Using bikes has been the new trendsetter because it is environment friendly and does not create pollution, unlike petrol and diesel-powered cars. Also, the bikes look stylish too be it a gravel bike or a road bike.
Even in bikes, two variants are gravel bikes and road bikes. Both gravel bikes and road bikes look almost the same from afar. So what exactly is it that makes them so different other than their names?
Gravel bikes are used by professional cyclists who love to ride on high terrains. It is a bike meant for an adventure. That’s why it’s also called adventure bikes.
Gravel bikes are used by people who love cycling and are quite regular. The other type of bike is the road bike, and they are used for competitive cycling; their significance is opposite to that of gravel bikes. Road bikes can be used on paved roads.
The speed of the road bike depends on the leg speed of the cyclist. That’s why it’s used for competition purposes. Both of these bikes have their significance and differences. This article will talk about these two bikes in-depth to know which type of bike is suitable for you to ride.
Table of Contents
- Difference Between Gravel Bike And Road bike
- Why Are Gravel Bike So Expensive?
- Should you use a Road bike or a Gravel bike?
Difference Between Gravel Bike And Road bike
In terms of geometry, you won’t see the differences until both the bikes are in front of you because the changes are very minute and minimal, which needs to be noticed closely.
In terms of a Gravel bike’s geometry, it has two main comforts paired with efficiency because these bikes are used to ride high terrains.
These are the characteristics and qualities required to ride on high terrains. Stability and grip are needed in gravel bikes to ride on high terrains.
If we come to the geometry of road bikes, it is crisp and aggressive; aerodynamics principles are applied to road bikes’ geometry. Generally, the rider has to maintain a lower position to ride the bike with quick speed.
Therefore the geometry of the bikes is designed following it. The road bikes have a shorter headtube than gravel biles. Gravel bikes have way higher and upright seating to keep the rider more relaxed than a road bike.
In short, a gravel bike has more structured geometry than that of a road bike since gravel bikes are used on difficult terrains.
The frame material is a very important component of these bikes as it decides the bikes’ look. Generally, people prefer bikes with a sleek and stylish look. There are many varieties and options available when we talk about the frame material used in gravel bikes.
The dominant materials of which gravel bikes are made are carbon and metal.
The inbuilt polymers of carbon give stiffness to the frame; thus, the frame is very lightweight, making the gravel bike suitable for riding on high terrains.
In metal, mostly steel is used. Steel provides toughness and robustness to the frame. With respect to road bikes, Aluminum and titanium are used for frame materials.
Aluminum is lightweight, even more light than carbon, it provides the required stiffness to the bike, and it doesn’t rust, unlike steel.
Aluminum is aerodynamically correct when it comes to choosing a suitable frame material for road bikes. Titanium frame material has a lot of qualities.
It is strong, tough and stiff and therefore it’s the most expensive material for road bikes. Many professional cyclists feel that titanium is the upgraded version of all the metals and is the best choice for frame material.
Brakes are vital for any bike because brakes prevent many accidents and provide grip to ride on slippery surfaces. There are three types of brakes: disc brakes, rim brakes, and drum brakes.
Gravel bikes use disc brakes as it provides the required grip to the rider. It has proven to be efficient when the situation demands riding on muddy or slippery surfaces.
The hydraulic disc offers effective stopping in case of an emergency. Disc brakes are also used for road bikes, but very few people prefer these for road bikes because they are not lightweight and can reduce the speed efficiency while riding.
Usually, road bikes have rim brakes because they can create friction. The rim brakes have leather, rubber which are excellent materials for creating friction.
Also, rim brakes are cheaper than disc brakes and require less maintenance.
The drum brakes are mostly used for the rear wheels, and it has a lot of friction pads, brake cam, dust seal, springs, and brake cable. This brake type is most widely used in bikes because it is easier to operate smoothly in rain conditions. In this brakeless, maintenance is needed as compared to the other two brakes.
Wheels and Tires
There are major differences between road bikes and gravel bikes when it comes to wheels and tires. The wheels of road bikes are narrower, and the wheels are made up of rubber material. The length of the wheel is about 33-35 mm. The narrow tires are suitable aerodynamically.
The length of the tire of a road bike is 25 mm, this allows a lower pressure on the ground, and the rider can establish stronger contact with the ground and move with speed.
When we talk about the tires and wheels of gravel bikes, the wheels are shorter, and the tires are wide. The more the wheels are shorter, the wider the tires will be. This characteristic makes the tire heavy and tough, enabling the bike to withstand any terrain or conditions in which friction is required.
It is made so that the gravel bikes can withstand any conditions, be it rain, muddy or rocky surface, and slippery surfaces. The circular diameter of a gravel bike’s wheel is around 700 mm.
The best thing about the tires of gravel bikes is that they are mostly tubeless. Tubeless tires are puncture resistant and are more flexible. The wheels of gravel bikes are way heavier than road bikes so that the gravel bikes have more resistance on high terrains.
Suspension refers to the ability of the bike to function smoothly on rough terrain. As we know, gravel bikes are used for rough terrains, which means the suspension will be more in gravel bikes than road bikes. With the high suspension, the bike rider can have more control when riding at a difficult altitude.
Gravel bikes use MTT suspension. The strong lubricants are used to allow more friction and provide a good grip. The rear wheel has more suspension as the rear wheel has more control.
When we apply brakes to a bike, it’s the rear wheel that stops first and has a major impact. The suspension allows the gravel bike to apply brakes more effectively so that the stoppage is not a rough one and doesn’t cause a jerk to the rider. The suspension level of road bikes is lower if compared to gravel bikes.
A road bike needs more momentum to move and doesn’t cause any restriction on smooth movement so that high speed can be achieved.
In terms of suspension, many companies offer superior quality suspension qualities in bikes using modern technology that helps the bike rider move more effectively, and the bike can resist difficult conditions.
The role played by durability is crucial when we talk about bikes. Everyone would prefer a bike that doesn’t need any maintenance and has a long life.
In terms of both these bikes, the quality of the material used decides the durability.
Generally, bikes made at low cost and low-quality material will be less durable than the other ones. While a bike is made with the best company’s material and superior quality, that bike will be more durable.
Suppose we ignore these factors and both the bikes are made of good quality material.
In that case, road bikes are more durable than gravel bikes because gravel bikes face more wear and tear due to riding on high altitudes than road bikes.
Still, the gravel bikes made of carbon frame material prove to be more durable than road bikes because carbon is a heavy material and offers more durability. Sometimes the manufacturers are clever and use low-quality material and charge at par with good quality made bikes.
Usually, bikes made of titanium material are more prone to breakage.
So when buying a bike, analyze the frame material and other material clearly and have an idea about the quality of the material to ensure good durability of the bike.
It mainly focuses on increasing the speed and switching the positions smoothly and flexibly when it comes to gear. Gearing initiates fast pedaling. In gravel bikes, more gear is provided, but there are limitations to it.
Gravel bikes require heavy gear because these bikes have to move on rocky surfaces. Gears are not much used in gravel bikes since speed is not needed on high terrains.
Mainly heavy resistance is needed. In gravel bikes, top-gear is not mostly used either in road bikes because it is used only in gentle slopes. The idealistic gear size in inches is 50/34.
Lower gears use sprockets, and they are very productive and effective. Bikes with small chainsets are very effective because they are not too heavy and help achieve high speed.
A good gear setup with a superior quality chainset and cassettes helps the bike to achieve high speed. Professional cyclists who participate in competitions prefer having road bikes with gears that can initiate high speed.
Whereas in gravel bikes, gear plays a minimal role because the rider needs to have control over the whole bike when riding at high altitudes. The role of speed in gravel bikes is minimal when we ride them on high terrains.
Bike Accessories and Customization
People love to accessorize and customize the bikes according to their needs and wants. If you choose accessories for your bike, then a headgear and knee pads are very important, it prevents the risk of injuries to your head and your body if you fall while riding.
Special clothes are designed for cyclists, those clothes should be very lightweight, and something that cuts the wind and high speed can be achieved. The accessories remain the same for gravel and road bikes. When it comes to customizations, there are distinctions for both types of bikes.
Professional cyclists prefer customizations in their aerodynamically correct bikes.
Customizations are done in selecting the brakes, gears, frame material, and all the spare parts of the bike to reach maximum efficiency.
Every rider uses different techniques of riding and has different capabilities. That’s why cyclists prefer customizing their bike so that it suits their needs and desires.
People prefer having carbon frame material and other spare parts to be lightweight in terms of gravel bikes. The heaviness of the carbon material provides the required grip. Nevertheless, the customizations and accessories entirely depend on what and how the rider wants it as they like.
Why Are Gravel Bike So Expensive?
Gravel bikes are heavier, and the material used in them is very expensive; that’s why gravel bikes are very expensive.
Other than that, gravel bikes can be used as a road bike, and for the original purpose, it serves to ride on high altitudes. The spare parts of gravel bikes come at a high rate, and only superior quality material is used in it so that the rider can ride more efficiently.
Also, gravel bikes’ demand is more than road bikes because gravel bikes are also used for stunts and adventure sports. Gravel bikes come in the luxury category, and road bikes have a basic touch.
Gravel bikes have an extra accessory that is not found in hydraulics in road bikes, and this individual spare part is very expensive. Without hydraulics, the gravel bikes won’t be able to function at their best. Hydraulics provide the required bounce to the bike.
The rolling efficiency of gravel bikes is fairly more, and we can ride these bikes on any surface, be it tarmac or forest roads. In short, gravel bikes have many features. That’s why it’s very expensive.
Should you use a Road bike or a Gravel bike?
Both of these bikes are good at their place because they effectively serve the purpose they are made. There is no right answer to this. It solely depends on the surface on which you want to ride the bike.
A road bike is best for rough surfaces of roads, and gravel bikes are best for steep terrain that of hills. But if we keep these purposes aside and judge based on the quality of material used and judge based on which one will be a better purchase, it will be a gravel bike.
Gravel bike uses the best material, and since it is used for difficult roads, a gravel bike can be used as a road bike, so when it comes to choosing between the two, you should use a gravel bike anytime.
A road bike is useful for professional cyclists who participate in competitions and need to practice beforehand. This is because road bikes are made so that they are speed efficient and focus on high endurance. Road bikes’ design focuses on the high speed that’s the bike is very lightweight.
Terrain Type Vs Best Bike
Nice Paved Roads
Wet And Dusty
Wet And Smooth
Can You Use a Gravel bike as a Road bike?
Yes, a gravel bike can serve the purpose of being a road bike too. A gravel bike is designed to make it suitable to ride on difficult altitudes and terrains.
If it can achieve a good speed on a high altitude, it will offer a good speed if you ride it on the road, it will be even faster than a road bike itself.
Since the brakes, wheels, and tires of a gravel bike are made for doing adventure sports and riding on difficult terrains, a gravel bike will offer more stability, grip, and efficiency if ridden in place of a road bike.
So if you wish to buy a bike that you can ride on high terrains and the roads with a good speed and excellent quality material, you must go for a road bike because of its outstanding features.
It serves both purposes in a nutshell, so why not choose a gravel bike over a road bike. The brakes used in gravel bikes will give a good grip to help you ride on slippery roads. Investment in a gravel bike will prove to be more beneficial.
Is a Gravel Bike as fast as a Road Bike?
Gravel bike has heavy tires and a supple structure that makes it fit to ride it at higher altitudes. At the same time, road bikes are very lightweight and provide good speed. If we ride the gravel bike on a straight road, it will be faster than a road bike.
A gravel bike can also be used as a road bike, but the only disadvantage is that it is heavier than a road bike. The frame, quality of brakes, and tires of gravel bikes are amazing, which makes them more efficient than road bikes. In case you ride a road bike on high terrain, then the road bike will be very slow and very difficult to ride.
Gravel bikes are used for adventure sports, so they have a strong grip and efficient speed and comfort. A gravel bike is like a two in one package because it can be used as a road bike. So a gravel bike is as good as a road bike, not only in terms of speed but also in other things.
So while selecting a bike for yourself, you should have prior knowledge about the type of bikes, what purpose it serves, and differences between them.
By reading all the facts about gravel bikes and road bikes by now, you must be aware of the difference each of them is used for distinct purposes, so while choosing a bike, pay attention to the purpose for which you need a bike.
Are you riding the bike on rough paved roads? Do you need good speed? Then a road bike will be a good choice for you. Are you riding on rough, steep terrain and looking for something with less weight and comfort? Then a gravel bike will be a feasible alternative for you.