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Is it a good idea to use a gravel bike for commuting to work or school? No?

Due to health consciousness and other factors, more and more people are commuting to work and school by bicycle. In this issue, we will compare and verify whether gravel bikes are a good choice for commuting to work and school, based on the characteristics of each bike type and the different routes to work and school.

Modified at: 2023.7.6Posted at: 2023.4.5

Let’s review the types and characteristics of bicycles used for commuting.

First, let’s review the characteristics of bicycles commonly used for commuting.

Types Advantages Disadvantages
Gravel bikes Good in bad weather. Can go somewhat fast Heavy and not as nimble as road bikes
Road bike Lightweight and easy to go fast Not as strong in bad weather. In a sense, it is a halfway house.
MTB All-weather and highly stable Heavy and tiring to go fast
Hybrid bike Upright and easy to ride Few high performance models
City bike Can be ridden easily not fast enough
Minivelo bike Easy to turn around, less space for bicycle parking Less speedy

Check what kind of roads you commute to work or school on!

If you are going to commute to work or school by bicycle, what kind of road is the road to your destination will help you decide which bicycle to choose.

  1. how far it is
  2. how many traffic lights
  3. how many dirt roads there are

How far away is it?

The first important question is how far you commute to and from work.

If it is about 1 km from your home, such as to a train station, you will be at your destination before you feel the benefits of a serious sport bike, such as a road bike or gravel bike. For this distance, a city bicycle such as a hybrid bike, city bike, or minivelo will suffice.

On the other hand, if your commute to and from work is longer than 10 km each way, you will start to feel the benefits of a road or gravel bike. This is because road bikes are designed to "go as fast as possible over long distances.

How many signals are there?

Most roads that you drive to work or school usually have a number of traffic signals. In urban areas, there is a traffic light every few hundred meters if not more, and there are quite often signal stops.

If your commute to work or school is on a road with many traffic lights, you will not experience much benefit from riding a sport bike such as a road bike, gravel bike, or hybrid bike, because you will often come to a traffic light stop before you reach your speed.

When riding a road bike in urban areas, it is a common sight to see "at every traffic light, the mom-and-pop bike on the sidewalk you passed catches up to you.

On the other hand, if you are commuting to work or school on roads without many traffic signals, then road bikes and gravel bikes are a good choice. Since roads with few traffic lights are often in suburban areas, the pavement can be rough, and the advantages of gravel bikes, which can be equipped with large tires, can be utilized.

How many unpaved roads are there?

On sections of road that are not well maintained or where buses and trucks frequently pass, the shoulders can be rough and bumpy like gravel roads, and gravel bikes can benefit when riding on these roads.

When riding a gravel bike on a bumpy road that I used to ride on a road bike, I feel "very stable and secure.

The more unpaved or rough roads you commute to work or school on, the more the benefits of a sport bike for unpaved roads, such as an MTB or gravel bike, come alive.

What about riding a gravel bike to work or school?

Ideal for people who don’t need to be as fast as a road bike and want the stability of a road bike.

Looking at the characteristics of sport bikes in terms of speed, the order of speed is “road bikes > gravel bikes > hybrid bikes”. Gravel bikes are “capable of speed there”.

In terms of stability, the order is MTB > gravel bike > hybrid bike > road bike, as the tire thickness has a large impact on stability.

In other words, gravel bikes are characterized by “a certain level of speed” and “a certain level of stability,” making them ideal for those who seek such riding performance for commuting to work or school.

Why do some people regret buying one?

Although gravel bikes are said to be “stable and useful for riding around town or commuting to work or school,” some people say that they would have preferred a road bike or regretted buying one.

This is probably due to the fact that people think that gravel bikes "can achieve the same speed as a road bike and also provide stability when riding. As long as gravel bikes are equipped with fat tires such as 700x40C, they cannot be ridden like road bikes.

Although manufacturers’ advertisements and magazine features of gravel bikes may lead to high expectations, it is best not to expect too much from a gravel bike.

In the end, which bike is best for commuting to work or school?

The choice depends on “what kind of time” you want to spend commuting to work or school.

The answer to the question of what is the best bicycle for commuting to work or school is that it depends on the person. The distance and roads are different for each person, as well as their physical strength.

It is no exaggeration to say that the choice depends on “what kind of time” you want to spend commuting to work or school.

If you want to ride fast, a road bike is best, and if you want to ride leisurely, a city bike or minivelo will be fine.

Also, if you want to make your commute to and from work “fun” rather than “travel time,” you can enjoy riding home via a cycling route on a road bike, or riding a gravel bike through forest roads that you normally don’t ride.

Depending on what choices you make, your commute to and from work will also change.

Ultimately, you can ride any bike you want.

Commuting to work and school is a routine that you have every weekday, so if you spend this time riding your favorite bike, whether it is an expensive or inexpensive bike, it will be an enjoyable time.

What people look for in a bicycle differs from person to person. Some people want speed, some want stability, some want cheapness, and some want good looks.

We have explained the best bicycles for various situations, but in the end, the best thing to do is to ride a bicycle that you like.

Expand your gravel bike enjoyment!


What you need to know before buying a gravel bike

Gravel bikes are rapidly growing in popularity. But for those who are worried about buying one, with some people saying they regret buying one, we have compiled a list of things you should know before you buy.

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