Cheap Gravel Bikes
Versatile yet speedy on & off-road bikes, with big savings!
What's a gravel bike?
A gravel bike, otherwise known as an adventure or all-road bike, is a do-it-all versatile bike designed for multi terrain riding; handling smooth road tarmac, the gravel of canal paths and the dirt & roots of forest singletrack and bridleways alike. Gravel bikes are popular amongst UK riders for touring, bike trekking and bikepacking, as well as daily commuting.
Gravel Bikes vs Road Bikes
Similar in shape to a road bike at first glance, a gravel bike features a more upright riding position, with lower gearing, wider tyre clearance and higher volume tyres for extra grip. The wheelbase of a gravel bike will be longer than that of a road bike, with more relaxed geometry for extra stability. Handlebars are typically wider, and gravel bikes almost exclusively use disc brakes rather than the traditional caliper brakes of road cycling. This provides the increased braking power necessary when riding more challenging terrain. Cheaper gravel bikes tend to utilise mechanical disc brakes, with the majority of mid to high end models featuring full hydraulic braking systems for additional power and less maintenance.
Gravel Bike Framesets
Most gravel bike frames are constructed from alloy, steel or carbon, with a few high end bikes comprising of titanium framesets. Alloy is typically the most cost effective and is found on the cheapest gravel bikes, with lightweight yet stiff carbon reserved for gravel bikes in the £2000 plus category. Steel frames offer a forgiving ride, although often with a slight weight penalty. The vast majority of adventure bikes feature rigid forks, with a few expensive models featuring short travel suspension systems. Gravel frames also often provide mudguard and luggage mounts for greater versatility, thus appealing to bike packers, touring cyclists and commuters who wish to stay clean.
Wheel sizes for gravel riding
Wheels vary between 650b and 700c, and are interchangeable on most gravel bikes; the smaller diameter 650b (27.5") wheels providing additional tyre clearance, and thus enabling riders to run wider and higher volume tyres for increased grip. Gravel bike tyre volume is greater than that of a road bike, but narrower than a mountain bike to reflect the bike's purpose of riding both form of terrain.
Gravel bikes are either fitted with a single chainring up front (1x drivetrain) for simplicity or a double chainring and front derailleur (2x) for those who require wider gearing.
Gravel Bike Components
An adventure bike's drop handlebars appear similar to a road bike's setup, but most models feature flared ends to increase width and control when riding fast, tricky sections. Overall width is still far less than that of a mountain bike's flat or riser bars, and if you're not confident of riding with narrow bars, then some hybrids offer a similar riding experience to a gravel bike, albeit with flat bars instead of drops. Alternatively I also have a section dedicated to electric bikes, including a few gravel E-Bikes for those who would like additional assistance up the hills.
So there you have it; a highly versatile, fast yet fun riding bike aimed at those who wish to ride on mixed terrain with just the one bike. Below you can search for a gravel bike; simply select your size, budget or frame material and I'll do the rest! Whether it be the best budget gravel bikes under £1000, or mid range models in the £2000-3000 range, I'll do my best to help!
Welcome to my Gravel Bike section! A gravel bike is essentially somewhere between a road bike and MTB, providing drop bars, 700c wheels, disc brakes (usually!), wide tyres and a rigid frame and fork. A Gravel bike kinda resembles a cyclocross bike, albeit with slightly different geometry. They're pretty quick on the road, yet nimble and strong enough to tolerate the demands of off-road riding too; and so are ideal for those with only enough room, or budget, for one bike. A good example of a budget gravel bike is the Merlin Malt G2 Claris. Below you'll see any deals I find, which you can search by size.
Handy Tip: If you're on a low budget, a cheap solution to getting a gravel bike can be to convert an old hardtail mountain bike. Simply add a rigid fork, narrow tyres, and drop bars (if preferred to flats) - check eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree for local second hand bargains (ideally pick up only, so you're not bidding against the whole country!). With a bit of effort, this is easily achievable for £250-£300.
For those who wish to buy new, please note that this page is a relatively recent addition to the Bike Bargains website, so please bear with me whilst I track down & add enough discounted Gravel Bikes to make it fully functional! Anyway, onto the bikes.
Gravel Bikes Frequently Asked Questions
Click on a topic to find out more.
- Is a gravel bike suitable for road cycling?
At first glance, a gravel bike looks pretty similar to a road bike, so yes, a gravel bike can easily be ridden on the road. However, it will have a few subtle disadvantages when compared to riding a regular road bike on the tarmac:
If you have a 1x setup (single chainring) the gearing will be a little low. This means you might run out of gears on downhills, and so won't have the same top end speed as a road bike. This applies for any riding over 25mph, so will mainly occur on the descents.
You also won't have the same wide selection of gears, so locating that perfect gear for a comfortable cadence will be harder.
For 2x drivetrains (i.e. a double chainset - with 2 chainrings - and a front derailleur), this should have less effect, due to your wider range of gearing.
Slower Tyres & Wheels
Gravel bikes feature wide tyres (typically 35c/38c), whereas road bikes can be anywhere from 20c to 25c. As a result, gravel tyres will roll slower due to their additional width and grip; the knobs on the tyres increase rolling resistance, and this will be noticeable on the legs.
The good news is you can easily fix this with another set of tyres (or ideally a spare set of wheels).
Flared handlebars may exclude you from competing in a road race or event, due to their excessive width. It's worth checking this prior to entering (although admittedly most racers will have a dedicated road bike). The UCI's current rules are no bars over 50cm
Gravel bikes tend to weigh more than the equivalently priced road bike. This additional weight is due to the gravel bike being designed for off-road riding.
Riding on singletrack and gravel, and bumping over rocks and roots creates stresses on a bike in excess of what is generated by road riding. As a result the bike needs extra reinforcement and stronger components, which are a little overkill for road riding.
It's perfectly safe to ride a gravel bike on the road, but the additional weight will make it marginally slower. This shouldn't be massively noticeable for the average rider.
Relaxed Gravel Geometry
Finally, a gravel bike features more relaxed geometry; a slacker head angle, longer wheelbase and a higher front end for better handling off-road.
This will provide a more upright riding position, which will be less responsive and aerodynamic than that of a road bike.
These are all pretty minor points; ultimately a gravel bike is far more adept at riding on tarmac than a mountain bike or even a hybrid.
If you're looking to compete in races, you'll want a road bike, as every little advantage helps.
For everyone else, a gravel bike will be fun to ride on road, or off for that matter.
About Gravel Bikes
Gravel Bike Geometry
Reach, Stack Height, Wheelbase, Head Angle, Fork Rake & BB Drop on a Gravel Bike.
A gravel bike has many of the same features as a road bike; at first glance you may struggle to tell them apart. However, upon a closer look you'll notice a few subtle differences designed to improve handling when riding off-road.
Stack and reach are two of the more important measurements of a gravel bike frame.
Stack is the vertical distance between the heights of the bottom bracket and top of the head tube.
Reach is the horizontal distance between the same two points.
On a gravel bike, the reach is shorter and the stack is greater than that of a road bike. Essentially this means that the front end of the gravel bike is higher up and closer to the saddle, and so less aerodynamic, but more relaxed and comfortable to ride.
The wheelbase of a gravel bike is longer than that of a road bike, and the head angle is slacker.
The wheelbase is the distance between the wheels, and the head angle is the angle of the head tube / fork steerer in relation to the ground.
The increased wheelbase adds stability when travelling over rough ground.
Similarly, the slack head angle enables the bike to handle rocks, bumps and roots easier, as your weight is positioned further back from the front wheel. This is exaggerated yet further by the fork rake - essentially how far the fork travels forward from where it leaves the frame to where it meets the wheel axle.
Decreased Toe overlap
Both the head and rake angle reduce the possibility of toe overlap, which again reduce the chance of your foot touching the front wheel whilst pedalling.
Increased Tyre Clearance
Tyre clearance is a lot larger than a road bike, often allowing you to run tyres up to 38c, which are required due to the gravel bike's intended use on varied terrain.
Bottom Bracket Drop
Bottom bracket drop is the vertical distance between the bottom bracket and the hub height of both wheels. The greater this distance, the lower the bottom bracket. A bike with a greater bottom bracket drop gives more stability as your centre of gravity is positioned lower.
However a low bottom bracket also results in your cranks and pedals being closer to the ground, which increases the chances of them hitting rocks, roots and other obstacles.
To sum up Gravel Geometry
All of these measurements leave a gravel bike somewhere inbetween a road bike and a modern mountain bike, which underlines it's purpose as a versatile all-rounder.
Gravel Bike Frame Options
As with most bike frames, you have a few main options when it comes to a gravel bike's frame material. These choices are largely defined by your budget.
Alloy: a popular choice, very cheap, can be repaired, lightweight and strong.
The cheapest gravel bikes will almost certainly feature an alloy (aluminium) frame, often using a 6061-T6 alloy. This is a cost effective material, being resilient to corrosion, lightweight and strong. It's heavier than carbon, and has a better strength to weight ratio than steel.
Alloy easier to repair than carbon, and far cheaper to produce. Generally speaking, the majority of gravel bikes under £1500 will feature an aluminium frame.
In terms of riding, alloy frames are slightly less forgiving than carbon and steel, but are one of the most popular choices of frame material due to it's low cost and durability. It won't suffer oxidation damage to the same extent as steel, and so requires less maintenance.
Aluminium frames will typically be a pound heavier than an equivalent carbon frame, but will cost considerably less.
Steel: nice to ride, traditional and strong, easy to fix, can rust, and has a weight penalty.
Steel gravel frames are seen as a traditional choice of material for a new genre of riding. Steel can be used to create strong and forgiving gravel bikes, with steel being both sturdy yet still flexible enough to remove the buzz of the trails. For this reason, steel is a popular choice with those who ride long distances. You won't feel as "beaten up" after a day in the saddle on a well designed steel gravel bike as you would on many other frame tyres.
The main disadvantage of steel is it's weight penalty; it will weigh an additional pound or two over a carbon frame, and if not maintained and checked can also be prone to oxidation (rusting).
Steel does have it's advantages however: it's easier to mend than all other materials, requiring less specialist equipment, and is far less likely to be written off in a crash than it's carbon counterparts. If travelling in a remote area, it will be far easier to find someone to fix a steel frame compared to a carbon or alloy framed bike.
In terms of price, steel gravel bikes start at around £800, all the way up to made-to-order boutique steel framesets costing several thousand.
Carbon: great to ride, lightweight but expensive and difficult (but getting easier) to get them repaired.
Carbon frames are constructed by weaving together carbon fibre strands and setting them within resin. The end result is a very lightweight, stiff and strong bike frame, which would typically weigh a pound less than an alloy gravel frame. The material itself has vibration damping properties which reduce any buzz from the wheels for a smoother ride. Many alloy framed gravel bikes utilise carbon forks for this very reason.
Carbon can be easier to damage; dropping or crashing your bike is more likely to result in a broken frame than alloy or steel. Essentially carbon frames are exceptionally strong at their intended purpose, but a random sideways impact to a frame's tube when dropped can easily cause major structural damage rather than a small dent. Similarly, it is easy to damage a carbon frame by over tightening bolts or clamps, so more care is required when building or maintaining the bike.
Other downsides of carbon are the cost, and the difficulty of repairs. As carbon bikes become more popular, the latter is becoming more common, although it is a more skilled job than mending an alloy or steel frame.
Titanium: very expensive, lighter than alloy and steel, a unique, forgiving ride that stands out from the crowd.
Finally, there are a few posh titanium models on the market, usually produced in small quantities by non mainstream boutique brands. Often seen as works of art, titanium gravel frames are sought after but very pricey. As a material, titanium is stronger than aluminium and considerably lighter than steel, as well as being very robust.
Titanium frames are rarely painted, typically being left with the natural ti finish.
In terms of weight, Titanium is slightly heavier than carbon, but lighter than alloy and steel.