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Best gravel bikes under £1,000

Best gravel bikes under £1000
(Image credit: Courtesy)

The best gravel bikes under £1,000 offer an excellent way into the sport without it costing you an arm or a leg. To keep the price low, they typically combine lower-cost materials with trickle-down technology from the higher-priced, lighter-weight models, resulting in a bike that can be just as much fun to ride but at a more affordable price. 

Gravel cycling, as a discipline, is one of the fastest-growing sectors of cycling at this point in time. Many riders are looking to get away from busy roads or simply to mix it up and explore new local areas that were a bit too rough for 25mm tyres. In response to the popularity, the industry has scrambled to create a seemingly endless supply of new gravel bikes, meaning despite the current global bike shortage caused by COVID-19, you can still get your hands on some of the best gravel bikes under £1,000.

Alternatively, if you've got a bit more to spend, check out our guide to the best gravel bikes under £2,000.

The other reason that gravel bikes are gaining popularity is that they are so capable. Want to go singletrack shredding at the weekend? No problem, throw on your best gravel tyres and get out there. How about joining a Sunday morning road ride? Yep, with a pair of the best road bike tyres, your gravel bike can do that too. Maybe even a commute? Those rack mounts on the rear triangle will get the job done. 

As with everything in the bike industry, you can easily spend the price of a used car on a great gravel bike, but you really don’t need to. Read on for our picks of the best gravel bikes you can buy today for under £1,000, or skip to our guide on what to look out for.

Best gravel bikes under £1,000

Marin Four Corners

(Image credit: Marin)

Marin Four Corners

A dedicated bikepacking rig that can double up as a commuter

Frame material: CroMo/Steel | Gears: 2x9 | Sizes available: XS, S, M, L, XL | Price: £995

Stable and confident handling off-road
Comfortable and versatile
Good range of gears
Quite heavy
No thru-axles

If you've only got room for one bike to do it all, the Marin Four Corners is a versatile workhorse that can double up as a commuter during the week and a gravel and adventure bike at the weekend. The steel frame and fork offer some added comfort that soaks up the bumps, and both come with all the relevant mounting points for racks, mudguards and bottle cages to turn it into whatever you need it to be.

It's equipped with Shimano's nine-speed Sora drivetrain which offers plenty of gears for climbing and descending hills, and rolls on 42mm wide WTB Resolute tyres with added puncture protection.

Triban GRVL 520 SRAM Apex 1

(Image credit: Triban )

Triban GRVL 520 SRAM Apex 1

An affordable gravel bike perfect for beginners

Frame materials: Aluminium | Gears: 1x11 | Sizes available: XS, S, M, L, XL | Price: £999.99

1x11 SRAM Apex 1 drivetrain
Wide handlebar with 16-degree flare
Hydro-mechanical disc brakes provide progressive braking
No thru-axles

Decathlon's own brand Triban creates well thought-out and affordable bikes, like this sub-£1,000 gravel bike armed with 1x11-speed SRAM Apex 1 gearing. This is combined with TRP's hybrid HY/RD disc brakes for progressive stopping power on all surfaces, and tubeless-ready Hutchinson Touareg tyres in size 650Bx47mm, which feature hardskin puncture protection.

The Triban 520 Gravel bike is a stable-handling ride, feels surefooted when heading off the beaten track, and is easy to have fun on. It's a little heavy, but you'll only notice it on the steepest of climbs.

GT Grade Elite

(Image credit: GT)

GT Grade Elite

Free-floating seatpost makes for a luxurious ride

Frame material: 6061 aluminium | Gears: 2x8 | Sizes available: 44-58cm | Price: £950

Triple triangle
Geometry is agile regardless of the road surface
Wire bead tyres

GT’s Grade has long been one of our favourite platforms for its triple triangle rear end which sees the chainstays connect directly to the top tube. This effectively leaves the seat tube free-floating, allowing it to deflect when you hit bumps and creating a rudimentary form of rear suspension. The extra-long and slender seat stays also deflect, creating a plush ride. Officially there is room between those rear stays for 700x42mm or 650x47c rubber though there is definitely real estate to squeeze something slightly larger in there. 

At the front, the Grade sees GT’s own flared drop bars, and there is routing for a stealth dropper post if you’d like to chase some spicy riding. A Shimano Claris 2x eight-speed drivetrain wrangles the chain, but be warned there is no clutch here, so practice good shifting. When it comes time to drop the anchors, Tektro Mechanic disc brakes with 160mm rotors keep your speed in check. As tubes and gravel bikes mean flat tyres; GT has opted for tubeless-ready WTB ST i23 TCS 2.0 wheels, however, the Wire bead WTB Riddlers may be challenging to get set up.

Best gravel bike under £1000: Kona Rove AL 650

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Kona Rove AL 650

Capable and forgiving frame geometry is ideal for building skills

Frame material: 6061 aluminium | Gears: 2x8 | Sizes available: 48-58cm | Price: £899

Super capable
Price
Old school aesthetic 
Aluminium fork harsher than steel alternatives

Gravel bikes are often accused of just being hardtail mountain bikes from the 1990s; the Kona Rove AL 650 exemplifies this to a ‘T’. Rolling on 650b wheels and 47mm WTB Venture comp tyres, this entry-level shredder is ready for wild adventures. The frame and fork are made from butted 6061 aluminium, and the geometry isn’t overly aggressive, meaning this bike is ideal for those who are still building their mix surface skills. 

Spinning the gears is a 2x Shimano Claris eight-speed drivetrain, though notably missing is a clutched rear derailleur, so dropped chains are a possibility. Keeping your speed in check with a one-finger lever squeeze are cable-actuated Hayes CX disc brakes are paired to 160mm rotors front and rear. 

Best gravel bike under £1000: Octane One Gridd 2

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Octane One Gridd 2

Well thought-out 1x gravel bike

Frame material: 6061 aluminium | Gears: 1x10 | Sizes available: S-XL | Price: £999

Aesthetic
Quality machining and welds
11-40t 10-speed cassette has larger jumps between gears

With a tight and slightly more aggressive geometry, the Octane Gridd 2 sees a SRAM 1x10 drivetrain with the brand's APEX shifters and a GX 10-speed MTB rear derailleur. The reason Octane has opted to bolt-on an MTB rear mech is to allow for the wide range 11-40t Sunrace cassette, which is paired with an FSA Vero Pro 40T chainset for heaps of range. 

The frame itself is made from 6061 aluminium, sees thru-axles front and rear, a fork with composite blades and an alloy steerer. There is room for up to 700x40c rubber between the stays, and the Octane One wheelset is tubeless-ready, as are the 38mm WTB Riddler tyres. Even though this is an entry-level bike, Octane has not used that as an excuse to slack on the aesthetic: the olive green paint job is one that won’t go out of fashion in a couple of years and the gold anodized hubs and spacers add a bit of pop to an otherwise stealthy bike. 

Best gravel bike under £1000: Ribble CGR AL

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Ribble CGR AL

Fully customisable sharply priced gravel grinder

Frame material: 6061 aluminium | Gears: 2x10 | Sizes available: S-XL | Price: £999

Frame is much higher quality than the price would lead you to believe
Bike builder means fully customisable
Custom options can tempt over-spending

By allowing you to customise every component with its Bike Builder program, you can create a Ribble CGR AL gravel bike to hit just about any price point. You can prioritise the components you think are essential and spend a bit of extra cash, whether it be hydraulic brakes or a slightly nicer drivetrain, and save money elsewhere. 

The CGR AL frame itself is made from aluminium, sees super clean seamless welds, internal cable routing and features a full carbon fibre fork. It's compatible with 650b, 700c or 29er wheels and tyres depending on the type of riding you’re planning to do, and has racks for luggage and mudguards too. 

Best gravel bike under £1000: Specialized Diverge Base E5

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Specialized Diverge Base E5

Smooth and stable with a threaded bottom bracket

Frame material: Alpha 200 | Gears: 2x8 | Sizes available: 44-61cm | Price: £1,099

Progressive geometry
Rack and fender mounts
Tyre clearance
No Future Shock
No in-frame storage
Slightly over budget

It might be slightly over budget but if you have an extra £99 that you could put towards your bike, it's worth considering the Specialized Diverge. Its key feature is the bottom bracket height, built around an 80mm BB height, which gives the 'in the bike, not on top of it' feeling while maintaining enough clearance so you’re not bashing the cranks into every rock or ledge you’re trying to crawl up and over. Made from the brand’s E5 Aluminium, the Diverge Base sees a slightly more relaxed geometry than its carbon and S-Works relatives, to suit the handling characteristics to newer riders. Even still, the brand has used the same ethos as its high-end models with Diverge seeing an increased reach, slacker headtube, shorter stem and longer offset fork — all design elements borrowed from mountain biking. What this amounts to is a more stable bike that doesn’t sacrifice any steering precision.

Compatible with both 700c and 650b wheels, there is room for a 700x47c or 650bx2.1in tire in the frame, thanks to Specialized using a machined yoke behind the BB rather than a dropped chainstay. At the front, there is a full carbon fork, though you won’t find Future Shock under the stem at this price point; but you will find a 2x8 Shimano Claris drivetrain, and Tektro Mira flat-mount mechanical disc brakes. 

Best gravel bike under £1000: Cannondale Topstone 4

(Image credit: Courtesy)

Cannondale Topstone 4

Racey gravel grinder that's ready to get rowdy

Frame material: Smartform C2 aluminium | Gears: 1x10 | Sizes available: 50-58cm | Price: £1,050

Smartform C2 aluminium 
Clutched rear mech
Carbon fork
Gear range
Larger jumps between gear ratios
Slightly over budget

Cannondale has a long history of producing mixed surface drop-bar bikes that impress, and the Topstone 4 is no exception to the rule. Another one that's slightly over-budget, it's very worth consideration if you can scrape together an extra £50. 

With gravel race ready geo, the Smartform C2 aluminium frame and BalisTech carbon fork; the alloy topstone is a lively ride, that doesn't leave your hands or body feeling beaten or broken after a long ride.

At such a low price point, with such a high-quality frame you’d expect Cannondale to skimp on the other parts to keep the cost down right? Well, you would be incorrect. The 1x10speed drivetrain comes from Microshift, and while the brand may not have the same name recognition as the big ‘S’ drivetrain brands, this drivetrain offers something we rarely see on bikes at this price point: a clutched rear derailleur. A seemingly minuscule addition to a pivot on the rear mech, it pulls the chain taught to stop it bouncing; limiting chain slap over rough terrain, and preventing it from rebounding over the edge of the front chainring. Better still, with a long cage, it allows for a dinner plate-sized 11-48t rear cassette. 

Best gravel bike under £1000: Fuji Jari

(Image credit: Fuji)

Fuji Jari 2.5

Off-road adventure all-rounder

Frame material : A6-SL aluminium | Gears: 2x8 | Sizes available: 48-60cm | Price: £999.99

650B wheel compatible
Versatile geometry
No 1x drivetrain

The Fuji Jari 2.5 matches a CroMo fork to the front of an aluminium frame for a supple and comfortable ride across all road surfaces. The brand says that the geometry of the frame is intended to be versatile for any type of riding, from gravel racing to bikepacking. To do this, it has specced a 2x8 drivetrain for a wide range of gears, and the bike rolls on 37mm Riddler tyres from WTB. The bike is also packed with features including a rear rack mount, mudguard mounts, and internal cable routing. 

Best gravel bike under £1000: Vitus Substance

(Image credit: Vitus)

Vitus Substance V 2

650b gravel shredder

Frame material: 6061-T6 Double Butted Aluminium | Gears: 2x9 | Sizes available: XS-XXL | Price: £899.99

650b and 700c compatability
Sleek looking frame
Cheap gears

The Substance brings one of the best looking frame designs to the sub-£1000 gravel bike market. That frame is made out of aluminium and is matched with a carbon fork. It features mounts for mudguards, racks/bags, and multiple water bottles. 650bx47mm tyres come as standard, but the bike is compatible with 700c tyre sizes too, which is a plus. Like most bikes at this price point, 2x9 gearing and mechanical disc brakes are a bit outdated, but internal cable routing and tan wall tyres add to the aesthetic value.

How to choose the best gravel bike under £1,000

Thru-axles

For nearly a century wheels were secured into bikes with a quick-release skewer. In combination with open dropouts this system allowed for wheels to be changed on the fly without tools, but the even today the design is largely unchanged from the day it was invented. 

First introduced on mountain bikes, thru-axles provide a stiffer and more secure dropout-to-wheel interface, ensures the wheel is in the frame straight and removes the ‘have I done this up tight enough' uncertainty — it’s either screwed in all the way or its not. All of this is key for running disc brakes, as too much flex in the wheel can cause the rotor to rub.

There was a lot of fluidity on standards and hub spacing when thru-axles first made the jump from mountain bikes, but the industry seems to have settled on 12x100mm for the front and 12x142mm for the rear. They are a bit more expensive to manufacture than QR dropouts, and at the entry-level price point, we do still see some gravel bikes using quick release.

Wheel size

Most drop bar bikes roll on 700c wheels, and so do gravel bikes, but many of them are compatible with smaller 27.5in wheels, also commonly known as 650b. With a smaller rim, a 650b wheel allows you to fit wider, higher volume tyres (often measured in inches rather than mm) that sees almost the same overall diameter as a 700c wheel. These hoops allow you to tackle terrain that would put a skinnier 700c tyre out of its depth without changing the handling characteristics of the bike. Because the tyre has so much more air volume, they are also considerably more comfortable too. 

That said, 700c setups are usually lighter and faster rolling, and are better suited to smoother gravel rides, while 650b's are in their element on singletrack and bashing down rocky fire roads. Having the ability to slot in either size makes your bike that much more capable. 

How many chainrings?

Gravel bikes will come with either a 1x or 2x drivetrain - meaning one or two chainrings at the crankset end of the groupset. While it would make sense that 20 gears would be better than 10, this is not the case at all. Borrowed from mountain biking, 1x drivetrains can hit the same, and sometimes a wider gear range than their 2x compatriots, and greatly simplify shifting because there is no front derailleur to faff with. 

The 1x specific rear derailleurs will usually have a clutch that pulls the chain taut to prevent it bouncing over rough roads, this prevents the chain from slapping the frame or bouncing off the front chainring — these are also advantageous to 2x setups too. A 1x specific rear derailleur will be paired with a chainring that has alternating narrow-wide teeth to grip the chain as it goes around. Unfortunately clutched rear derailleurs haven't quite trickled down to all of the entry-level bikes just yet, so you will find some gravel bikes at this price point with standard rear mechs.

The downside to 1x drivetrains is there can be big jumps between gears, which is less of a problem with 2x. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, and what is right for you will depend on where and how you ride. 

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

Choosing your new gravel bike is only the beginning of your journey: next comes keeping it clean and running smoothly, not to mention preventing opportunists from making off with it.

Riding on gravel can get mucky, especially after rainfall, so it's important to at least keep the chain lubricated with the best bike chain lubes, and consider giving it a deep clean every so often, following the advice we give in our guide to how to clean your bike.

Finally, keep your bike safe from theft by investing in the best bike lock, know how to lock a bike correctly, and compare bicycle insurance to ensure you are covered by the best bike insurance policy for your needs. We've got plenty of other tips around how to prevent bike theft as well if you want to look further into the subject.