Budget gravel bikes are increasingly becoming available which opens up the opportunity for more of us to go on a different kind of riding adventure, without a massive outlay.
Trying out a new discipline can be daunting, and buying a bike can be quite a gamble if it’s something you haven’t tried before. Thankfully, there are a number of great bikes on the market that offer cracking value under £1000/$1500, making the perfect starting point for rides with a little more spice!
Of course, if your budget exceeds this, then check out our complete gravel and adventure bikes guide.
Spanning the gap between road and mountain bikes, gravel and adventure bikes have surged in popularity over the last few years, and now most brands have their own gravel offering.
Arguably the most versatile of bike categories, these steeds not only excel on bridleways, byways, dirt roads and singletrack, but can also make great commuters or winter road bikes too.
People opt to try gravel riding for many different reasons. Some are experienced road cyclists looking for new trails to enjoy, and some are mountain bikers seeking more pedaling fitness and riding straight from the door. For new cyclists, gravel bikes offer a great combination of sturdiness and road efficiency that can inspire more confidence than skinny tyre road bikes.
Our pick of the best budget gravel bikes
Below is our pick of the best budget adventure road bikes and gravel bikes. Read on for more tips on what to look for when shopping for a budget gravel bike to help you venture off the beaten track.
With each product is a ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.
Sonder Camino Al Apex 1
Read more: Sonder Camino AL Rival1 Gravel Bike
- RRP: £949
- Review score: 10/10
- Groupset: SRAM Apex 1×11 40T 11-42, Tektro cable disc brakes
- Wheel size: 700c supplied, also compatible with 650b
- Tyre clearance: 700c x 50mm or 650b x 2.1″
British brand Alpkit may be better known for its camping gear, but its in-house gravel and mountain bikes from Sonder certainly shouldn’t be overlooked. Coming in at a slice under £1000, with cash to spare for pedals perhaps, the Camino Al Apex1 has many of the features of a modern gravel bike at a cracking price.
Simple 1x gearing with an 11-42 cassette and 40T chainring, 12mm thru axles, flared handlebars, a carbon fork, rack and mudguard eyelets all nod to the forward-thinking design. You’ll also find extra mounting points on the fork legs for additional bikepacking bags or bottles too.
The confidence inspiring geometry, along with the capacity to take 650b x 2.1 inch or 700c x 50mm tyres, meant that it was able to handle trails normally traversed by mountain bikes – and was a whole load of fun when doing so!
The finishing kit including seatpost, stem, bars, seatpost clamp, bartape and also the wheelset are from their in-house brand Love Mud, and although robust and great value, can easily be upgraded later.
REI Co-op ADV 2.2
- RRP: $1499
- Groupset: Shimano GRX 2×10 46/30 11-36, Tektro cable disc brakes
- Wheel size: 700c
- Tyre clearance: 700c x 42mm
Buy now: REI Co-op ADV 2.2 at REI for $1499
Trek Domane Al 3 Disc
- RRP: £900/$1249.99
- Groupset: Shimano Sora 2×11, Tektro cable disc brakes
- Wheel size: 700c
- Tyre clearance: 700c x 35mm
Triban RC 520 Disc Gravel Adventure Bike – 105
- RRP: £849.99
- Groupset: Shimano 105 50/34T 11-32, TRP hydro/cable disc brakes
- Wheel size: 700c
- Tyre clearance: 700c x 36mm or 650b x 42mm tyres
With an impressive Shimano 105 11 speed spec at under a grand, Decathlon’s in-house brand Triban has a couple of budget gravel bikes, and this one isn’t even the cheapest! At £500, check out their Triban RC 120 gravel bikes, in both men’s and women’s specs for a super cheap option.
This RC 520 is kitted out with tubeless-ready Hutchinson Overide 35mm tyres on 700c wheels, as well as flared bars with gel bar tape. There’s also mounting points for mudguards and pannier racks, making it a versatile all-rounder for touring and commuting too.
Kona Rove AL 650
- RRP: £799
- Groupset: Shimano Claris 8spd 11-34 /FSA 50/34, Hayes cable disc brakes
- Wheel size: 650b (700c model also available)
- Tyre clearance: 650b x 47mm or 700c x 40mm
Based in Vancouver, Canada, Kona is no stranger to beefy touring bikes and now gravel bikes. This entry-level Rove is one of their aluminum alloy offerings, and available in either 700c or 650b builds at the same price.
With beefy 47mm WTB Venture tyres fitted and mounts on the fork legs in addition to standard mudguard and rack eyelets, the Rove is a great choice for anyone wanting to dip their toe into the world of bikepacking.
Buy now: Kona Rove Al 650 at Wiggle for £799
Ribble CGR AL – Sport
Read more: Full review of the Ribble CGR AL
- RRP: £999
- Review score: 9/10
- Groupset: Shimano Tiagra 4700 10-Speed 11-32 with a 50/34 crankset, Tektro MD510 Mechanical Disc
- Wheel size: 700c (650b model also available)
- Tyre clearance: 650b x 47mm or 700c x 45mm
Vitus Substance V 2
- RRP: £849.99
- Groupset: Shimano Sora 9spd 46/30T 11-34, TRP cable disc brakes
- Wheel size: 650b supplied, also compatible with 700c
- Tyre clearance:
There’s a lot more to the Vitus Substance V-2 than just a snazzy paint job to make it a great budget gravel bike. You’ll get quality tyres from the outset with a pair of chunky 47mm WTB Byways fitted to the 650b wheels for instant dirt capability.
Vitus has opted for a more road-like gearing set up, with an FSA sub-compact double (46/30T) paired with an 11-34T cassette.
The finishing kit is Vitus’ own, including Vitus’ flared Adventure bars with a very subtle three-degree flare.
Marin Four Corners
- RRP: £945
- Groupset: Shimano Sora 3x9spd 11-34, TRP cable disc brakes
- Wheel size: XS and S use 650b M, L, XL use 700c
- Tyre clearance: 700c x 50 or 650b x 2.1″
One of the few steel gravel bikes that you’ll find on a budget of less than £1000, the Marin Four Corners is a great choice for budding bikepackers. There are loads of water bottle cage mounts, including three in the front triangle and one on each leg of the steel fork. You’ll have plenty of options for storage alongside traditional rack and guard mounts too.
The smallest two sizes (suitable for rider heights down to 150cm) feature 650b wheels and the rest have 700c, all fitted with grippy 42mm WTB Resolute tyres.
Using a triple Shimano Sora chainring with a 9-speed configuration gives you lots of gear options and greater longevity, although at the cost of additional weight.
What should you expect for your budget of £1000/$1500?
With an entry-level budget of £1000/$1500, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to selecting your first gravel bike. Here’s what you can expect to find at this price point.
Inexpensive frames are sometimes steel but almost always expect aluminum. Metal frames are robust, durable, and inexpensive to manufacture. Alloy frames tend to be a little lighter than budget steel frames but steel is easy to repair if you find yourself in remote region of the world. Whatever material you end up with be sure to protect it for use with bags. Use a strong, clear, adhesive material anywhere that a bag will come in contact with the frame. Even the best bags will wear through the paint.
Groupsets – Shifting
At this price point, there are a few different options on the market, from SRAM’s Apex 1X groupsets to double chainrings or even triples. Budget Shimano Sora or Claris options help to keep cost down, and simplify shifting with 10, 9 or 8 speed set ups.
These lower speed groupsets tend to wear more slowly and hence last longer, but will be a bit heavier than more expensive options. Be aware that you’ll need a chain quicklink specific to your ‘speed’, so you might need to buy a different spare to carry with you compared to for example an 11 speed quicklink.
Groupsets – Braking
Wheels and tyres
Upgrading your budget gravel bike
Once you’re happy that your new gravel bike is the best steed you’ve ever owned, you might want to consider a few upgrades to make the ride even more enjoyable. If you’ve got a little over £1000/$1500 to spend initially, you might consider these features for your first bike too.