Gravel Bike vs. Road Bike

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In this article, we will delve into the differences between a Gravel bike and a Road bike. As a bike enthusiast, you might think these bikes are the same because of their names and resemblance, but no, they are not the same. They each have specific features and designs that distinguish them from each other, as you will see in this blog post.

Gravel Bike vs. Road Bike:

Both the gravel bike and road bike have a lot in common but have different features and designs. Road bikes are best suited for tarmac and not designed for off-road riding, while a gravel bike is designed for off-road, fire trails, and dirt roads but can also cope with paved roads.

Gravel Bike vs. Road Bike 1

Which is Better, a Gravel Bike, or a Road Bike?

The fact that road bikes are designed for tarmacs does not mean it cannot be used for off-road riding. They are considered capable but have a defined limit. Once you venture into loose gravel roads with the road bike, you will notice the difference. They can handle paved roads more effectively than any bike, hence the ‘Road bike.’

Gravel bikes, on the other hand, can tackle a wide variety of surfaces. They can switch between smooth and rough terrains.

The purposes of these bikes do not mean they are better than each other, but their performance poses them as better bikes in their specific terrains.

The rest of this article will delve into their differences.

What is a Gravel Bike?

Gravel bikes are designed similar to road bikes to tackle mixed surfaces.  They’re prepared for multi-day journeys with the ability to carry the additional load. They are equipped with wider tires for stability, a drop bar to reduce the wind’s impact on the rider’s face, and maintain balance on the road.

Features of Gravel Bike

Geometry

The geometry of a gravel bike aims to give the rider comfort and stability. The broader tires help in providing a comfortable riding experience. Its head tube, combined with a shorter high tube, puts the rider in an upright position while riding.

Frame

The gravel bike frame is generally in aluminum, and they are heavier than most road bikes and can carry any load for the journey.

Tires

The tires are up to 33m and 42mm to enhance stability, grip, and luxury. The tire is motor-assisted by a hydraulic brake, which helps in worse conditions to provide stability.

What is a Road Bike?

As the name implies, a road bike is a bike specifically designed for paved roads. The road bike is usually used in racing events (road bicycle cycling). There are events where riders of road bikes come together in hundreds to compete. They can handle smooth roads. They have wider tires and provide comfort and grip for the rider.

Features of a Road Bike

Geometry

The geometry of road bikes helps to handle paved roads more than any other bike. It has a drop handlebar for lively handling and a shorter frame stack that puts the rider in a bent position.

Frame

The frames of road bikes are usually carbon. The frames are light, which makes the road bike faster on paved roads.

Tires

They have wide tires with a maximum tire clearance of around 33-35mm, and these wide tires allow for low pressure to avoid punctures.

Key Differences between Gravel Bikes and Road Bikes

Geometry

You will not be able to spot the differences between a gravel bike and a road bike unless you have them side by side. Road bikes have a short wheelbase, steeper angles for lively handling, and ride quality with a more extended reach for controls, shorter frame stack, and head tube to facilitate a rider’s bent position.

Gravel bike has a longer wheelbase and slacker head tube to ensure stability and slow down handling negotiations.

Wheels and Tires

The differences between the wheels and tires of a gravel bike and road bike are glaring. Gravel bikes have a tire clearance of up to 33mm, but they have a wider or broader range of up to 42mm, assisted with lower tire pressure to ensure grip and comfort. The additional width makes cornering on rough terrain easier.

Road bikes have a tire clearance around 33mm-35mm. They have wide tires like gravel bikes to allow for lower pressure. Their wide tires allow for less rolling resistance.

Brakes

The brake is one of the most critical parts of a bike. There are two types of brakes; disc brakes and rim brakes. Disc brakes have more advantages than rim brakes. Disc brakes can handle severe conditions, either mud, rainy weather, slopes, or rough terrains. They allow you to mount larger tires on your bike.

Gravel bikes mostly come with disc brakes, which makes them excellent for off-road riding. Road bikes also come with disc brakes but are made with rim brakes since they are not specifically designed to be ridden on rough terrains.

Gearing

A gravel bike is geared to encounter any typography like short, punchy climbs and long curving ascents, and you will be riding off-road on hard-packed dirt. This is why gravel bikes have a wider tire and wide-range gearing to beat any climb. Bikes with one chainring have forty teeth combined with 11-12 cassette and bikes with two chainrings — 50/34 and 48/32 paired with 11-34 cassette. The road bike has lower gears to tackle paved surfaces. A road race bike setup is 48/36 chainring paired with 11-33 cassette to verify that jumps between gears are unbroken to a minimum throughout the acute riding.

Durability

A gravel bike is much more durable than a road bike. They are heavy, which helps them withstand the hustle of gravel riding on rough paths. They are designed to go for as long as 50,000 miles in a day.  The road bike is designed to ride for as long as 30,000 miles in a day. It is generally less durable than the gravel bike as it is not explicitly designed to tackle rough terrains. However, it can prove to be very durable with proper maintenance and last for at least five years.

Stability

Gravel bikes are designed to maximize stability, and therefore the lower bottom bracket makes it seems like you are ‘in’ the bike instead of on top of it. The aftermarket suspension forks of the road bike can throw it off balance when riding at full speed.

Similarities between Gravel Bikes and Road Bikes

1. Roadworthy

Both bikes are roadworthy. They can handle paved roads effectively.

2. Tires

Both bikes have wide tires.

3. Storage Solutions

Both bikes can carry extra loads while in use without affecting their performance on their specific terrains.

Characteristics of Gravel Bikes

The versatility of the Gravel bikes makes them an excellent choice for multiple racecourses. They can tackle both on-road and off-road riding.  The wide-range and broader tires make off-road trails, gravel, and fireplace roads manageable. They promote comfort and stability and are ideal for long trips.

Characteristics of Road Bikes

They are generally race bikes and can also be used for touring. They are ridden on smooth and paved roads. They have smooth tires, a drop handlebar, and are lighter than other bikes. The road bikes allow you to carry racks and bags conveniently when touring. They are durable, which makes them ideal for paved roads. Their wide tires give the rider grip and stability on the road.

Gravel Bikes Comparison Table

This table shows the overall best Gravel bikes and their specifications.


Bikes
Frame Material
Gears
Tire
Brakes
Cannondale Topstone 105
Aluminum
2 x 11
700c x 37mm
Hydraulic disc
Giant Revolt Advanced 2
Carbon
2 x 11
700c x 38mm
Hydraulic disc
Salsa Journeyman Claris 650
Aluminum
2 x 8
650b x 2.1 inches
Mechanical disc
Trek Checkpoint SL 6
Carbon
2 x 11
700c x 40mm
Hydraulic disc
Canyon Grail AL 7.0
Aluminum
2 x 11
700c x 40mm
Hydraulic disc

Road Bikes Comparison Table

This table shows the overall best Road bikes and their specifications.

Bikes
Frame Material
Gears
Tire
Brakes
Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod Disc
Carbon
2 x 11
700c x 35mm
Hydraulic disc
Giant TCR Advanced Pro 0 Disc
Carbon
2 x 11
700c  x 35mm
Hydraulic disc
Specialized S-Works Tarmac Disc Dura-Ace Di2
Carbon
2 x 11
700c x 34mm
Hydraulic Disc
Pinarello Dogma F12
Carbon
2 x 11
700  x 33mm
Rim

Is a Gravel Bike faster than a Road Bike?

The gravel bike is faster than the road bike on rough terrains and challenging conditions. With its wider tires and disc brakes, it moves fast and maintains speed off-road. However, the road bike is faster on paved roads than gravel bike.

Final Remarks

Gravel bikes and road bikes are almost similar, but their features and designs differentiate them. However, the gravel bike might have borrowed some elements from the road bike, like the drop handlebar. The gravel bike is also equipped with a mountain bike’s features, which makes it more versatile than a road bike.

The road bike is reliable when used in popular racing than gravel bikes that are great in rough terrain sports.

You can get one of these bikes that suits your needs and ride it all-year-round!