Rigid mountain bikes vs gravel bikes


Gravel bikes are a mix of mountain bikes and road bikes. They have some features of road bikes and some of mountain bikes. But do we need a gravel bike? Why gravel bikes are over, but now they’re setting a new trend! Are mountain bikes more preferable than gravel bikes?

Mountain bikes VS gravel bikes

So, here are some factors on which we can differentiate between gravel and mountain bikes:

Key differences between rigid mountain bikes and gravel bikes

Gravel bicycles

  • Large tire size (27.5th – 29th)
  • Less wide tire (38-45 mm)
  • Rigid or rigid frame
  • Lower the handlebars
  • Short range
  • 2x or 3x transmission
  • Less cassette range (10-42t)
  • More aerodynamics
  • Better speed on slightly rugged roads and terrain

Mountain bikes

  • Smallest tire size (26 – 27.5th)
  • Wider tires (53 – 60 mm)
  • Rigid or complete suspension
  • Flat handlebars
  • Long range
  • 1x transmission trains
  • More cassette range (10 – 50t)
  • Less aerodynamics
  • Best for climbing, steep descents and rugged rocky terrain

1. Handlebars of Mountain bikes vs. gravel bikes

VS gravel mountain bike handlebarsMountain bikes have a wider range plan 760-780 mm (29-30 inch) handlebar, which provides more stability on rough terrain and feels more secure in the face of obstacles.

Gravel bikes have short-range fall handlebars (seat-to-handle distance) that give them an aerodynamic position and comfort for long distances.

2. Knotty tires

Tires for mountain bikes VS gravel

Mountain bikes have wider tires (53-60 mm) to control rough terrain and cross bumps and rocks efficiently. In addition, they have more knotty tires (high tread) to provide better grip and traction on rough terrain. Tire sizes range from 26th to 27.5th

Meanwhile, gravel bikes also have wider tires than road bikes, but they are no wider than mountain bike tires. Maximum gravel bikes 50 mm (1.97 inch) wide tires. But the tire size ranges from 27.5 to 29 for top speed on the roads.

3. Suspension

VS Gravel mountain bike suspension

Gravel bikes mostly have one rigid Suitable frame for road pavements, and few gravel bikes are hardtails. Mountain bikes have at least one rigid body, and most mountain bikes are total suspension. But you can adjust the shock absorbers and forks of mountain bikes.

4. Gears and crankshaft

Gravels have a wide range of gears, usually two or three plates (2x / 3x transmission), and the hardest gear is 44t-10t (44 front teeth and 10 rear teeth); the easiest gear is 42t-44t with XPLR SRAM cassettes.

Most mountain bikes have a single plate (1x drive train), reducing their weight and with fewer moving parts. But more range of bike sprockets in the cassette fills the void; therefore, the hardest gear is 32t-10t, and the easiest gear is 32t-52t with SRAM XX1 Eagle.

5. More aerodynamics

Mountain bikes have a low aerodynamic profile due to the wider handlebars, wide wheelbase and long range. There is no need for aerodynamics on a mountain bike because they are designed to pass rocky tracks, mud, climbing and descending, and require more stability and handling control.

Gravel bikes have drop handles, a low wheelbase, a tire with less tread, which makes them more streamlined. Short-range fall handlebars cause pilots to tilt their upper body to 45 degrees and above, making them suitable for effective long driving on the roads. However, these bikes have significantly lower stability on rough terrain and downhill terrain.

6. Frame geometry

The gravel has a vertical geometry with a tube head angle of 62-65 degrees mountain bikes, providing better comfort and more driving stability. Gravel bike drop bars offer extra comfort on long trips.

Therefore, when comparing mountain bikes with gravel bikes in terms of frame geometry, the two are more likely to be the same, but typically high-end mountain bikes have lightweight frames that help climb hills.

How do I convert my mountain bike to gravel?

Fortunately, most of the differences between mountain bikes and gravel bikes are convertible. Low-tread light tires will reduce road surface resistance, which will significantly affect speed. You can turn your rigid mountain bike into gravel bikes by changing and adding some equipment.

These changes will make your mountain bike faster than ever. Here are the changes you need to make to convert your mountain bike to a gravel bike:

  • Replace your mountain bike with wider, knotty tires 29th to 48mm wide base tires with fewer knot characteristics.
  • add Drop bars on the straight handlebars of mountain bikes
  • Switch to 1x transmission instead of 2x or 3x drive train used in gravel bikes.
  • Install 12 pinions cassette with a range of 10-52t.
  • Remove any extra additional items such as bottle holders and bags.

Frequently asked questions

What are the best brands of mountain biking?

Mongoose, Schwinn, Yeti Cycles, Santa Cruz, Trek and Giant Bicycles are some of the top brands of mountain bikes.

Can a gravel bike be used as a mountain bike?

Gravel bikes are designed for off-road gravel (small stones) at an efficient speed; these bikes can be rugged uphill and downhill. Therefore, we cannot use gravel bikes for mountain terrain. But you can easily cross slightly rugged terrain with a stiff gravel bike.

How much faster is a gravel bike than a mountain bike?

Gravel bikes have more streamlined profiles and narrow tires, which provide a better pace on the sidewalks of the road. In addition, they have a high hard gear (42t-10t), which is better for a high speed of 30 mph (48 km / h) or even faster. Therefore, gravel bikes are 20% faster than mountain bikes with the same input force.

Is it harder to ride a mountain bike on the road?

Mountain bikes are designed to handle rough terrain, therefore; these are slower than road bikes and gravel bikes on the road due to the wider, taller tires, which have great road resistance and reduce speed efficiently. Mountain bikes have an average speed of 13-14 mph on the road, which is slower than gravel and road bikes.

How much slower are gravel tires?

Gravel bikes are not slow; you can speed up 25 mph on the roads or even faster. But these are slower than road bikes that can maintain speeds of 30 mph on smooth roads.

Final words on the comparison of mountain bike and gravel bike

Gravel bikes are speed-oriented, better pedaling, and have a wide range of gears designed for smoother, more rugged roads. Their drop handles, less knotty tires and aerodynamic profile make them suitable for long journeys. Gravel bikes are better climbing but it is not ideal for mountaineering on rough terrain.

Mountain bikes are specially designed to challenge rugged terrain, going up and down. Its wider tires and straight handlebars offer more stability and control on rough roads and obstacles. High-tread and short-range tires make them slower than Gravel road bikes. All the differences between mountain bikes and gravel bikes can be converted.



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