How Much Faster is a Gravel Bike Than a Mountain Bike

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There is absolutely nothing to worry about when it comes to choosing the right bike that will satisfy your biking tour.

Because in this article, you will learn every detail about Gravel and Mountain bikes. The information provided here will help you make quick decisions on which one to go for.

Riding Gravel and Mountain bikes on the same terrains such as smooth surfaces, paved or gravel, sandy, and grass, Gravel bikes will go much faster, and more efficient than Mountain bikes. (Also checkout How to Ride a Mountain Bike Properly Like an Expert)

Gravel and mountain bikes are both designed to run on almost the same terrains. Still, their performance on these surfaces are different.

[Speaking of Gravel bikes, checkout 10 Best Gravel Bikes Under $1500 Your Friend Will Envy!]

Even though they have close similarity in terms of functions and features. They are both durable bikes built to meet the earnest desires of those who truly love biking.

[Speaking of biking in different terrains, checkout How to Enjoy Mountain Biking in Snow]

At What Speed Does Gravel And Mountain Bikes Runs?

The speed at which each of the bikes runs depends on the terrains. There are terrains that don’t mingle or hold firm with their tires.

The conditions of the bikes play a major role in determining the one that goes faster than the other.

 Another aspect to consider is the rider’s biking experiences. One might tend to be more experienced than the other person. 

Until these factors are put into consideration, you can’t boldly say Gravel bikes run faster than Mountain bikes.

However, On a paved or smooth surface, a Gravel bike will run at an average speed of 14 — 16 mile per hour while a Mountain bike runs at 12 — 14 mile per hour.

Though, the speed will slow down when riding on tough or rough roads. 

For example, the speed at which you will run at a smooth surface with Gravel bikes will not be the same at rough surface. 

There will be a bit slow-down because the tire will not exert friction on the surface. Gravel bikes are known for their capacity to run faster and higher. 

Gravel bike has a good gear selector system that aids the speed. The component of the gear system is well designed to avoid jumping of the gear system. You will learn more of the gear system as you read on.

Mountain bikes also run very well but they don’t compare directly with Gravel bikes. On a smooth and paved surface, mountain bikes run at an average speed of 12 to 14 mile per hour.

The same rule that applies to Gravel bikes goes to Mountain bikes. Mountain bikes experience slow down when they ride on the rough terrains.

So, gravel bikes run faster than the mountain bikes. These two bikes have almost the same features. There aren’t many differences. 

Difference Between Gravel Bikes And Mountain Bikes

Most times, people tend to mistake Gravel bike for a mountain bike. This could be the way the two bikes are built.

However, these two bikes are quite different from each other. Starting from the frame down to the internal functions of the mechanical system.

Now let’s quickly look at the technical difference of these two bikes. 

The most common physical feature you can easily use to differentiate Gravel bikes from the Mountain bikes is the handlebar.

Gravel bike Drop Handlebars

Gravel bikes handlebars are drop handlebars while that of Mountain bikes are flat handlebars. 

Gravel bikes handlebars
Gravel bikes handlebars

Though you can use Gravel bikes drop handlebars on Mountain bikes. Likewise, mountain bikes’ flat handlebar can still work on Gravel Bikes.

Why Gravel bikes have drop handlebars

Gravel bikes are used to race at higher speeds on smooth roads over long distances.

Gravel bikes use the drop handlebars to run for higher speed at a long distance without the cyclist feeling much fatigue. 

Drop handlebars are standard equipment built for bikes that are used for racing. It gives the cyclist a more handy position to control the bike than flat handlebar.

With a drop handlebar you can easily adjust your hands to reduce fatigue and improve comfort. 

Gravel bike handlebars give more aerodynamic position than the mountain handlebar. You can easily transit from the paved to gravel road with drop handlebars.

Gravel bike with a drop handlebar makes you enjoy group riding more than flat handlebars because the drop handlebars are usually narrower and not spread out.

Mountain bike Flat Handlebars

Mountain bikes use flat handlebars because it helps riders control the bike off road. Flat handlebars are wider than the drop.

Mountain bike flat handlebar.
Mountain bike flat handlebar.

Mountain bike bars provide more stability to beginners more than the drop bars. You enjoy a flat bar much when riding on a single track. 

You’re more upright and focus on the road when you ride a flat handlebar. Though you get less aerodynamic with flat handlebars when riding at a higher speed.

Flat handlebars are better on the single track trails and with slower speeds.

Tire Difference between Mountain bikes and Gravel Bikes

Gravel bikes’ tires are built to fit into wider wheels, which ranges from 38 to 50mm. Riders prefer wider tires because they lower the pressure and improve the comfort and traction.

Mountain bikes tires can fit into wider tires. However, they don’t give more traction and comfort like the grave bikes.

The wider the tires the better it is for riders — it gives them more comfort especially when driving on a long distance.

Mountain bike tires have more weight than the gravel bike tires. It provides comfort and traction but not like the gravel bike tires.

The gravel bike tires run faster on a smoother terrain while mountain bike tires run faster on the rough road.

[When should you change your bike tires? Find out here best times and how to change your bike tires.]

Suspension of Gravel bikes vs Mountain Bikes

Suspension is what maintains the balance between the axle and the tires. Suspension doesn’t allow the rider to feel any bump on the road.

Mountain bikes have flexible suspension forks while gravel bikes use rigid suspension. 

Gravel bike has rigid suspension, which gives additional weight to the bike and lacks efficiency.  As you travel on a rigid suspension the efficiency decreases because it loses a small amount of pedaling power. 

Mountain bikes suspension are better than gravel bike suspensions. Though for a bike to attain maximum efficiency you can lock out the suspension.

Gear Operation of Mountain vs Gravel Bikes

The gear operation on gravel bikes is harder than mountain bikes gears. 

Riders find it stressful and a bit hard to select gear with a gravel bike, especially when the bike is on higher speeds.

Mountain bike gear is flexible, mostly when the bike is on top of a higher motion. The gears are better when the bike is off-road.

Mountain bikes offer the best gear selector over gravel bikes. Riders operate with less force with mountain bikes. 

However, the new cassettes have bridged the gap between the easiest and hardest gear operation.

The cassettes have made it easy for both the mountain and gravel bikes to have the same gear operation selection system. 

Comfort And Fit of Gravel vs Mountain Bikes

Everybody has a different opinion when it comes to comfort you get from a bike. How easy it’s to use the features determine the amount of comfort it provides.

The positions of the handlebars, stem, and saddle are what determine the level of comfort riders get from a particular bike.

You can either adjust any of the features mentioned above to give you the type of comfort you desire.

Mostly, gravel bikes are comfort built. The handlebars are designed to provide more comfort than flat handlebar.

The setting of the handlebars make it easy to adjust it to any level you want that can give you comfort.

Gravel bikes’ seats and tires keep riders more fit than mountain bikes. 

But on rough surfaces and off-road mountain bikes are a better option compared to gravel bikes.

Mostly, the bike major comfort comes from the tires. The wider the tires the better comfort riders get. Wider tires have more air to absorb bumps, and gravel on the rough road than smaller ones.

Efficiency of Mountain vs Gravel Bikes 

The efficiency of a bike is based on the performance of its features. Does the application of the brake respond fast? This is how you measure the efficiency of a bike.

Gravel bikes are more efficient than the mountain bikes. The drop bars of gravel bikes are more aerodynamic than mountain bikes.

The more aerodynamic narrower tires have less rolling resistance.

 Chain Retention of Mountain vs Gravel Bikes

Chain delays are normal when riding on a rough road. Bumps delay chain operation on such roads. 

But one of the easiest ways to come out of this chain problem is to adopt chain retention technology. 

The chain retention technology simply means the use of a mountain bike chain on a gravel bike to ensure the chain stays in at the exact place when riding.

You can also keep the bike chain in a place by using a rear derailleur with a clutch. The clutch helps the bike’s chain to keep constant tension over bumps, which lead to retention.

The gravel bikes with a derailleur clutch have more chain retention than the one that doesn’t use a derailleur clutch.


Now, you know the similarity and differences between the gravel bikes and mountain bikes, you’re in a better position to choose your choice of bike.

Gravel bikes run at a higher speed than the mountain bikes. Gravel bikes use a drop handlebar while mountain bikes use a flat handlebar. Gravel bikes move faster on the paved surface than mountain bikes. 

Mountain bikes have better brake system application compared to gravel bikes. If you’re going for a bike competition, a gravel bike will do better than a mountain bike.  

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