difference between gravel bike and road bike

The gravel bikes are favored by many riders because of its versatility. More and more gravel bikes have emerged in the market.

But for many new cyclists, gravel bikes have too many similarities with road bikes, and they they can’t distinguish the difference between gravel bike and road bike.

What is the difference between gravel bike and road bike? Compared to road bike, the gravel bike has wider tires, simpler transmission, relaxed frame geometry, better comfort, heavier weight, and allows versatile cycling accessories installation.



We are mainly riding road bikes on flat paved roads. Therefore, the tires of road bicycles are smoother, which can reduce rolling resistance and increase your cycling speed.

At the same time, to reduce weight, road bikes usually use narrow tires, and its tire clearance is much smaller than the gravel bikes. Generally, road bikes are fitted with tires in the range of 23-28mm.

Gravel bikes, which can support up to 50mm tires, and usually use wide tires with tread blocks. They need to deal with more complex roads to provide better passability.

But this also makes gravel bikes on paved roads speed down, so some riders will install a set of road bike tires directly for their gravel bikes.

In other words, gravel bikes can be compatible with gravel tires while also meeting the installation of road tires, but the road bikes may not be able to install gravel tires.



Gravel bikes typically use a single chainring (known as 1x), and they have wider range cassettes and easier low gears.

This single chainring gravel bike looks very similar to the mountain bike, and the gear shifting is relatively simple.

While the road bikes are basically using double chainrings design (also called 2x) with narrower range cassette, and can achieve higher top speeds.

Frame Geometry

Frame Geometry

Road bike has lower head tube, more aerodynamic frame and its weight is lighter at the same time.

The gravel bike focuses on comfort, versatility and stability, so its riding position will be more upright, giving the rider a comfortable position. It needs more stable handling for gravel bike, and the geometry of the frame will also be more relaxed.



Road bikes pay more attention to stiffness and speed, so this also sacrifices a certain degree of comfort.

The gravel bike stresses the comfort, so the stiffness of the frame will be decreased appropriately, and some bike brands will add micro-suspension or shock absorber to the frame.



Since gravel bike shall deal with more complex road conditions, the frame also requires to be stronger, and at the same time there is a larger tire clearance, so the weight of the frame also increases.

Therefore, the weight of the gravel bike is usually heavier than the road bike.



The gravel bikes and the road bikes use the same setting of curved handlebars. But road bikes use the traditional drop handlebars, while flared handlebars are more popular on gravel bikes. The flared handlebar helps improve overall handling of gravel bike, but also increases wind resistance.

The versatile gravel bike will also allow to attach additional mounts at the positions of top tube, down tube, seat tube, front fork and rear fork of the frame to meet the installation of accessories for storage bags, racks and fenders, which increases the convenience of long-distance riding.


After knowing the difference between gravel bike and road bike, you may want to know how to choose.

If you’re only allowed one bicycle, the gravel bike is your preferred choice. It will help you ride through the forest roads, make you comfortable for touring and long distances, and occasionally let you enjoy the excitement of road.

However, if you don’t care about the budget, you can have both road bike and gravel bike at the same time. Each bike has its own intended use, which can bring you special pleasure in different conditions.

how to choose bike wheels
Types of Road Bike Wheels

If you are looking for carbon wheels & rims to upgrade your gravel bike or road bike, please view our products to see if we have a product that meets your needs. If your preferred specs are not listed, you can leave us a message through hello@bestwheelset.com

Road Bike Wheelset/Rim
Gravel Bike Wheelset/Rim
MTB Wheelset/Rim
BMX Wheelset/Rim
Tri/TT/Track Wheelset

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