I am needing to buy a new bike , I am thinking of going for a basic gravel bike my question is will I get as much power out of a gravel bike as a basic road bike on my trainer , if I’m doing Zwift races , I will be putting the bike on wahoo kicker ?
TL;DR: a “gravel” bike (I own one) is effectively an endurance road bike (I own one of those too) with:
- additional clearance for wider tires;
- frame armour to protect from stone chips;
- a gravel-specific groupset with better ergonomics, a clutched derailleur to prevent chain slap, and possibly slight differences in gearing.
Pedants will cite differences that are meaningless for most people.
There are outliers that lean more toward race geometry (Cervelo Aspero, Trek Checkpoint SLR), others that lean more toward touring (Trek Checkpoint ALR, SL), still others that lean MTB with suspension forks.
Real TL;DR: If someone can only have one bike, there’s a good chance it should be a gravel bike with a 2x drivetrain. That latter part is important, particularly on a trainer: 1x drivetrains sacrifice too much range - you’ll likely spin out in Zwift.
Watch this video for a run down of what “gravel” really is and how it affects tire selection: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIHiiTBk6K8
Tire size narrows down your bike selection. If you only ever need 38mm tires, an endurance road bike like the Trek Domane AL or Giant Contend AR with some additional armour might suit just fine. If you’re riding rougher surfaces though, the clutched derailleur that comes with a purpose-spec’d gravel bike will reduce chain slap. Those same, rough surface will likely kick up debris that frame protection would be useful against.
EDIT - Do not buy a cyclocross (CX) bike.
From the article The cyclo-cross vs gravel bike conundrum: understanding the differences :
Jordan Roessingh, Trek’s Global Director of Road Product and Project One said: "If you’re looking at a cyclo-cross bike, it’s a race bike. Cyclo-cross courses have a lot of sharp turns, there’s a lot of acceleration, and you need to pedal through most of the corners. So, the handling characteristics are pretty unique and specific to the courses at hand.
"Conversely, most of the gravel infrastructure involves straighter roads, and there isn’t much in the way of turns and corners. From a rider perspective, you don’t need to pedal through a corner and accelerate immediately out of it because a lot of gravel events are longer in duration - they don’t have nearly the same intensity. The geometry variances between the bikes themselves aren’t miles apart, but a few millimetres here and a degree there can drastically change the bike’s character and ride quality."
Once again, getting out in front of the pedants: yes, you can ride anything anywhere but choosing a CX bike for general use is sub-optimal and inappropriate for most people. (note: older CX bikes often had more generalist geometry but CX is much more specialized now)
Adding to the above: the highest gear on a gravel bike is likely to be lower than the highest gear on a bike designed for road riding, and the lowest gear on the gravel bike will probably be quite a bit lower than the low gear on a road bike, assuming the road bike is geared for racing. For me that’s not important since I rarely use gears as big as the high gear on a road bike (not strong enough). If you are a beast of a rider you may want that big road bike gear for sprinting or time trialing, and if you’re not you may want that low low gravel bike gear for climbs. I suspect that for most people the gravel bike gearing will be fine. You may want to run a cassette on the trainer that has smaller jumps between gears than what you’d run on a gravel bike outdoors, so you can easily find a comfortable gear.
Get a bike with double chainrings. You will miss the top end (unless you get an xd hub) and gaps in gearing can be large.
There are some gravel bikes out there that are basically mountain bikes with drop bars–I have a Salsa Cutthroat that’s a good example of that. Love the bike, but I run a 1x setup with a 38 chainring and an 11-46 cassette. Would not be ideal for Zwift.
So all the advice above is good, just wanted to add that the ‘gravel bike’ as a bike type is pretty broad these days. For Zwift, a gravel bike that is more on the road bike end of things is (as everyone is saying) what you want.
Thanks all for the reply’s , I have gone today for a orro terra gravel bike , it is more like a road bike than a gravel , looks a about right for the roads I have around here and it mostly rains so the 32tyres will be better, it has 2x11 speed group set , only had time for a quick go on Zwift but seems ok so far and easy to fit on the wahoo kicker with the through axle ,