Best gravel bikes under 1000

Gravel bikes are some of the best all-around bikes to get, and you can use them in a huge range of different types of cycling. They are perfect for bikepacking, outdoor adventures, and fairly long bike trips. 

Visually, gravel bikes have a taller headtube, which is the bit of the frame below the stem, with wheels further apart. The taller headtube means you’ll sit upright and comfortably. And with the longer wheelbase, you’ll have more stability on the road.

 
In this guide, we get into the best gravel bikes under $1000, featured in a quick and easy list with individual reviews for each bike. We have broken everything down, each bike’s features, specs, pros, and cons. Do yourself a favor and follow through!

Quick List for the Best Gravel Bikes Under $1000

  1. Best Overall: Mongoose Elroy Adventure Bike
  2. Best Value: Tommaso Imola Bike
  3. Best Premium: Tommaso Sterrata Gravel Bike
  4. Runner Up 1: Tommaso Forcella Bike
  5. Runner Up 2: Tommaso Fascino Bike
  6. Best Upgrade: Tommaso Siena Gravel Bike
  7. Honorable Mention: Tommaso Sentiero Gravel Bike
  8. Best For Beginners: Royce Union RMG Bike
  9. Best High-End: Tommaso Monza Bike
  10. Most Modular: Schwinn Sporterra
  11. 2nd Best Value: Giordano Trieste Gravel Bike
  12. Best for Commuting: Raleigh Merit 2 Bike

Our Top 12 picks start with …

Best Overall: Mongoose Elroy Adventure Bike

Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 29 in, 700c x 40c
  • Weight: 30 lbs
  • Gears: 14 speeds
  • Brake: Mechanical disc brakes

The Mongoose Elroy gravel adventure bike is for anyone who likes to ride their bike to work and on off-road adventures. With the amount of storage, the bike allows you to carry both a load on a bikepacking adventure and other daily items. It not only has a frame bag but also 3 cage mounts for water bottles, in long trips you’ll need to hydrate! 

The 29-inch or 700c wheels with 40c tires is what gives you comfortable gravel riding. The bike is not as fast as it looks, but the ride is smooth, which comes in handy when you’re going for great distances.

This gravel bike has a combo brake lever and micro shift shifters along with mechanical disc brakes. If you come across something all of a sudden while you’re biking then you’ll be able to stop quickly and smoothly. Fun fact, it comes with a bottle opener in the front, so cheers to that!

Pros:

  • Included frame bag
  • Multiple mounts for water bottles
  • Ideal for long journeys
  • Can handle heavy loads

Cons:

  • It’s rather slow 
  • Can be a bit too big for some

Best Value: Tommaso Imola Bike

Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 29 in, 700c x 25c
  • Weight: +24 lbs
  • Gears: 24 speeds
  • Brake: Rim brakes

The Tommaso Imola bike is a good-looking road bike that is suitable for regular use. This gravel bike is a terrific bargain when it comes to gravel bikes under $1000. Its components are one-of-a-kind and thoughtfully assembled, allowing it to compete with high-end bikes.

The frame is fantastic, and it’s designed in a geometry that allows you to ride on steep inclines or uneven roads with ease. It has a sleek appearance that will ensure a comfortable ride. The derailleurs provide for a smooth transition between gears. The front-wheel has 20 spokes by design, while the back wheel has 24. So they’re both capable of supporting your weight.

The Imola bike has a superb aesthetic design that appears to really be high-end and yet is affordable.

Pros:

  • Aesthetic appeal
  • Bang for your buck
  • Beginner-friendly 

Cons:

  • Heavy forks and rims

Best Premium: Tommaso Sterrata Gravel Bike

Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Aluminum & HCT Carbon
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 29 in, 700c x 40c
  • Weight: +26 lbs
  • Gears: 24 speeds
  • Brake: Mechanical disc brakes

The Tommaso Sterrata gravel bike is the best when it comes to performance, durability, and strength, even when it comes to entry-level riders.

In order to boost comfort, it has a compact frame with both aluminum and carbon materials. This way it provides you maximum comfort and efficiency. The TC-300 rims have the equivalent strength of 28 spoke rims which makes the bike suitable for all terrains. Basically, it’s versatile, stable, and has great traction on riding surfaces.

It is also equipped with different gears which means that you can use it anywhere, basically, it will take whatever you throw at it like a champ!

All in all the Sterrata bike is performance-oriented while looking good and remaining easy to use even for newbie riders. Though you’ll need pros to put it together!

Pros:

  • Performance-oriented
  • Can handle any terrain
  • Special material blends
  • Beginner-friendly 

Cons:

  • Tad bit pricey
  • Requires special assembly

Runner Up 1: Tommaso Forcella Bike

best gravel bikes under 1000 - Tommaso Forcella Endurance Bike

Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Aluminum & HCT Carbon 
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 29 in, 700c x 25c
  • Weight: +22 lbs
  • Gears: 24 speeds
  • Brake: Rim brakes

The Tommaso Forcella began its life as a variation of Tommaso Imola, but then it was decided that it deserved a name of its own. To start from the most obvious things, the frame is built from premium 6061 aluminum, and the fork is made from carbon fiber.

Carbon forks are not often seen on bikes so this already makes Forcella stand out. Because of that, this bike weighs around 22 lbs, which is pretty good. The geometry is suitable both for beginner and intermediate riders, as it gives you a mix of ergonomy and comfort, but a hint of aggression as well. It’s in the name!

The TC-30 wheels have the strength equivalent of 20 front and 24 rear spokes, are lightweight, and can take anything you throw at them and ride away in style. All in all, the Forcella l is an improvement in the aerodynamics, centrifugal force, and road damping compared to the Tommaso Imola.

Pros:

  • Carbon fork reduces road vibrations
  • Easy assembly
  • Faster acceleration
  • Efficient power transfer 

Cons:

  • The seat may be uncomfortable

Runner Up 2: Tommaso Fascino Bike

Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Aluminum & SST Steel
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 29 in, 700c x 40c
  • Weight: +26 lbs
  • Gears: 21 speeds
  • Brake: Rim brakes

The Tommaso Fascino comes with a lightweight aluminum frame with enhanced geometry meant to increase performance off the road bike. It carries a maximum load of 230 lbs. The aluminum frame is built on the signature geometry from Tommaso. The steel forks give you extra durability and vibration dampening all while not affecting weight.

You can see this performance when you’re accelerating and there’s minimal frame flexion, leading to better power delivery and stability. It comes with TC-20 wheels where the front wheel has 20 spokes while the rear wheel has 24 Spokes. 

Rim brakes are ok, easy to maintain, and can handle light racing, although not ideal for off-roading. An improvement from the previous model is the seat ergonomics, which is very comfortable for extended rides!

Pros:

  • Particularly durable
  • Improved ergonomics and seat
  • Improved power transfer
  • Easy to maintain

Cons:

  • Could have better brakes
  • Maximum load capacity is questionable

Best Upgrade: Tommaso Siena Gravel Bike

Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Aluminum & SST Steel
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 29 in, 700c x 40c
  • Weight: +26 lbs
  • Gears: 21 speeds
  • Brake: Mechanical disc brakes

The Tommaso Siena is all about smooth rides in a variety of environments. That’s mostly thanks to its efficient construction. It has a compact aluminum frame combined with an SST steel fork for durability. 

The bike’s 700c x 40c tires will naturally give you more stability on off-roads and gravel paths. It has the Avid BB5 disc brakes for reliable stopping power. In general, the Tommaso Siena is best if you’re a tall individual.

You should know that the Siena has lower gear speeds than the rest of the lot. Overall, it offers you similar features to most Tommaso bikes. It’s perfect for every terrain, regardless of conditions, you can’t go wrong with it.

Pros:

  • Ideal for tall individuals
  • Easy to assemble
  • Upgraded brake system for off-roading

Cons:

  • Fewer gear speeds
  • Reported issues with spokes

Honorable Mention: Tommaso Sentiero Gravel Bike

Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Aluminum & SST Steel
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 29 in, 700c x 40c
  • Weight: 25 lbs
  • Gears: 24 speeds
  • Brake: Disc brakes

The Tommaso Sentiero frame is drilled for racks and fenders, so whether you load up with everything you need to commute to work or take nothing but water and binoculars for a trip to steep hills. 

Admittedly the Siena and Sentiero bikes are very similar in construction with a few details that set them apart. The most significant difference between them is the number of speeds they offer. The Tommaso Siena offers 21 speeds compared to the Tommaso Sentiero 24 speeds, more speeds= better on inclines.

It’s an all-terrain gravel bike with optimal performance. The 28-spoke wheels and TC-20D rims are engineered to breeze through bumpy roads. All of this was added because of popular demand and they listened and got to work.

Pros:

  • Increased gear speeds
  • Smooth and reliable shifting 
  • Compact design
  • Durable materials
  • Tackles any environment

Cons:

  • No kickstand
  • Reported issues with wheels
  • Can be cumbersome to handle

Best For Beginners: Royce Union RMG Bike

Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 27.5 in, 650b 
  • Weight: 20 lbs
  • Gears: 16 speeds
  • Brake: Dual disc brakes

The Royce Union’s RMG gravel bike is where the trail meets the paved road. It’s a bit funny how it transforms commuting bikes into trail companions. It has larger wheels that cover ground more gracefully when you need to get somewhere fast, granted it sits a bit lower than previous entries

The bike is loaded with comfort features and will work equally well on smooth, flat roads as well as bumpy tracks. The frame of this bicycle is ergonomic and it keeps you at an upright riding position. An important feature to keep in mind for long journeys is the seat. The Royce Union has a padded seat to reduce fatigue. The rigid hardtail diamond frame allows you to keep your form while on challenging tracks. Fun fact, hardtail frames also require less maintenance than full mountain bike suspension models.

All in all, the Union is a lightweight gravel bike with decent gear speeds and is a great all-arounder.

Pros:

  • Great all-arounder
  • Ergonomic & comfortable
  • Requires very little maintenance 

Cons:

  • You may experience feet overlap with the wheels

Best High-End: Tommaso Monza Bike

Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Aluminum & HCT Carbon
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 29 in, 700c x 40c
  • Weight: 22.3 lbs
  • Gears: 20 speeds
  • Brake: Mechanical disc brakes

The Monza bike sits at the top of their aluminum road bikes. It was made for road cyclists looking to take their riding and training to the next level. Fun fact, Monza Monza is one of the most popular race tracks in the world, home to some of the most iconic races ever held and Tommaso deemed it appropriate to name this bike after it.

It is an endurance aluminum bike with HCT carbon forks. Very lightweight bike with Shimano Tiagra material groupset for performance and speed. Its compact frame and premium handlebars give you the means to bike for performance!

The TC40 wheels are the widest, most aerodynamic wheels that Tommaso has. The rims have bladed spokes with 20 on the front and 24 at the rear and the tires are premium Kenda K191. The seat is a quintessential mountain bike seat that is comfortable for long bikepacking journeys.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Premium construction materials
  • Performance-oriented 

Cons:

  • Tad bit pricey
  • Could have better pedals

Most Modular: Schwinn Sporterra 

Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 28 in, 700c x 38c
  • Weight: 30 lbs
  • Gears: 14 speeds
  • Brake: Mechanical disc brakes

The Schwinn Sporterra is a terrific bike with a very decent price tag; in fact, when you consider the quality and the price, it’s a complete bargain. This bike operates well on most firm types of terrain and in all conditions, thanks to its slightly larger tire profile, robust fork, and mechanical disc brake system.

The Shimano 14-speed drivetrain makes ascending hills and riding down flats a snap, but the brakes are among the bike’s most prominent factors. The brakes are mechanical disc brakes with outstanding stopping power that come in handy in the rain or afterward.

The Sporterra includes a set of the go wheels which have a lot more grip than a regular road bike tire but don’t have the lugs or the broader contour of a mountain tire. That would be a superb combo that hits the perfect balance! The combination increases tire traction marginally without dramatically raising roll resistance or slowing acceleration.

Pros:

  • Optimal for cross-country and off-roading
  • Thicker grippier tires for all-terrain maneuvering
  • Great price tag
  • Rigid fork for stability

Cons:

  • Heavy bike

2nd Best Value: Giordano Trieste Gravel Bike

Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Steel
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 29 in, 700c x 30c
  • Weight: 29 lbs
  • Gears: 16 speeds
  • Brake: Mechanical disc brakes

The Giordano Trieste gravel bike is a very durable bike because of its all-steel frame and steel forks. In a shiny chrome package! Although this bike is super durable it’s a bit heavy and will give you a workout if you’re already out of shape. 

The bike has double-wall alloy rim wheels, which are durable and lightweight with tires, wide enough to handle gravel and rough terrain with maximum grip.

The 16 speeds allow you to gear down for going over gravel, keep it on a moderate gear for cruising on flat surfaces, and gear up for fast declines. The Giordano Trieste has high-quality mechanical disc brakes to ensure that you have adequate stopping power to keep you safe no matter the conditions. It also comes with multi-position racing-style handlebars that allow you to hold them in three different positions to accommodate all riding styles.

Pros:

  • Highly durable
  • Optimal on any terrain
  • High-quality parts
  • Multi-purpose handlebars
  • Fair price tag

Cons:

  • Heavy bike
  • Tools for assembly not included

Best for Commuting: Raleigh Merit 2 Bike

Key Features and Specs:

  • Frame Material: Aluminum
  • Wheel & Tire Size: 29 in, 700c x 28c
  • Weight: 23.5 lbs
  • Gears: 16 speeds
  • Brake: Mechanical disc brakes

Merit is a popular bike lineup from Raleigh. With bicycles ranging from aluminum entry-level rides to advanced carbon cycling machines. Raleigh has made it really easy to understand the hierarchy of the Merit series, with Merit 1 being an entry-level bike and Merit 4 being advanced. 

But we’ll focus on Merit 2 as the intermediate. All four Merit bikes have the same 6061 heat-treated lightweight Aluminum frame. It’s a battle-proven solution that they have used for years.

The overall frame design allows for more relaxed and upright body positioning. Raleigh uses the same alloy fork on both Merit 1 and Merit 2 models. These are pretty rigid and will suit paved roads well but you can expect some bumps along the road. Raleigh uses pretty high-quality double-wall alloy rims across its entire Merit lineup. But the Merit 2 uses: Sora R3000 derailleurs, crankset and Shimano HG400 cassette.

Pros:

  • An improvement in the Merit Series
  • Multiple variations
  • Quality parts
  • Ideal for relatively flat roads

Cons:

  • Merit 2 doesn’t have Carbon forks for stability 
  • Lack of aesthetic design choices

Buyers Guide

It’s only natural to get a bit more familiar with the differences between the gravel bikes. This way you can have a better understanding. Ultimately it will help you choose the best bike and the most useful for your particular needs.

Ergonomics & Geometry

Originally gravel bikes were designed as road bikes, but with a little ingenuity and a few minor adjustments then you get a new bike which is a hybrid between mountain bikes and road bikes.

Gravel bikes have more relaxed ergonomics and geometry than other types. That means that you have perfect positioning and won’t struggle to get your arms to the bars or have to stretch to change gears.

All of this translates to better control of the bike on trails and all kinds of off-road environments. It’s the ideal choice for long trips where you have a fair bit of cargo on your bag to go camping for example. They’re also modular, as many gravel bikes will have frame mounts to add or remove racks, fenders, and baskets. Only limited to your imagination.

Frame Material

The frame materials will have a determining factor in the bike’s endurance. 

Steel is by far the most cost-effective material for the frame, aluminum is best for weight reduction. The drawback of steel bikes is that they can be significantly heavier than aluminum and rust if left out in the weather. 

On the other hand, aluminum bikes are lightweight, highly durable, and rustproof, but are pricier.

Carbon frame bikes are the lightest and very stiff but also the most expensive out of all the materials. They are suitable for performance-oriented riders and for people that have more money to spend.

Wheels & Spokes

Gravel bikes use 700C or 650B wheels. Just like the 700C wheel has the same diameter as the 29-inch wheel, the 650B has the exact same rim diameter of 27.5 inches. 

  • The 700C wheels are taller with narrow tires. This makes them better for light terrain and smooth, flat surfaces. The 700C wheels are better for long rides because they allow you to go longer distances without expending as much energy as with thicker tires. 
  • The 650B wheels are smaller but use wider tires. They are well suited for rougher terrain such as rocky roads, mud, and forest trails. Thanks to their grip, you can cycle easily on these terrains, provided they aren’t ideal for long rides.

If you are looking to take your gravel bike to challenging environments and load it up with heavy camping equipment then you should get wheels with more spokes. In general gravel, bike wheels come with between 24 to 32 spokes.

If you haven’t guessed already, the more spokes, the heavier and more robust your wheels will be. If you won’t be going in such conditions then just save the additional weight and look for wheels with fewer spokes. It’s the most practical way of approaching it!

Tires

Tires come in many different forms, such as solid foam, pneumatic, honeycomb rubber, solid rubber, and hard plastic and they come in different tread patterns.

Depending on the terrain the tread pattern can make a big difference. Choose the tread relevant to the terrain in order to have the best performance. For example, a more pronounced tread pattern provides grip on rough terrain and helps clear mud when going off-road. Slick tires are better suited to smooth surfaces, which have decent grip but less rolling resistance at fast speeds.

Chainrings & Groupset

Gravel bikes use either 1X or 2X and some bikes come with 3X shifting as well.

  • 1X shifting or 1 chainring has fewer gears. This means that the differences between the individual gears are significant. 1X shifting is best if you’re a beginner because you focus on one rear shifting only and it’s fairly simple. The weight of 1X shifting is light since there are fewer parts. This means the overall bike will be lighter and you won’t spend as much energy on inclines.
  • 2X shifting or 2 chainrings have a wider gear range. You choose the appropriate gear based on the terrain and your preferred pace. The downside of the 2X shifting is that it is more prone to failure or other damage because of many moving parts. This isn’t a lack of quality, it’s the mechanical reality. It also applies to 3X shifting gravel bikes.

Gear ratios

Gears are important when choosing a gravel bike. A bike with a variety of high gears and low gears is preferred. A high gear will let you have control while pedaling downhill, while a low gear is perfect for riding at slower speeds and climbing.

Mountain bikes in general have various gears to compensate for off-roading and bumpy terrain and that’s why they are smooth and make biking effortless.

Brakes

Gravel bikes are all equipped with disc brakes and there are two forms of disc brakes:

  • Mechanical disc brakes wherever a steel cable moves the pistons, making friction that slows the bike. The advantage is that they’re compatible with customary rim shifters and are easier to maintain. The disadvantage is that the steel cables will wear out a lot and break. You’re looking at frequent replacements, however, they’re low-cost therefore it’s not as bad.
  • Hydraulic disc brakes. Fluid is pushed into the hydraulic disc brake system. The fluid basically rushes all the way down to the caliper once you pull the brake lever, closing the restraint and slowing you down. No matter the circumstances, this type of brake gives you the best braking performance. The major downside is that it’s tough to keep up with them at home. These brakes are complicated, involve special tools, and call for some technological background from you.

Frequently Asked Questions for Gravel Bikes

Q: How is a gravel bike different from a road bike?

A: Gravel bikes have a longer wheelbase and slacker head angle to add stability, slow down, and increase the handling for challenging angles and surfaces. Road bikes will typically have a short wheelbase and steeper angles for more free handling.

Q: Are gravel bikes any good on the road?

A: Yes they are. They are equipped with pothole-buffering thick tires, plenty of space for mudguards, and a less aggressive riding position. Gravel bikes are some of the best winter road bikes for those features. 

Q: Are gravel bikes good for commuting?

A: Gravel Bikes are great commuter bikes as they are versatile. They give you a comfortable ride across all kinds of roads and terrain. This includes rougher terrain and sections off-road. Gravel bikes provide the perfect balance between the pace of a road bike and the tackling capability of a mountain bike.

The Finish line

We would highly recommend the Mongoose Elroy Adventure Bike is the best overall because it has the most optimal blend of features, specs, and price. While highly affordable, the Tommaso Imola Bike is our best value option if you are working with a budget and want to get the most. But if you want to step it up, then look no further than the Tommaso Sterrata Gravel Bike as it offers you premium features. Fret not because we have included other options that might be more to your speed!

We have concluded a buying guide for the best gravel bikes under $1000, this is so you can be better informed. You might have different needs than someone else. We have reviewed each model individually for its features, specs, pros, and cons of each one of them. This way you can quickly compare between them and choose on the spot. 

After all, we want you to spend less time researching and more time having fun biking and living to the fullest. 

Do be part of the pack and check out some more articles if you liked this one and found it helpful!