Dedicated gravel bikes are an increasingly popular option, but they’re not for everyone. If you’re thinking about buying a dedicated or even just upgrading your road bike with wider tires, consider this guide to understand the differences between gravel and road bikes, how to make the switch from one to another, what kind of tires will work best on your specific bike, and whether or not you need to buy a completely new set-up.
What is the Difference Between a Gravel Bike and a Road Bike?
It’s no secret that road bikes and gravel bikes have different design characteristics. The most obvious difference between these two types of bicycles is the tires: Gravel bikes typically feature wider tires than road bikes, giving you more grip and stability on dirt and gravel roads. Another major difference is their geometry; while most modern road bikes are designed with an aggressive “aero-tuck” posture, where the rider sits low to reduce wind resistance, many gravel bikes have a more relaxed riding position that allows for longer rides over varied terrain.
Gravel biking can be done on virtually any type of surface—as long as it isn’t too steep or rocky—so it’s more versatile than road cycling in this regard. However, there are still some types of roads that are better suited for each type of bicycle. For example, if you want to ride your bike on paved roads exclusively (and don’t care about taking it off-road), then a good quality racing bike would probably serve all your needs well enough—especially if money isn’t an issue!
Road bike wheels are lighter, stronger and more aerodynamic than gravel bike wheels. They’re also much more expensive. You can expect to pay at least twice as much for road bike wheels compared to what you would pay for similarly sized gravel bikes.
Gravel bike wheels are stronger and more durable than their road counterparts, but they don’t come with the same performance benefits that make them so popular among serious riders. If you’re looking for performance over longevity or price, then go with a road wheel set instead of a gravel wheel set—just remember that it will cost more money!
The wheelbase is the distance between the front and rear wheel axles. It affects the way your bike handles, so it’s important to know what it is.
On a road bike, you’ll find that the wheelbase—the distance between its front and rear tires—is longer than on a gravel bike. That means if you were going to take one of these bikes off-road, they’d handle differently and require some adjusting to get used to riding in rough terrain.
Conversely, while gravel bikes aren’t built with road tires (which would slip under heavy loads), they’re still lighter than their road counterparts due to narrower tire treads which create less rolling resistance when pedaling uphill or into headwinds during long rides through mountainous areas where there may not be much pavement available at all!
- A gravel bike has a longer wheelbase than a road bike, which is one of the biggest differences between them.
- A gravel bike’s head tube is longer than a road bike’s. This allows you to use lower handlebars for more comfort and control when riding on rough terrain or in the drops position.
- The top tube on a gravel bike is also longer than that of its road counterpart, providing more space to move around while climbing or descending steep grades over technical terrain. The extra length also makes it easier to get into an upright position while climbing without having to reach far forward with your arms, allowing you to maintain maximum power output at all times.
- In addition, because there are no aerodynamic considerations with these bikes (since they aren’t ridden in races), manufacturers have opted for slightly taller chainstays—the part of the rear triangle that connects the bottom bracket shell with rear axle dropout—which provides better traction when cornering at high speeds.
Disc brakes are much better than rim brakes. Discs are the way of the future and they’re great for a number of reasons.
First, discs have more stopping power than rims so you can stop faster and with more confidence in wet conditions.
Second, discs are much more reliable than rims because they don’t have any spokes or cables to break (although there’s still some maintenance required).
Third… well actually that’s pretty much it for reasons why disc brakes are better than rim brakes because everything else is just an added bonus! Discs add cost to your build but they’re worth it if you want better performance out on the road.
Are the tires compatible with your bike?
Before you commit to a tire, it’s important to check the widths of your rims, tires and frame. The size of your tires should fall between those two measurements; otherwise, they won’t fit on your bike.
You’ll also want to make sure that the tires are compatible with the rim locks. Most road bikes have rim brakes that clamp onto steel rims, but some have disc brakes instead. You can identify these by looking for small metal discs on either side of the wheel hub; if there aren’t any metal discs visible when you look at your wheels from above (or if there aren’t any spokes), chances are good that they’re disc-braked wheels and not rim-braked ones!
The best way to tell whether or not a tire will work well with your bike is to ask yourself: How wide is my handlebar? What size is the space between each spoke? Can I see through this section where I can put tape pasting over my bars? Do these things fit together comfortably?
Do you need a different size for the rims?
If you want to use the same rim, you’ll need to change your spoke length. If you want to keep the same rim and use different spokes, then there will be no issues at all.
If you’d rather use a different-sized hub for your gravel bike, then this can be done as well—it just depends on what kind of hub/rim combination works best for where and how often you ride.
Do you want to change the width of your tires?
If you want to change the width of your tires, there are a few different ways that you can do it.
You can change the width of your tires. You can also change the width of your rims if you have rims that are wider than what came on the bike originally, but not as wide as some gravel-type tires might be.
If you want to make any other changes, like changing frame size or handlebar size, then maybe think about getting a new bike instead!
Can your frame handle the weight of mountain bike tires?
Whether or not your frame can handle the additional weight of mountain bike tires depends on the type of material it is made from. If it’s carbon fiber, you have nothing to worry about, but if it’s aluminum then you should weigh up the pros and cons before making a decision.
You’ll also want to check with your manufacturer to find out whether they provide information on how much weight their frames are capable of handling. If they don’t mention anything about this issue in their documentation, consider contacting them directly and asking them for more details.
If you want wider, fatter tires on a road bike, consider using a gravel tire.
If you want wider, fatter tires on a road bike, consider using a gravel tire. These have more air volume and tread than your typical road tire, making them better for riding on rough terrain. They’re also more durable—gravel bikes take longer to wear out than standard bikes because they’re designed to handle rougher surfaces and last longer without needing repairs or replacement parts.
However, there are some trade-offs compared with using standard road tires on a gravel bike. Gravel tires usually weigh more than their narrow counterparts (though the difference isn’t overwhelming), so your bike will feel heavier when you ride it off-road over long distances if you go with this option instead of switching out just the wheels.
Also remember that while manufacturers can make wider versions of their existing designs (by adding extra layers of rubber in certain places), they don’t yet make specific sizes that match up exactly between different brands’ models; if you buy two sets from different companies they might not fit together perfectly well due to slight variations in size between each manufacturer’s product line (though this isn’t always true).
Gravel bikes have higher clearance than road bikes.
The short answer is yes. You can put gravel tires on a road bike, but you’ll need to take some precautions.
For starters, the clearance between your tire and the frame of your bicycle is important when getting new tires for your ride. The reason for this is that gravel bikes have higher clearance than road bikes, which means that if you want to put gravel tires on a road bike, you’re going need a little extra space in between those two components when mounting new rubber onto the rear wheel.
While it may not seem like much room at first glance, depending on what kind of tire size and widths are being used by both parties involved (i.e., rider vs manufacturer), there are several factors at play here: namely whether or not he/she plans on using disc brakes systems
Gearing is a personal preference, but it’s important to understand the factors that affect your gearing decision. These include terrain, fitness level, weight and height of rider(s), experience level, and preferences.
Many road cyclists will opt for a lower gear ratio when riding on gravel due to the slow speeds involved. A low gear ratio gives you more control over your bike speed when going uphill or downhill compared to a high gear ratio that allows you to go faster with less effort (but makes it harder to stop). If you’re new at riding on gravel roads then we recommend starting with a lower gear ratio so you can ride safely while learning how much control each pedal stroke gives you over stopping and starting.
A higher gear ratio will allow you to go faster overall because there are fewer chain-reaction forces between each turn of crank arms—this means less effort required by riders as well as less risk of losing control over steering direction due to excessive strain applied by stronger muscles in legs/hips during long descents!
Handlebars and bar tape
Bar tape is a great way to add some color and personality to a bike. It’s also cheap and easy to install, so if you’re like me and don’t have a lot of money or time on your hands, this is the perfect option! You can find it at any bike shop or just about anywhere else that sells accessories for bikes. If you go with bar tape in general, I recommend getting something that will match the color scheme of your bike (i.e., white stripes if you have white handlebars).
Bar tape comes in different thicknesses, so make sure yours matches up with what’s already there before going out and buying it—otherwise later down the road when someone asks about it they may say things like “what’s up with those skinny handles?” instead of giving you praise for being creative (thereby making them feel bad!).
Pedals and shoes
The type of pedals you use is the first place to start. If your bike has standard flat pedals and the road bike has clipless pedals, then you will need to change both your shoes and pedals. If only one of them is different from what’s on your mountain bike, then only one piece needs to be changed out.
You’ll also have to replace your shoe cleats if they’re different than what’s on your mountain bike. The main difference here is that most road riders use a two-bolt cleat system that allows for more adjustability in how far back or forward they can be placed in their shoe (how much float they have). This gives more foot control over the pedal during riding, which helps with pedaling efficiency while still offering enough support for those long rides.
Gravel tires are compatible with road bikes, but will change handling and performance.
Gravel tires are compatible with road bikes, but will change your handling and performance.
Gravel tires tend to be wider and have more tread than their road-specific counterparts. This makes them heavier and more durable, but not as fast as the race-oriented rubber that comes standard on most road bikes.
Gravel tires cost more than traditional road tires because they’re built for a different purpose. You would pay an extra $50 or so for a set of gravel wheels compared to an equivalent set of standard aluminum rims laced up with 23c clinchers or 25c tubeless versions of those same clinchers. Those costs add up over time if you’re using this setup regularly, so keep in mind that while buying higher quality components can help improve performance (and make your bike last longer), they also come at a premium price tag!
Should you buy a dedicated gravel bike?
Let’s start with a question: how much do you love riding your road bike? If the answer is “not enough to spend a significant amount of money on a new bike,” then it may be better to stick with what you have.
If, however, you’re serious about road cycling and want something that can handle more rugged terrain while still providing a smooth ride on paved roads and paths when desired, then the gravel bike might be the perfect option for you.
If you already have one of these bikes or are thinking about getting one soon—and if so, congratulations!—then let me explain why I think this is such an awesome type of frame.
If you’re looking for a dedicated gravel bike, there are plenty of options available. They can be used for road riding as well, but they may not offer the same performance or comfort level that a road bike would have. A gravel tire can be added to an existing road bike, but it will change the ride.