5 Best Gravel Bikes Under $1500 in 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks

When it comes to exercising your entire body, cycling is one of the best ways to go about it. It not only keeps your body healthy but also keeps the environment clean as you move from one place to another.

Unlike cars, bikes don’t release any harmful gases so they don’t contribute to pollution. Riding a bike is also a cheaper way of moving around.

There has been a growing demand for bikes because of their low cost and numerous benefits. This would explain why today, a number of brands keep coming up with different bikes makes and models every now and then.

Bikes come in different types and one of them includes gravel bikes.

Gravel bikes are a type of road bikes designed to handle different riding surfaces. They have the additional gear and are a great option for all-day riding especially on roads that people travel on less.

With so many gravel bike options like the Revolt 2, Royce Union, Schwinn bikes, Trek Checkpoint bikes, and Takara just to mention a few, you may be wondering which one’s the best to go for based on essential features.

Does the bike have an internal cable? Is it a tubeless-ready bike?

Should you go for steel or an aluminum frame? What’s the difference between the two?

I’ve put together a review of the bestselling gravel bikes under $1500 to help you choose. Read on and take your pick!

At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Best Gravel Bikes Under $1500

If you’re in a hurry, you can jump straight into our top picks (these are the gravel bikes under $1500 that most people buy).

  • Royce Union RMG Gravel Bike Top Pick
  • Schwinn Vantage Gravel Adventure Bike Runner-up
  • Takara Shiro Adventure Runner-up

Top 5 Best Gravel Bikes Under $1500 – Our Reviews:

1. Royce Union RMG Gravel Bike

The first on our list of best gravel bikes is the popular Royce Union Gravel Bike. This gravel bike boasts a strong aluminum frame that ensures you get a lighter and stable ride without compromising on the bike’s overall performance.

The bike is filled with features that boost its performance, which is why it easily makes it to the best gravel bikes list. It’s a great entry-level gravel bike featuring a sleek design that’s sure to charm anyone who lays their eyes on it.

The hardtail aluminum frame of this gravel bike lasts on any given terrain without the rider having to put too much effort into maintenance. It comes with a three-piece alloy crank and a tough steel fork, both ensuring your riding experience is unmatched.

The Royce Union Gravel Bike has a 16-speed system and drivetrain components from Shimano Claris that are known to be highly reliable. These are two appealing features that ensure you will have a lot of freedom when it comes to choosing the right speed for you.

The bike features an EZ style fire trigger that enables you to shift gears swiftly at any time anywhere. The 27.5-inch wide wheels also come in handy for those who prefer to ride their bikes at top speed.

Still on speed, the gravel bike’s brake system is reliable. It has disc brakes on the bike’s front and rear to generate the best possible stopping power regardless of the terrain.

This Royce Union gravel riding bike features a binder for seat release that enables quick adjusting of the seat’s height. The seat is, of course, padded to keep you comfortable especially if you’ll be on your bike for long.

The bike would have been even better if the pedals were big enough to keep the cyclist’s toes from coming into contact with the tires. This is an issue particularly among tall riders, but it isn’t a deal-breaker.

Key Features

  • Mechanical disc brakes
  • 27.5″ wheels
  • 16-speed system
  • Shimano Claris drivetrain components
  • Alloy three-piece crank
  • Strong aluminum frame

Pros

  • Great for off-road landscapes
  • Easy to operate
  • Brakes are efficient
  • Strong, durable frame
  • Adjustable seat height
  • Great stopping power
  • Easy speed shifting

Cons

  • Small pedals

2. Schwinn Vantage Gravel Adventure Bike

Considering just how reputable the Schwinn brand is in the world of bicycle making, one of theirs had to make it to our list of best bikes for gravel riding.

The Schwinn Vantage Adventure Bike is almost as good as the Royce Union in terms of features and is backed by Schwinn’s technology to provide the most professional and quality experience but at a lower price.

This gravel bike is available in four different heights to suit most cyclists. It features a great aluminum frame that greatly contributes to its overall durability and aesthetics.

These Schwinn Vantage bikes come with Schwinn’s Smooth Ride Technology, also known as SRT, to give you optimum comfort regardless of what surfaces you’re riding.

This gravel bike has the backing of an elastomer Softail suspension, a mechanism that minimizes any vibrations and at the same time reduces the force applied on the cyclist’s wrists. Speaking of the wrists, the TransX Ergo ergonomic handlebar offers a comfortable hand position especially when you’ll be riding for longer distances.

The Schwinn Vantage gravel bikes also feature Shimano Sora components giving you 18 speeds to choose from when you’re going to be racing. The FSA Vero Compact crank also enables you to seamlessly change gears regardless of where you are.

It has hydraulic brakes but just in case these are not enough to assure you of safety, then there is another feature that does: the flat protection safety breaker. This is a gravel bike that truly makes a mark just like other Schwinn bikes.

It would have been better though if the bike came with an instruction manual because the lack of it makes it difficult to assemble. Assembling it is, therefore, a time-consuming process especially for bike riders who are not so experienced, but the other amazing features make up for this.

Key Features

  • FSA Vero Compact crank
  • Shimano Sora drivetrain
  • 18 speeds
  • TransX Ergo handlebar
  • Smooth Ride Technology
  • Hydraulic brakes
  • Safety breaker flat protection
  • Aluminum frame

Pros

  • Available in four different heights
  • Strong and fast
  • Enables you to brake safely
  • Minimizes vibrations
  • Lightweight
  • Durable tires

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a manual
  • Assembling is difficult

3. Takara Shiro Adventure

The Takara Shiro Adventure Bike is an entry-level gravel bike that comes in an elegant, attractive steel frame. It’s one of the bikes from the little-known but highly reputable Takara brand and it comes packed with features that make it suitable for both rural and urban gravel riding.

This is one of the gravel bikes that offer you affordability with no compromise on the ease of riding. Since the frame is of tensile steel material, it’s also a lightweight bike that will last a long time.

Aside from being durable, it’s also flexible which means even the heavier cyclists will have an easier time riding it. It features a Shimano Tourney groupset, which is an assurance of the bike’s reliability, and offers you 21 speeds to choose from.

The fact that this entry-level bike gives you the 21-speed option is remarkable. In addition to that, it also comes with Revo twist shifters, easy swivel action, and Shimano Tourney derailleurs to allow you to quickly shift gears whether on flat or hilly terrains.

These Takara Shiro Adventure gravel bikes come with cable-actuated disc brakes found on both the front and rear. These facilitate quick stopping regardless of the speed at which you are riding your bike.

The bikes feature high-volume 40mm tires that are firmly set on the 70c rims. They have a special feature that enables them to absorb shocks and to counter any regular jerks when you find yourself riding on an irregular surface.

This, as a result, assures you of a higher safety level as it prevents you from losing control whenever you’re riding the bike. The bike weighs 35 pounds, which might appear heavier but isn’t a problem considering it doesn’t interfere with your overall control of the bike as a rider.

The only issue with these Takara gravel bikes is that the rear derailleurs might need some extra maintenance and attention from time to time.

Key Features

  • 40mm tires
  • Weighs 35 lb
  • Cable-actuated disc brakes
  • 21 speeds
  • Revo twist shifters
  • Tensile steel frame
  • Shimano Tourney derailleurs

Pros

  • High-volume tires
  • Padded handlebar tapes
  • 36-spoke double-walled alloy rim
  • Easy set-up
  • Allows easy gear-shifting
  • Absorbs shocks on bumpy surfaces

Cons

  • Bike requires little maintenance

4. Cannondale Topstone

Nowadays, carbon frame bikes have become the most preferred by many cyclists. However, aluminum frame bikes still reign when it comes to entry-level bikes and the Canondale Topstone gravel bike is one of the best ones out there.

The bike comes with a stiff aluminum frame that makes it both sturdy and easy to ride. It also features a Shimano Sora rear derailleur, a wheelset of 700c, and gravel bike tires measuring 700x37c.

The bike has a longer wheelbase that allows it to give you more stability and maneuvering ability. The wheelset of this bike comes fitted with 37c WTB Riddler Comp tires.

The Cannondale Topstone bike is great for the adventurous rider, thanks to the frame being entirely dotted with Allen bolts. As a result, you have several mounting points for a rear rack, bike packing, and an extra bottle cage.

The bike also features a full carbon fork containing a tapered steerer and some 12mm thru-axles. These provide a light, precise, and comfortable steering front end.

Key Features

  • 700 x 37c tires
  • Shimano Sora rear derailleur
  • Allen bolts
  • Aluminum frame
  • Weighs 22.7 lb

Pros

  • Versatile bike
  • Has many mounting points
  • Precise steering
  • Easy to use
  • Absorbs shocks
  • Great for beginners

Cons

  • Not the best for racing

5. Tommaso Illimitate Shimano Tiagra Gravel Adventure Gravel Bike

The Tommaso brand has also been in the bike-making industry for quite some time seeing that it was started back in the 80s. It comes up with some great bikes and the Tommaso Illimitate Shimano Tiagra is an example.

It combines high performance with a compact design making it a favorite among both gravel road bike lovers and adventure cycles fans. It’s an attractive bike that comes with a black aluminum bike frame and durable construction.

The bike’s durability enables it to provide high-quality performance for a long time regardless of why you are using the bike. It comes with a high modulus carbon fork that uniformly distributes any vibrations to give you the most seamless ride.

The Tommaso Illimitate’s Shimano Groupset, 11x32T Tiagra cassette, and 50/34 Tiagra compact combination works together to allow the cyclist 20 speeds to choose from. It also has the Shimano drivetrain parts that facilitate easy shifting of gears regardless of the conditions in which you’re riding these Tommaso gravel road bikes.

Since it’s a fast bike, you need to have more stability which is why the road bike comes with 700 x 40c tires. To ensure you have more control over it, the bike features Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes that give it optimal stopping ability.

Moreover, the gravel road bike sports sleek handlebars that ensure you remain comfortable while riding. The handlebars are designed in such a way that the flat parts around the center keep the wrists relieved of undue pressure, thereby allowing comfort and making the bike convenient.

Its frame geometry is generally compact and makes the bike versatile despite it being fairly priced.

The only notable problem is that both tires have a tendency of slipping into thicker sand or gravel. They also sink when you’re going uphill or when you’re riding at higher speeds.

Key Features

  • 700x40c wide tires
  • Avid BB5 mechanical disc brakes
  • Shimano Groupset
  • 11x32T Tiagra cassette
  • 50/34 Tiagra compact
  • Shimano drivetrain components
  • 20 speeds

Pros

  • Strong road bike
  • Easy gear shifting
  • Versatile
  • Attractive appearance
  • High performance
  • Responsive mechanical disc brakes
  • Offers optimal stability

Cons

  • Tires slip on certain surfaces

Conclusion

It’s possible to find gravel bikes best for your riding preferences at an affordable price. All you need to do is carefully look at its features whether you’re going for a Revolt 2, a Trek Checkpoint bike, or a Takara.

Look at the bike’s frame, fender mounts, internal cable routing, the width of the tires, gear shifting speed and ease, the performance of the bike, and even the reviews left by the clients for the bike’s manufacturers.

With this review, you should be able to get yourself the best gravel bike within the $1,500 price range.

My Pick

After reviewing these best gravel bikes under $1,500, it’s only right that I take a pick from the list. The Royce Union Gravel Bike is an easy winner with its sleek, attractive, and robust aluminum bike frame.

The bike frame is durable, which is what a cyclist is always looking for in a good gravel bike. It’s also remarkably light, so you’ll have an easier time riding it or moving the bike around.

It’s the best among these gravel bikes because of its versatility as well, making it suitable for riding on any terrain you find yourself in. A rider will therefore have an easier time since they do not need to focus too much on its maintenance.

The bike’s strong steel fork ensures easy riding, and the gear-shifting process is also quick thanks to the bike’s EZ fire trigger. If you’re an adventurous rider, you will definitely appreciate the fact that the wheels are 27.5 inches wide and allow you to ride at faster speeds.

It’s the best bike for gravel riding under $1,500 because the brakes are reliable enough, providing optimal stopping power to the rider even on the toughest terrains.

A challenge cyclists face every so often is an uncomfortable seat or seat height but not with the Royce Union since it lets you adjust the seat height to your preference. The saddle is also padded, so no need to worry about feeling sore if you’ll be sitting on it all day long.

Looking at all its features, this is the best gravel bike that’s worth every coin spent on it considering it has very few manageable cons and a host of pros.