Gravel bike vs hybrid bike: understanding the differences

An image of the rear of a gravel bike blending into the front of a hybrid bike, torn down the middle like ripped paper
(Image credit: Canyon and Trek)

Both the gravel bike and the hybrid bike were borne out of a similar desire: to blend attributes from the two ends of the cycling spectrum, road and mountain, but with different end results in mind.

Hybrid bikes, sometimes called fitness bikes, have been around for decades. They take the flat-bar comfort and upright position of mountain bike geometry and pair it with the 700c wheels and skinnier tyres from road bikes (usually around 28-32mm), to offer on-road speed without the drop bar position and forward-leaning geometry, which many beginners can find unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and potentially off-putting. Hybrid bikes are designed to be a do-it-all bike for everyday riders, and while the focus is usually paved roads, some are capable on certain off-road surfaces too, like fine gravel, canal towpaths, and bridleways. 

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