To the untrained eye, road and gravel bikes can look quite similar. In fact, both contain enough similarities in certain cases to be used similarly. However, there are some important differences we’d like to highlight here. Let’s go through them now.
Road vs Gravel Tires
Road tires have a more slick tread pattern because they are most often used on smooth, paved roads. These tires are thinner compared to gravel tires, with less tire clearance. Gravel bike tires are wider and knobbier than road tires built to handle a variety of surfaces.
Road vs Gravel Gearing
Most road bikes contain two chainrings, providing ample gear range with a big outer chainring and a smaller inner chainring. Gravel riders on the other hand typical go for 1x chainrings for simplicity and better chain retention on rough terrain.
Road vs Gravel Geometry
Road bikes are built with a more aerodynamic frame geometry while gravel bike frames are built with stability in mind.
Road vs Gravel Comfort
Where road bikes are built more for speed, gravel bikes offer greater comfort for the terrain in which they are meant for—dirt and gravel with rougher roads with bumps and cracks.
Road vs Gravel Weight
With the main focus of road bikes being speed, the weight of the bike is typical lighter than that of a gravel bike. Gravel bikes require greater durability due to the riding settings its typical used in, so they typically are heavier than most road bikes. Gravel bikes often have more accessories and gear loaded onto them—adding to the overall weight.
Road vs Gravel Accessories
Road riders place a big importance on aerodynamics with their bikes. This means oftentimes there will only be a few accessories attached to a road bike such as water bottle holders, bike lights, and small storage packs. Gravel riders; however, often take their bikes far into off-road trails and may require more gear for their trips. When you head out on a gravel bike deep into nature, you want to make sure you have all the supplies you need while riding. This is why you will often see larger storage options or additional attachments mounted on gravels bikes.
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