Can You Ride Cyclo-Cross On A Gravel Bike? | CX vs Gravel Bikes For Racing
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Can You Ride Cyclo-Cross On A Gravel Bike? | CX vs Gravel Bikes For Racing

October 19, 2019

– Today we’re gonna be talking about why your gravel bike
may or may not be right for the Cyclocross course, and some of my favourite tips for when you go to the bike shop and you’re looking for a new ride. (industrial echo) (low strumming sound) So as the days get a little shorter, and the night temps get a little cooler, you start to get that feeling. Cyclocross is in the air. Your next thought is that
you start day dreaming about mud and off cambers but then reality hits and you ask yourself, “How can I save a little bit of money?”. It might be tempting to
think that your gravel bike can tear it up on the cross course. And the truth is, they
might just be able to. With all of the different
titles that these bikes have, Aero gravel, Regular Gravel, Cyclocross. What is it that makes
these bikes different from one another? (beating music) So the first thing that we’re
gonna do is test these bikes against each other on a
small course that I made just down the street from my house. So first up is the Grevil, just as I ride it on the
gravel roads, with 42C tyres. – [Voice] Three, two, one. (upbeat music) – In the other corner is the Orbea Terra which is Orbea’s gravel bike and it’s mounted up with
Continentals 35C Cyclocross tyres. Three, two, one. (grunts) (upbeat music) ‘Kay, last up is the Canyon
Inflight Cyclocross bike. It is the challenger but it’s
on its home court advantage. I’ve got 35C Continental
Cyclocross tyres on this. Let’s see how she does. Three, two, one. (grunts) (upbeat music) Okay, so before we get to the results of that very hotly contested race, and trust me there were fans everywhere. We’re gonna talk about the three things that I think are the big
factors when you’re picking a Cyclocross versus a Gravel bike. And those things are tyres, drive train, and geometry. (gentle music) This bike, the Grevil,
the Pinarello Grevil has 40C tyres, you might be thinking, “Hey, you know what, I got Grevil, I can rock up to the
Cyclocross race, no problem. These tyres are probably better than what the Cyclocross bikes have. They’re bigger, they should be better. Bigger is better right?” Maybe, have to wait till
the end to see the results. But, I’ll say this, while they are bigger and they do have a bigger contact patch and typically they get better tread and they’ll be a little bit softer ride. They are harder to get up to speed. So every time you go through
one of these tight turns and you’re dodging in and out, that can add
one second, half second every single turn, if there’s
30 turns, you know the math. This bike, the Orbea
Terra had the 35 Conti’s as did the Canyon. These tyres get up to speed a little bit faster traditionally and so that’s why on Cyclocross bikes, you usually have a
little bit narrower tyre. (gentle music) Now we’re gonna talk about drive trains. One by or two by, that’s
always the question. And the truth is, is that it comes down to personal preference. I’ve won and lost on both systems and I’ve enjoyed them both the same. They have differences though. One of the big things
about a one by system is that I would say it’s
a little less versatile. So meaning, if you’re on
the cross bike, it’s good because it allows you to
have a cleaner setup upfront. It’s got the clutch in the back and you don’t have to
worry about any chain suck or anything like that, it’s just one ring. Just, it just goes. When you’ve got a two by system, you’ve got a lot more versatility, especially if your bike is gonna
double up as a gravel bike. This bike has a 46 33 10 33, meaning it has one to one gearing, 33 33. So if you’re gonna use
your bike on gravel, well then a 33 33 is one to one. That is pretty good gearing. You can go up a 10 minute
climb with these big tyres with a lot of ease. So can you race Cyclocross a double? Of course you can, and I did for a long time. I can only say there
were a handful of races where I really enjoyed having a double and otherwise I was always
in the big ring crushing. So if you need more
versatility, go with a two by. If you’re happy just being
a full-time cross rider, cross bike that’s all it’s doing, one by is probably your jam. (gentle music) Okay, so I am not a bike geometry expert by any stretch of the imagination but being a pro for a long time, you end up picking up a couple things and you know what this means and that means, so I’m gonna go through a couple of the measurements
that I think are important on these bikes. Okay, so first up is the seat tube angle and that is important
because if you’re too steep on a single cross bike
you’re gonna definitely feel all of the bumps, and if you’re too shallow, well then you’re not gonna
be in enough control. These bikes all share the same
seat tube angle at 72 degrees Okay, so next up is head tube angle. You can imagine that like
this is 90 degrees, 70, 72, this is 70.5 as is the Orbea Terra and the Canyon though is 72. That’s the big difference that I see. It’s steeper, it’s a little bit sharper. That’s where you’re
gonna get that fast turn so you come into something,
it’s a slower turn because you’re on a Cycloross course, you have to scrub a lot of speed
to make it through the turn you get through the turn, but the Canyon’s because it has that sharper angle, it’s able to turn a little bit quicker and a little bit more
efficiently at that slow speed. Whereas these bikes that
are more slacked out, they’re longer, they have
more, you know, geometry that suits that long gravel riding style. That’s there this bike’s gonna differ entirely from the Canyon. Okay so you think that you
heard me on the geometry? I know it was very technical,
but this is YouTube, you can go back and you listen to it again,
it’s free, no problems. So the big takeaway though,
these bikes, little gentler, little longer, little you know,
they steer a little nicer. Longer rides, think the
gravel bikes longer ride. This, the Canyon, for speed. Cyclocross voom voom voom voom voom. Steeper, sharper angles okay? Other key differences in these bikes? Bottom bracket height, very similar, traditionally Cyclocross bikes
have higher bottom brackets so that they don’t hit
their cranks in the mud or on the off-camber sections. And these gravel bikes
typically a tiny bit lower to be able to kind of lengthen
things out longer wheel base makes it little bit more pleasant riding. ‘Kay, then you’ve got the tyres. The tyres on this bike,
45’s is what the Grevil is, will accept, probably
even a little bit bigger. This, I’m not sure if the Canyon
would accept bigger tyres, so you’d have to factor
that into your decision and the Terra, I would say is
somewhere in the both of them but Canyon you can see has really focused on the back of the bike in mud clearance. That has been their big
thing with this bike. You can see it is just a
massive space in there. Where I don’t know that the
Grevil has as much clearance but it can fit those bigger tyres. So, that is the information
that I have for you about these bikes and the differences. It’s all about what you want and what the bikes gonna do. What you’re gonna do
with the bike the most and if you’re okay with
giving up a little bit here and taking a little bit there. It’s up to you. (gentle music) There are differences in these bikes. No question about it. They have different geometries,
they have different purposes but what were the results of
the test around the track, you have to know, I also
really wanted to know that’s why we timed it. So the Grevil came in at 32
seconds around the track. Next was the Orbea Terra at 29 seconds and then the winner, I know,
it’s a Cyclocross course, but the Cyclocross bike, the
Canyon came in at 27 seconds. And those reasons for that are
all in what I said earlier. The snappier geometry,
the short chain stays, all that stuff, the smaller
tyres all allow the bike to get up to speed faster
so it’s not a surprise that a purebred Cyclocross
bike does better on a Cyclocross course. But would you want to ride that
bike for five or six hours? That’s up to you. I’ve ridden tonnes of bikes and they all have different geometry and they can all be set up
to be really comfortable. But you have to pick what is going to make
a difference for you. What are you gonna do most with the bike and that’s what went over here today. So if you liked this video, and you wanna give it a
thumbs up, leave a comment, please do. If you wanna check out
other great gravel videos, check them out over here and if you wanna click subscribe to GCN, check out right in the centre.

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  1. Always bugged me the difference between gravel and CX bikes could never quite grasp it, until now explained perfectly in 9 minutes ??

  2. Any suggestions for bike for someone who wants to enter a gravel race once or twice and sign up for a few cx races in the fall?

  3. so stoked that you are making videos for GCN. love the content and your delivery style. Thanks for the go fast sound effects.

  4. Great video. And that's without throwing in sand, mud, off-camber, running, carrying and obstacles. CX bike is great for more varied courses. If you're riding on gravel for a long distance, sure, gravel bike is probably better.

  5. Kinda related to geometry.. but any tips on riding on a slightly larger bike? I ride a 54 road bike but my loaner bike for CX is a 56. Any tips on handling a larger bike (especially in the corners) as it feels a bit harder in the tighter turns.

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