Last Updated on April 10, 2023 by Emmanuel
Gravel and mountain biking are two of the most popular cycling disciplines; both offer a unique experience you can tailor to different terrain levels.
Consider what you want from your ride, how much time you plan on spending in the saddle, and the extremity of your adventure before deciding between gravel and mountain biking.
Gravel bikes are versatile, while mountain bicycles require more adrenaline rush to tackle steep trails at high speeds.
So let’s see if “as a total beginner cyclist, you should go for gravel or MTB.”
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Should I go for gravel or MTB as a total beginner?
Choosing a gravel or mountain bike depends on where you plan to use your new bike: trails, rooty, whole rocks, or everything in between.
A gravel road is versatile because you can use it on most of these roads and terrains, but it can be challenging to use on full rocky ones.
Picking a hardtail or full suspension full-on mountain bike is best if you plan to ride the most challenging terrains.
MTBs are unsuitable for road riding because they are heavy and not pedaling-friendly like gravel or road bikes.
They have rear suspensions to increase comfort on the most challenging terrains but decrease the pedaling efficiency.
Making your full-suspension MTB as speedy as a city or semi-hardtail bike requires more effort to pedal harder.
Choosing gravel or a pure mountain bike depends on the types of terrain on which you plan to use it.
Versatile gravel bikes suit roads, gravels, trails, and other accessible terrains.
Otherwise, go for a high-quality full-suspension mountain bike.
What are the points of gravel bikes versus MTBs?
The essential points that make gravel and full-suspension mountain bikes different are:
Most gravel bikes are suspension-free, while modern mountain bikes have suspension forks (hardtail).
Many full-suspension mountain bikes also feature rear shock and suspension forks, making them ideal for hard-to-ride terrains.
However, big brands like BMC and Specialized designs gravel suspension bikes with more builds.
Gravel suspension bikes decrease the road and trail vibration’s effects on you as a rider and empower you to improve control on rough terrain.
The geometries make gravel and mountain bikes different, but things have evolved in recent years.
Indeed, the gravel racing bikes’ geometries are similar to endurance road bikes, except gravel bikes for challenging terrains.
Gravel bikes for hard-to-ride terrains and cross-country MTBs have slacker head angles and longer reach figures.
Gravel and Mountain Bikes Gear.
- Gravel bikes are typically equipped with 2x drivetrains, while modern mountain bikes rarely have these components.
- 2x drivetrains are the most preferred to riders fond of faster-rolling tarmac roads, gravel, and trails.
- The big bicycle brands currently use gravel-specific groupsets, including 12-speed SRAM XPLR, 10- or 11-speed Shimano GRX, etc.
- Most MTBs have 1x drivetrains empowering the rider to winch up technical climbs and steep.
Wheel Sizes and Tires.
The mountain bikes’ wheels typically come in 26in, 27.5in, and 29in sizes, giving you more options to choose the most ideal.
On the other hand, some gravel bikes have 700c wheels compatible with a 29″ bead-seat diameter, while others integrate 650b smaller diameters (27in rims).
If you want a gravel bike with extra comfort that empowers you to tackle technical terrains, a 650b wheels gravel bike is the best choice.
Most gravel bikes have between 35mm and 45mm wide tires, and the size can increase to 2.2in (55mm).
As for mountain bikes, their tires are wider enough (2.2in) to give you more excellent grip and riding control.
Moreover, MTBs can feature front and rear tires in different sizes enabling you to maximize and enjoy the best riding experience.
Modern gravel bikes have short-travel dropper posts, but most riders would not use them.
Besides, most gravel bikes fit in with 27.2mm dropper seatposts with frame geometries making them less travel than MTBs.
Unlike many gravel bikes, most mountain bikes have dropper posts above the budget range.
When riding on steeper descents, you can use a dropper post to move the saddle out of the way, resulting in greater freedom of movement.
- Gravel and road bike handlebars enable aerodynamic and hand positions, resulting in greater riding comfort.
- Gravel bike handlebars offer a more stable position when tackling rough stuff descents.
- Flared bars leave a little room between the bars for handlebar bags.
- Mountain bikes’ flat bars are more convenient for rough and technical terrains.
Can I convert a 26er hardtail mountain bike to a gravel bike?
You can turn your old mountain bike into a gravel bike if you have the necessary parts, accessories, and skills.
Your nearest bike service provider can also do the work if you can afford to pay the bill.
You need a drop-bar conversion kit, brakes, and shifters to transform your MTB into a cool gravel bike.
Moreover, you will likely equip your gravel bike with a simple 1x drivetrain and a new stem for your fit, not to be too extreme when riding in the drops.
Another essential thing to consider is the tire clearance because you will have fewer options if your MTB uses 26in.
These are the essentials to turn your old mountain bike into a versatile gravel bike for riding on roads, trails, and other terrains.
Consider buying a new gravel bike that will last longer if you have money; many high-quality exist at an affordable budget.
Where can I find hardtails and gravel bikes?
Idaho Mountain Touring.
Idaho Mountain Touring offers a wide range of top-rated gravel, road, and mountain bikes.
This brand’s online store also features bike parts and accessories, including helmets, shoes, trainers, and more.
Its other best offerings are sports snow products: boots, bindings, snowboards, skate skis, snow gloves, and more.
Another top provider of all types of bikes in the United States and Canada is Mike’s Bikes.
This company has partnerships with prominent manufacturers of bikes, such as BMC, Cannondale, and Giant.
Other Mike’s partners are Electra, Gazelle, Juliana, Liv, Momentum, Orbea, Public, Salsa Cycles, Specialized, Santa Cruz, and more.
To find the best gravel bike or any other, put the word ‘Gravel Bikes” in the search bar and let the system offers you a hundred options.
Below are two samples of the best gravel bikes offered by this company.
1. Basswood Alloy Gravel Bike 700c
This alloy gravel bike costs $1,599, has a 6061 aluminum alloy frame, and is available in five sizes to fit rider heights.
Its other essential components are an integrated headset, a derailleur hanger you can replace when needed, and a full carbon framed fork.
Moreover, this gravel bike features an SRAM APEX crankset, SRAM sealed bearing bottom bracket and an FSA Team Issue 11 speed chain.
It also has 42cm width FSA Cork Wrap handlebars, an X1 Flow saddle, and many other components.
2. Basswood Titanium Rival AXS 1×11 Gravel Bike.
This bike is the right choice if you have a consequent budget. It costs $3,499.95, but the money is worth it.
It has a titanium 142×12 TA frame, a 100x15mm TA full carbon fork A, and an FSA Orbit ITA headset.
Other vital components are the brakes, bottom, chain, crankset, bracket, cassette, shifters, rear derailleur, etc., all made of SRAM.
In a few words, the Basswood Titanium has all you need to enjoy good riding times behind bars.
If the Framed Bikes’ offerings interest you, use the link in this article’s second paragraph to learn more about them.
Gravel and mountain bikes have different advantages and disadvantages before making the final choice.
It is best to go with the type of cycling that fits your lifestyle and personal preferences.
Gravel bikes allow you to explore more remote trails on less technical terrain than mountain biking.
On the other hand, mountain biking is for those looking for an adrenaline rush because it offers a more intense workout and significant technical challenges.
That’s all we can say about whether, as a total beginner cyclist, you should go for gravel or MTB, and we hope this post is helpful.