Gravel bike sales have been skyrocketing over the past few years. Riders want to enjoy riding a bike, but off the roads and away from the traffic. Some people will tell you to just put gravel tires on your road bike. That might work, but there is a little more to it. Here are some differences between a road bike and gravel bike:
Wheels and tires
Road: Typically come with 25c with wheels that can accommodate up to 32c. Tread is smooth. Wheels are light and aerodynamic for maximum speed.
Gravel: Tires are wider to allow for more surface contact. Tread pattern is designed to grip on uneven surfaces. Wheels are wider and heavier.
Road: Have a longer reach with a shorter frame stack and head tube to facilitate a longer, lower, more aerodynamic position.
Gravel: Have a longer wheelbase and slacker head angle to add stability and slow down the handling for negotiating technical obstacles and loose descents.
Road: Although some models have limited suspensions, it is not standard.
Gravel: Most models have some type of suspension system to help out when you’re bouncing around on the trails. However they are not as elaborate as on a mountain bike.
Road: Offered with either disc brakes or rim brakes. Most have two chainrings to optimize cadence at any speed.
Gravel: Disc brakes are the standard to accommodate wider tires. Many have only one chainring which is designed to keep the chain from coming off. Finally, they typically feature a rear derailleur with some definition of a clutch to pull the chain taut to help keep the chain on.
Cockpit and seat post
Road: Drop bars are deeper to allow you to get lower, thus more aerodynamic.
Gravel: Drops bars are wider and flared to allow for better control. Although not common, some have seat posts that drop down to allow the rider to get further back when descending steep hills.
Quote of the week: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss
Here is an article that explains the differences in more detail:
Also, here is a video for those of you who think reading is for old people: