What Should I Look For In A Gravel Bike Frame
The frame is the heart of any bike and there are loads of options for materials, handling and added extras in the mid-price gravel bike market.
Frame material is obviously a big defining part of a bikes character but dont assume a bike will always ride a certain way because of what its made of. For example, good carbon can give a weight advantage and be formed to either be stiff or super smooth. Cheap carbon can feel really dull though and crush/crack damage is more likely if youre chucking it over fences or hitting rocks in the back of beyond.
Top-end alloy comes close to carbon in weight terms and can give a really bright ride feel without being too bruising. Itll dent without being a write off too and theyre generally the best value in terms of kit youll get as well. Steel is the heaviest option but done right it gives an amazingly smooth, warm ride feel for a lifetime of adventures as long as you dont let it rust too badly. You can also get some top value titanium options at this price which give a similar sprung ride feel to steel but with better raw material strength at a lower weight with no worries about corrosion or chipped paint.
Whatever material you choose, check your gravel bike geometry too. Steeper angles and shorter wheelbases make for a more agile, lively bike for gravel racing or road use. Slack angles and long wheelbase will be more stable and predictable for goofing around in the woods or bombing down mountain passes when bikepacking.
Best Value: Diamondback Haanjo 3
Features of the Diamondback Haanjo 3
- Alloy Frame Carbon Fork
- 700c Wheelset with 37c Tires
- Tektro Mechanical Disc Brakes
The Diamondback Haanjo 3 is an excellent bike. Its one of the aluminum gravel bikes on this list. Although not the lightest, it will offer a good amount of comfort in return for the extra weight you are taking. The geometry is very road bike-focused, but it works as this gravel bike isnt made to be an off-road monster.
Were looking at a light gravel bike here, which will be used a lot on the road. It comes with the Sora 2X Groupset, which is seen on many road bikes and offers a good range and selection of gears. The wheelset is a 700c set that comes with 37c tires.
The brakes are Mechanical Disc Brakes which provide good stopping power and also are very easy to maintain. When it comes to the Haanjo 3 simplicity is key.
Pros and cons of the Haanjo 3
- More light gravel/road
Why We Like It
This is a great example of a Gravel bike where youre going to be spending a lot of time on the road and taking the odd bit of gravel. Its fast, agile, and fun. Its very close to a cyclocross bike.
The Best Gravel And Adventure Bikes You Can Buy For Under 2000
If you’re after a super-versatile drop-bar bike priced between £1,000 and £2,000, we might have the answer in our roundup of all the best gravel bikes we have tested in this price bracket. We’ve tried and tested all of these bikes, from the capable adventure steeds to the all-rounders, and these are our top-rated.
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Best Budgethardtail Mountain Bike: Co
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- What to look for in the best budget mountain bikes under £1000 / $1400. Start by looking for a butted aluminium frame with modern geometry. Aluminium is light and strong and cost-effective at this price point. Ideally the overall weight should be sub-30lbs . The lighter the bike, the easier it will be to accelerate, climb and …
Ribble Cgr Al Shimano 105 1399
Ribble’s CGR AL Shimano 105 is a hugely versatile and superb value bike for everything from gravel bashing to cyclocross and road commuting, offering a a full Shimano 105 group with hydraulic brakes for £1,399. The aluminium frame isn’t overly compliant and the kit needs a few tweaks if you intend to mostly stick to dirt, but that’s easy enough to custom spec it to your heart’s content when you order thanks to Ribble’s custom specification option.
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Key Features Of Gravel Bikes
- Mudguards and rack eyelets Gravel bikes come with a full compliment of eyelets to support racks and mudguards.
- Disc Brakes Disc brakes as standard for gravel bikes
- Tyre clearance Wide clearance sizes permitting tyres up to 48mm
- Handlebars Drop handlebars permitting an aero style riding position
- Frame Lightweight robust frames with relaxed geometry beyond conventional sportive frames
Everything You Need To Know About A $2000 Gravel Bike
At this price point, you cant settle for mechanical disc brakes. Your gravel bike must have hydraulic actuation, delivering superior stopping power, especially on loose surfaces.
Hydraulic brakes require less rider input to decelerate your gravel bike, reducing hand fatigue and allowing for better and safer brake modulation. Larger riders should consider running 160mm rear rotors, instead of the more fashionable 140mm fitment on most gravel bikes.
2. Frame material
On our list of great gravel bikes under $2000, all three frame materials are available: aluminum, steel and carbon-fiber. Most gravel bikes in this segment are aluminum, with brands applying specific tube profiles to improve ride quality on rough road off-road surfaces.
Which is best? A carbon-fiber bike is always desirable, but dont underestimate the excellent vibration damping and durability of steel. If you are going to add some frame bags to your gravel bike for the occasional multiday adventure ride, you might find steel superior, as carbon-fiber tubes which have seen their laminate surface rubbed through, are expensive to repair.
3. Bigger tires are better
Larger volume tires improve all aspects of gravel biking, as they allow for lower pressures, which in turn deliver more grip for braking and cornering. A larger tire operating at a lower pressure also absorbs terrain better, lowering your fatigue threshold on a long gravel ride.
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Orbea Terra H30 1x Complete Gravel Bike
As the name suggests, the Orbea Terra H30 1X Complete is a gravel bike that can do it all. Whether you’re exploring the hills or just commuting, this bike is comfortable, capable and great fun to ride.The rigid aluminum frame gives you excellent pedaling efficiency and responsiveness. Its high-quality carbon fork reduces weight and reduces vibration transferred to your hands.
To help the Orbea Terra H30 1X Complete live up to its name, the frame is designed with all-mountain geometry. This finely tuned element of the bike means it can easily cope when riding aggressively, just as easily as when riding at a more leisurely pace. The geometry also gives you a comfortable riding position, encouraging you to ride all day.
A bike you can ride anywhere, all day, needs quality components. That’s why Orbea fitted the Terra H30 1X Complete with the Shimano GRX 1X 11 drivetrain and RX400 hydraulic brakes. This combination offers effortless climbing ability and exceptional control when it comes to tackling steep descents.
What Components Should I Expect To Find On The Best Gravel Bikes
Adventure and gravel bikes almost exclusively use disc brakes for their better modulation and more consistent stopping in dry, wet and muddy conditions. This also has a really positive impact on wheel longevity compared to rim brakes for off-road riding.
On higher value models the brakes will be hydraulic, while budget bikes typically have mechanical callipers. With Shimano’s GRX and SRAM’s gravel-specific groupsets available in hydraulic disc only, this tends to be the preference. You’ll occasionally find mechanical disc brakes on adventure bike builds, where long-distance riders find them easier to maintain and repair in more remote situations.
Different types of handlebars are also worth considering on adventure bikes. Again, we’ve got a guide to the best gravel bike handlebars for more info.
Flared bars are generally accepted as a good upgrade to give greater stability in the wider drops for rough terrain and descending off-road. The wider the flare, the easier it is to fit a handlebar bag on the front of the bike and still be able to fit your hands on the drops and brakes at the same time. Raised bars such as the Specialized Hover Bar also help to give more clearance over the front wheel for smaller riders, as well as providing a more upright riding position.
With a lack of innovation-quashing UCI rules in the gravel sector, more ambitious designs are being tested, like Canyon’s radical double-decker bar, designed to add additional compliance to the ride.
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Why Are Gravel And Adventure Bikes So Popular
If youâve ever gone out on a ride on your best road bike and noticed unpaved roads, fire trails or alluring single track as you passed, wondering where they lead but hesitating to head off the tarmac, then a gravel bike or adventure road bike may be for you.
These bikes aim to meld on-road efficiency with off-road capability, so you’ll find overlaps in design features with both road and cyclocross bikes, as well as incorporating elements from mountain bike technology. As standard you should expect disc braking and clearance for wider tyres.
Whereas cyclocross bikes are designed with short, muddy races in mind, gravel and adventure bikes take longer unpaved rides into account. You’ll still find race-orientated builds in the gravel category for long-distance or enduro-style events, alongside adventure bikes that feature additional clearance and mounts to accommodate luggage and often wider tyres for more remote journeys.
Surly Straggler Gravel Bike
It might be named the Straggler, but its definitely no straggler when it comes to components and specs for the price. A super sturdy steel frame that can run either 650b wheels or 700c wheels. SRAM Apex 1×11 shifting, so you can ride with a single ring in front. Costs around $1,650.
Which one is your favorite, and why?
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Savadeck Carbon Gravel Bike
The SAVADECK Carbon Gravel Bike is the ultimate road bike for gravel, cyclocross, and even triathlon. Its light, stiff, and fast. The ride quality is unmatched with a Shimano T800 Carbon Fiber 700C Road Bicycle. This Bike is one of the best gravel bikes under $2000. It looks great and feels and performs well on gravel roads and trails.
HIGH QUALITY: The Bike with carbon fiber wheels has more powerful performance than steel or aluminum wheels. It is also more robust and more resistant to corrosion. This super light yet strong Toray T800 carbon fiber frame, fork, and seat tube make our road bike fast.
EFFICIENT SYSTEM: It can provide lightning-fast shifts and a level of responsiveness that cannot be matched. Shimano 105 group set is an excellent drivetrain for cycling.
INNER FRAME: If you want to prevent rain and sun damage, cable management is the best way. Its possible to avoid shifting cables from moving, making riding safer.
COMFORTABLE SADDLE: The bicycle seat with a narrow design may minimize friction while cutting load, and it does not ache even after a lengthy ride.
EAST TO ASSEMBLE: SAVADECK Carbon Gravel Bike is 90% collected before delivery. Its so simple to install your mountain bike. You only need to attach the fork, front wheel, seat post, and pedals to your frame.
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Note: All prices in this post are in US dollars.
Even as the cost gap between affordable bikes and top-tier bikes widens, the performance gap is closing. Affordable bikes are better than theyve ever been.
This is particularly true with gravel bikes. A good $1,500 gravel bike gets you almost all the key attributes that come with a $5,000 gravel bike, or a $10,000 gravel bike. You get hydraulic disc brakes, lots of tire clearance, and solid geometry. You get a reasonably light frame and parts that, in general, are just as functional as those that are far more expensive. Ride quality doesnt have to greatly suffer as price drops, because ride quality on gravel bikes is overwhelmingly influenced by tires, which are relatively cheap.
The law of diminishing returns is in full effect, and, in our opinion, the performance/dollar curve really starts to bend somewhere around $2,000.
We tested a wide array of bikes in our 2020 Gravel Field Test, ranging from $1,000 up to nearly $7,000. That included four bikes in the sub-$2,000 range: the Giant Revolt 2 , the , Trek Checkpoint AL4 , and the Canyon Grail AL 7 .
Riding all these bikes back-to-back allowed us to compare the four affordable bikes to each other, as well as to vastly more expensive bikes. This made it easier to parse attributes that provided real value from those that simply added cost. In other words, we determined where you get the most bang for your buck.
Heres what we learned.
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What Is A Gravel Bike
Gravel bikes continue to be the latest trend having emerged in 2019. They are also known as adventure bikes gaining a big following with people looking for something other than a road or mountain bike. Gravel bikes originated in America from their gravel race series. The trend is spreading across the globe as more people discover the versatility of this new breed of bike. While they are labelled as a gravel bike they are equally relevant on trail rides or even winter commuting rides.
No big surprises that disc brakes are a perfect solution for gravel bikes. With various benefits but mainly more frame clearance allowing for larger tyres to cater for a variety of road surfaces. Couple this with a set of brakes that do not fade as a result of mud or rain then you have a winning formula for gravel bikes. Again this latest bike type is benefitting from various innovations to bikes over the past decade.
Gravel bikes tend to come with tyres between 32mm and 48mm width sizes. This is an increase on the latest trend of road bikes hitting 30mm tyre sizes but well below that of a standard mountain bike tyre. For all-round conditions the best size emerging seems to be 38mm. This coupled with a modern grip design means you can have an adaptable yet quick cycling option.
Top Gravel Bikes Under $2000
image: Garen Meguerian
If you love riding on the road, but are also drawn to the idea of adventuring off the beaten path, then a gravel bike might be a great option for you.
Before we get into listing our best buys under $2000, lets make sure were all talking about the same thing. What is a gravel bike exactly? Opinions vary but here are some of the basic definitions:
Gravel bikes, also referred to as adventure bikes, sit somewhere between cyclocross bikes and endurance road bikes theyre more nimble and quicker on the road than a mud-slogging cyclocross bike, but can take much more of a beating than a regular road bike. They will generally come with a compact road bike crankset, and will come standard with gravel, rather than MTB, tires. And a gravel bike purist will insist there must be clearance to fit 35mm tires or wider. Most models come with disc brakes, and will usually feature a lower bottom bracket than a cyclocross bike, providing the feel of a road bike but compromising somewhat when it comes to clearance. Its a bike which blends on-road speed with off-road capability and so overlaps in design features with both road and cyclocross bikes…and even borrows a little bit from the mountain biking scene.
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Giant Revolt Advanced 2
Revolt Advanced 2 – Price: $2100
For our number one pick we had to cheat a little, but at just north of $2000 we couldnt resist including the Revolt Advanced 2 in our Top 5 Gravel Bikes Under 2K list for 2019. In the same line as Giants top-end Revolt Advanced 0, priced at $3465, the Advanced 2 is in good company. Its designed around a lightweight Advanced Composite frameset with endurance geometry. A composite fork, the D-Fuse seatpost and Contact XR D-Fuse handlebar are all designed to absorb everything from road, to gravel and singletrack. The frame has clearance for larger tires up to 45c and can handle 650b wheels as well. Rounding out its features, the Revolt A2 has a Shimano 105 drivetrain, three water bottle mounts, a downtube protector and additional mounts for racks and accessories.
See the Revolt Advanced 2 at Giant
Best Gravel Bikes Under 2000 Available Today
Definitely dont be put off by the alloy frame on the Diverge as Specialized has been doing amazing things with its metal bikes for a long time now. This smooth but sparky-feeling bike is as light as most carbon options but with a lively feeling to its ride that leaves a lot of carbon fibre bikes feeling chewy.
A full set of bottle and bag mounts – including bosses on the carbon fork legs – gives you tons of bikepacking options while the 38mm Pathfinder Sport tyres offer plenty of traction off-road. The Diverge Elite will take a 47mm 700c tyre, or up to a 53mm tyre if you switch to 650b wheels – perfect for making the most of the confident handling.
A double chainring version of Shimanos 10-speed GRX 400 with matching brakes does a perfectly good job of propulsion and stopping too, with plenty of low-end grunt for off-road climbing, although you might find posher kit for a similar price. Specialized contact points are always a big win though and we love the satin red paint option.
Cannondale was one of the first companies to build bikes from oversize alloy tubing. 30 years later the SmartForm C2 frame of the Topstone is competitive with carbon chassis and rides as smooth as its sleek welds look. Extensive bag and rack mounts open up cargo options and its dropper post compatible if you want to get wild in the woods. The BallisTec full carbon fork uses Cannondales MTB derived OutFront geometry too for handling that’s stable but still responsive.
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