Best Gravel Bikes Under $500 – A Budget Friendly Guide

Adventurous biking doesn't always require breaking the bank. Enjoy endless thrills on these best gravel bikes for under $500.
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Gravel biking’s popularity has been on the rise for some time now and all of us adrenaline junkies can’t wait to jump this bandwagon. This is mainly because gravel bikes are a fun way to explore and at the same time you can get some exercise in. It is a good activity to get those joints moving. But with demand comes the price hike! Not all of us can afford the $$$$ priced gravel monsters! 

On the bright side, buying a gravel bike does not always require you to file for bankruptcy. That’s right. We have researched and tested several gravel bikes that are under $500 and do the job just right. You don’t have to go through the grueling task of endless searching because I have already done that. 

Ready to know about the affordable options? Let’s explore!

Gravel bike parked with a wall
A gravel bike parked with a wall

Top Gravel Bikes Under $500

Best FeatureBikePrice/$
Best OverallSchwinn Volare470.15
Best Wheel SizeHiland299.99 - 329.99
Best Ergonomics Mongoose Grit 378.00
Best Gear Shifting Giordano Acciao209.99
Best Handling Vilano R2 259.19 - 286.19

Important Notice: All the prices mentioned are subject to change.

1. Schwinn Volare- Editor’s Choice 

Price: MSRP $470.15

Schwinn Volare
Schwinn Volare

Features

  • Frame: Aluminum 
  • Shifters: Shimano a050
  • Derailleur: Shimano
  • Gears: 14
  • Drivetrain: 21-speed or 27-speed
  • Rims: Double-walled alloy rims
  • Tire Size: 28 mm
  • Brakes: Caliper brakes
  • Suspension: Rigid 

Overview

The Schwinn Volare is the top under 500 gravel bike that you are going to come across. The bike remains lightweight yet stiff.  What I did not enjoy was having to take off my hands from the bar while riding to change the gear. This is due to the unique position of the shifters. 

Since the spokes are balanced, your wheel becomes resistant to the bumps. Also, most of the bikes at this price point do not have such wide tires which makes the Schwinn more likeable. 

This extra mm gives more grip on sharp corners and bumpy roads. The caliper brakes are good enough for dry- weather but you have to be careful if you are going to use them in wet conditions. 

Advantages 

  • Built Using Quality Components 
  • Quality For Less Price 
  • Has Responsive Handling 
  • Suitable For Riding On Rough Terrain

Disadvantages 

  • Problematic To Change Gears 
  • Faulty Brakes 
  • Time-Taking Assembly 
Editor's Choice: The Schwinn Volare is my top pick because even on the longer rides I remained very comfortable. The handlebar design helped me maintain my posture to keep my muscles relaxed. The suspension on this bike is much better than the competitors so you will definitely enjoy a ride on this bike.

2. Hiland 26/27.5

Price: $299.99 – $329.99

Hiland 26 27 5 Inch
Hiland 26 27 5 Inch

Features

  • Frame: Aluminum 
  • Shifters: Shimano Altus M200
  • Derailleur: Shimano rear derailleur
  • Drivetrain: 27-speed
  • Gears: 27
  • Rims: Double-walled alloy rims
  • Tire Size: 27.5
  • Suspension: Front suspension fork
  • Brakes: Hydraulic disc brakes 

Overview

Although Hiland is marketed as a mountain bike, its specs fit the definition of a gravel bike. The whole assembly took me around 20 minutes and the bike was ready to ride. This bike is suited for some serious off-roading as well as gravel riding. 

What’s different is that the Hiland has hydraulic disc brakes, which, unlike the caliper brakes, deliver powerful stopping power even in wet conditions. There is also a lockout suspension fork which helps keep the rides bump-free. This means that the fork will remain locked and will not absorb your power. There is also a quick release in place for the wheels.  The difference is not too big but on the tracks, I felt more comfortable riding it. 

Advantages 

  • Internal Cable Routing Gives A Clean Finish
  • Powerful Brakes Give You The Control
  • Responsive Handling 

Disadvantages 

  • Bike Skips Gears Sometimes
  • Bearings Might Need Tightening 

3. Mongoose Grit 

Price: MSRP $378.00

Mongoose Grit Adventure Road Bike
Mongoose Grit Adventure Road Bike

Features

  • Frame: 6061 glossy metallic frame 
  • Shifters: 27-speed
  • Derailleur: Shimano Altus M200
  • Gears: 27
  • Drivetrain: 3×9
  • Rims: Double-walled alloy rims 
  • Tire Size: 700×40
  • Brakes: Mechanical disc brakes

Overview 

The Mongoose Grit is a bike for those seeking an adventure gravel bike on a budget. It’s a proper adventure bike because its tires are capable of running on all kinds of surfaces. Paved, road, dirt, or road, the Kick-Back tires are ready for it all. 

It has many gravel-friendly features like front and rear renders mount and mount points for six accessories.  What appealed to me the most about this bike was its hunched frame design. I have not experienced riding on such a frame and it was surely a delight to try this one. The bike manufacturers proclaim that it delivers stopping power in all weathers but I myself have only tried it in dry conditions. It did work fine but not as well as the brakes on the Hiland.

Advantages 

  • Internal Cable Routing Gives A Finish Look
  • Comfortable Bike Seat
  • Provides Value For Money 
  • It Is Accessarizeable 

Disadvantages 

  • Wrongly Installed Fork In Some Cases 
  • Uses Low-Quality Bearings 
  • The Bottom Bracket Is Weak
Why I Like It: Although the bike was shipped as a disaster in the waiting, once I put it together, it was comfortable to ride. The Shimano Drivetrain and knobby tires may not be something new but the control work just fine. With the affordable price tag, this bike is a good option to consider.

4. Giordano Acciao

Price: MSRP $209.99

Giordano Acciao Bike
Giordano Acciao Bike

Features

  • Frame: Steel Frame 
  • Shifters: Shimano Claris R2000
  •  Drivetrain: 14-speed
  • Derailleur: Shimano front and rear
  • Gears: 24
  • Rims: Double-wall alloy rims
  • Tire Size: 700c x 25 mm
  • Brakes: Dual Pivot Pull brakes

Overview 

This unisex bike will help you enjoy your adventure rides. The steel frame does make the bike heavier but it also makes it more durable. This is the only reason I have set this bike below the above-mentioned options. 

Nonetheless, if you can look over this one point, Acciao will surely deliver performance. Another good option to consider is the Giordano Trieste gravel bike but it costs around $850. The dual pivot pull brakes are better than single-pivot brakes because they are lightweight and more powerful. 

Advantages 

  • The Bike Is A Great Fit 
  • Tires Effectively Absorbs Road Vibrations 
  • The Gear Shifting Is Smooth 

Disadvantages 

  • The Saddle Is Uncomfortable 
  • Paint Chips Off Easily 
  • The Wheels Are Low-Quality  
Why I Like It: I am a tall guy and I do not find my bike size easily but the Giordano Acciao was a great fit. It really feels nice to ride once you change the original saddle because the original is too stiff. I would not recommend it for long rides.

5. Vilano R2 

Price: MSRP $259.19 – $286.19

Vilano R2
Vilano R2

Features

  • Frame: 6061 Aluminum
  • Shifters: Shimano a050 thumb shifters
  • Drivetrain: 7-speed
  • Derailleur: Shimano A050 rear derailleur
  • Gears: 21
  • Rims: Double-walled alloy
  • Tire Size: 700c x 28c
  • Brakes: Dual caliper rim 

Vilano R2 feels more like a fast commuter bike with drop bars. But you can also use it as a gravel bike because of its features. It is stiff where it should be. 

The urban commuter saddle is better than that on the Giordano Acciao and it also comes with a bottle mount. The drawback of shifting gears is that you will have to remove your hands from the handlebars in order to change gears. The bike comes with free pedals but it does require tunning.

Advantages 

  • Offers Value For Price 
  • Bike Is Easy To Handle 
  • Very Lightweight 
  • Gives A Sleek Look  
  • Easy To Assemble 

Disadvantages 

  • Requires Frequent Brake Adjustments 
  • The Seat Is Uncomfortable 
  • It Is Not Durable For Rigorous Riding 
Why I Like It: Vilano R2 was too easy to put together but if it is your first time, it will take some time. It does come with assembly instructions. I like how the bike shifts and feels while you are riding it. It might feel chunky, but with a few adjustments, you will be loving it.

If you haven’t found a bike you are interested in yet, check out this complete guide on the best gravel bikes!

What To Look For When Buying A Gravel Bike 

If you are going to buy a gravel bike for the first time, here is what you need to look for:

Feature Consideration
Frame Size & Material
  • Choose an appropriate frame size for your height and body proportions.
  • Consider frame material (e.g., aluminum, carbon fiber, steel) based on your preferences. I personally prefer carbon fiber frames because they are comfortable and lightweight.
Weight
  • Look for a bike with an acceptable overall weight, as lighter bikes are easier to handle and accelerate. An ideal weight will be around 20 to 25 pounds (9 to 11.3 kilograms) for mid-ranged gravel bikes. 
Suspension
  • A rigid gravel bike is recommended for smoother terrain while a suspended one will perform better on technical and rough terrains.
  • Before deciding, consider how suspension affects comfort and weight along with your riding terrain. 
Brakes
  • Disc brakes are common on gravel bikes. They provide better stopping power and modulation.
Wheel Size
  • The wheel size should be suitable for your riding style and terrain. Common options are 700c and 650b.
Tubeless Compatible Wheels
  • Make sure the wheels are tubeless-compatible for better puncture resistance and control over tire pressure.
Comfort Features
  • Check for comfort features on handlebars, saddle, and other contact points. These features enhance long-ride comfort.
Customizability
  • You should consider whether the bike is customizable for any future modifications or adaptations to different sports if you want to try something new.

If you are having trouble understanding your gravel bike size, give this gravel bike size chart a read to learn everything from sizing to geometry. You can also use this bike size calculator to find the right size. 

Why You Need A Gravel Bike?

Cyclist On A Gravel Bike
Cyclist On A Gravel Bike

In my opinion, If you can only afford one bike, you should get a gravel bike. Buying a bike is a very big decision since a lot of your hard-earned money is going into it. 

Comfortable 

Gravel bikes are comfortable. You can even do long endurance rides on them and not get tired. They may be slow, but they are comfortable. You can even use these bikes for road riding. All you would need to do is change the wheels. This saves you from having to buy an entire bike for different kinds of riding. 

Discover the perfect size and width for your bike’s tires and take your adventures to the next level.

Speed 

The bike is going to be slower only if you do not know how to ride it. If you are a seasoned cyclist, you can go fast on even a gravel bike. It is slower but not drastically slow. I was able to achieve an average of around 35 km in an hour so the speed is really up to you. I was also riding my gravel bike with the gravel tires, if you switch them with road tires, you can definitely cover more distance.

If you are going to upgrade your tires, you should definitely read How To Install New Bike Tires. Tips And Tricks

Geometry 

Theoretically speaking, since the geometry is similar, you can even slap on a set of aero bars and turn it into a triathlon bike. You can use a gravel bike for all sorts of sports. It might not be ideal but it is possible. The same cannot be said for a triathlon bike or a road bike.

Versatility 

Gravel bikes are versatile. Unlike mountain bikes, you can ride them anywhere you want since they are not track-restricted. You may get this option on a hybrid bike, but gravel bikes are more durable.

Related: Cyclocross Bikes Vs Gravel Bikes — Which One Is Better? 

FAQs

How Much Do You Need To Spend On A Gravel Bike?

Generally, you can look at spending anywhere from $800-$10,000. The price really depends on a lot of different aspects like the brand, features, and the components used. 

Is Gravel Bike Faster?

Gravel Bikes are neither too fast nor too slow. They allow you to achieve a moderate speed. Still, they are a great choice for anyone who wants to explore different kinds of terrain. 

Is A Gravel Bike OK On A Road?

Yes, a gravel bike is certainly OK on a road. It does not have the same speed as road bikes but if you change the gravel tires and install road tires on it, it does get closer to a road bike in terms of speed. 

Can I Use a Road Bike As A Gravel Bike?

Yes, with the right setup and tires, you can use a road bike as a gravel bike. 

Is A Gravel Bike Comfortable?

Yes, gravel bikes are designed to be comfortable on different kinds of terrain. The level of comfort that you experience depends on different factors like tire choice and frame material. 

Is Gravel Bike Good For Long Rides?

Generally, gravel bikes are good for longer rides. Especially when it comes to riding on mixed terrain where they are very comfortable. Their versatility is what makes them more comfortable. 

Conclusion 

Gravel bikes are a great way to enjoy the benefits of both road as well as mountain bikes in a single bike. They can be expensive but with the options I gave you above, you get the flexibility of making a sound decision. I will recommend trying the Schwinn Volare, Hiland 26/27.5, or the Mongoose Grit first before moving on to the other options. Chances are you will like one of these. 

Now that you know what options you have, which affordable gravel bike is going to be next on your shopping list? Let me know in the comment section. Happy Ridding! 

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This article was crafted by Rhodes Perry, Editor-in-Chief, a seasoned expert, bringing 16 years of experience and knowledge about all types of bikes. Our goal is to provide you with accurate, reliable, and valuable insights to help you make informed decisions and enhance your biking experience.

Should you have any questions or require further clarification on the topic, please feel free to connect with our expert author Rhodes Perry by leaving a comment below. We value your engagement and are here to assist you.

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Rhodes Perry

Rhodes Perry

Rhodes is a writer, social justice advocate, and passionate cyclist. He primarily spends his time in the saddle commuting or riding multi-day, self-supported tours, and volunteers time wrenching at his local bike coop.

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