Gravel Bike vs Hybrid – Everything you need to Know!

In adventure bikes, there’s considerable confusion between gravel bikes vs. hybrid! The days where you’d need to have a different bike for off-roading and city riding are long gone, thanks to the emergence of adventure bikes. These bikes are capable of working on all kinds of terrains.

Gravel bike vs hybrid

Gravel Bikes vs Hybrid

Gravel bikes and hybrid bikes are both types of adventure bikes. They’re both designed to perform effectively on-road and off-road. A hybrid bike combines mountain and road bikes, features straight handlebars, and is used for everyday commuting. 

On the other hand, gravel bikes also take design inspiration from both mountain and road bikes. They’re much closer to mountain bikes in overall design, but they feature drop handlebars like most road bikes!

These are the fundamental differences between the two. Let’s take a deeper dive into the hybrid vs. gravel bike debate to understand the differences between the two better. After reading through, you’ll be able to decide your side in the Gravel bikes vs. Hybrid bikes debate!

Gravel Bikes vs Hybrid Bikes Features

To fully understand what each bike offers, it’s essential to compare its features. By comparing these different features, you’ll be able to identify a gravel bike from a hybrid and know which one will suit your needs the most!

Geometry 

gravel bike vs hybrid

Bicycle geometry refers to a set of critical measurements that apply to a particular bike configuration. It’s responsible for how the bike looks, feels, and handles. The geometry also has a significant impact on the riding position of the cyclist. 

A gravel bike shares elements of its geometry with both a mountain bike and a road bike. It’s very similar to the geometry of a hybrid bike, but gravel bikes are designed with competitions in mind. Consequently, the geometry is a bit more aggressive.

The aggressive geometry means that the bike encourages the rider to lean forwards. It feels natural to lean forward while riding a gravel bike with a high seat and low handlebars. By leaning forwards, cyclists reduce air resistance and can potentially go faster! 

Hybrid bikes, on the other hand, are designed to keep comfort in mind. The seating position encourages riders to sit completely upright, which reduces the stress level on the lower back. A good seating position makes it easier to see incoming obstacles. 

The main takeaway is that a gravel bike is more competition-oriented, while a hybrid bike is more comfort-oriented!

Price Range 

gravel bike vs hybrid

Hybrid bikes have been in the market for a relatively long time and are widely available. As a result, there are plenty of high-quality, affordable hybrid bikes that customers can pick between. The number of options means that companies are constantly competing with one another, and the buyer benefits!

On the other hand, Gravel bikes are relatively newer and still bear the tag of a more premium product. While the price is coming down, it’s still considerably pricier than a standard hybrid bike. 

There’s another reason for the price difference as well. A gravel bike is predominantly designed to perform better on off-road tracks. As a result, manufacturers typically install premium components to ensure that they offer decent off-road performance.

However, you can expect the prices to converge in the future as more gravel bike options become available in the market. 

Tire Selection 

If you have a particular preference when it comes to tires, you’d be pleased knowing that both gravel bikes and hybrid bikes boast a wide variety of tire options. 

The frame of hybrid bikes tends to have more clearance, which is why they’re capable of supporting a few more tire options than gravel bikes.

When it comes to tire choice, most people tend to pick skinny tires with a hybrid bike. These skinny tires allow hybrid bikes to travel faster. Alternatively, you can make the hybrid bike even more road-friendly by going with a wider tire. 

As a standard, gravel bikes tend to feature better and more performance-oriented tires. These tires offer better grip and allow you to go faster on off-road terrains. For cyclists who will spend a majority of their time off-roading, thicker tires are also an option. 

The thick tires help make the ride much more comfortable on off-road terrains! Regardless, of the thickness of the tires, it’s pretty common to encounter a flat tire while you’re off-roading. That’s why every cycling enthusiast should learn how to use a bike pump!

Handlebars 

While most new cyclists will fail to realize, the type of handlebars plays a significant role on how the bike feels. Instead of just offering an aesthetic change, different handlebars have different features and purposes. 

On gravel bikes, you’ll find most of them supporting drop bars. These are handlebars that curve forwards and downwards. Their shape encourages the cyclist to lean forward and take a more aerodynamic position. 

When it comes to hybrid bikes, they’re available in several different handlebar types. The most common shape is flat bars. These handlebars are entirely straight and encourage the rider to maintain an upright riding position!

An upright position is more beginner-friendly and makes it easier to see any incoming obstacles. However, it will not reduce any air resistance and will become very annoying in case of strong headwinds!

Weight

Most people assume that the performance orientation means that the gravel bike will be lighter than a hybrid bike. However, that isn’t the case most of the time. 

Even though gravel bikes are designed with competition in mind, they have a significant amount of heft to them. The additional weight helps gravel bikes carry more than just the weight of a person. If you want to take along any equipment, it’s possible. 

If your main concern is getting a lightweight cycle, then a hybrid bike is the best option. Aside from featuring a lightweight frame, hybrid bikes can also get away with lightweight components. 

However, when you ride both a gravel bike and a hybrid bike, you won’t be able to notice the significant difference in weight. That’s because gravel bikes boast very good weight distribution and feel significantly lighter than hybrid bikes of the same weight. 

Weight is an important factor to consider when discussing the gravel bike vs hybrid debate!

Speed 

When you’re off-roading, there’s no gravel bikes vs. hybrid bikes debate. Gravel bikes are much faster than hybrid bikes. It can be challenging for someone on a hybrid bike to catch up to a gravel bike on rugged terrains. 

Hybrid bikes manage to close the gap a little on basic trails and pavements, but the more premium gravel bikes are still faster. There are a few exceptional hybrid bikes out there that can compete. However, neither of these two bikes was built with speed in mind. 

The aggressive geometry of the gravel bike makes it easier to build up speed while riding. With drop handlebars to encourage you to lean forward, the cyclist becomes more aerodynamic and effectively travels faster.

Gears

Hybrid bikes are available in multiple different types of speed configurations. You can choose between no gear, single-speed, and multi-speed options. 

The more gears you have on your hybrid bike, the more versatile the performance. Gravel bikes, on the other hand, come with at the very least an 8-speed configuration. 

Having a variety of gears is essential for both types of bikes. If you encounter hills or loose terrain, riding in the lower gears will make things much more manageable. You can use high gear ratios when you want to travel faster. 

Regardless of what side you pick in the gravel bike vs hybrid debate, it’s important for a bicycle to have multiple gears. If you only have experience with single-speed bikes, multi-speed ones are the natural progression!

Stability and Traction 

The gravel bikes vs. hybrid bikes debate wouldn’t be complete without discussing the level of stability and traction they offer. Gravel bikes are essentially designed to behave like road bikes in off-road conditions. 

You’ll notice that gravel bikes feature wider tires with a more aggressive tread pattern. These characteristics help them provide more excellent stability and track uneven surfaces. As a result, they’re more capable of handling tough cycling conditions. 

On the other hand, hybrid bikes provide more stability and better handling on the streets. If you’re going to primarily ride the bike on pavements and hit the occasional trail, then a hybrid bike is a good option. Alternatively, if you’re passionate about off-roading, then gravel bikes are the way forward!

All-Round Option 

Adventure bikes are all capable of doing a little bit of everything. When it comes to gravel bikes vs. hybrid bikes, they’re both decent all-around options. However, for a more regular cyclist, gravel bikes will come on top. 

Gravel bikes are capable of performing all the same actions as a hybrid bike and arguably do them better. With drop-down handlebars they encourage cyclists to reach higher speeds and become more skilled cyclists. 

If you want to just cycle casually, then a hybrid bike will be the better option. They offer a comfortable seating position and are much more accessible for novice riders. 

Ultimately it depends on an individual’s personal preference; both gravel bikes and hybrid bikes are great all-around options. 

Gravel Bikes vs Hybrid – Which one is for you?

Gravel bikes vs. hybrid bikes are a very relevant debate in the adventure bike circle. By understanding the differences between the features, you’ll be able to pick the bike that matches your needs the most. 

While a gravel bike offers better performance on off-road terrains, hybrid bikes are more suited to casual riders who primarily want to commute in the city. Each type of bike has its advantages and disadvantages! 

Whether you choose a gravel bike or a hybrid bike, it’s essential to learn proper cycling maintenance. That way, you’ll be able to make the most out of your cycling experience.

Gravel Bike vs Hybrid FAQS

Q1. Are gravel bikes more comfortable than hybrid?

Ans. Both gravel bikes and hybrid bikes offer a significant level of comfort. Gravel bikes are more comfortable on unpaved terrains, while hybrid bikes do better on the road.

Q2. Can you convert a road bike into a gravel?

Ans. While you can’t do anything about the difference in frame and size, you can make a road bike similar to a gravel bike. All you need to do is change the tires and get the widest ones possible.

Q3. Are gravel bikes faster than mountain bikes?

Ans. Both gravel bikes and mountain bikes are designed with off-road terrains in mind. However, the design of gravel bikes allows them to reach a higher average speed than a mountain bike.

Q4. Can you change the handlebars on a gravel bike?

Ans. If you prefer a different type of handlebars, then it’s definitely possible to unscrew everything and pick the handlebar of your choice!

James Dawson

After learning how to ride a bicycle much later than all the other kids, James Dawson hasn't looked back. The author now actively rides a bicycle as a part of the community cycling group and competes regularly in local competitions. Aside from that, he loves technology and always keeps up to date with the latest cycling tech.