Gravel Bike Vs Cyclo-Cross Bike | What Really Is The Difference?
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Gravel Bike Vs Cyclo-Cross Bike | What Really Is The Difference?

October 18, 2019


(energetic music) – Go on mate, come on. – Guh. This Cyclocross bike, is
the original, versatile off-road drop handlebar bike. Actually, it’s pretty fair to say that it’s one of the
original off-road bikes. But, back in the day, they had tires that were
just 25 millimeters wide and they had cantilever brakes. The combination of which, was so ineffective that a Cyclocross race was about 40 percent running. Now though, as you can see things have changed. We have tires that are wider
and grippier than a road bike’s to give you more control and more comfort. You also have a slightly
taller bottom bracket so that you have more pedal
clearance when riding off-road. And, the handling is a
little bit more stable. So, you’ve got way more control
when it’s slippy or loose. – But now, there’s a new bike in town. – Ollie, I’m two minutes away, mate. – Oh yeah, well same town. I mean, the forests and mountains. But uh, here is a gravel bike. Which has wider, grippier tires. Geometry which makes the bike
more fun and safer to ride in loose conditions. And, more comfort built into
the frame than a road bike thanks to either the components
that are specked on it or the frame itself. – Wider size, more stable
handling, more comfort. – Yeah – I mean that’s exactly
what my bike promises. – Yeah. Uh, yeah I guess you could
be forgiven for wondering what exactly is the difference
between a gravel bike and a cross bike, then. – You could. Fortunately though, given
that Canyon have literally just supplied us with a brand
new Inflight cyclecross bike and a brand new Grail gravel bike, we are perfectly placed to
actually drill down and find the answer to this question once and for all. A question is actually really important to many of you out there who might be considering your next bike purchase. Cause after all, who wouldn’t want fun, versatile, and comfortable
with their next bike? – Tell you what, this actually
going to be really tough in it? Riding these brand new,
amazing gravel and cross bikes in the finest dirt and
gravel mountain has to offer. – You say that Ollie, but
this really could actually be quite tough cause you
really haven’t ridden off-road very much, right? – Yeah Um, I’m pretty green at riding off-road. I mean, I’ve never really done it. To be honest. But, I guess, that means I
can offer a fresh perspective. There’s a lot of you guys
who’ve probably never ridden much off-road either. Where as yourself, I mean
your an off-road veteran. – I really don’t like
the word veteran Ollie. Thank you very much. I’m a bit sensitive about that. – Okay. Should we go and ride the bikes then, dad? (Ollie laughs) (energetic music) – Before we go into the
physical differences, we’re going to see if we can
feel any difference first. So, we’re inventing a new race discipline. – (Loud Echoing Voice) Gravel Cross – Ollie, it’s a short circuit
with some road sections, some gravel sections, some muddy sections, one brief bit of running,
2 laps with a bike change after the first lap in
our official pit area. – You ready Cy? – I think I’m ready mate, yeah. – I’ll count you down. – Okay – Three, two, one, go. (energetic music) I’m going to time Cy and also
help him with his bike change in this, the official pit area. Which is conveniently
marked by this cow pie. Wrong side, wrong side. Four minutes, 40 for the first lap. So, we’ll see what he
does on the gravel bike. It’s a bit keen, isn’t it? I think he’s been quicker. – (loud echoing voice) Gravel cross. – It’s got a future. That was wicked. – (laughs) Yeah, we’ll see about that. Four minutes, 40 on the first lap. Four minutes, 20 on the second lap. Well, four minutes, 22 on the second lap. – Interesting. – You were quicker on that. – Doesn’t surprise me, I see. Wider tires, bike, what is
it seven mil difference? But, you can hit that
single track so much faster with the wider tires. The bike feels very different like it feels better suited
to that kind of riding because it’s so rocky. I mean it’s not a cross course. It’s gravel cross. But, uh, see what you think. I recon you’ll find the same thing. Genuinely, I’m quite
surprised at just how much I like the Grail gravel bike. I mean, on this terrain gravel, effectively. Surprisingly, the gravel bike
actually feels a bit better. – Good thing about this is, I’m guaranteed at least second place. – Winner. Okay mate, off you go. Ready, go. (energetic music) Come on Ollie! Dig in mate! You went through a puddle. (censor beep) – What a stupid sport. – I thought you were a runner! – [Ollie] (laughs) (censor beep) – Good luck, good luck. Come on mate, you’ve got this. You’ve got this. – Go, go, go, go! (laughs) Just jump on this one mate. That’s the gravel bike. Good luck. Go, go, go! – Wooh! Oh shit! – [Cy] Go on mate, come on! Dig in! – Ugh! – [Cy] Oh, I nailed it! – Ah! (censor beep) Gah! Guh! – I can’t stop giggling. What a legend, yeah. Come on mate. – Why, I’m flying! – Go, go, go! Boom! He shaved only a minute off. Maybe we know something that
Mathieu Van der Poel doesn’t. – [Ollie] Well, not so fast. Maybe if Van der Poel was
racing Cyclocross on gravel in the Daylamites. As opposed to thick
mud in Northern Europe. But, even then it wouldn’t be quite that simple. Tire width for a start. I mean the fact is, that gravel cross is
more gravel than cross. So, to truly understand the difference between these two bikes we are going to need
to delve into the tech. Historically, gravel bikes have
come from Cyclocross bikes. And so, as we’ll see there is an awful lot of
shared DNA between the two. But now, it’s left a door
open for people to design Cyclocross bikes that are
back to being specific for racing in mind. And, this Inflite is one of those. So, it’s designed around a
typical Cyclocross course which tends to be quite grassy, or muddy, relatively smooth, and
with lots of tight turns. You also find, that there
is actually less tire clearance on this bike
than the gravel bike. And that’s because, the UCI
stipulates a maximum tire width of 33 millimeters. And so, although this
will accommodate that, and with plenty of mud clearance. In fact, the tubes are
designed to shed mud as well. You would struggle to fit a
40 millimeter wide tire in. Certainly, at the back. We would have checked except for the fact, that this runs a 140
mil rotor at the back. Where as that’s a 160. But again, it’s fit for purpose. Your not going to be going
down on any epic descents in a Cyclocross race. Now, much along the same
with the gearing, actually, I noticed when I rode
this one back to the hotel that actually you run out
of gears relatively quickly when riding down a fast road descent. Perfect gearing for Cyclocross course. But, not necessarily for epic road rides. Our two bikes also look vastly different. And, a lot of that is
down to this horizontal top tube. You rarely see a compact
geometry Cyclocross bike. And, that’s because when
you need to pick it up and put it on your shoulder,
you need as much space in that front triangle as possible. Now, it’s perhaps not
something you notice when it’s someone who is six
foot one, like myself because the frame is naturally
going to be quite big. But, certainly when I was
teaching Emma to ride Cyclocross, we actually couldn’t really
work out how to get her arm through the frame because
it has to be so compact for her height. In this case though, the
fact that it’s horizontal gives even more space to get
your arm and shoulder through. But, the reason it dips down here, is simply to get a bit
more seat post exposed, to get much more compliance
out of the back of the bike. You can see if it weren’t on there that’s quite a stubby bit of seat post. And, it would be feeling a
little bit on the stiff side. Now lastly, the geometry of the bikes. It’s actually really quite similar. The chain stay length is similar, the angles of the seat
tube, and the head tube are quite similar. But, the significant difference that might not sound significant is the bottom bracket height. So effectively, how much lower
the bottom bracket axle is compared to the wheel axle. In this one, is 11 millimeters higher. So, that actually makes
the bike sit much higher. And, it feels slightly less stable when you’re going quickly. What it does, is it gives
you much more pedal clearance so you can keep pedaling on more of the course. And unfortunately, as any
of you who race Cyclocross would know, you have to pedal almost all of the time when racing Cyclocross. But, what’s interesting is when you look at our
leanometer, or our leanometer, you’ll see that both bikes
actually have similar pedal clearance despite the difference in bottom bracket height. And that is because, the wider tires also sit higher on the Grail. So, actually the bottom
brackets relative to the ground are very similar. But, it effects the feel of the bike far, far more. – In contrast, gravel is
not often about pure speed. It’s about comfort. Big miles. Versatility, and going on adventures. Consequently, you’ve got a few features. So, you got bigger tires than
the UCI would legally permit you to run in a cross race. You’ve also got bossers and
mounting points everywhere to festoon all your worldly possessions. And, there’s loads of comfort
features built into the frame. So, we’ve got Canyon’s
split seat post here which is able to deflect and
give more comfort in the rear. And, we need to talk about the Hover bar. So, the Hover bar looks
a little bit weird. But, when you’re riding it
you don’t kind of notice the way it looks. And, it feels, well pretty comfortable. And, according to Canyon, it’s seven times more compliant than the H31 cockpit on the Inflite. Because, you’re likely to see
a wider variety of surfaces than you would with a
thoroughbred cross bike, you need to be able to
pedal at both 50 kilometers an hour and five kilometers an hour. And in this case, to help with that I’ve got a wider range of gears. I’ve got a 50/11, and then a 34/34. Typically, cross bikes have
tighter ranges of gears. As a relatively
inexperienced off-road rider, the Grail is really appealing to me because it offers loads of versatility. I can use this is local cross races, where you don’t have
to adhere to the strict UCI rules. And, let’s face it I’m a long way off from entering any UCI events. Ah! – [Cy] I nailed it! – What a stupid sport. But it will also be perfect
for going on gravel riding and bike-packing adventures too. Because, I’m less proficient off-road and don’t have mad skills with a Zed, yet. The bigger tires, and
the wider handle bars, and the lower bottom bracket, and the increased
compliance within the frame just help come together
to give me more confidence when I’m riding the bike. Especially, off-road. And, that’s something that
just feels really good for me. Cross bike versus gravel bike then, what is the big difference? Fundamentally, this is
a more versatile option. Where as, that is a thoroughbred
cross racing machine. – What about a bike, Ollie? Hah! No, I think you’re absolutely right. But, the differences are
still relatively subtle, aren’t they? The wider tires make
a big, big difference. But then, on this one just that slightly higher bottom bracket changes the character so much. And so, in less you ride them back-to-back you might not necessarily
perceive those differences the way you are in this
incredibly fortunate position that we’ve been in today. It’s remarkable, the
characters that shine through, isn’t it? – Yeah, it really is. Now, if you’d like to see
more epic off-road content with mad skills with a Zed, than why not check out Cy’s awesome mountain bike versus
gravel bike adventure video in Iceland? Click, down here. – Yeah, please give this one a thumb’s up, if you’ve enjoyed it.

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