In recent years, and more so since the first lockdown, gravel bikes and road bikes have soared in popularity. With more people turning to cycling for mental and physical health benefits, it’s safe to say that bikes have made a widespread comeback. Although the two look similar, there are some clear contrasts between them. And if you’re looking to make one of these your new bike, it’s good to know which type is best for you. So, what’s the difference between a gravel bike and road bike? Read on to find out more.

What is a gravel bike?

Gravel bikes are quite possibly the most versatile type of bikes available today. Why? Well, they are designed for multi-terrain riding. Also known as the ‘all-round bike’, these allow you to cycle over a range of different grounds and surfaces. From forest tracks to gravel roads, city touring and more, you can take your excursions anywhere.

What is a road bike?

The clue is all in the name! Road bikes are specifically made for high-speed cycling on paved roads. Designed to take you further and faster, many often refer to them as a racing bicycle. You can find a variety of road bike offspring, such as electric road bikes and performance road bikes.

What are the differences between gravel bikes and road bikes?

The difference between gravel bikes and road bikes comes down to 4 main factors.


Road bikes have a more refined geometry compared to gravel bikes. Their design makes the steering more controlled whereas a gravel is more relaxed. Because of the speed element, a road bike is built for peak aerodynamic performance. A gravel bike tends to offer more comfort and stability over long distance adventures because of its ability to ride over multiple terrains.

It’s important to understand the geometry of a bike before you buy it. Some models can look the same at a glance, with only subtle geometry changes. As small as the changes can seem, these can often have a far bigger impact on whether it suits your riding style.

Tyre and wheel size

Gravel bikes have wider tyres than road bikes. As bike rims are now getting larger, it’s common to find gravel bike tyres sized at 40mm. This is what many riders see as the perfect combination of off-road grip and road efficiency. As they also have a generous tyre clearance, it is possible to fit wider tyres for those who please. On the flip side, road tyres are most often sized between 25mm to 28mm. This is because they provide optimal rolling resistance, depending on the road conditions.

The cockpit and handlebar design

Another difference between gravel bikes and road bikes is the handlebar and cockpit design. It’s important to note though that they both have a drop bar design. What’s different is the way the weight and aerodynamics are considered. Because it is suitable for a specific riding style, a road bike handlebar is lighter in weight. A common design factor of these is their carbon fibre material. The carbon helps with aerodynamics by reducing weight and maximises precision handling. On the other hand, on a gravel, the handlebar material is most likely to be aluminium. Gravel handlebars also have more of an outwards curve shape to offer a wider grip and relaxed yet stable control.


The terrain capability is probably the most noticeable difference between a gravel bike and road bike. Road bikes are super agile which makes them ideal for riding on smooth road surfaces. Gravel bike tyres are wider and chunkier and that gives them the ability to perform on diverse terrains. The main difference here is that road bicycles are more specialised and gravel bikes are more adaptable.

Now you know the difference between gravel bikes and road bikes, it’ll be easier for you to choose your next model. But if you’re still unsure about which type of bike is best for you, contact us! At Primera Sports, we are bike enthusiasts with years of first-hand experience behind us. We have a bike shop in Bournemouth and Poole with a selection of the greatest bikes from leading cycling brands. Whether you are looking for an electric road bike or a custom gravel bike, we can offer it all! Give us a call on  01202 775588 or pop into one of our branches to view models in store today.