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Gravel Bike vs. Hybrid Bike

Gravel Bike vs. Hybrid Bike

Gravel bikes are all the bike industry is talking about currently. It’s exciting to see so many new bikes come out and so much new technology. They are a great do it all bike and efficient off road and on road. They are the chosen tool for many adventure cyclists and bike packers. Many cyclists have gone from having a garage full of bikes literally to just one or two. A question I get asked as a very experienced cyclist and someone who has been working in the industry for years is, “Isn’t a Gravel bike a Hybrid bike?”

This is a great question. The reason I say this is because they are very similar. They both can ride on road and off road, they are both very similar in the way they look, and a lot of them are even made by the same companies. In this article, I will explain the difference between a Gravel bike and a Hybrid bike and give you some recommendations for each one that I think is excellent.

What is a Hybrid bike?

What Is A Hybrid Bike?
Image by taehwan_kim on Pixabay

Hybrid bikes are one of the most popular types of bikes on the market. After working in a bike shop for many years, I heard Hybrid bikes are called many different things. Many people know them as either a relaxed road bike, a road based mountain bike, a commuting bike, and many other names. The beauty of the Hybrid bike is that it sits in between many different types of bikes. Next, let’s talk about the most common types.

Flat Bar Road Bike

One of the most common types of Hybrid bikes I see on the road is a Flat bar Road bike. They are exactly what they say in the name. They are Road bikes, but instead of having Road bike drop bars, they have flat bars like a mountain bike.

The frame is just like a Road bike but is made to be a little more relaxed. The wheelset is a basic road wheelset, and it’s paired up with Road bike tires. Unlike Road bikes, this has a mountain bike groupset with low gearing ranges. When it comes to the brakes, they can either be disc or rim brakes. This bike will be pretty lightweight and is built for road or city riding and commuting.

Mountain bike with Smooth Tires

The next type of Hybrid bike you will see is the opposite of the Flat Bar Road bike. It’s got a Mountain bike frame and comes with light suspension forks and flat handlebars. It will have Mountain bike wheels but with smaller and smoother tires.

The gearing is the same as a mountain bike, and the brakes will be disc brakes. This bike is made for extreme comfort. It will be a super smooth ride. It won’t be the lightest bike and might feel sluggish, but it will go on trails, forest tracks and even be comfortable on the road.

What makes a Hybrid Bike?

Essentially Hybrid bikes can have many different characteristics, but essentially they are bikes made for rides with the family and the short ride to work to help yourself stay in shape.

Some people even find that when they get less mobile, they move to Hybrid bikes as they are much more accessible to ride than other types of bikes. Hybrid bikes are made for comfortable, fun riding and commuting. Hybrid bikes are exactly what they say they are, hybrids between different types of bikes.

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Top Recommendation

1. Rove 4 Dd (2021)

Rove 4 Dd (2021)

The Rove DD is a beautiful bike. The Aluminum Frame is a super comfortable geometry paired with Suntour suspension forks. It has the Giant GX wheelset with 42c smooth tires. It is also equipped with disc brakes for powerful stopping. This bike will be able to take you on road and off road with great comfort and is perfect for family rides and commutes. The quality is excellent, and the price is even better.

What is a Gravel bike

Gravel Bike Frame Geometry
Image by TheArkow on Pixabay

Gravel bikes are a lot of fun. They can go on road, go off road, and are built for adventure and long distance riding. They can’t make them quick enough in the last few years as the demand for Gravel bikes is so high. They are not only the new hot thing. They are here to stay.

Like the Hybrid bikes, they come in many shapes and sizes and fall into a grey area in the cycling world. Gravel bikes, in my opinion, fall into two different categories, Light Gravel Bikes and Off Road Gravel bikes. Let’s talk about each.

Light Gravel Bike

A Light Gravel bike will be very similar to a Road Racing bike. They will have a similar frame design and geometry. They will even have drop handlebars like a Road bike. There is something special about these frames. They will have clearance for bigger tires.

They will typically have a 700c Road wheelset and large tires, usually 35c to 40c in size, which is enormous for a road style bike. Then we come to the gearing. It will typically be a Road Racing Groupset. Essentially a light Gravel is a Road bike with larger tires. It will do light trails and dusty roads, but it is mainly suited to riding on roads.

Off Road Gravel Bike

An Off Road Gravel bike is very different from a light Gravel bike. They have a frame like a Mountain bike with rigid forks and drop handlebars. They will have 650b wheels which are smaller than the light Gravel bike wheels and the same size as a 27.5” Mountain bike wheelset.

These will be equipped with substantial knobby tires and made to take on some seriously rough terrain. The gearing will be similar to a Mountain bike groupset, with a higher range. This bike will be capable of some really tough conditions, but it will be sluggish on the road, and it will lag compared to a light Gravel bike.

What makes a Gravel bike

Gravel Bikes are a mix between a Road and a Mountain bike. They have the drop bars of a Road bike and tires of a Mountain bike. They are commonly known as the jack of all trades bikes as they can do a bit of everything. We are currently seeing a lot of cyclists selling all their bikes and just investing in a single Gravel bike.

Top Recommendation

2. Orbea Terra H30 1x Bike 2021

Orbea Terra H30 1x Bike 2021

The Orbea Terra H30 1X is just a beautiful Gravel bike with not only great looks, but it is also capable of so much as a bike. It’s got a lightweight Aluminum frame with a set of Carbon Forks. It has a 700c Wheelset with 38c tires. This will be great on the road and suitable for light off road riding.

It is equipped with the legendary Shimano GRX Gravel groupset and even has the Shimano GRX hydraulic disc Brakes. Not only does this bike look the part, but it is also going to be a lot of fun to ride. It’s incredible value for money and well worth checking out.

Overview

Essentially Hybrid bikes and Gravel bikes are very different things. A Hybrid bike is a hybrid of two other bikes put together, and these can be very different things. Hybrid bikes are made for weekend rides with the family and comfortable commutes to work. A Gravel bike is a drop bar bike with larger tires. It’s made for club runs with the roadies and gravel fun with your local off road cycling club.

If someone were looking for a bike for a short trip to work or to put a baby carrier on the back, I’d recommend a Hybrid bicycle. If you were looking to take cycling up as a Sport, I’d recommend a Gravel Bike.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is more expensive, a Gravel bike or a Hybrid Bike?

Gravel bikes usually are much more expensive than Hybrid bikes. This is due to Gravel bikes being made to be lighter and faster than Hybrid bikes.

Gravel or Hybrid bike for a Beginner cyclist?

If you are looking for big miles and want to get seriously into cycling, a Gravel bike, if you are looking for any bike to get around on and do the odd commute, a Hybrid bicycle.

Do Gravel bikes have suspension like Hybrid Bikes?

Gravel bikes don’t often come with suspension. Not in a traditional format like forks. Some are known to have suspension seatposts and suspension stems, but that’s it usually.

Conclusion

When picking between a Hybrid and a Gravel bike, try not to overthink it too much. Just think about what you want the bike for, which will lead you to the right bike for you. They will both get you from A to B and will be a great way to exercise.

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Robbie Ferri

Robbie Ferri

Robbie Ferri is a cyclist living in Norfolk in the UK. From breaking World Records to competing in some of the hardest Bikepacking races in the world he is not shy of riding the miles. He has been lucky enough to work at some amazing shops and with some big cycling brands. Alongside this he even had input in designing bikes and has also been a tester for unreleased products. He absolutely loves cycling and believes everyone should have a bike.