Sub $2k Gravel bikes

I’m looking to buy my first gravel bike. I live in Northern California so I’ll be riding more hilly terrain than pan flat gravel. Does anyone have recommendations on any entry level gravel bikes?

I’d recommend a used cyclocross bike, either 2x or 1x if you’re willing to spend some more money on the drivetrain to make it more gravel oriented. Should be able to get a really nice carbon bike with disc brakes for under $2k. The geometry won’t be modern gravel, but it’ll be a lot nicer of a bike than any new gravel bike you can get for that money.

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Cyclocross vs. gravel is about what kind of riding you’ll be doing. Bikepacking, touring, commuting, single-track, long and leisurely picnics? A gravel bike is a better bet: the geometry will be more comfortable, it’ll have a bunch of frame mounts for storage, the tire clearance will be wider, and the stock gearing will be more flexible. Every big manufacturer and a bunch of the littler ones have a sub-$2k gravel bike at this point, and there’s not really a wrong answer among them. It’s all about what fits your body and your riding. At that price point you’re looking at aluminum frames, which are fine, and Shimano-105-level groupsets, which are also fine.

I picked up a 2016 cyclocross bike before “gravel bikes” were a marketing thing, and replaced it with a gravel bike a year later. I don’t recommend getting a nicer-specced bike that doesn’t line up with the kind of riding you want to do.

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Totally valid answer here, and I agree to a large extent. I’m a gear head who always wants the “best” components, but @ellotheth is right that comfort and geometry trump all. I’ll just say that riding roads on cyclocross geometry isn’t as bad as the current industry would like you to believe!

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At that price point, I’d take a hard look at the alloy Topstone. Three was an extensive (and positive) review over at RidingGravel, as well as a sporadic set of updates on how the author is making targeted upgrades to it.

The biggest knock on the stock setup that I see is the crankset.

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This is a fantastic bike! I swapped out the crank on mine for a GRX one so I could get a Stages left side power meter and I’ve been thrilled with the bike.

For $2k, you can’t go wrong but most manufacturers should have something comparable in aluminum with 105/GRX components.

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I’m tempted to merge these threads, but the $1000-$1500 range on the prior one is different than the $2000 state here. But I suggest a review of the other one at the very least, since there is likely some useful overlap.

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The Canyon aluminum one I believe is under 2k.

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Check out the Giant Revolt 2. Got ours last year for $1,650. List is higher, but sure you can get it for $2k easily. Great bike, carbon, modern Geo, nice wheel size capability. Rides awesome on gravel - I am amazed how well it soaks up the chatter…

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With the trend to wider tyres I’d be careful of older frames. I happened to be talking about this today with a mate who runs a bike mechanic business - another customer came in who had been having “wheel” problems. It turned out he’d bought a set of wide carbon wheels but with the narrowest tyres possible they fouled both frame and fork. He’d paid £1000 (something like $1200) for them! An expensive mistake. :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

I definitely like the used option for your first bike. Three years ago I bought a used S-Works Crux for $3500. It was a $9,000 build with like new Force 1 parts and Zipp tubular race wheels. I sold those wheels for $1000 and was all-in for $3000 on a really nice bike. The frame alone on an S-Works is $4000.

I’ve been a roadie all my life and I took the Crux easily. Even though it’s a cross race bike, it’s more laid back than my road bikes and has a little less stack and reach. I love it, especially for the price.

The gravel market has obviously evolved in the last few years towards slacker, more mountain like geo but I’m not sure it’s a huge game changer.

That said, a couple of club mates bought Salsa Cutthroats. They are bike packing gravel bikes. My Crux is faster than theirs but I do like that they can take up to 2.6" tires! I’m limited to 40mm. I’d go up to 45 or 50mm if I could. It comes down to what terrain you will mostly ride and what wheels/tires you’ll want to run.

If I were buying new today I’d take a look at the Salsa Warbird. You can get a carbon frame and Tiagra for $2000 MSRP or with Apex1 for $2500. Weirdly, the frame alone costs $2000. The Warbird will take up to 45mm tires and can also take 650b wheels. It seems like a lot of bike for the $$$.

I’m just editorializing here but it’s kind of ridiculous how the large brands can turn out nice entry level road bikes below 1k yet very few options exist for gravel/Cx in a more entry level range. I got super lucky with my Raleigh CX bike for $700 new (2x11 sram but with cantilever brakes). Poseidon is the only bike I can think of in the budget range for gravel, seems like there’s a premium attached to these labels. Off the soapbox now! Lol

I did the cyclocross to gravel switch out. Bought a used Trek Cronus (2012) for cheap. Put used 3T ergonova car bars, Hunt Aero wheelset (tubeless) w/ Gravel Kings, a Selle Italia Cross saddle on a Redshift suspension seatpost. Did my first gravel race last weekend (65 miles in the Texas Hill Country area around Llano). Had a blast and it did great (to include some serious water crossings). Even take it on single track behind my house and it feels like riding a mountain bike. My two cents worth

Salsa Stormchaser

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I’d check out the Cannondale Topstone. Entry level price but some good components.

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Thats a pretty sweet frame.

Don’t know if you can get UK brand Kinesis but this was circa £1.5k, GRX, Miche handbuilt cwheels. The frame was designed for adventure riding, forks are adjustable too.

Picture not great but man it’s an awesome bright orange.

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Very nice, but you better trim that steerer tube before I come over there and do it myself! :grin:

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Since you’re in California, I’m surprised no one mentioned Marin Gestalt X10. A review should show up on CyclingTips.com some time in next 5 weeks.

Yeah I saw that. I dig Marin as a company bc I’m 30min from Marin county