The seasons may have changed, but your bike, body, and kit have been in hibernation since winter descended. All of it may need a refresh. Funds might be tight, but cheap gravel biking gear does exist. So you can still update your rig and yourself to kick off the upcoming months of glorious pedaling.
As GearJunkie’s cycling editor, I’m super fortunate regarding cycling gear. I’ve amassed a sizeable collection of gravel riding accouterments, and new products always land on my desk. Here are my current cheap gravel biking gear favorites, all tested on true gravel grounds.
Budget Gravel Gear Picks
Small Sticky Pod Pocket Organizer: $15
As a cycling editor, I constantly test multiple bikes in multiple categories. It made sense for me to create one tire repair and tool kit to carry across all bikes. Swapping a seat bag was hard to remember, and not all of them were secure or protected the contents well. After years of buying and trying many different ways to strap tools, CO2 cartridges, and tubes to the bike, I switched to a jersey pocket organizer, and I’m never going back.
There are plenty of high-faluting jersey pocket organizers that cycling-specific brands are shilling for a lot more dough, but this inexpensive Sticky Pod is my favorite. Most importantly, it’s made of neoprene and has a silicone overlay on one side, hence the name “sticky.” It will most likely flip your jersey pocket inside out before launching out of it.
The small Sticky Pod is large enough for a multitool, tire levers, CO2 cartridges, plugs, etc., with the use of compact polyurethane tubes (below). At a measly $15, this is my favorite cheap gravel riding gear find of the last year.
If you require more space, Sticky Pods has a larger size.
Camp and Go Slow Rattler Bar Tape: $44
It’s hard not to like the brand name, as it’s an homage to the most history-laden bicycle component manufacturer in the world, Campagnolo. Cleverly named Camp And Go Slow offers a woven handlebar tape, which fits the brand’s focus on adventure.
The California company makes small batches of its accessories and dropped a run of Rattler tape just a few weeks ago. The woven nylon blend tape had enough texture to make bare-handed, sweaty riding feel secure. And the 1.5mm foam backing provided enough padding for gravel without losing the feel for what the front tire is doing.
Camp And Go Slow offers the Rattler tape in two styles, Eastern and Western, with two strips of 3300mm, more than enough to wrap most drop bars (the brand encourages creative use of the scraps). The tape also ships in a reusable ripstop nylon bag.
Tifosi Rail Race Sunglasses: $80
I’m always impressed with Tifosi’s value proposition in cycling glasses. They are often half to one-third the cost of other glasses I receive for testing, but Tifosi models often perform as well as models well into triple-digit pricing.
The recent Rail Race release is no different. The polycarbonate shield-type glasses offered ample coverage that kept icy winds from drying out my contact lenses. And with a verified weight of 34 g, they were unnoticeable, even on the roughest terrain.
I tested the Satin Vapor Interchange tint and found that it blocked enough light for bright sun without hampering vision when darting in and out of tree coverage. And Tifosi includes a clear lens for those rainy days or night rides.
I loved the adjustable and hydrophilic nose pads (I have a very narrow nose bridge). The ear pads are the same.
The Rail Race has complete UV A / UV B protection, a Grilamid TR-90 frame, and Tifosi includes a case and microfiber bag. I cannot name a better deal for full-coverage cycling glasses.
Cannondale 18-in-1 With DynaPlug Multitool: $80
This is a “why wasn’t this out sooner?” item.
Dynaplug has been my longtime go-to for tubeless tire repair, but it always meant hauling a plug tool in addition to a multitool. Until now. Cannondale has smartly added Dynaplug to a comprehensive multitool, so there is one less thing to forget or carry.
The tool has the usual and necessary items for adventurous gravel: 2 / 2.5 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 8mm hex keys, T 25 Torx, Phillips #2, Flat #5, chain breaker, valve core tool, and a double-ended DynaPlug tool. It also has a storage compartment for a master link. (Again, why wasn’t this on a tool sooner?)
I decided it was my default multitool for gravel riding as soon as I saw it.
Orange Seal Endurance Tubeless Sealant: From $10
Nothing crushes the stoke more than kitting up, only to realize that your tubeless sealant has dried out and your tires will not hold air. I do a sealant refresh every 6 months to make sure. I write the date and default air pressure on the tire sidewall with a Sharpie (pro tester tip).
Tubeless sealant makes for an always-useful cheap gravel biking gear choice. And my trusted version, and for almost everyone I know, is Orange Seal Endurance Seal. This sealant has a track record in cycling that is hard to beat. And they support their own by sponsoring many riders and ambassadors, not just the big names on the podium.
You can’t go wrong with the orange stuff. Well, unless you screw up and the tire blows off in your face, covering you, your bike, and your shop in orange. It’s like trajectory vomiting from a clown that ate a bag of orange marshmallow-like circus peanuts. Not that I know.
Tubolito CX/Gravel Tube: $35
Even if you are running a tubeless setup on your gravel rig, it’s still a good idea to pack a spare tube. This will save you when you slash a sidewall or have some other damage you cannot fix with a plug.
But the standard butyl tubes are heavy and take up a lot of space. Tubolito polyurethane tubes solve every issue. They are much less than half the size and weight, and the brand claims they are more than twice as strong as butyl tubes.
Don’t let a standard butyl tube rob your jersey pocket of valuable space or weigh you down. You may never need it, but there is no reason not to carry a Tubolito, just in case.
Maxima Racing Oils Bike Chain Pro Chain Lube: $13
This is another one of the always-useful cheap gravel biking gear options. Cyclists can always use chain lube, and Maxima Racing Oils has formulated one of my favorites.
This dry formula soaked into each link and roller easily and dried quickly, leaving the lubricating layer behind. I found this chain lube particularly effective in keeping my driveline quiet in the dry and dusty conditions near my home. It didn’t attract dirt nearly as much as other chain lubes. Wiping off the dust after every ride helped preserve the effectiveness.
Maxima Racing Oils has a long history in motorsports, which is a lot harder on lubes than cycling, and I know through my experience in that field that Maxima is second to none. There are a lot of chain lubes out there, but Maxima’s expertise in motorsports lends me confidence.
Cheap gravel biking gear may be hard to come by, but it is out there and worth finding. All these items were proven worthy on dusty, rough, and remote ribbons of dirt and gravel. They may have budget pricing, but you can be confident that they will perform as stated, keeping your grin factor high mile after dirty mile.