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

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


– 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.

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

  1. I would like to see a test with the same tires on all three bikes over a long straight grass course with a specific power output. Then lets see the difference in speed.

  2. I get a feeling you’re going to catch a lot of flak for your “research” methods. Otherwise very informative. I picked up a Ridley cx bike as my do it all bike and it’s been great. Glad you’re on the GCN team J Pow!

  3. I’ve done it and this year I’ll be doing it on a mountain bike because they tend not to care in the cat 4/5 races

  4. With a course like that a XC or even BMX bike might be faster. As long as there are no hills or parts where you have to carry your bike.

  5. I think anyone who can afford any of these can probably afford to buy a CX bike. How about an aluminium gravel bike with lower spec? That’s what most of us ride surely? Something a little more affordable? I love GCN but so often these tests come up and they could potentially be really informative but time and time again you just pitch really expensive bikes against other really expensive bikes. I wanna know what it’s like riding a £1300 bike on a CX course. For the price of some of these I’d bloody expect them to cope with a bit of mud and tight corners…

  6. This isnt CX though…this is just riding around a small patch of grass. Wheres the obstacles, changing terrain and elevation…marketing rubbish as per usual.

  7. You have to love the way that they take a bicycle, gie it to the Marketing people ..and KEEERERCCCHHHINNN ££££££ …."new product" that everyone wants to spend thousands of £££ on
    ….how VERY sad

  8. Could we get Holographic Matt to be the starter? He would provide like really official serious beeps. And I grin and say thanks, Jeremy, for comparing your lap times on gravel and cross bikes.

  9. Not only do I, as an Inflite owner/rider, fail to see the use of a gravel bike… but also did I never experience any trouble keeping up with the pack during 100k+ road rides on my 1*11 CX 700X33mm.

  10. I believe it is easier to make a cyclocross bike comfortable and sustain long rides, than trying to do the other way around. I purchased and old redline with cantilever brakes for cross a few years back, now my gravel bike as well, just have an extra set of panaracer 40mm (38s) tires I can swap if needed.

  11. Glad to see jpow on the GCN team. He's a likeable & natural presenter, enjoyed watching his videos that he used to do before joining GCN.

  12. So Jeremy woke up one morning wondering how he could show off his turning circle? Don't worry, I'm suitably impressed.

  13. That "cross" course was rubbish. Nothing mentioned about how easy to dismount and carry. A lot of races won't allow any of those tires. Poor video. 👎

  14. I'm thinking about getting a CAADX and making it a road bike so I can put on 34/35mm tires. Would it be a crazy idea to switch up the chainring to a 53-39 on a cx bike to make it more road friendly?

  15. Awesome video. I've always wanted to see cyclo/gravel bikes tested on flat grass with absolutely no obstacles or climbs to show me how they behave in the conditions they were designed for. Even better, saying 'I don't know' and 'I'm no expert' a lot gave me complete confidence in the presenters ability to test the bikes properly. Keep up the good work guys.

  16. Nicely done JPows. Definitely bought our gravel bikes for stability and comfort over longer distances, still quick when we put the effort in. Only drop bar option for us really.

  17. Sounds like you roadies are slowly enjoying more and more dirt in your lifes!!! Next step is to ditch the fully rigid bike and get onto a Cross country bike and start whooping our mountain biking asses on the climbs. But we'll get you guys faster downhill, don't worry.

  18. The other big thing for me is if there is enough space in the frame to be able to shoulder the bike. If the courses are relatively flat this isn’t a problem or if you have the correct skills. I personally like to be able to shoulder a CX bike.

  19. Way too many differences between set-up to justify this comparison. If this were to be fair, everything should have been set-up akin to the CX bike… wheels and tires make a bigger difference than the geo between the three bikes will.

  20. Hey Jeremy I was wondering about the tyre choise as in Belgium the biggest u can get is 33mm, u wouldn't even be allowed to use any of those tires, will those 2mm make any difference? What about a comparison with the same tires and gear but just the geo that's different?

  21. Great little video, cyclocross is mainly about turning up and having fun/keeping fit through the winter so any bike would do the job unless going for a podium 😉 Keep em coming Jpow

  22. Great video. Thanks Jeremy! I can't wait for more of your videos. Great having you on the GCN team. I'm a roadie and I also have a MTB. I'm still considering either gravel or CX as my next bike. As I have little knowledge of these disciplines, this video really helped me understand the key differences between the bikes and what to consider when making a purchase.

  23. J Pow is killing it as GCN presenter. Great energy and solid content. Looks like he’s a seasoned pro at presenting. Only one problem we spell it “ tires “ in the states! Cheers!

  24. Spent all day helping build the Road Atlanta cyclocross track last year and then I was to wore out to race it the next day. Not making that mistake this year. lol

  25. I know, this was done for fun, but what would happen if all bicycles had the same tires, and what would happen if you reverse the order. The more you did it, the more you became familiar with the course

  26. Nice vid Jeremy. I always run x1 on my cross bikes and it's deffo limiting when I do my training rides. If you can only afford two bikes, I'd say get two cross bikes but that's just me

  27. Ha this is nothing. I was able to use my Giant Defy 2 as a cyclocross bike with 25c tires I was even able to use my face as Traction in the mud.😅

  28. And anyone who is sane would never spend anything like they would to own any of those bikes to just race and get muddy in a field for 3 months of the year. Cx simply is a waste of time, effort, money and thaught for 99% of your average people. Just get a hard tail xc mountain bike for 1/3 the price and sign up to cross country if your looking to race across feilds, anyone else just get a gravel bike it will do just as much cx as any cx bike most of us will buy which is litterally none. Plus it will be 1000x more comfortable and usable.

  29. Sand, run-ups and barriers are a huge factor in 'cross racing, and I would hazard a guess that the dedicated 'cross bike with its narrower tires and more purpose built frame and geometry will handle those challenges better than a gravel bike.

  30. Just picked up a gravel bike and got some cross kings on it and hoping for the best for my first time doing cyclocross

  31. I was surprised the choice of bike made such a big difference to the time. But then I noticed that your time got faster each time you rode the course. May have been more about practice than about the bike.

  32. Hey Jeremy…. when you do your GCN videos, don't let those brits spell tires wrong….what the hell are "tyres"

  33. I'd luv to hear ur opinion about about the MtBs that seem to show up at the Pro USA CX Nats about twice a decade. One of them won about 10 yrs ago if I remember correctly.
    Tire measurement, We don't need No stinkin' tire measurements!

  34. I wonder if your neighbors gonna notice you’re using his yard for a 😂🤪 is vroom vroom a technique 😂😂🤪

  35. JPow, what about the effect of barriers, belgian steps, steep inclines, et al? Seems like those might exacerbate the time differences a little. 3 seconds could be recoverable. 10-15 secs/lap may not be.

  36. But there is a tyre width limit for UCI events so none of those set ups would be allowed

    How would they compare on “skinny” tyres?

  37. do i want to be in the mud? the answer is quite simply no. i'll stick to clean asphalt thank you very much!!

  38. Man I have been shopping for a replacement for my 2016 CD Badboy 2 since the day I purchased it ( I hate the bike ) looking at cycle cross , gravel , cycle touring , now adventure bike had settle on the Trek 920 and then see this video !! and now im back at square 1 , didnt know Cycle cross were faster then Gravel I want speed and durability and the ability to be able to load the bike with allot of bags if needed , someone please help!! at this rate I will own my Badboy until 2026

  39. So is it Greevil or Grevil (rhymes with devil)? I get that a devil is evil, so it could go either way, but I’d guess the latter since it sounds similar to gravel.

  40. A good ‘Cross bike with Gravel capabilities is the Giant TCX. Great clearance. Good comfort. Steeper HT angle.
    One aspect not covered was mounts: mudguards, 3rd water bottle & TT mounts… all assets on 6hr adventures.

  41. I really should try out CX. I took my older, aluminum road bike (with 28mm) on the trail the other day and had a blast. Only thing I really needed was wider/CX like tires.

  42. I have an all-black Orbea Terra with 2x and 35mm tires, here in Mexico City our "CX" rides are a mix of road, mud/dirt trails, loose rocks, MTB's single tracks and some sort of gravel going into steep hills and downhills… but I can tell you, the Terra does all that greatly, it's an amazing bike!!!… I think also aesthetically its my most beautiful bike, love it. Congrats and thanks for the review!

  43. At what point do you find you need need an actual cyclocross bike? I know as you move up the categories but if you are in the beginning category where you can use mountain bikes and gravel bikes- when’s a good benchmark that you really should look at upgrading

  44. Gcn can you do some TT Videos how do be a good Time Trail rider with Emma Pooley she is the former Time Trail Champion ?

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