• Sun. Aug 14th, 2022

The Differences Of Gravel Bike vs Hybrid Bike


May 2, 2022 , ,

Warminsterwobble – Both hybrid bikes and gravel bikes sit somewhere between a road bike and a mountain bike, and are designed to offer a versatile and comfortable ride over mixed terrain.

So just what are the differences between a gravel bike and a hybrid bike (or fitness bikes, as they’re also known)? And where do flat-bar gravel bikes fit into all of this? In this guide, we’ll take you through what distinguishes these bike categories to help you decide what might be best for you.

Male cyclist in red top riding the Tifosi Cavazzo Ekar gravel bike


Hybrid bikes tend to be designed for optimal practicality, whereas gravel bikes are focused more on leisure riding. Generally speaking, gravel bikes and hybrid bikes have been designed for different purposes, although admittedly there is a great deal of overlap in some areas.

Hybrid bikes are designed for a range of uses, from commuting to leisure riding, and have utilitarian features to make them suited to carrying luggage and tackling a range of surface types and weathers.

The best gravel bikes are designed with capability over mixed terrain as a priority, with different builds suited to leisure riding, multi-day bikepacking or even the new competitive discipline of gravel racing.

Drop Bar vs Flat Bar

Almost all hybrids tend to have flat bars, whereas gravel bikes can use either these or, more commonly, drop bars. The major difference between most gravel bikes and hybrid bikes is the cockpit. While gravel bikes tend to feature drop bars like road bikes, hybrids all use straight bars (also known as flat bars), just like you find on mountain bikes.

Many younger riders and cycling novices favour a flat bar, because it offers a more upright position and simpler handling of the brakes and gears.

Drop bars can offer more varied hand positions, which can be more comfortable for longer rides and races, as well as a more aerodynamic position, which is important when it comes to upping your speed.

Gravel bike handlebars often feature a degree of flare, from subtle to extreme, which can be more confidence-inspiring and stable on techy descents.

Although most gravel bikes use drop bars, there are a few (typically budget) models that are fitted with flat bars, more like a hybrid. Conversions from drop-bar to flat-bar gravel bikes are also fairly common. Most of this comes down to personal preference.

Price point

Typically, hybrid bikes range from budget to mid-level prices, starting from a few hundred pounds and ranging to several thousand pounds in the UK for the most highly specced models. To keep costs down, most hybrids are made from an aluminium alloy.

While you can pick up a cheap gravel bike for less than £1,000, they do range all the way into five-figure sums, depending on which materials and components are used. Racing gravel bikes constructed from carbon fibre, paired with lightweight components, electronic groupsets and carbon wheelsets, can reach eye-watering prices.

Racks and guards

Hybrids come with mounting points for racks and guards, and are often already fitted, like this colour-matched one.

Although many gravel bikes feature bosses for mounting racks and mudguards, very few if any will be supplied with these fitted. A hybrid designed as a commuter bike is much more likely to come complete with mudguards and a pannier rack.


Some hybrids are built with commuting in mind, like this chain guard to stop any unwanted trouser stains. While hybrids often feature simple gearing systems to reduce complexity, maintenance demands and cost, gravel riding demands a greater range of gearing to allow you to tackle steeper inclines and looser surfaces.

These often come with a heftier price tag too, because gravel-specific groupsets are a much more recent development.


As with all bikes, brake quality will depend on budget. Most hybrids and gravel bikes have disc brakes, giving more powerful and dependable braking through all conditions compared to their rim-brake predecessors.

Cheaper hybrids and gravel bikes are often built using cable-operated disc brakes. Although these may be a little easier to maintain and service, they don’t offer the same level of performance as hydraulic disc brakes.

Some cheaper gravel bikes will be fitted with cantilever rim brakes, most commonly V-brakes.

Wheels And Tyres

Durable, puncture-resistant tyres are favoured for hybrid bikes. Both gravel bikes and hybrid bikes can be fitted with a range of tyre sizes. These are typically wider than road bike tyres, but not quite as wide as modern mountain bike tyres.

Hybrids are often fitted with tyres that have extra puncture protection and are more durable to cope with the rigours of city commuting. These can often be heavier and less performance-orientated than gravel-specific tyres.

Check out our guide to the best gravel tyres to see just how many different treads, sizes and construction options there are on offer.


Few hybrids now feature a suspension fork, and they’re best avoided at the budget end. Although there’s a very recent trend towards short-travel gravel-bike suspension, most gravel bikes are built with rigid frames.

Some hybrids will use a short-travel suspension fork, although at the budget end of the hybrid market, these are best avoided: they’re more likely to be very heavy and not as effective as a high-end suspension fork.

As your budget increases, the quality of these forks improves, so could make for a good option if comfort over broken roads or light off-road riding is a priority for you.

Flat-Bar or Frop-Bar For Gravel Riding?

Flat-bar gravel can also additionally appearance loads like a hybrid setup, however the builds have a tendency to be greater nuanced. Just like every factor or gravel bikes setup choice, there are professionals and cons with both flat-bar or drop-bar configurations for gravel using.

A drop-bar construct will come up with greater hand-role options (at the hoods, at the tops and withinside the drops) than a flat-bar construct, so may be greater snug for longer rides, in which you could transfer up your using role often to alleviate any discomfort.

To get round this, you may continually upload ergonomic grips with bar ends to a flat-bar construct, which might be in particular famous for tourers. While a talented street rider is probably greater snug on a drop-bar bikes, many riders, such as novices, decide upon the simplicity and balance of a flat-bar setup.

Hybrid, gravel, whatever: this looks as if a lotta fun. If you’re making plans on packing up the whole lot you want to be self-enough and taking to the street, then you’ll discover you normally have greater area for a bar bag the usage of a flat-bar setup, as you’re now no longer confined to the distance among the drops and shifters.

Riding off-street over steeper, greater technical terrain, maximum humans decide upon a flat-bar setup, due to the fact this places you in a higher role to transport the motormotorcycle beneath you to address the rougher stuff.

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