Bikepacking and gravel racing are two popular cycling disciplines that require different types of bikes. While both involve off-road riding, they have different goals and requirements. The design and features of the bikes demonstrate this.
Bikepacking is a form of adventure cycling that involves carrying all the gear and supplies you need for multi-day trips on your bike. Designers make bikepacking bikes durable, comfortable, and versatile to navigate various terrains and conditions. They typically have wide tires (around 40 to 50mm). For added traction and stability, and a relaxed geometry that allows for a more comfortable riding position over long distances. They also have multiple attachment points for racks, bags, and other gear. This is essential for carrying all the necessary equipment for extended trips. try our tips for your bikepacking trips
Gravel racing, on the other hand, is a competitive cycling discipline. It involves racing on off-road terrain, usually on a closed loop course. Designers create gravel racing bikes for speed and efficiency, using lightweight frames and narrow tires, typically around 38 to 42mm. That allow for faster speeds on smoother terrain. They have a more aggressive geometry that puts the rider in a more aerodynamic position for maximum speed, and they typically have a lower bottom bracket for improved stability and handling at high speeds.
Gravel bikes often feature attachment points for accessories, but designers usually prioritize their speed and agility over carrying capacity.
The famous gravel races
racing with gravel bikes has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many events and races taking place around the world. Here are some of the most famous gravel races:
- Atlas Mountain Race: This race in Morocco takes riders on a 1,200km journey through the Atlas Mountains, with a mix of gravel roads, singletrack, and challenging climbs.
- Unbound Gravel: Formerly known as Dirty Kanza, this event takes place in Emporia, Kansas, USA, and includes several distance options ranging from 25 to 350 miles.
- Grinduro: A unique event that combines gravel racing with enduro-style mountain bike racing, Grinduro takes place in various locations around the world, including California, Scotland, and Japan.
- Belgian Waffle Ride: This challenging event takes place in San Diego, California, USA, and includes both gravel and road sections, as well as technical mountain bike trails.
- BADLANDS: The wildest bikepacking off-road challenge on Europe: 800km +16.000m across the only official deserts in Europe, the wild coast of Cabo de Gata and the highest Col in the continent, Pico Veleta at 3.396m
These are just a few examples of the many gravel races and events taking place around the world. Each race has its own unique challenges and terrain, and attracts riders of all skill levels from around the globe.
In summary, the main difference between bikepacking and gravel racing bikes is their design and intended use. Bikepacking bikes offer versatility and comfort for long-distance adventures. Gravel racing bikes prioritize speed and efficiency on off-road courses.