Athletics and Recreation

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

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

(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.

Reader Comments

  1. Someday bikes will have front and rear suspension and perhaps a small electric motor to get uphill!

    Oh wait… 🤔😂

  2. should have switched the order of bikes ridden, second time around you're going to be more confident on the course.

  3. Both are stupid bikes to ride off road,just to increase bike sales,also drop bars that's asinine,for off road a mtn. bike plain & simple,if u bought a cross or gravel bike ur a moron with more money than brains

  4. I ride a 1974 Sekine with steel wheels, it’s appropriate to my skill level. Notwithstanding fresh rubber, bull bars, levers, brake pads, seat, raped the gears from it, riding 52/20 freshy Shimano BB and used Sugino crankset. Put a matchstick into the fender keeper to keep it from rattling. Sprinted at 48 kph, no lungs. So, another neophyte braggart. Love the channel.

  5. IMO it's BS marketing buzzwords. The design differences between gravel bikes and cross bikes aren't nearly great enough to make them behave that different.

  6. Wider tires, lower bottom bracket, more mounts for mudguards and racks – sounds like they've re-branded touring bikes. I guessing 'touring' sounds slow and heavy, but 'gravel racing' sounds fast and exciting.

  7. If only they could invent a bike with fatter tires and suspension to make off road riding more enjoyable. We can only dream.

  8. I'm think about getting a CAADX and putting Continental Sport CONTACT II tires on it for the road, do you think that would make a fast road/light cross bike?

  9. Boy they really make us suffer for some basic information they promise up front. Also, rather than compare these two classes of bike, they compare these two bikes from this brand. Which are quite unique and not representative. Finally, these two blokes are not funny, and someone should tell them that. Someone's kid brother dropped in the soundtrack resulting in some rather off pace drum and bass wafting through boring race shots. This is like what a kid out of schooll would have shot. Scratch that, kids are more interesting these days, this is what a 60 year old man would have shot

  10. "Hey mate, what's with the cheese slicer, bifocal, hammerhead, airfoil handlebars?"


    "I already gotta (poor man's) gravel bike, the 90's Raleigh RT-300 Aluminum (but with very little aluminum)(and it's very heavy, a beast of 30 lbs). Running some Continental TourRide touring tires, sort of all-weather bike-ish(?)."


    "Could you gents please do a review of the Raleigh Tamland 1 Gravel Bike. I guess they make one officially now. Thanks again mate!"

  11. I am enjoying your Lake Erie circle tour. Looking forward to the Canadian side also. We did a tour once that also included the Sandusky to Pelee Island/Lexington ferries. Looks like you are getting a. It on rain, nice to see we both have the same MEC rain jackets. My wife and I just returned from a tour around I’ll d’ Orlean east of Quebec City. Really look forward to your videos and thanks for the Over night oats recipe. Taste good.👍

  12. The only certain difference I learned is width of tires. If so, why the hell I need another bike? #MakeBikesIndustryGreatAgain

  13. If they inverted the order of the bikes, they would at least compensated a little for the natural improvement that comes from knowing the route.

  14. Is there any harm with just putting wider tires on a normal road bike? I am not speaking a super bike, just a low-mid range modern road bike with cx tires could do the same thing though, right?

  15. Oh for god sake! Gravel bikes are aimed at urban wankers with manbuns. In other words noobs that that wouldn't know a bike from a lamb

  16. Thanks to your video, it made it easier for me to choose the right bike for me. I bought a new bike in spring this year and was thinking What I will do with it. I was between Gravel bike or Cyclocross bike, but I wanted the opportunity to ride on streets and on gravel in the Swedish Forests around where I live. So this video helped me to noticed wich bike I should have for my purpose. Now I own a Scott Gravel bike and I´m so happy with my choise thanks to you guys. Greatings from Stockholm

  17. If only they would invent a truly off road bike with perhaps big wide handlebars and off road geometry. Perhaps suspension to help with terrain and maybe even a seat post that gets out the way when terrain really gets tough…

    Seriously though… what is the point in either of these?

  18. I like to pass pedestrians on the grass instead of yelling at them and blasting by inches away at car speeds.

  19. 2x 50/11. thats the one. that range of gears is sweet. only way to climb long steep gravel roads and smash it at 50km/h plus on the flats. 2x its the way to go

  20. beautiful bikes but not the price. bikesdirect fits my budget. but Canyon bikes are at the top for sure. those frames are amazing.
    however i'm leaning toward a steel frame now.

  21. This may be correct for when you live in a place like Colorado or Finland or any place with lots of gravel roads and long straight roads, but doesn't hold true in technical, narrow, muddy paths. Like we have in Belgium and France. Also a big selling point for cx bikes in my opinion is that you can just swap for some road wheels during summer. And, even with cross tires, it'll be much easier to keep up with your roadie mates.
    Gear ratio's really arent an issue for cx bikes, if you don't go 1x
    For me, there's no more versatile bike than a proper cx bike. It gets you through the entire year, in all conditions.

  22. Divide and Conquer the Market. But overdoing it is leading to Analysis-Paralysis. Paradox of Choice.

    If you can afford just one bike (cost or otherwise), which bike would you buy? Aero/Endurance/Light/Gravel/Cross?

  23. Both superb bikes with 'shared' DNA' 🙂
    Gravel bike accommodates wider tyres if you want to go there, and accommodates wider gear ratios for when you're back on roads.
    Oh and one more time 😁
    G R A V E L C R O S S

  24. Agree with your point though, sometimes less bike is more. Don't always need a 5000,- Pound/ 15 kg Machine to have a fun in the forest. Fit a set of 45 mm Schwalbe Smart Sam/ similar on a suitable 28 inch 80ties steel touring bike (some frame cutting might help), and enjoy how far that will get you 🙂 almost anywhere 🙂

  25. Im on the brink of getting a new cyclecross to replace my stolen one (looking at a norco threshold a apex) but I will be riding on the road just as much and your comments about 'running out of gears pretty quickly' has given me some hesitation. What max speeds on downhill roads can I still expect?

  26. Why not buy a real mountainbike? That would make way more sense
    To me gravel/cx bikes are just hardtails of the 90s with dropped handlebars and sti's

  27. I haven't watched any Cycling videos before, i enjoyed this. Just started thinking about a new bike, so this was helpful.

  28. In other words, get whichever bike feels best to you, get a couple sets of tubeless tires for different conditions (and learn to change them) and don't look back. My 2004 cx bike has been a great gravel bike since long before anybody would have called it that. Oh, and if you think that comfort and compliance is somehow a drawback for racing, you haven't spent 45 minutes blasting around grassy field chop on skinny tires.

  29. This is the first time in a while since I last watched this video. After watching it I notice my guinea pig was hiding. I told him. Ollie's running wasn't that scary. I don't think he believed me.

  30. это не грэвал а картонное дерьмо ввиде цикло-кросса с более агресивной резиной

  31. I have a Scott CX10 and used to have a MTB. Benefits of a CX are you can ride on road like a road bike and go off road into grass fields, dirt and some portions of trails meant for MTBs and do it with alot more speed. It's exhilarating. But, when I see my old MTB riders out on trails I don't dare take on my CX, I really miss MTB. Also, a CX is hard on your ass because there is ZERO suspension, just a carbon fork that absorbs alot of impact on the front. Same with a Gravel, no suspension. Friend has a Gravel and when I rode it, only difference I could feel is the Gravel has more stability due to slightly wider tires and it translated into more confidence. But, even though grip is better and confidence across tough terrain goes to a Gravel, a Gravel is much, much more a Dog on road because of the wider tires and I can't say gives the best of both worlds. So in the end, a Gravel bike's benefits on light to medium difficulty MTB trails, with less wide tires, only gives it more speed on these trails, but not by much, so I suggest stick to a MTB, as you have suspension instead of your lumbar and shoulders being the suspension.

  32. A Gravel Bike question if you don't mind! I'm just about to invest in a Gravel after 5 year's with a Cross, would anyone out there recommend Flat's as opposed to cleat's 🙄🙄🙄 ? I'm off touring soon and footwear is a big issue for me.

  33. Clearly for any particular road surface there is and ideal tire with and tread. On any particular ride you may encounter a variety of surfaces. The best width and tread would be the one that would allow you go the fastest average speed considering both rolling resistance and traction. Maybe you should invent a bike with 2.3 inch wide knobby tires and flat bars. You could call it a mountain bike.

  34. Both these bikes feel like the incarnate refusal of road bikers to realize they want to ride an XC MTB. For real though, as a mountain biker, I genuinely can't understand why you would go for a CX or gravel bike over a cross country MTB. Is anyone able to shed some light on that? I'm really curious.

  35. cycling makes you look old and adds wrinkles on your face, look at the guy in this video, he's twonysmth but already looks like 30+

  36. For the Treks I was looking at a certain price point, the gravel bike had a lower BB by about an inch and 2×11 vs a CX with a higher BB and a 1×11 drive train. I chose the CX because it would never see much asphalt (have a road bike for that) and the drive train was better quality because less mech up front.

  37. so Road bike got so Boring they are trying to be Mountain Bikes…hahahahahahahahahahahahahah … something people have known for 20 years

  38. А я на хвз в37 (1967года) катаюсь,и он просто улёт,тоже поставил покрышки с шипами и вполне себе циклокросс!!!

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