Road bike vs gravel bike: what are the differences?

Gravel Bike vs Road Bike
(Image credit: Aaron Borrill)

Gravel is certainly a buzzword in cycling these days, with many tarmac-loving roadies discovering the joys of off-road riding. Among those who haven't yet succumbed, however, there are some opinions being aired that gravel bikes are just road bikes with slightly wider tyres. We're here to debunk that assumption and clear up the differences. So if you're scratching your head over the road bike vs gravel bike conundrum, ponder no more.

In the same way that a cross-country mountain bike differs from a trail or enduro bike, the best gravel bikes and the best road bikes exhibit a wide variety of design elements which allow each to excel in a specific arena.

Based on the Gold Coast of Australia, Colin has written tech content for cycling publication for a decade. With hundreds of buyer's guides, reviews and how-tos published in Bike Radar, Cyclingnews, Bike Perfect and Cycling Weekly, as well as in numerous publications dedicated to his other passion, skiing. 

Colin was a key contributor to Cyclingnews between 2019 and 2021, during which time he helped build the site's tech coverage from the ground up. Nowadays he works full-time as the news and content editor of Flow MTB magazine. 

With contributions from