Gravel Bike Vs. Road Bike Vs. Mountain Bike (In-Depth Comparison)

Gravel Bike Vs. Road Bike Vs. Mountain Bike

You’d be wondering what makes the gravel bike unique from the road and the mountain bike.

Although road and mountain bikes are in vogue and still thriving, there are still gaps that gravel bikes can fill.

So, it’s safe to say that the gravel bikes aren’t just another market hype but here to stay for good.

This article will describe the differences, costs, and longevity of gravel, road, and mountain bikes.

A gravel bike strikes a balance between road and mountain bikes, having features intertwining between road and mountain bikes. These three bike types have a unique architecture with differences in place to give you comfort, depending on your choice of terrain. Furthermore, depending on their designs and purposes, they have different purchase costs and longevity.

Gravel Bikes Vs. Road Bikes

Gravel Bike Vs. Road Bike Vs. Mountain Bike

Gravel and road bikes share several differences in functionality, frame geometry, wheels, gears, and brakes.

However, they still share unique features in common, which might confuse the two if you’re not careful enough.

Before discussing their vast differences, let’s review their similarities.

#1. What Are the Similarities Between Gravel and Road Bikes?

You can think of the gravel bike as an enhancement of the road bikes because it functions like it. 

  • The gravel bike tires are just as skinny as the road bike tires or could be wider by a  few millimeters.
  • The gravel bikes can ride on-road and still provide comfort, just like the road bikes. So when riding a gravel bike on the pavement, you’d still have the feeling of the road bike.
  • The gravel bikes and the road bikes both have the same handlebars, which is the drop bar.
  • They both possess rigid frames.

#2. What Are the Differences Between Gravel and Road Bikes? 

The differences that exist between gravel bikes and road bikes are vast. However, knowing these characteristics is necessary to understand what you need clearly. 

ParametersGravel BikeRoad Bikes
On TarmacWhen you’re riding on the tarmac, the gravel bike gives versatility.The road bike is lightweight and offers speed when riding on the tarmac. It also offers you comfort and saves energy. 
Off-pavementThe gravel bike is unique because you can take it off the pavement to a mud-dirty and rocky terrain. In essence, gravel bikes are fit for riding on roads and touring sandy terrain.The road bike can’t do well when riding through rocky ground. It functions better when you’re on the pavement.
TiresGravel tires have more than 50mm clearance than road bikes. In addition, they possess tubeless tires with tubeless sealants in them.Road bikes have lesser tire widths, usually between 21mm to 38mm.  
BrakesThe gravel bikes are made with disc brakes which offer greater halting capabilities.Most road bikes come with the usual rim brakes (caliper brakes).
Biker PositionWhile riding the gravel bike, it puts you in an almost upright position because of its shorter reach and top tube. It gives you comfort while cycling.The road bike puts you in a forward-leaning position with your head and chest closer to the ground. This fact is because it has a relatively long reach and top tube.
Frame GeometryThe gravel bike has slacker tube angles for the frames and fork and a longer wheelbase. Their wheels have rolling resistance and puncture protection.Road bikes are lighter and have a complex set-up, unlike gravel bikes.
CostYou can buy a gravel bike for $2,000 and above.Road bikes have varying affordability rates depending on your brand choice, usually around $1,500.

Gravel Bikes Vs. Mountain Bikes

Like the road bikes, the mountain bikes have significant features that differentiate them from the gravel ones. 

#1. What Are the Similarities Between Gravel and Mountain Bikes?

These bikes don’t have so much in common as gravel and road bikes. Nonetheless, the only similarity between gravel and a mountain bike is that they both use a disc brake.

#2. What Are the Differences Between Gravel and Mountain Bikes?

The gravel and mountain bikes look alike, so looking at them, it’d be hard to tell them apart.

However, from their names, you already know that one rides on gravel while the other deals with mountain rides.

Gravel bikes ride on off-road and on-road terrains, while mountain bikes strictly adhere to off-road cross-country cycling.

The differences between the gravel and mountain bike are in their handlebars, tires, weight, and suspension, among others.

ParametersGravel BikesMountain Bikes
ArchitectureThe gravel bike can ride both on-road and off-road.Mountain bikes are tough and can go through very heavy and complex terrains. 
HandlebarsThe handlebars here are drop bars.These bikes have flat bars that keep your elbows wide apart. Unfortunately, they offer no position styles and comfort for your back.
Wheels and TiresThough gravel bike tire widths are within 50mm and more, they are still small compared to mountain bike tires.Mountain bike tires are wider, beginning from 2 inches. They have unique tread patterns with varying distinctions among the mud and race types. Their wheels can also withstand punctures because they have puncture proofs in their tires.
SuspensionGenerally, gravel bikes have no suspensions, but newer ones are beginning to have suspensions in them. Despite that, they still have lower travel by 20 to 30mm compared to mountain bikes.Mountain bikes have suspension, and this factor categorizes them into two: the hardtail mountain bikes and the full suspension mountain bikes.
WeightIt usually weighs ten kilos.It is two to three times heavier than the gravel bike.
Cost and Affordability You can get a gravel bike for $2000 A mountain bike costs range from $400 to $5,000, depending on the suspension.

Road Bikes Vs. Mountain Bikes

Road and mountain bikes are two extremes of each other in terms of everything. Unfortunately, these bikes share no similarities, so I’ll discuss their differences.

#1. What Differentiates Between Road and Mountain Bikes?

Road and mountain bikes differ significantly regarding tire width, suspension, and many other parameters.

This table illustrates the differences between these two bike types.

ParametersRoad BikesMountain Bikes
Tires The tires here are small and measure in millimeters, usually between 21mm and 38mm.Mountain bike tires have a much larger diameter starting from 2 inches.
WheelsThese wheels run at 100psi. This figure explains their speed on the tarmac.The wider diameter of their tires gives them a lower speed of about 30psi. Thus, it equates to great performance on rough and wet terrains.
SuspensionThey have no suspension.They have suspensions and can travel up to 200mm.
Frame GeometryTheir geometry is such that it gives stability on the road. In addition, the bikes are lightweight with aerodynamic stability.They have a heavy frame and can be slower when riding on a straight road. However, it wins above others when you take it to a technical and a hilly path.
HandlebarsThe road bikes use drop bars with three different positions.The mountain bikes use flat bars with only one position.
Cost and Affordability Costs vary from $1500. They are more affordable than mountain bikes.Cost begins from $400 to $ 5000 depending on the suspension 

How Do You Choose Between the Gravel, Road, and Mountain Bike?

Choosing between these bikes will depend on your choice of road surface and where you’d be riding.

You can ride with these three bikes; however, the gravel bikes hit the balance between road and mountain bikes.


Before now, there used to be only road bikes, but technology has added mountain and gravel bikes to suit off-road cycling.

The road bikes suit pavement cycling while the mountain bikes suit hill climbing.

However, the gravel bikes strike that balance, providing comfort on-road and stability off-road for people with adventure in mind.

Josh Matthews

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