People who know more about different types of bikes are usually frustrated by the comments that they are all the same. Surely they look similar, but there are plenty of differences that can vary from one model to another. There are some specific types for different road conditions, and you should know which one is appropriate for that.
As you can see, at the beginning of this article, in the title, we asked an interesting question, so we can compare two very popular models of bikes, and see the differences between them. But the fact that they have different names shows us they are not that similar as they may seem. Comparing them according to the features is available on websites like bike.net/en/STELS/31843-400_GT_2014. So, let’s see how they are unique by themselves:
What is a road bike?
It’s generally used to take you from point A to point B through a paved road, and they can’t be used on different surfaces, since their construction is pretty delicate. Modern road bikes are more durable compared to the old models, but they aren’t meant to be used as mountain bikes or so. The frames are usually made of carbon or aluminum, and more expensive models may come with steel frames. Advanced road bikes for longer distances are usually made of titanium. For shorter distances, you can use the affordable models, especially if you know that you will ride on a paved road all the time. The wheels are also lighter, and very narrow, but some recent models come with a wider surface, which is better for balance and aerodynamics.
What is a gravel bike?
These bikes are a great choice for those who want to explore the nature around them, on different surfaces and terrains. It can also be a replacement for a road bike if you adjust the wheels properly. It looks more powerful and advanced compared to the usual models. You can use it over plenty of different surfaces, and still manage a good balance. The name says it’s suitable for gravel routes, but also for forest trails, and side paths near the roads. It’s a more appropriate choice for the bikers who love excitement and adventures. They look pretty different than road bikes, and by their looks, they are more similar to mountain models. Also, different sub-types are available, so you can focus on what you really need. The frame can be made of carbon or aluminum, and both types are good for different budgets. Carbon is usually lighter than aluminum, which provides better aerodynamics.
The wheels in this case are called tires because they are much thicker compared to the road bikes. Their tread is appropriate for most of the terrains you may visit with it.
Let’s compare them a little
Now you see that there is a huge difference between a road bike and a gravel bike. The main one is that the first one is on-road, and the second is generally off-road and can handle different textures better. Road bikes are only for flat surfaces, and they have plenty of limitations when it comes to everyday use. Even the road bikes come in a few types, including race and endurance models, depending on what the biker wants to accomplish.
Gravel ones are designed to be durable, and appropriate for different terrains, including off-road surfaces. They can also be race and endurance types, but they are focused on flexibility and stability. They are usually heavier and higher, because of the wheels and frames, and all the additional features they have. Road bikes have flat tires, and the others have visible patterns, to increase the friction between the rubber and road surface.
How to choose what’s best for you?
You know your lifestyle, and you need to choose your new bike according to it. If you never go to mountains or off-road adventures, then you don’t really need a gravel bike. People who need it only to go to work, don’t need to invest in expensive bikes. There are combined models that work great on every surface. But if you are an adventurer who also travels by their bike daily, then our honest recommendation is to go for a gravel one.
The next step is to calculate how much money you can afford for your new two-wheel friend. Always try to have the budget completed before you go “hunting” for the best one for you. Sometimes, you may find a second-hand offer for a really good price, and we suggest you not skip it. Keep that in mind, because you can get a great bike, and still spend less money than you planned.
Consider the size too, and choose it following your body features. Not every model is suitable for tall or short people. The person who works at the shop will always have the right suggestion when it comes to this. If your body weight is higher, you need to go for more durable frames and tires. Do you need luggage space? It’s good to mention that, so you won’t have to struggle with the issue every day.
No matter if you want a road or gravel bike, you have to think about these things in advance. Also, check if there is a verified servicer around you, just in case. Many bikes are forgotten in the yards or garages because the service is too expensive or not available near the owners.
The bottom line
Now, when you know the similarities and differences between these two types of bikes, we hope that you will be able to decide which one is better for you. Just in case, read again the “How to choose” section, so you can be sure you are doing everything as it needs to be done.
We hope that you will find this article useful, and make the right choice. The difference is huge, but in the end, it all depends on your needs and preferences. We wish you to find the right bike for you and tell us about your exceptional experience with it.