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Best budget gravel bikes: Gravel grinding without breaking the bank

Included in this guide:

Best budget gravel bike
(Image credit: Switchback Sports (South Africa))

The best budget gravel bikes make it easier for everyone to get outdoors and explore their local area, and thankfully there are more and more affordable options becoming available all the time. 

Gravel-bike technology is expanding at an exponential rate, with new features and designs regularly being released. Luckily for gravel riders on more modest budgets, technology from the best gravel bikes at the upper end of the range is starting to trickle down towards the best entry-level gravel bikes and all the ranges in between.

There are cheap gravel bikes that may not stand up to the beating you want to give them, there are premium gravel bikes that most of us will only ever ride in our dreams, and then in between are the budget gravel bikes that hit a sweet spot between the two and offer the best value for money. That's what we're looking at here.

Regardless of your budget, there's going to be an excellent gravel bike out there that's right for you. If you're trying to spend as little as possible, be sure to check out our guides for the best gravel bikes under £1,000 or if you have a little more to invest, check out the best gravel bikes under £2,000

But if you've got a tiny bit more to play with, then here you'll find the best mid-range gravel bikes that don't cost an arm and a leg and provide a lot of bang for your buck.

Keep reading for our pick of the best budget gravel bikes, or, if you're unsure about what you should be looking for, skip to the bottom for a breakdown of what to look for when buying a gravel bike.

Jump to: How to choose the best budget gravel bike

Best budget gravel bikes

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Ribble CGR Ti - Gravel

The Ribble CGR Ti provides the gliding ride that is expected from titanium (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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Ribble CGR Ti - Gravel

The CGR Ti features dropped seatstays (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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Ribble CGR Ti - Gravel

Machined bolt-through axles have mudguard and rack mounts (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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Ribble CGR Ti - Gravel

The contrasting matte design details got many compliments while we were testing it (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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Ribble CGR Ti - Gravel

The chromed head badge is simple and classy (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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Ribble CGR Ti - Gravel

The 420mm bars are more roadie than gravel-shredder (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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Ribble CGR Ti - Gravel

Sendero tyres offer excellent grip without being too much of a drag on the road (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Ribble CGR Ti

The best budget gravel bike for titanium frame lovers

Frame material: Titanium | Wheel size: 650b | Tyre clearance: 47mm | Weight: 9.9kg | Sizes available: S-XL | Price: £3,099.00 / $3,580.12 / AU$5,362.20

Beautiful glide ride
Responsive 'relaxed road' handling
Corrosion and scratch-proof finish
Rack and guard mounts
Grippy 650b tyres
Narrow handlebar

While there are cheaper ways of getting a versatile titanium bike, you'd be hard pushed to find something that looks and feels this luxurious. With its triple-butted, multi-shaped pipework, Ribble's titanium gravel bike hits that sweet spot, offering all-around versatility and a ride-feel that simply glides over the terrain.

Despite being built from a classic material, there's plenty of contemporary flair to deliver the ride you want from a bike like this. From the dropped seat stays and CNC-machined 3D dropouts, to the bolt-through rear axle that doubles as a mech mount to mitigate damage in the event of a crash.

Add to this clearance for 47mm tyres on 650b wheels, plus 700c compatibility, the option for a single or double chainset at the front, and Shimano's flagship 1x GRX groupset, and you're in for a really good time. The CGR Ti rolls on a set of Mavic Allroad Elite wheels shod with chunky WTB tyres (the Byway comes stock, ours had Senderos), and up front are Ribble's own-brand Level handlebars. At 420mm, however, some may find the bars far too narrow, so check your required measurement before you purchase.

Read how it earned four stars in our Ribble CGR Ti review.

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Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 gravel bike

The Canyon Grizl is designed for bikepacking and even has its own bag range (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 gravel bike

The geometry is largely based on the Grail's (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 gravel bike

Canyon-specific mudguard mounts are in place (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 gravel bike

The fork features anything cage mounts with 3kg load capacity on each side (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 gravel bike

There's ample tyre clearance for up to 50mm of rubber (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 gravel bike

The paint job includes spatters that complement the bike's intended use (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)
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Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 gravel bike

Technical specs, recommended torque settings and weight limits are printed on the frame (Image credit: Graham Cottingham)

Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1by

The best budget gravel bike for those who regularly adventure into rougher terrain

Frame material: Carbon | Wheel size: 700c | Tyre clearance: 50mm | Weight: 9.14kg | Sizes available: XXS-XXL | Price: £2,949.00 / $3,199.00 / AU$4,249.00

Feels balanced and stable
Accelerates quickly and maintains speed
Smooths out the bumps well
High quality durable components 
Excellent value thanks to consumer-direct model
UK pricing has been affected by Brexit, so expect to pay a little more

The second gravel bike to join Canyon's line-up, the Grizl is all about loading up and heading out into the wilderness. The Grizl adopts some very clever tube wall profiling and composite construction keeps the weight down significantly, while also maintaining some chunkiness to certain parts of the frame which, in partnership with some big volume tyres from Schwalbe, delivers a comfortable and surefooted ride that still feels fun.

Unlike its sibling, the Grail, the Grizl comes with a lot more frame mounts (including three mounts on each side of the fork), custom bikepacking bags and a conventional handlebar, spelling out its purpose very clearly. This is an excellent steed for bikepacking, and one that not only rides confidently over rough ground, but also offers great value for money.

The specced components are not to be sniffed at, with a full hydraulic Shimano GRX 800-series groupset, tubeless-ready DT Swiss G100 wheels, and a Fizik Argo Terra X5 saddle.

Sizing, meanwhile, is incredibly inclusive, ranging from XXS to XXL, making the Grizl an option that will fit most people's needs. 

If you want to know more, check out our Canyon Grizl CF SL 8 1by review.

Best budget gravel bike: Nukeproof Digger Comp

(Image credit: Nukeproof)

Nukeproof Digger 275 Comp

Wild-child gravel bike that will appeal to mountain bikers

Frame material:: Aluminium | Wheel Size: 650b | Tyre clearance: 47mm | Weight: 9.7kg | Sizes available: S-XL | Price: £1,799.99 / $1,899.99 / AU$2,599.99

Playful ride quality
Solid spec including a GRX drivetrain
50cm wide handlebars are great for off-road control
Stock wheel and tyre set-up is sluggish on the road compared to narrower 700c set-ups

Nukeproof has updated the Digger range with new geometry and a staggering spec for the money. The essence of the Digger hasn't been lost, however, with its very wide handlebars and agile 650b Plus wheelset as standard, the Digger is a bike that is all about having fun on any trail that is pointed in front of it. This hooligan attitude isn't at the cost of practicality, though, as the Digger comes with all the fixtures for dreary daily winter riding.

Nukeproof has done a fantastic job of building the Digger Comp up with an impressive array of componentry. The headline here is the Shimano GRX 11-speed drivetrain and brakes that offer a significant improvement in off-road performance over bikes with road groupsets. Nukeproof have equipped the bike with their own brand kit, apart from the rolling stock, which comes from WTB, using WTB Serra wheels and grippy Sendero 650x47 tyres. These well-treaded tyres continue the trend of wild-child off-road shredding, but they do suffer when the surface smoothes out. 

Orro Terra C LTD-ED 7020 RR9

(Image credit: Orro)

Orro Terra C LTD-ED 7020 RR9

A race-ready gravel bike that's just as nippy on tarmac

Frame material: Carbon | Wheel size: 700c | Tyre clearance: 42mm | Weight: 9.1kg | Sizes available: S-XL | Price: £2,099.99 / $2,499.00 / AU$3,999.00

Stiff frame offers fast acceleration and efficient power transfer
Still delivers a comfortable ride
A versatile 'do it all' bike
Could do with more tyre clearance

While the name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, this limited edition model of the Orro Terra C offers excellent value for money and, despite its race DNA, would make an ideal 'do it all' bike for those who have limited storage space at home. 

It's constructed around a stiff carbon fibre frame that allows the rider to put down sufficient power to accelerate quickly and maintain momentum. Within the carbon layup, high-modulus fibres are interwoven to provide enhanced strength and protect the frame from impact damage, which results in the light, fast and durable beast most gravel racers rely upon.

However if racing isn't the only reason you're looking at this bike, you'll be pleased to know that it comes with the potential to make an excellent commuter and road bike as well. It's powered by the reliable Shimano 105 7020 2x11 groupset, offering smooth shifting capabilities, a wide range of gears and the longevity required from a bike that's going to be seeing a lot of use.

The stock tyres are 700cx28mm Vittoria Zaffiros, narrow for singletrack and chunky gravel, yes, but ideal for finer gravel segments interlaced with long sections of tarmac.

Specialized Diverge Comp E5 in light blue

(Image credit: Specialized)

Specialized Diverge Comp E5

A comfortable gravel bike that can go anywhere and do everything

Frame material: Aluminium | Wheel size: 700c | Tyre clearance: 47mm (700c) / 2.1in (650b) | Sizes available: 49-64cm | Weight: 10.3kg | Price: £2,199.99 / $2,720 / AU$4,270

The alloy frame makes it easier to spec with quality components
Rides fast and fun, on road or off
Low and slack geometry for off-road composure
Features Future Shock 1.5 suspension technology
Plenty of tyre clearance
Expensive for an aluminium frame
Roadie handlebars aren't flared

Specialized's gravel machine comes in a range of models, with the E5 Comp sitting third from the bottom. This makes it lower-mid-range, meaning it doesn't have all the cheapest parts, but is definitely very affordable.

The Diverge E5 Comp is designed to be versatile enough to offer an escape onto gravel back roads away from urban traffic, as well as a place on the start line of a gravel race. 

It features Future Shock 1.5 - the brand's proprietary built-in suspension, to smooth over the bumps and provide a comfortable ride no matter how rough the terrain gets. The FACT carbon fork is paired with an aluminium frame, delivering a light and lively ride. Specialized equipped the Diverge with what it claims to be its most progressive geometry, meaning a relatively slack head angle and long reach to help you feel planted and confident.

It comes specced with 700c Axis Elite Disc wheels, but is also compatible with 650B if you wish to add on some wider rubber (up to 2.1in to be precise), and is driven by Shimano's GRX hydraulic groupset, delivering smooth gravel-specific shifting and powerful braking.

Rondo Ruut ST1

(Image credit: Rondo)

Rondo Ruut ST 1

A steel powerhouse that's effectively two bikes in one

Frame material: Steel | Wheel size: 700c | Tyre clearance: 40mm (700c) / 2.1in (650b) | Weight: 10.65kg | Sizes available: S-XL | Price: £2,599.99 / $2,899.00 / AU$3,499.00

Adjustable fork geometry
Controlled and stable ride-feel
Super supple steel frame that smooths out the chatter
650b compatible
Heavy frame and wheels
Lack of tyre clearance

The Rondo Ruut ST1 is a steel-framed gravel machine designed to double up as a classic commuter and weekend bikepacking rig, to offer the best of all worlds in one. Not only is it built around a high-quality Tange steel frame, that feels supple and smooth while riding off-road, it also features the brand's clever TwinTip 2.0 fork that offers adjustable geometry. 

The TwinTip geometry system effectively allows for two different settings: Hi and Lo. The Hi setting creates a steeper head and seat angle and shortens the fork trail, providing a more aggressive riding position. Conversely, when you switch it to the Lo position, you'll get the opposite: a slacker head and seat angle, longer fork trail and higher placed handlebars for a more relaxed position.

So with the Rondo Ruut you effectively get two bikes in one. Use it for all manner of things, from commuting and bikepacking in the Lo position, to weekend racing or fast-paced shredding in the Hi.

What to look for in a gravel bike

What's the best frame material and geometry for a gravel bike?

Budget gravel bikes generally come in two options: steel or aluminium. Carbon options may be available, but at lower price points are usually best avoided as manufacturers will need to make compromises to lower costs. Low-modulus carbon frames are likely to actually be heavier and less compliant than equivalent metal frames, and have lower-quality components.

Steel is well established as a forgiving yet durable material, and is generally a little heavier, but the classically twangy frame-quality garners a dedicated following. It's easy to forget that aluminium is still a relatively new material in regards to frame building. Aluminium technology is constantly evolving, and despite being a stiffer material, frame designers are able to now build aluminium frames with increasing levels of compliance and comfort.

Gravel-bike geometry numbers fill the entire spectrum between road bike and mountain bike, so it's important to consider the type of riding that you want to do. Some gravel bikes will share similar geometry to endurance road bikes for comfort over long distances. Slacker head angles and longer wheelbases increase a bike's stability and control over rough terrain.

Which components should I look for?

All the gravel bikes in our guide use either 1x or 2x drivetrains. A 2x drivetrain is the same as those commonly found on road bikes and uses two chainrings at the front to offer a wider spread of gears. A 1x drivetrain uses a single ring with a wide-range mountain-bike-style cassette to simplify the drivetrain and save weight. 

Disc brakes are standard equipment on gravel bikes, and while mechanical disc brakes offer a marked improvement over rim brakes, hydraulic disc brakes are well worth the extra investment as they not only give you more power but also offer improved modulation control.

At lower price points, bikes will often feature a manufacturer's own-branded components, and while this equipment may not offer the finesse of branded components, they do generally offer no-thrills functionality.

Should I choose 650b or 700c wheels and tyres?

The advantages and disadvantages of 700c vs 650b-sized wheels have been long debated, and will continue to be discussed for a long time. Riders who are looking for on- and off-road versatility will be best served by the lower weight and better obstacle rollover of 700c wheels. Those riding rougher terrain will find that the increased tyre size and volume of 650b wheels offer a significant advantage in grip and comfort. 

Many gravel bikes will be able to accommodate both wheel sizes, giving riders who invest in a spare set of wheels the option of 'two bikes in one': a 700c wheelset set-up with fast-rolling tyres for the road and a 650b wheelset with large, knobbly tyres for more adventurous riding.

Don't forget to keep it safe and well-maintained

Once you've taken the plunge and invested in a new gravel bike, your two-wheeled journey is only just beginning. 

Riding on gravel is rarely a clean affair, so it'll be imperative that you keep your bike clean and well maintained. If cleaning it after every muddy ride seems like a daunting chore, then at the very least ensure you keep the chain lubricated with the best bike chain lubes.

Also, the last thing you want to happen is for it to be stolen so ensure you take steps to reduce this risk. We have an article dedicated to advising how to prevent bike theft, but the key takeaways are to ensure you choose the best bike lock, know how to lock a bike correctly, and shop around to compare bicycle insurance to ensure you are covered by the best bike insurance policy for your needs. 

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