Gravel Bike vs Hybrid: What and How to Choose?

Gravel and hybrid bikes are the kings of adventure cycling, but should you have both kings in your territory? Here's how to choose the perfect adventure bike for long-distance riding or leisure cycling.
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Last updatedLast updated: May 27, 2022
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Bikes are known for their ability to offer a sense of adventure, fun, and exercise. Each cycle is designed with a purpose in mind. For instance, adventure bikes have mounts and gearing styles that are handy on an adventure ride. On the other hand, bikes for short runs like CX races are stiffer and built to endure the sharp twists and movements you may need to have a good race.

Gravel bikes and hybrid bikes are generally considered adventure bikes. In fact, most people think them a better option than regular bikes. Therefore, they are fast becoming popular. This is because adventure bikes are more flexible.

Although both gravel and hybrid bikes are considered adventure bikes, they are not precisely the same. So, it will help to learn about the features and design of both gravel and hybrid bikes before deciding which adventure bike to buy. This way, you can go for the bike that suits your purpose.

What Is a Gravel Bike?

A gravel bike, usually called an adventure bike, is a version of a road bike. This bike is designed to handle different kinds of terrains and accommodate your travel gear (such as water bottles and nutrition packs). At the same time, it gives you as much comfort as possible for the length of your ride. So, if you want to turn off a quiet, unfamiliar road, your gravel bike is an excellent choice to ride with. For instance, if you’re going to enjoy some of the best bike routes Trusted Source Best bike routes in the world The primary joy of a bicycle is that, in its purest form, it’s little more than a highly efficient way of walking.Just grab the bike, climb aboard and pedal swiftly to the shop, the bar or wherever. edition.cnn.com in the world, you should do it with a gravel bike.

Gravel bikes are similar to Cyclocross bikes, although there are several differences. They are more durable than regular road bikes.
They also offer a wide variety of gear shifts and wider tires for better grip and stability. These striking features make a gravel bike suitable for long endurance bike riding compared to road bikes that cannot tackle off-road surfaces.

Geometry

The focus of gravel bike geometry is comfort and durability. It has a long wheelbase which keeps the bike stable on changing terrains over long rides. The tail (the headtube) is connected to a shorter top tube which elevates the rider’s sitting position. So, while riding, you would be able to see ahead, especially for commutes. Unlike most road bikes, the head tube is quite flexible, so you can stay in complete control of your speed regardless of the terrain.

Frame

Gravel Bike vs Hybrid: What and How to Choose?

Gravel bike frames are usually made of aluminum or titanium.

These materials make for durability so that your bike can handle rough terrains. In addition, gravel bikes can accommodate heavy lifting for long-distance riding.

Tires

Gravel bike tires are usually wider than regular bikes. You can find tires as wide as 48mm. Given that wider tires are necessary for smooth rides on rough terrains, the choice of bigger tires is quite essential.

The tread pattern on the tires ensures that the grip on loose surfaces is firm enough. It also makes the transition between riding on muddy or dry trails smooth.

Wheels

Gravel Bike vs Hybrid: What and How to Choose?
The range of wheels for gravel bikes goes between 650c or 700c. They are pretty flexible, so you can use smaller or big tires on your wheels.

Why Do You Need It?

  • They are excellent choices for multipurpose riding

You can use a gravel bike for tours, road races, gravel riding, and other mixed terrains. While they may not be suitable for professional racing, for example, CX races, gravel bikes are versatile. It’s a good choice if you’re just beginning to ride bikes for leisure. You can find affordable gravel bikes for under 500 dollars. However, if you want a more professional feel or extra accompaniment, you could get excellent gravel bikes for under 1000 dollars.

  • Versatile gearing

Since most gravel bikes double as road and adventure bikes, the wide range of gear shifts comes in handy. While riding, you can switch between comfortable gears as your trail changes. In addition, gravel bike gearings can handle multiple terrains and gear choices.

  • They are comfortable

Since adventure rides are often long-distance, gravel bikes are designed to keep you comfortable during the ride.

They usually come with mounts to keep your personal effects and gear within reach. The mud clearance is also quite generous.

  • Larger tires and suspension technology

With a gravel bike, you have more options for tires and suspension technology. So, you can make any choice depending on how high you want your bike or how wide you would like your tires to be. You can choose from a variety of thread patterns as well.

What Is a Hybrid Bike?

A hybrid bike is a combination of a regular road bike and a mountain bike. So, it combines the features of both of these bikes. This makes it durable for short commutes and simple enough for short rides in your neighborhood. It is also quite suitable as an adventure bike since it is partly designed for rides on mildly rough trails.

Hybrid bikes come with a flat handlebar which is similar to the handlebar of a mountain bike. Because of this design, they are easy to maneuver through corners and gravel roads. In addition, the brake components are similar to the technology used on mountain bikes.

Although hybrid bikes are not built for great speed, you will find them comfortable enough to ride through the traffic in your neighborhood or short trips to work. In addition, they can handle terrains that may be too rough for road bikes but not extensive mountain trails.

Gearing

Most hybrid bikes have derailleur gears. This consists of chains and a mechanism that moves the chain on your bike’s rear-wheel and cranks. Although derailleur gears can be easily damaged, most gear designs on the best hybrid bikes are fully enclosed to protect your gear while riding.

The controls are placed on the flat handlebars so you can easily access them in transit. This ease of access is what makes hybrid cycles pretty popular.

Frame

Hybrid bikes usually have aluminum frames. Aluminum is lighter than most other materials used for bike frames. So, you won’t have to struggle with a heavy, hard-to-ride bike.

Don’t be confused by the low weight of hybrid bikes; they are very durable! You can also find hybrid bike frames in steel or carbon fiber, especially if you want a trendy bike. This option is preferable if you have to lift your bike in or out of your apartment (especially if you have to climb a flight of stairs). Your bike does not have to be extremely heavy to qualify as a strong bike.

Tires

Gravel Bike vs Hybrid: What and How to Choose?

Hybrid bikes accommodate different tire sizes (some hybrid bikes use 26-inch tires) and smaller wheels.

Hybrid bikes tire sizes range from 35mm to 45mm. As a result, they are often slimmer than road bike tires, making for a faster ride. 

Brakes

Gravel Bike vs Hybrid: What and How to Choose?

Most hybrid bikes use V brakes or disc brakes.

Disc brakes are better for riding in wet areas since their position is farther from the ground than V brakes. In any case, both types of brakes are great on dry surfaces.

Wheels

The standard wheel size for most hybrid bikes is 700c.

Why Do You Need It?

  • Easy commute

A hybrid bike is a suitable means of daily transportation. It is lightweight, so you will find it easy to move around during the day. The tires are also designed for easy riding on paved roads.

  • Good visibility and control

The upright riding position of hybrid bikes makes it easy for riders to see ahead of incoming traffic and passersby while riding. Unlike gravel bikes, you don’t have to bend to maintain speed. You also have access to the controls on the handlebars.

  • Comfort

Hybrid bikes are designed for everyday use, so manufacturers put comfort into consideration. It has a comfortable saddle and an upright handlebar. This means that you can maintain a good sitting posture throughout your rides.

  • Storage facilities

Hybrid bikes also have room for mounts so that you can store your belongings safely.

Differences Between Gravel and Hybrid Bikes 

Gravel Bike vs Hybrid: What and How to Choose?
Although gravel bikes and hybrid bikes can be called adventure bikes, some differences set them apart. It is vital to know these differences so that you can get a bike that suits your purposes.

Geometry

If you are looking for some of the best endurance bikes, gravel bikes are the way to go. They were built to provide comfort while retaining control and momentum on rough terrains.

Hybrid bikes, on the other hand, are ideal for rides within your neighborhood. They are very comfortable and can accommodate errands and frequent commutes.

Control

Gravel bikes have drop bars, while hybrid bikes have flat handlebars. Since drop handlebars are easy to access and control, most people prefer them with flat handlebars. In addition, gravel bike tires have a firmer grip and thread to stabilize the bikes on mixed terrains. While a hybrid bike may be swift on paved roads, you may find it difficult to control it on a different landscape.

Speed

The position of the handlebar goes a long way in determining how fast a bike can be. For example, gravel bikes have drop bars bent to minimize wind interference while a rider is on his bike. On the other hand, hybrid bikes have flat handlebars. While this ensures that you have a clear view of your surroundings, it makes for slow riding.

Generally, gravel bikes are regarded as being faster than hybrid bikes. This is for no other reason than gravel bikes are built for speed and better equipped for rough terrains.

So, if you use your hybrid bike on rough trails, you might find it difficult to navigate smoothly. This means that your trips would be slower than they would be if you had used a gravel bike instead. However, since hybrid bikes are improved road bikes, they ride faster on paved roads than gravel bikes.

Gearing

Hybrid bikes have a more comprehensive range of gearing compared to gravel bikes. They usually have 48 x 38 chainrings with 28 teeth. The variety in the gearing mechanism makes them ideal for commuting within cities.

How Are They Similar?

  • Brakes

Both hybrid bikes and gravel bikes use disc brakes.

  • Comfort

They are both comfortable bikes. Hybrid bikes are very comfortable for commuting, while gravel bikes are great bikes for gravel riding.

  • Adventure riding

Whether you are riding in your neighborhood or alone, both of these bikes will give you a fulfilling sense of adventure.

How to Choose?

The following are some things to consider before purchasing an adventure bike:

Type of a ride

Gravel Bike vs Hybrid: What and How to Choose?

Gravel bikes are better suited to riding on rough terrains. So, you should not opt for a hybrid bike if you intend to do uphill riding.

If you need a bike for leisure riding or short trips in your area, you should get a hybrid bike like the Hiland Hybrid Bike. The Hiland Hybrid Bike is designed with an aluminum frame and disc brakes to give you a comfortable riding experience.

Preferences

Most roadies are more comfortable with specific designs of bikes. So, if you find that gravel bikes are more suitable for your trips, that’s okay. An excellent example is the Mongoose Men’s Elroy Adventure bike. It is a bike for touring with a lightweight aluminum frame and 700c wheels.

Final Thoughts

Adventure bikes are designed from a combination of a road bike and a mountain bike. So, both gravel and hybrid bikes combine features that make for an exhilarating ride, whether you are making a short trip or a long, fun ride. However, their differences mean they both serve different purposes, as we have discussed in this article.

If you are new to bike riding, starting with a simple hybrid bike may be appropriate. Then, you can move on to rougher terrains and enjoy the control and speed that gravel bikes have to offer. Whichever bike you choose, you can be sure to experience a worthy adventure.

References

1.
Best bike routes in the world
The primary joy of a bicycle is that, in its purest form, it’s little more than a highly efficient way of walking.Just grab the bike, climb aboard and pedal swiftly to the shop, the bar or wherever.
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