Do you want to try a new type of bike? If so, gravel or hardtail bicycles may be the perfect option for you. Well, you can choose a gravel bike if you want a bike you can use every day. As Gravel bikes can be ridden almost anywhere, they are much more stable and easy to ride than touring bicycles. On the contrary, designed to ride on hard surfaces such as pavement and dirt trails, hardtail bikes are the most popular type of bike. This is a bicycle that can handle difficult terrain much better than gravel bikes, as they are much sturdier.

And, today in my writing, I will explore the difference between Gravel and Hardtail (XC) MTB Bikes and give you an idea of which one is better for you. So, let’s start!

What Is A Hardtail MTB Bike Actually?

These bicycles are designed to ride on off-road terrain, sometimes called hardtail mountain bikes. Due to the direct attachment of the rear wheels to the frame, hardtail bikes don’t have rear shocks.

  • Hardtail bikes are typically equipped with a front suspension fork, although some use rigid frames as well.
  • As a result, the rider is less likely to be injured when he or she travels over lumps, bumps, and jumps.
  • Bikes with hardtails are characterized by their versatility and ability to handle a variety of terrains.

It is possible to ride a hardtail bike regardless of your ability level. This mountain bike beginners can purchase some very affordable hardtails, while professional riders can purchase top-spec hardtails suitable for competitive events.

And What Are Hardtail Bikes Used For?

It is possible to cycle on a lot of terrain and environments with hardtail bikes as they are a type of mountain bike. Most riding conditions will be handled well by them because of their versatility and resilience.

  • several areas are suitable for hardtail mountain biking, including mountain trails, fire roads, and pump tracks.
  • In addition to gravel and stone trails, woodland paths, and even city streets, hardtails excel on less intense trails.
  • Consider a full-suspension mountain bike, if you like downhill biking or want to focus on jumping and big air.

Moreover, you can focus your concentration on the upcoming course when you ride a full-suspension bike, which absorbs the most impact from big ramps and jumps.

  • Hardtails are lightweight and can be found competing in the majority of mountain bike events, barring the most extreme ones.

What Is A Gravel Bicycle Then?

Gravel bikes and drop-bar bikes are suitable for a variety of surfaces. This bike’s wide tires, lower gearing, and stable handling make it capable on normal road and off-road.

  • Multi-terrain bikes allow you to connect gravel roads, forest trails, byways, and bridle paths in new ways.
  • Camping gear can also be loaded onto gravel bikes for multi-day trips.
  • Almost every bike category has gravel machines geared for road speed and light off-roading.

Well, some Gravels may look more like mountain bikes, on the other hand, are more like road bikes.

  • Depending on the type of riding, gravel bikes are better suited.
  • And, to stand out from the crowd, gravel bikes possess several distinctive characteristics.

And, What Are Gravel Bikes Good For?

You can ride a gravel bike on many different surfaces since it has a drop-bar design. This bike also performs well off-road because of its wider tyres, lower gearing, and stable handling.

  • For quick progress on the road, it features a drop handlebar and sporty geometry. It includes a drop handlebar and sporty geometry for quick progress on the road.
  • The head tube and reach of a gravel bike are longer than those of a road bike, giving you a more upright riding position.
  • And, by shifting your weight around, you’ll be able to tackle obstacles and off-road descents more comfortably.

Gravel Bicycle VS Hardtail: A Complete Dissection & Comparison

It is important to take a few more factors into account when deciding between a hardtail mountain bike and a gravel bike.

Bicycle Geometry


  • A gravel bike puts the rider in an upright endurance position for greater control, comfort, and stability off-road.
  • And, compared to road bikes and mountain bikes, gravel bikes fall somewhere in the middle.


  • In rough dirt and singletrack trails, XC mountain bikes provide more stability and confidence-inspiring handling than road bikes.
  • The geometry of mountain bikes is even more upright and you won’t be able to handle them as quickly as you can on smooth pavement or smooth gravel.


One of the most noticeable differences between gravel bikes and XC mountain bikes is the handlebar.

  • MTB bikes use flat handlebars, while gravel bikes have curved drop handlebars. Mountain bikes with drop bars and gravel bikes with flat bars exist, but they’re uncommon.
  • Over longer distances and smoother roads, gravel bikes are normally ridden at faster speeds. Because riding long days in the saddle, drop handlebars provide more hand positions, improving comfort and reducing fatigue.

Furthermore, the drops allow sprinters to position themselves lower and more aerodynamically.

  • Drop bars give gravel bikes versatility for riding at high speeds since they can easily transition between paved and gravel roads. As a bonus, rider-to-rider safety is also improved since these bars are narrower than flat bars.

Stability and leverage are important on rough singletrack trails. Hands are often spread further apart with flat handlebars, giving the rider a more upright position. This is more comfortable if you’re driving on smooth, open roads at higher speeds, but it reduces your aerodynamic efficiency.

Therefore, it is best to use flat bars when riding singletrack trails at slower speeds.

Tire Clearance

There is generally wider tyres on gravel bikes than on any other road bikes, ranging between 38mm and 45mm wide. It is now possible to fit 50mm tires on some models. Comfort and traction are improved with wide tyres.

  • Although gravel tyres are larger than XC MTB bike tires, they are still narrower than most.
  • Most XC mountain bikes are designed to fit tires between 2.1 and 2.4″ wide (50mm gravel tyres measure about 1.97″).
  • Tires for mountain bikes are heavier and slower rolling but offer the best traction and comfort.

Rougher roads and trails can be handled by mountain bike tires, but gravel bike tyres perform better when riding on smoother, faster roads.


All we know is that suspension provides comfort and control by taking the edge off bumps.

  • And, for weight savings and improved pedaling efficiency, gravel bikes usually have a rigid fork rather than a suspension fork.
  • Gravel bikes with suspension are rare, but some models do exist. But no worries, for gravel bike riders who wish to have suspension, aftermarket suspension forks are available out there.

On smooth gravel roads and smooth pavement, a small amount of travel smooths out rough spots. However, if you are used to plush mountain bike forks, you may not find them comfortable.


Gravel bikes have gearing that is “harder” to suit faster speeds. A mountain bike’s gearing will be relatively easier for steep and technical climbs off-road. Neither gravel bikes nor mountain bikes have unlimited gearing. And, hard gear combinations are available in both drivetrains, but they are very different: 42t-10t and 32t-10t, respectively.

  • Pedaling at high speeds (above 30mph) is less likely to cause you to “spin out” when using a gravel bike with a 42t chainring.
  • In terms of gear combinations, 42t-44t and 32t-50t are the easiest. Pedaling up difficult climbs will be much easier with the mountain bike because of its lower gear.
  • In most cases, gravel bikes come standard with fast-acceleration drivetrains, but you can customize them as needed. And, 1x chains or 2x chains are generally used.

Gravel riders might benefit from mountain bike gearing if they need to climb hard, have heavy backpacking gear, or ride on slow, technical gravel and singletrack trails. But there are ways to convert gravel bikes to use mountain bike drivetrains.

  • And, do remember- a mountain bike’s top-end speed will always be limited by its inability to fit gravel bikes’ larger chainrings.

How To Differ From A Gravel Bicycle To A Hardtail Mtb Bike, Briefly?

It’s important to note a few differences between gravel bikes and hardtail bikes. And, those are:

Factors Gravel Bicycle Hardtail Bikes
Designed For Off-road exploration Hard terrain
Comfortability Less comfortable More comfortable
Weight Lightweight Heavier than gravel.
Speed  High speed  Less than gravel

Then, Which One To Choose: Gravel Or Hardtail MTB Bike?

Basically, it is depending on your terrain and purpose, you’ll need to decide which one is best for you.

  • As an example, you can ride dirt and gravel roads mostly from your home. It may take several miles of paved roads to get to the good stuff. This scenario calls for a gravel bike that balances efficiency on the pavement with fun on gravel.
  • But in the event you want to ride poorly maintained Jeep roads or rough and rooty singletracks, you may want to ride a cross-country or hardtail mountain bike. And, the worst terrain will thus be accessible to you.

The terrain may not be the only factor influencing your decision; your experience and goals may also play an important role.

  • Have you ever dreamed of finishing the Unbound 200 gravel race? Gravel bikes designed for racing are the best option for riders looking to go fast, set new personal records, or ride hard with friends.
  • Alternatively, mountain bikes are the more versatile option if you are considering off-road races like Epic Rides or Leadville Trail 100.

Ah! Is A Gravel Bike Better Than A Mountain Bike?

Although MTBs are not as fast on the road as road bikes, they are certainly more capable off-road.

On other hand, a gravel bike is similar to a cross-country bike, which is designed to cover ground easily, pedal well, and handle smaller obstacles.

Final Verdict Over Gravel VS Hardtail MTB Bike

Hardtail Mtb bikes and gravel bicycles are different in terms of what they are used for. To be versatile and able to handle a variety of terrains, you should choose a gravel bicycle. Otherwise, it is better to use an XC or Hardtail MTB bike for rough and hard terrain.

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