Road, Gravel, or MTB? How to Choose the Right Type of Bicycle for Your Bicycle Trip and the Best Sport Bicycle for You thumbnail

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Road, Gravel, or MTB? How to Choose the Right Type of Bicycle for Your Bicycle Trip and the Best Sport Bicycle for You

Bicycle travel, which involves biking around a destination, is an activity that is growing in popularity. However, the type of bicycle you choose will greatly affect the enjoyment and safety of your trip. In this article, we will discuss the best types of sports bicycles for bicycle travel and how to choose the right one.

Modified at: 2023.7.6Posted at: 2023.4.12

Types of sports bicycles and their defenses

Road Bike: Any Paved Road

The most popular type of sports bicycle in Japan is the road bike.

Road bicycles are popular among cyclists, but recently a wide variety of bags that attach to the chassis have become available, so some people use them for bike camping and touring with on-board equipment called "bikepacking.

The drawback of road bikes is their narrow tires, which can be puncture-risky when riding on unpaved roads. In this sense, it is the bicycle that can travel “fastest and with the least effort” when the route to the destination is "almost entirely on paved roads.

On the other hand, if you are going to a destination that may have dirt roads, such as a campground, or if you are riding a route you have never been on, you need to be aware of the puncture risk.

MTB: anywhere where there are “no” roads.

MTBs are the most capable bicycles for running.

MTBs can ride stably even on beastly roads without roads, and with puncture-resistant tires, they can easily travel over even light rocky terrain.

Although gravel bikes can be used on similar roads, gravel bikes and MTBs are actually quite different in terms of their ability to be equipped with MTB-specific equipment, such as wheels that can be fitted with larger tires, such as 2.6-inch (66C in ETRTO), and front and rear suspension.

MTBs are capable of riding on rough roads rather than bad roads, to the extent that some advanced riders challenge “mountain MTBing,” carrying their MTBs up 3,000m-class mountains and enjoying the downhill descents.

In this way, it seems like the perfect bicycle for traveling, but the reason why it is not often chosen for bicycle trips is because of its “weight” and "load capacity.

MTBs are not suitable for traveling long distances, as a full suspension model weighs in the 15kg class, and even a middle grade hardtail without rear suspension weighs about 13kg. Another reason why they are not often chosen is that, due to the small frame triangle in terms of geometry, there are only a few places where they can be loaded, such as the handlebars and saddle, so a backpack or other equipment to carry on the back is also essential.

Gravel Bikes: Wherever there is a road

Gravel bikes fall between road bikes, which are strong on paved roads, and MTBs, which are strong on rough roads.

Based on a road bike, gravel bikes can be used on paved roads as well as unpaved roads by installing larger tires, such as 40C. However, they are not as fast as MTBs and are designed to be ridden on routes that are “roads”.

Of course, it is possible to ride on unpaved roads that are not roads, like MTBs, but considering the high impact on the arms and legs due to the lack of suspension and the risk of falling forward due to the deep forward lean, gravel bikes can be used on light rough roads.

When using a gravel bike on a bicycle trip, remember that you can attack places you have given up on a road bike trip.

Which bike should I choose?

Gravel Bikes Expand Possibilities to Activities Other Than Riding

Gravel bikes are probably the most popular choice for bicycle trips these days.

Bicycle trips can take you on irregular roads, and you may get tired of riding on paved roads all the time. A gravel bike can add a bit of activity to your bike trip, such as taking a short trip through the woods or along a riverbank along the way, which can be a lot of fun.

Another advantage is that the load capacity is outstanding compared to road bikes and MTBs, as gravel bikes have dowel holes in the front fork, top tube, and other places not found on other sports bikes, perhaps because each manufacturer has gravel bikes with “travel” in mind.

If all the dowel holes are used, it is possible to load more than 30 liters, making it ideal for long trips such as a week or a month.

Gravel bikes are ideal for those who "want to enjoy their bike trip at their own pace and with their own favorite gear, rather than at their own speed or distance.

If you “want to go the distance,” a road bike is the way to go.

On the other hand, if you are more interested in fun and sightseeing at your destination rather than riding, road bikes are best for reducing travel time and expanding your range of activities.

If the destination is on a paved road, a road bike is by far the fastest and easiest way to get there, allowing you to cover 150 or 200 kilometers in a day, which can be difficult with a gravel bike.

If you are looking for a “distance trip,” a road bike is definitely the best choice.

MTB is best if you want to master adventure riding

Adventure riding is what gravel bikes advertise, and MTBs are still the best choice.

With an MTB, you can ride on forest roads with a cross-country feel, or you can tackle more demanding environments, such as trails that attack mountains.

Considering the weight of the vehicle and the need to carry equipment, it is practical to drive to the destination, and even then it requires a lot of physical strength considering the heavy equipment, but the “overwhelmingly extraordinary” experience that can be enjoyed on an MTB is something that cannot be experienced on any other bicycle.

On the other hand, if paved roads are your main focus, suspension and large tires are over-specified. Choose a road bike or a gravel bike.

Enjoy Bicycle Travel and Bicycle Camping!

Gravel bikes, which have the carrying capacity of a sport bicycle, are chosen not only for cycling, but also for bicycle trips and bicycle camping. The following are some tips for customizing them.

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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