To the untrained eye, road and gravel bikes can look quite similar. Some riders can use these bikes interchangeably because of their similarities. However, there are some important differences between road bikes vs gravel bikes. Let’s go through them now.
The differences between the tires
Road tires have a more slick tread pattern because they used on smooth, paved roads. Road tires are thinner because road bike frames offer less tire clearance. Gravel bike tires are wider and knobbier than road tires built to handle a variety of surfaces and terrain.
Differences between the gearing on road bikes vs gravel bikes
Most road bikes contain two chainrings, providing ample gear range with a big outer chainring and a smaller inner chainring. Gravel bikes on the other hand are more often outfitted with 1x drivetrains for simplicity and better chain retention on rough terrain.
Considerations for bike geometry & comfort
Road bike design focuses on aerodynamics, precision in handling, responsiveness, speed, and efficiency. Whereas gravel bikes need to focus on capability and stability to tackle loose, uneven terrain and obstacles. Therefore, gravel bikes typically feature a longer wheelbase and slacker front end with a lower center of gravity.
Gravel bikes are also meant to offer greater comfort for the terrain in which they are meant for—dirt and gravel with rougher roads with bumps and cracks. With the exception of the racing bikes, gravel bikes a designed to keep riders in a more upright and less aggressive position than a typical racing road bike.
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 riders typically place a big importance on aerodynamics with their bikes. This means often times 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 off the beaten path 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.
Curious about gravel bikes? Visit our store for a test ride and learn more about the local gravel trails and races.