Best Entry Level Gravel Bike [Review] in 2021
written by Cycle expert Alex Bristol
Check out the results fast – here are our review winners
Looking to find a gravel bike that not only provides brilliant versatility but also offers suitability to the everyday rider?
Well, good news my friend, you’re on the right page as I’ve answered everything you need to know about finding the best entry-level gravel bike.
After looking at 27 top-class gravel bikes, I have noted some of the most crucial points that are always overlooked when finding one to match your riding style.
Specifications such as frame material, geometry, and gearing can be detrimental to your ride, if not researched correctly.
So, what does this mean for you?
I have factored in all the confusing, and sometimes boring, factors such as weight, price, and much more.
Here’s a cool tip– gearing is crucial when it comes to your setup so, if you’re heading off-road, pay extra attention to lower gears in order to help tackle steep climbs and tough terrains.
Coincidently, our top choice considers everything I just said above, it’s definitely worth adding to your bucket list.
We’ve spent the time so you don’t have to:
Our Best Entry Level Gravel Bikes Contenders
Octane One Gridd 2 Gravel Bike
Looking to enter the realm of gravel bikes but not sure where to begin? Let me introduce you to this sexy beast.
Octane’s gravel bike features an elegant and high-performance alloy frameset, SRAM Apex 10-speed drivetrain all along with disc brakes, you’ll definitely have the best grip with the 700c wheels for the most endurance filled adventures with these components.
This bike is the perfect gravel grinder, with a lightweight frameset that provides a strong, agile, and stable ride and even provides that extra padding of comfort on the longer rides.
This gravel bike is aggressive and ready for action, but at the same time comfortable enough so you can push on harder and further. This makes this the perfect bike for beginners as it is both reliable while also having room for you to grow as a rider.
This gravel trooper is packed with a consistently reliable drivetrain and wide-range cassette that’ll get you up the toughest of climbs and keep you safe on the speedy descents for an always dependable braking performance no matter the weather.
But here’s the kicker
It is also super versatile so it can be used as either a fun gravel bike or an all-day commuter, the possibilities of this bike are endless.
I wish I had this bike when I first started my off-road journey.
- SRAM Rival 10-speed drivetrain
- Excellent grip
- Lightweight frameset
- None so far
Latest deal: Octane One Gridd 2
Diamondback Bicycles Haanjo 2 Gravel Adventure Road Bike
The second spot has to go to the Diamondback Bicycle Haanjo 2 Gravel Bikes. This bike comes with many amazing features to give you the comfort you would require when cycling.
Where do I begin?
To start with, you will find that it has an aluminum alloy frame which means that it is not only lightweight but also durable. Due to this construction, you can ride the whole day without any problems.
It also uses Tetra Lira mechanical disc brakes which are very strong. It also features Shimano sora 2 X8-speed drive train which provides incredible shifting performance.
At this superb price point you can’t go wrong.
You’ll be weaving in and out with not a single skid insight with the 700c wheels. Whether you’re using this bike on gritty commutes or as a weekend warrior to take on your next adventure, this bike is up to the job.
If you’re as bold as me you will need to check out this bike
- Aluminum alloy frame to enhance durability
- Very comfortable
- Reliable disc brakes
- The frame has a lifetime warranty
- None found at the moment
Latest deal: Diamondback Haanjo 2
Checkpoint ALR 4
Now for number three on my list, it has to be the well-renowned for reliability, TREK. With such a great starting point for all riders, you’ll be in great hands with this bike.
Checkpoint ALR 4 is an excellent aluminum gravel bike that offers masses of capability for at a great value for money. It is built to tackle the rigors of both gravel and dirt roads but also for morning commutes and adventures on the weekend.
The capabilities of this bike are endless, knowing no boundaries, it’ll be your best friend on the gateway to your next adventure.
You may be wondering- can this bike tackle weather?
You bet your blooming socks it can, nothing will be stopping you from getting on the trails and exploring new capabilities.
With an aluminum alloy frame and shock-absorbing carbon fork, a 2×10 Shimano Sora drivetrain with lower gears to grind up the hills or through the rough surfaces, this bike was built for these tough terrains. But also this bike has hydraulic disc brakes for efficient braking capabilities no matter the weather.
The internal cable routing keeps the look of this bike sleek and attractive making it an excellent choice for beginners.
Here’s the best bit though- it comes with racks and fender mounts so you can stash all your favorite essentials on your ride. The wide mid range gravel tires are a massive hit also for ultimate grip.
Bring it on gravel, this bike is ready to tackle anything while still remaining super comfortable. Go have a sneak peek at the glowing reviews.
- 2×10 Shimano drivetrain
- Ready to tackle any surface
- Endless opportunities with the hydraulic disc brakes to get you out of trouble
- Thick and grippy tires
- Limited on color choices
Latest deal: Hiland Gravel Cyclocross
Tommaso Sterrata Shimano Claris R2000 Gravel Bike
When it comes to performance, durability, and strength, Tommaso Sterrata Shimano Claris R2000 is the best, especially when it comes to gravel bikes for entry level riders.
In order to boost comfort, it has a compact frame and premium compact handlebars. All the other parts are uniquely made to provide maximum comfort and efficiency.
The TC-300 rims and the 28 spoke rim makes the bike suitable for all terrains. You will also find that it uses 700c x 40c tires which provides additional versatility, stability, and traction while in your riding position.
But wait, let me tell you something.
It is also equipped with different gears which means that you can use it anywhere, giving you that versatility to go where no bike has even dreamed of before.
This bike is both durable and powerful, while still looking beautiful making it perfect for a gravel rider new to the rough terrains. The frame is compact giving you a much smoother ride in comparison to other frame geometries.
This may be your perfect beginner gravel bike but you’ll have to take a look for yourself.
- Excellent quality
- Super comfortable
- Ideal for all terrains
- Very strong and durable
- More expensive that other bikes on this list
Latest deal: Tommaso Sterrata
Tommaso Siena Shimano Tourney Gravel Adventure Bike with Disc Brakes
If you are searching for a powerful bike you can use on rugged or any other terrain, Tommaso Siena Shimano will be a perfect choice. It is made of an aluminum compact frame which is combined with an SST steel fork to enhance durability.
The frame is drilled for a variety of racks and fenders so you can store all your kit making this the ultimate gravel bike
Whether you will be riding on hilly or flat terrains, this bike is equipped with several gears which makes it easy to use even on the most difficult terrains making this one of the best gravel bikes for entry-level riders.
Now here’s the deal…
The Tommaso TC-20D rims feature 28 spokes and they enable the bike to roll easily. Note that the bike uses Avid BB5 disc brakes which provides incredible stopping power.
This bike gives powerful performance and speed for all levels of riders. With 700c x40c tires for added versatility and stability even on the roughest of terrains in all conditions. All this with Avid BB5 disc brakes for superior stopping power, even in rough weather conditions.
This bike will reward performance for every rider.
- Powerful performance
- All-terrain capabilities
- Optimized for comfort
- Tires have more pull back on tarmac than other tires
Latest deal: Tommaso Siena
Salsa Journeyman Claris 700c x
The salsa journeyman aluminum all-road bike, perfectly designed with versatility ready to tackle a wide range of terrains, from gravel to trail excursions.
Ready to run wide with 700c x up to 27.5 tires means this bike is able to take on the loose-surface of the gravel terrains.
But let me tell you…
This bike’s carbon fork allows quick release and for you to add racks and fenders or keep it stripped to the basics the possibilities of this bike are endless. All this along with a butted aluminum frame means this bike can get up some real speed even while gravel riding.
Do you find yourself getting really thirsty while riding? Well, this may be the bike of your dreams with the three water bottle mounts per frame.
With all these features you can’t go wrong really, it’s great for the price point.
- 3 water bottle mounts
- All-terrain capabilities
- Aluminum frame with a full carbon fork
- 700c x up to 27.5 tires
- All-round excellence – nothing to note
Latest deal: Salsa Journeyman 700c x
What should a good entry-level gravel bike have?
If you’re looking for jumping on the bandwagon for getting a gravel bike, you’re at the right place. I will help guide you through to find the best gravel bikes for beginners.
Gravel is an unpredictable terrain, you can skid here and there while your road bike wheels are trying to grip on for dear life. If you find yourself tackling gravel often I would definitely recommend investing in a gravel bike.
They give you that extra grip on the uneven roads. But finding the right one that is won’t break your bank but while also being high quality can be tedious at the best of times.
As the gravel bike become more and more popular and companies are offering affordable options that are more than capable of keeping up with the fast-changing demands of off-road biking and gravel riding.
But not to worry I’m here to help to break down all the confusing features to look out for before you click buy so we can get you the best gravel bike.
When buying the best gravel bikes, you need to check the following;
Fork – Ensure that the fork can comfortably fit your bike wheel size. Such a fork will provide a better rolling resistance and also a wide range of tire clearance.
Gear ratios and shifting – Mechanical drivetrains are very common due to their cheap price. They work by pulling a steering cable that runs across the bike frame either internally or externally. High-end gravel bikes use electronic shifting. These bikes do not use cables or any housing since they are wireless. When shifting, you do not need to use a lot of effort since everything is electronic
Weight- If you plan to use your gravel bike for racing or speeding around the terrains, you’ll want a gravel bike that is as lightweight as possible- no one wants to drag around unnecessary weight.
Price- Price is a huge factor to consider before buying a gravel bike, especially when you’re new to riding. You can find a range of quality gravel bikes without breaking your bank but you have to be careful, some manufacturers will cut corners in order to save an extra buck. Before you click buy make sure you check the reviews from other riders.
What you will realize about the gravel bikes for entry-level riders that we have reviewed is that they have every feature you would expect from a top-quality gravel bike. Remember we have spent a lot of time trying to compare different products to come up with the ones that suit you most.
What to look for before buying an entry-level gravel bike
Hydraulic Disc vs Mechanical Disc Brakes?
Brakes are one of the most important safety features on every bike but even more important on a gravel bike as gravel can be unpredictable and have the risk of skidding. You’ll find yourself choosing between the hydraulic and mechanical disc brakes.
But which one is better?
Mechanical disc brakes engage with the brake calipers through cables whereas hydraulic disc brakes use brake fluid that create pressure to engage the brakes. Good brake calipers include a Shimano Sora BR-R3000 brake Caliper
The majority of people agree that hydraulic brakes are better as they give you superior stopping power no matter the riding position you may be riding in But they are also easier to control and allow you to brake more gradually.
On many entry-level bikes, you’ll find that they are equipped with mechanical disc brakes but I would definitely recommend changing them up to hydraulic brakes will give you that superior stopping power even in the uneven gravel terrains.
Bike frame geometry
If you want a good gravel bike for rough terrains, choose one with a long wheel size base. This will provide the required stability in such terrains. Again, the handlebars should be wider than those on a typical road bikes to enhance control and maneuverability.
Also, the height of the bottom bracket should be low to boost stability in high-speed situations. When it comes to the material you will find yourself faced with aluminum, carbon frame, or steel frame and fork.
But which one should I pick?
The aluminum frame is cheap, lightweight, and strong to tackle off-road biking. The majority of entry-level gravel bike frames and forks such as carbon forks helps with shock absorption, especially on rough terrains.
A steel frame are the most durable out of the three but they often are the heaviest which adds that extra unescessary.
A carbon frame always come at a higher price point than an aluminum frame, therefore, may not be suitable for newer riders, especially if you’re looking for a quality road bikes without breaking the bank.
Another factor you should look out for is whether it has a rack, a top tube or fenders to store your favorite kit. Nothing I hate more than having to carry everything on my back because my bike doesn’t have fenders. For a beginner especially, it’ll make gravel biking a more enjoyable experience.
Wheel size and tires
If possible go-between 32c and 37c wheels, these are the mid range. These ones provide better control and maneuverability as compared to the 27.5-inch wheels and wider tires. They will offer more shock absorption, especially on uneven surfaces, providing more traction.
Narrower tires will offer better rolling as they are generally lighter in weight.
Most entry-level gravel bikes you’ll find will have 700c x 32c wheels and tires up to 650b x. 700c x wheels are better in my opinion.
You may also find gravel bikes with a smaller 650b wheel on the wheels allowing a range from 42c to 47c which is the mid range of gravel tires.
It would also be good to consider tubeless-ready or clincher rims if you’d like to upgrade your entry-level gravel bike as they may not be in your price range originally. Tubeless-ready tires reduce the likelihood of flats especially on terrains like gravel, it’ll be tougher and better for tackling rough terrains.
Finding a bike wheel that is tubeless compatible is important if you’re thinking of upgrading in the future.
The wheels also have two options. You can choose either aluminum alloys or premium carbon fiber models. The problem with carbon fiber wheels is that they break easily. In terms of durability, aluminum alloy wheels are the best.
Click here for the best tires for puncture resistance, they’re perfect for the gravel terrains.
As a beginner, I would definitely aim to look for a gravel bike that has 2x gearing as it makes off-road climbs and the rougher gravel much easier and more enjoyable.
2x drivetrains are also much cheaper than any other making it perfect for newer riders. A great example would be Salsa Journeyman 1 with this drivetrain.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a gravel bike?
Gravel bikes are also known as adventure road bicycles. They combine the benefits of off-road , road, and touring bikes. You can easily confuse them due to their close resemblance. However, their parts are slightly modified to handle tough terrains. Again, they feature racks which enables them to carry extra items.
What makes gravel bikes better than road and mountain bikes?
In terms of durability, they last longer than road bicycles. They are also faster as compared to mountain bikes.
What are the key features of a gravel bike?
The most common feature you will find in these bikes includes, fatter tires, dropped handlebar, mounts for racks and mudguards.
Whether you are searching for a quality bike for commuting or touring, gravel bikes are the best. What makes them stand out from the rest is because they provide better performance in trough terrains.
You can also mount racks when you want to carry various items and this is one of the reasons why they are preferred for touring.
Stay safe on the gravel trails and happy biking!
Content Manager at Pedallers
Alex is a cycling expert at and focuses on reviewing bikes, accessories, and general cycling. He searches for the most up to date products that match the needs of cyclists across the world. Whether it's recent news or the best bike set-ups, Alex is a trusted source for anything around cycling.