With more people choosing to ride their bike to work, the choice in bike options have grown exponentially. We seek to identify the better choice among them for commute purposes.
My name is Richard and as a bike enthusiast, I have become fascinated by the fast expansion of the bike types available over the past 20 or so years. I grew up with biking as my hobby because everyone in our small town did it and it seemed to come naturally to me.
At the time we all had mountain bikes as they were all the rage but as we grew up and new bikes like the gravel, cyclocross or hybrid bikes started to show up, most of us bought into our preferences.
Gravel and hybrid bikes are both an innovation of great minds who wanted a cross breed between the mountain bike and the road bikes. While gravel bikes can go literally anywhere across the world, hybrid bikes are more capable on paved roads than anywhere else.
What is the difference between gravel and hybrid bikes?
Comfort and Endurance
Comfort and Commute
Mudguard, Racks, Bottle Holder
Bottle holder, pannier
Gravel Bike vs Hybrid – How they differ
Gravel bikes feature the drop handlebars which most cyclist find to be easier to control than the flat bars. However, most people are intimidated by them and would prefer the familiar flat bars found on a hybrid bike.
Tires on the gravel bike are also wider which give the bike more stability and sturdiness along the rugged terrains. The same cannot be said of the hybrid which has slimmer tires that can get you through the traffic fast.
Hybrid bikes do not come fitted with suspension but you could have this added just as you could also change out the tires if your bike has the allowance for it and you wish to ride a little bit far outback. The tires on a hybrid a semi-smooth making them a little grippy over paved roads and some dirt roads.
Gravel bikes have great control in off-road, rugged terrain cycling but the hybrids are built more for the paved road in uptown settings giving you great control over the busy road or highway.
On either bike, the speed is determined by the terrain and the handlebar positioning. The gravel bikes will go fast in all terrains because the drop bars allow the rider to drop down while cycling which enables them to minimize the effects of wind on their face.
Hybrid bikes on the other hand, have a straight bar which keeps the rider in an upright position. this is ideal is a busy city or town because it will keep the rider aware of what’s ahead with enough time to maneuver through traffic.
With this relaxed stance, only the extensive number of gears available matter in terms of the pedaling intensity. This posture while cycling, takes the pressure off neck, back and shoulder muscles allowing the rider to simply enjoy the experience.
Gravel bikes can ride moderately fast across any terrain but hybrid bikes are fastest on paved roads.
Most hybrid bikes are made of aluminum, stainless-steel or carbon. Gravel bikes on the other hand, could be made of aluminum or titanium metal. This means that both bikes are hardy while still allowing them the capacity to go fast, over long distances with a little luggage.
Both these bikes have the capacity to carry some luggage on them with the use of pannier bags but that depends on the specific model you choose. Not all gravel or hybrid bikes have frame mounts that are needed to fit a rear rack.
Both gravel and hybrid bikes have models that could allow you to add accessories to the bike to help you carry some luggage on its frame.
Gravel Bikes vs Hybrid Bikes – A Comparison Overview
Gravel Bikes – Overview
These are a breed that crosses a road bike with a mountain bike and they are also referred to as Adventure Road Bikes. They are designed to be harder and sturdier than a road bike and faster than a mountain bike.
They can cover all terrains like mud, pavement, tarmac and others in between which makes them an ideal everyday bike. Contrary to mountain bikes, they have been designed to be longer which adds to their riding comfort and stability.
- Tires can be changed to make a fat bike for more comfort and road grip
- Go anywhere and everywhere
- Simple and durable design
- Has mudguards, bottle holder and rigid suspension
- Slower than a road bike
- Heavier than a road bike
- More expensive than most bikes
Hybrid Bikes – Overview
These bikes bring to the table the benefits of both mountain and road bikes. They feature large padded seats and their handlebars are upright to provide a comfortable riding position. they make for great companions if you love to just cycle down the block, around the neighborhood, running errands or riding to work or school.
They are heavier than road bikes but they cannot go where a mountain bike can go. They best work on paved roads. Tires on these bikes are medium in width and have smooth thread which gives a good riding experience.
There are some models that have been fitted with suspension to smooth out bumps on the road but most hybrid bikes have a rigid build. You can have features of your hybrid bike changed up to get your cycling needs met.
- Lighter and faster than gravel or mountain bikes
- Frame keeps the rider’s posture upright
- Comfortable and controlled ride
- Gets you across town over rainy paths, dirt trails or sidewalks
- Customizable, versatile, upgradeable
- Slower and heavier than a road bike
- It cannot go too far off the paved road
Verdict: So, which between the gravel and hybrid bike is better for commute?
If you live in the city and you only need a bike to get you to work, school or to the grocery store every day, I’d recommend you get yourself a hybrid bike. Not only are they sleek, they are fast, customizable, comfortable and affordable too.
However, based on how much you can do with it and some cool features such as the drop bars, I’d say the gravel bikes are still the most versatile bikes compared to hybrids. If you are all about functionality and all-terrain kind of bikes, then gravel bikes are your best bet.
Can you ride a hybrid bike on trails?
Yes, you can. As long as the trail is a dirt path or a loose gravel path, hybrid bikes can handle that. Keep in mind the size of the tires because if they are too thin, you risk getting a flat tire every now and again. Be sure to switch up your tires for fatter ones if you plan to be racing in the outback.
Are Gravel bikes faster than Hybrids?
Yes, if racing on rugged terrain but hybrids are faster on pavements and dirt roads. Gravel bikes were built for endurance over rugged gravel while hybrids are built for short commutes over paved roads. Since they both have a different purpose, their speeds will differ based on the terrain.