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gravel bike vs road bike

Gravel Bike vs. Road Bike: What are the Differences?

Are you thinking of getting a new bike? If so, you may be wondering if a gravel bike or road bike is the right choice for you. While they share some similarities, there are some key differences between these two types of bikes that you should know about before making your decision.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at what sets gravel bikes and road bikes apart, and help you decide which one is right for you. Stay tuned!

What is a gravel bike?

A gravel bike is a bicycle that is designed for riding on unpaved roads. These bikes usually have wider tires than road bikes, and they are often equipped with features that make them more comfortable and easier to ride on rough terrain.

What are the benefits of using a gravel bike instead of a road bike?

Some of the benefits of using a gravel bike include:

  • Better stability and control on uneven surfaces more comfort thanks to the wider tires and suspension
  • Greater ability to tackle hill climbs
  • More versatility in terms of the types of terrain you can ride on.

Gravel Bike Vs Road Bike: Differences in Features and Design

FeaturesGravel BikeRoad Bike
Wheels and tires36-45 mm (1.4-1.8 inches)21-38 mm (0.8-1.5 inches)
GearsSimilar to road bike gears; Cassette: 10-42t to 10-52t Chainring: 40-46t, singleCassette: 10-42t to 10-52t Chainring: 40-46t, single/double
BrakesRim/disc brakesRim/disc brakes
SuspensionNone (30-40mm suspension fork in some cases)None
Frame GeometryLongerShorter
Weight18-30 lbs18 lbs
HandlebarsDrop barsDrop bars
Max tire clearance33mm33-35mm

Tires

Gravel bikes have wider tires than road bikes. This helps to provide more stability and control on uneven surfaces. Treads on gravel bike tires are also generally deeper than those on road bike tires. This helps to improve grip when riding on loose or slippery surfaces.

Suspension

Some gravel bikes are equipped with suspension forks or rear shocks. This helps to absorb bumps and vibrations, making for a more comfortable ride.

Frame geometry

Gravel bike frames are often designed with a longer wheelbase and less steep head angle. This helps to create a more stable riding platform. This also slows down the handling a bit, making it easier to control the bike on rough terrain.

You’ll also find longer reach, shorter frame stack and head tube to allow for a lower, more aerodynamic position on a road bike, while gravel bikes have shorter reach and more upright position.

Gearing

Gravel bikes often have a wider range of gears than road bikes. This is because they are designed for riding on a variety of terrain, including hills.

You’ll find 1x and 2x drivetrains on both road and gravel bikes. However, gravel bikes tend to favor 1x drivetrains, while road bikes are more likely to be equipped with 2x drivetrains. You’ll also find two small chainrings on some road bikes (compared to one on gravel bikes). This helps to provide a wider range of gears for speedier riding on flat terrain.

Brakes

Gravel bikes typically have disc brakes, which offer more stopping power than traditional rim brakes. You’ll appreciate this especially when riding on wet or slippery surfaces.

What terrain type is best suited for a gravel bike or road bike?

Gravel bike: Gravel bikes are designed for riding on unpaved roads. This includes dirt roads, forest trails, and even some singletrack trails. Since they share similarities with road bikes, you can also use them for riding on the pavement. However, speed and efficiency on pavement may suffer due to the wider tires and less aerodynamic frame geometry.

Road bike: Road bikes are designed for riding on paved roads. This includes city streets, country roads, and even some light off-road trails. However, they are not as well suited for riding on rougher terrain like dirt roads and singletrack trails.

So, which bike is right for you?

If you plan on doing most of your riding on unpaved roads, then a gravel bike is the way to go. However, if you’re mostly going to be riding on pavement, then a road bike will be more suited to your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the downsides to using a gravel bike instead of a road bike?

Some of the downsides to using a gravel bike include a heavier bike, less speed efficiency, and not enough high gears. They are also less comfortable for long rides on pavement.

How much should you expect to pay for a good quality gravel bike?

You can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 for a good quality gravel bike.

How much slower is a gravel bike than a road bike?

For city riding, a gravel bike will not be as fast as a road bike. You can expect a speed of 16mph – 22mph on paved roads. In contrast, you can go as high as 28mph on a road bike.

Conclusion

Gravel bikes and road bikes are both designed for riding on different surfaces. Gravel bikes are best suited for riding on unpaved roads, while road bikes are better for riding on pavement. However, both bike types can be used for city riding.

If you’re mostly going to be riding on pavement, then a road bike is the way to go. However, if you plan on doing most of your riding on unpaved roads, then a gravel bike is the better choice.


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