Road Bike vs Gravel Bike: Our Guide

Road Bike vs Gravel Bike: Our Guide

Opposing bike models can be suited to different people and their passion/reason for riding a bicycle. Taking into account exactly the reason behind your purchase before you go ahead and buy it is paramount.

If you buy a bike that is built for the opposite reasons to why you want to ride leisurely or compete - you will find that your performance will deteriorate and maintenance costs will rise at an alarming rate.

In today’s blog, we will be having a look at a road bike vs gravel bike to see what features suit who and whether there are standout benefits to which model you should acquire. Carry on reading to learn more!


What is a Road Bike Designed For?

Road bikes are traditionally known to take your average or competitive rider as far as they can possibly go, as often as they want on paved terrain. Competitors or avid riders should always use them to their advantage on a road - as that is where they best perform.

Taking a road bike into different terrain may, unfortunately, damage your bike permanently, leaving it unusable - even on a road. No matter the frame, these bikes will be customised to give you excellent speed and endurance when road riding.

Whether you want to go on a road trip with your friends or you’re out competing for hours, the geometry and fine manufacturing of this bike will permit you to ride as long as you desire - until you can’t physically pedal anymore.

Downhill, flat or uphill riding on a smooth surface prevents you from struggling as much as you would do on an opposing model. Therefore, if you’re road surfaces a lot and want a way to get around with ease, road bikes will be your best friend.

Here at Reilly Cycleworks, our legacy road bike has been favoured by many for years, as we believe that road bikes should not only perform well on smooth terrain - but you have the option to customise your legacy bike to fit all your specific detailing. Have a look at our T325D Road Disc here.


What is a Gravel Bike Designed For?

On the opposite end of the spectrum, gravel bikes are a versatile model with drop bars that allows you to control your bike on many opposing uneven or rough surfaces - that may be deemed as challenging with other bike models. Handling, speed and control are all provided immensely on these ‘no-go’ surfaces.

Their main focus when gravel bikes are designed is to go into battle with uneven terrain. Yet, they will actually perform pretty well on paved surfaces too. Although they won’t be as user-friendly as road bikes on paved surfaces, you will be guaranteed extremely stable handling.

With this diversity, if you wanted to ride up the side of a mountain with family, become a cycling champion in gravel races or even just saunter through your local rural and/or urban area - gravel bikes can give you the adventure you deserve.

Reilly Cycleworks’ comfortable gravel bikes, with hand-built using premium grade 3AL-2.5V titanium will give you all the speed, stability and aesthetic value you need to enjoy your off the road adventures. Take a look at the Gradient, our 'all-rounder' superstar.


Advantages and Disadvantages of a Road Bike

Taking advantage of the modern features of a road bike is a must. An endless list of advantages would await if the correct manufacturing and structure are taken upon by the known company.

However, this is not always the case and there are some drawbacks that a road bike will offer when cycling. Let’s take a look at both the advantages and disadvantages of a road bike, so that you have a better understanding of both gravel bikes and road bikes for your long days in the saddle:



First of all, whether it be an endurance road bike, solely speed focused or a hybrid of both - let’s take a closer look at the main benefits of this model, now that you know a lot more about the bike in general:

  • Excellent aerodynamic features for speed
  • Given the option of opposing hand positions (to optimise speed when standing or sitting)
  • Minimal rolling resistance (as the tyres are narrow and hard)
  • Drop bars give you great flexibility when riding uphill on road terrain
  • Extremely fast
  • Low maintenance (as the terrain provides little to no danger)
  • Extremely accessible to an avid or professional rider
  • Modern aesthetic
  • The gear range is exceptional



Although there are many advantages to the road bike, there are a few tools and accessories for this model that can make it difficult at times to get going at the performance you desire. See below to see the cons of road bikes:

  • Limited to minimal surfaces (as this design can’t deal with rough or uneven terrain
  • Road bike wheels will create a tougher ride
  • No suspension for any challenging surfaces
  • Can be expensive (if you’re looking for a competitive bike)
  • Can be dangerous on a road if you’re not used to riding while cars are driving past
  • Road bike steering via framesets and handlebars can be difficult at times
  • Tyre clearance is minimal


Advantages and Disadvantages of a Gravel Bike

Now that you have dissected the pros and cons of a road bike, it is now time to represent gravel riding to you as a reader - in order to show you the reasons to shop (or not) for a gravel bike.

Of course, everyone has their personal preferences, so one of you may prefer a road bike over a gravel bike and vice versa.



Whether you’re training for a gravel race or leisurely riding, you need all components from your disc brakes, rim brakes, tyre strength and many more features to perform on gravel roads/terrain.

Consequently, let’s delve into the different pros of a gravel bike that you will notice when using your new set of wheels:

  • The flexibility of accessories that you can alter (if you need to change your tyres, tube, etc)
  • Can ride on multiple terrains with similar performance 
  • Can explore any terrain 
  • Simple designs (meaning the maintenance will end up being low)
  • Gravel bike tires allow for rough terrain due to optimal suspension



Lastly, we will run you through the cons of a gravel model. Should you be in the market to shop road bikes or shop gravel bikes, this may be the final piece to your decision. Let’s take a look at the added disadvantage when you purchase a gravel bike:

  • Gravel bikes can be relatively slow
  • With the wider tyres and heavier frameset, it can be challenging to ride uphill (not as heavy as a mountain bike)
  • Can be expensive
  • Although it is versatile, it is not the ‘highest performing’ in every area