Looking for a new bike, but trying to figure out the difference between a hybrid and a gravel bike? We will guide you and explain the different bike types.
The hybrid and the gravel bike are crossbreeds between mountain bikes and road bikes and were designed to have the qualities of the two worlds.
The gravel bike is built to drive off-road and over different surfaces, whereas the hybrid is built for paved roads but can be driven on all kinds of terrain.
Besides the purpose of the bike, the main differences between a gravel and a hybrid bike are these:
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Gravel bike with 14 speeds, 700c wheels, and a lightweight aluminium frame.
What Is A Gravel Bike?
When you want to know the difference between a hybrid and a gravel bike, letâ€™s start by explaining what a gravel bike is.
Gravel bikes are very versatile, have lower gearing and wider tires, and can be used for any surface, be it road, singletrack, gravel, or forest tracks.
They usually have a drop handlebar that gives an aerodynamic position when riding and picking up speed. A drop handlebar also has the advantage of several positions to hold it, which is convenient when riding long distances.
The diameter of wheels on gravel bikes is 700c (29inches) or 650b (27.5 inches), just as on road bikes and the tires are knobby and wider than those on road bikes and usually between 30 and 50mm, giving stability, comfort and smooth rides on off-road trails.
Many gravel bike frames are built to have more tire clearance.
This means you can use different sizes of tires and switch them. Wider tires allow you to run at low pressures of 20psi (pound per square inch) or less giving you more stability and comfort on rough terrain.
The brakes on a gravel bike are usually disc brakes as they are the most efficient and safe when riding in rough terrain. Especially in wet conditions, disc brakes are a better choice than V-brakes.
The gearing of a gravel bike is lower, making the steep climbs and multi-terrain rides possible and gravel bikes have either 1x (one chainring) or 2x (two chainrings) at the front.
With a 1x solution, you have a simpler system where less can go wrong when changing gear and also gives less maintenance. A 2x solution gives you larger jumps between the gears but almost the same range.
Hybrid bike with 24 speeds, aluminium frame, and disc brakes
What Is A Hybrid Bike?
A hybrid bike is a combination of a road bike and a mountain bike and has a light frame like a road bike but it also can drive on light off-road terrain.
Often hybrid bikes are called commuter bikes, as they are perfect for commuting to and from work and for touring.
They are best on paved roads but also work on a variety of terrain.
Like mountain bikes, hybrid bikes have a flat handlebar giving the rider an upright riding position for comfort and a better view of the road ahead.
The upright position will cost you a little on the speed though, as it is less aerodynamic.
The wheels on hybrid bikes are usually 700c (29inches) with 35-45mm tires, as comparison road bikes have 23-30mm tires. They run on lower pressure (40-90psi) than road bikes to make them more comfortable and stable on rough terrain.
The choice of tires depends on what the bike is used for – for commuting on the road, choose tires with less road resistance, and for riding on variant surfaces, choose tires made for traction on gravel and dirt roads.
Hybrid bikes are mostly made with disc brakes, but also come with V-brakes. Disc brakes perform better in wet weather, but V-brakes are lighter and cheaper than disc brakes.
On hybrid bikes, you will mostly see 2x gearing (two chainrings) at the front. There are also hybrid bikes with only one gear on the market.
Most hybrid bikes have aluminium frames, but can also be found in steel or carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is lighter but also more expensive than aluminium.
Hybrid bikes are not the fastest on the road and not the best off-road, but they are versatile and a great choice for everyday riders on paved roads and light off-road.
Hybrid bikes can have very different components, so maybe get a specialized hybrid bike with the tires and brakes matching the style of riding you plan to do.
Differences Between Hybrid and Gravel Bikes
A hybrid bike has a shorter reach from saddle to handlebar, keeping the rider upright, and making it feel like a shorter bike.
This makes it easier to ride in traffic and for beginners.
Gravel bikes have a more aggressive geometry as the drop bars give the rider a forward-leaning position.
Both types of bikes can carry extra weight and can usually be fitted for rear racks, but if you plan to use the bike for longer tours, a gravel bike is the better option because their low geometry makes them more stable, even with heavier loads.
Also when it comes to gearing, there is a difference between a gravel bike and a hybrid bike, as a gravel bike always has at least 8 gears, and a hybrid sometimes just has a single gear.
A gravel bike needs more gears to be able to handle steep climbs, loose surfaces, and flat roads/trails, and the gear ratio starts lower than on hybrid bikes to help get up steep climbs.
As mentioned some hybrid bikes come with just one gear, which makes the bike a bit lighter, but usually hybrid bikes have more than one chainring (1x) and over 12 gears. More gears make it more flexible and make it useful in more situations and terrain.
Another difference betweena hybrid and a gravel bike is that gravel bikes are built for rougher surfaces so they have thicker (30-50mm) tires with a knobbier pattern than hybrid bikes. The wider and heavy threaded tires give a better road grip on the variant terrain.
Hybrid bikes have thinner (35-45mm) and slicker tires, all though not as thin as on road bikes, giving less road resistance than thicker tires, but still wide enough to be effective on various surfaces.
Hybrid bikes have 700c wheels, and gravel bikes have 700c or 650b.
The difference between a hybrid and a gravel bike when it comes to the tire pressure is that gravel bikes run at lower pressure (20-50psi) making them stable and efficient off-road, but slower on paved roads.
The lower pressure absorbs vibration from the uneven surface.
Hybrid bikes have higher tire pressure (40-90psi) to give higher speed on roads, as it reduces road resistance.
A visual difference between hybrid bike and gravel bike is the handlebar.
Hybrid bikes have straight handlebars, giving a more upright riding position, optimal for riding in the city and for beginners.
Gravel bikes have drop bars, allowing an aerodynamic riding position, but also giving more holding positions for the rider, which is an advantage on longer rides.
The weight difference between gravel bike and a hybrid is not big, but usually, hybrid bikes are lighter than gravel bikes, because gravel bikes are built to cope with tough terrain.
But the weight of a bike not only depends on the frame material but also depends on the type of brakes, the number of chainrings, suspension, etc. the bike has.
Hybrid bikes are usually more affordable than gravel bikes.
They are more common on the market and also have less expensive components, making them cheaper to maintain.
Gravel bikes require better and pricier components as the bikes are built for tougher terrain.
Similarities Between Hybrid And Gravel Bike
Both hybrid and gravel bikes were designed to take the best from mountain bikes and road bikes and are categorized as adventure bikes.
Both types of bikes can handle different terrains and are stable enough to be used to carry stuff for you when grocery shopping or touring.
The frames of hybrid and gravel bikes are often made of aluminium, although you can find bike frames in carbon fiber or titanium.
Gravel bikes perform better in rough terrain than on paved roads, whereas it is the other way around for the hybrid bike.
The hybrid bike is generally lighter and a good choice for commuting on paved roads and for light off-road terrain.
The gravel bike is versatile, durable, and stable when riding off-road and on most surfaces.
Both bikes can be used for touring and many can be fitted with rear racks for longer tours with more stuff. But the gravel bike is more capable of riding on unpaved paths, especially with extra weight.
Which Is The Right Bike For Me?
When choosing between a hybrid bike and a gravel bike you have to ask yourself what you need the bike for.
- Are looking for a bike to ride on different surfaces, including dirt roads, singletrack, gravel, roads?
- Need a bike that is stable, durable, and built for endurance?
- Are looking for a bike where you can change the tires according to the surface, you want to ride? (check if your bike has enough tire clearance)
In those cases, you should go for a gravel bike.
A hybrid bike is the right choice for you if:
- You need the bike to commute, primarily on paved roads and light off-road?
- A lightweight bike important for you, because you have to carry your bike with you?
- Not a fan of drop handlebars or a beginner?
Do you need help finding the best hybrid bike for you?
Here are the Best Hybrid Bikes Under USD1000
Equipment / Accessories
The most important accessory you need is a helmet
Other things recommended for riding your bike:
- Bike shorts for women/men
- Jersey for women/men
- Bags for the rear rack
- Shock absorbing gloves
- A bell is especially important in traffic
- Water bottle holder with pockets
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
Can A Hybrid Be A Gravel Bike?
Absolutely, you can ride a hybrid bike on gravel, as hybrid bikes have wider tires than typical road bikes. The wider tires make it easier to ride on gravel. A gravel bike is better for off-road terrain as a hybrid, but a hybrid can definitely ride on gravel too.
What Is The Point Of A Gravel Bike?
The point of a gravel bike is it will give you a more upright riding position than road bike geometry, with a longer head tube and shorter reach. That will give you more comfort on long rides and will let you shift your weight around to tackle the uneven surface and off-road climbs.
What Makes A Gravel Bike Different?
What makes a gravel bike different to a road bike is, the gravel bike frame geometry has a longer wheelbase, lower bottom bracket, and slacker headtube angle making it more stable on challenging road surfaces and off-road terrain. Road bikes have a steeper angle, short wheelbase, and thinner tires.
When you are deciding what type your new bike should be, considering the purpose of the bike is important, as it is the biggest difference between a hybrid and gravel bike.
A hybrid bike is right for you if you will do a lot of driving on paved roads, and sometimes on gravel and loose surfaces.
A gravel bike is right for you if you sometimes drive on paved roads but love driving off-road and on tough terrain, but donâ€™t want a mountain bike. A gravel bike is a great all-round bike.