manoeuvre. Suitable for both city and off-road rides.|
|8||State Bicycle Co. 6061 Black Label All-Road||$1,199 USD||Aluminium/Carbon||State Bicycle Co All-Road 1×11||Mechanical Disc||Option for both 650b and 700c||Lightweight, making it easier for uphill rides. Versatile for both on-road and off-road cycling.|
|9||Salsa Journeyer Flat Bar Deore 650B||$1,199 USD||Custom alloy tubing||Shimano Deore M5120 SGS, 10/11-speed||Tektro HD-R280||Teravail Washburn 650b x 47 mm||Custom alloy tubing developed specifically for the Journeyer, heat-treated to T6 standards for added strength.|
|10||Tommaso Sterrata||$1,099 USD||Durable||Efficient and smooth gear transitions||Reliable||700x40c||Versatile for various terrains. Durable and long-lasting build.|
Wrapping It Up
Choosing the Right Gravel Bike
Finding the perfect gravel bike is more than just a purchase; it’s about matching a bike to your unique adventures. Remember, the right bike can make a world of difference in your riding experience. Whether you’re tackling rugged terrains, cruising through city streets, or embarking on long-distance tours, the right gravel bike ensures comfort, durability, and performance.
Embrace the Adventure
Gravel bikes are a gateway to countless adventures. Their versatility opens up a world of possibilities, from serene rides in the countryside to challenging mountain trails. So, once you’ve made your choice, all that’s left is to hop on and explore. The world is vast, and with a gravel bike, you’re equipped to see more of it. Enjoy every pedal, every challenge, and every scenic view. The road (or trail) awaits!