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Gravel Bike Vs XC Mountain Bike: Which Does It All Best

Gravel Bike Vs XC Mountain Bike: Which Does It All Best

– Dan and I made a tongue-in-cheek
video where we tried to answer two commonly asked questions. Firstly, what on earth is a gravel bike? And secondly, why might you want one? – You’re calling it tongue-in-cheek Si, but what I heard was more
than bikes are boring. – Yes, well some of them are, aren’t they? But anyway, funny enough it
caused quite a bit of debate, but from that, one
question emerged which is, why had we compared a modern gravel bike to a retro mountain bike
and not a modern 29-er cross-country hard tail? Because apparently they can
also do it all, but better. – Well can they? – No, well actually I don’t know. – I want to find out. – Let’s find out. (chill step music) (logo whoosing past) This will be a simple
head-to-head challenge. Our mates at Canyon have
supplied a Grail gravel bike and an Exceed cross-country bike. And Shimano have sent over
their new gravel-specific GRX groupset and an XTR
groupset for the mountain bike. We will compare them
over four, timed sectors which span the spectrum
of road, mellow gravel, chunky gravel and finally
an XC mountain bike trail. Enough to let us see just
what type of surface tips the balance in favor of
one bike to the other. – [Chris] We’ll also dive into the tank to help explain the
results that we’re seeing and then at the end, we’ll give you our
personal feedback as well. Because whilst the stopwatch doesn’t lie, for many of us when riding off-road, speed is not the top priority, it’s fun. (calm chill step music) – First up then how do these
two bikes compare on tarmac. Dah ah ah ah, no, sorry, tarmac is a really important surface for a do-it-all bike, isn’t it? For start, most of us
have got to ride on road to get to any off-road or indeed, we might have to just
link up sections of trail with sections of road. – Yeah you’d have to be
incredibly lucky not to cross the tarmac on any point in your ride. Anyway, the climb is the
iconic Burrington Combe and if you’ve never heard of
it, it’s four kilometers long, goes through a beautiful
gorge, averages 6%. We’re going to race up
it, turn around at the top and we’re going to time
the distance as well and include that in the overall time. – Yeah.
– It’s a complete test. – Like downhill mountain
biking, but on the road. – And without the big helmet. – Yeah. People would definitely have
heard of Burrington mate, it’s a giant. – Oh really?
– Yeah yeah. – I’ve never heard of it. – Now if we were riding road bikes, we would of course start on that side of the cattle grid, but
because this is a gravel video we’re going to start as we mean to go on, on this side of the cattle grid. Chris are you ready to go mate? Run number one 29-er mountain bike? – Yeah, I’m not really
sure what to expect. Pain? – Yes, yes.
– Suffering? – Quite a lot of pain, please,
yeah, two K up, two K down. – All right
– Ready? Three, two, one. Go, go, go, go, go, go, go! Ali, ali, ali! (chill step music) – And there’s a headwind. – The other problem
with this being a video not about road bikes,
you kind of just find you want to holding me up at the start. Right. Beep, beep, beep, beep! (chill step music) Right Chris, just watch
out for this first section it’s really gnarly. Otherwise, enjoy. – And the halfway section,
right, three, two, one, go! – Boom! (Chill step music) Right, forks as you can see, nice and open for this cattle grid section and then I’m going to lock
’em out just after that. Right, three, two, one, go! And fork’s locked out there we go! (chill step music) Okay, I’m in my 10. Used my dropper post
didn’t I, to get aero. Who’d have thought about that? Mountain bikers you’re missing a trick. And roadies. Well those are the results. Chris are you surprised at all? – [Chris] Not massively
really if I’m honest, what about you? – I did think this might
be a little quicker but no otherwise not as hugely surprised. I suppose the question
now is why have we got the results that we have. Variety of reasons for sure, but we’re going to start
with the biggest one, you’re position on the bike. A mountain bike is much taller, mainly because you have
an extra 100 millimeters of suspension under your handlebars which jacks the front end up. By about a 100 millimeters funnily enough. And that’s not a bad thing,
having a taller front end can give you much more control certainly when the going gets steep. It is also a little bit shorter
as well, again for control. Although, to be clear, it’s
not the frame that is shorter, on the contrary, the
Exceed is actually longer by about 40 to 60 millimeters,
depending on size. But the reach to the controls
is larger on the gravel bike because you have a slightly longer stem, those dropped handlebars
and also, the shifters. On the Exceed cross-country
bike the bars are also wider, again for more control over
rough and technical terrain. And when we say wider, we mean wider, by about 30 centimeters. – But what’s the relevance of this? Well the shorter, higher,
wider stance means that you will be putting in
significantly more effort to travel at the same
speed simply because, you’re less aerodynamic. – Yes and we know that that
is a bi-word for boring, but in this case, the aerodynamic handicap is pretty significant. We reckon about two K
an hour at that sort of, 30 kilometers an hour cruising speed. And that’s a difference
that you can really feel as well as being able to see
it clearly on your head unit. And even if speed isn’t your thing, then you can put it
another way and that is that it’s much harder
to ride longer distances on the mountain bike than the gravel bike. Which, unsurprisingly, is
much closer to a road bike. Yes, it’s a little bit shorter
and a little bit higher for the same reasons as the Exceed but the DNA unashamedly
comes from the road. – One of the aspect that
sets these two types of bike apart is the gears. Whilst there is similar engineering
across both GRX and XTR, a lot of tech has crossed over
from the mountain bike world as well as from the road
groupsets to make this suitable for rugged off-road. You can’t escape the fact
that gears of a gravel bike are still designed for
traveling at faster speeds. – Not quite road speeds, but not far off. With GRX you can either have a
42-tooth single ring up front with and 11 to 42 cassette at the back. Or as I got in this case, a
double-chain ring up front and an 11-34 at the back, giving
me a lowest gear of 31-34, which is still considerably
larger than the lowest gear on the mountain bike, which is 34-51. So at the lowest speed
you can ride this bike, you’re still going quicker. Now at the other end of the
spectrum, the 48-tooth big ring that I’ve got on here
allows me to pedal this bike significantly faster, about
10 K an hour faster in fact on the descent and you
could clearly see that on the test that we’ve just done. The other point to note is
that double-chaining up front means we can have a closer
ratio cassette at the back. So that means there is less
of a jump between gears. Something that you do notice
from time to time on the road for example, again on that
climb I was struggling to find the optimal gear on the mountain bike whereas I hadn’t on this. Would it make a difference to the time? Probably not, no. But I do know that some
people are bothered by that kind of thing, so
I thought I’d mention it. – Ultimately you can see the intentions of Shimano’s designers. The GRX has been designed for rides with faster average speeds in mind with some faster bits in
there but more importantly, some faster, slower bits to boot. – Yeah. – Let’s go in search of some
faster, slower bits Chris. – See I was hoping for some
slower, faster bits actually. – Okay, well whatever, show me the gravel! (steady guitar music) Okay Chris. – Yeah you ready? – Yeah can you hold me up
please so I can get clipped in? – No, strictly not, off road, no sorry. – Oh.
– It’s a rule. – All right okay, all right ready, can you count me in at least? – I’d do that.
– Cool – Three, two, one, get ’em Si. (rock music) – Well since Si’s gone, I
must count myself in aren’t I? Three, two, one. (rock music) – That was good, like a very quiet road. Perfect. Here he is, here he is. He’s looking quick. What up mate. Starling. – Why you’re not even breathing? – I’ve been here for ages, how was that. – It’s a lot tougher than
you let on at the bottom. It was all right though. – Smooth? – Fast and there’s not lots of headwind like the road section. – Yes, that’s a very good point. Okay. – Are you up first again Si? – Yeah mate, just takes me back you know. Like 27 years, foot down start. Fire road in the distance. – It takes me back to 15 minutes
– Goosebumps. – to when we did it a minute ago, anyway. Right, okay, three, two, one, go Si! – [Si] Ah I miss my pedal, ah! – Look after my bike. (chill step music) Drops for leverage, three, two, one, go! (chill step music) (panting) – Oh that definitely wasn’t
that easy over there. I guess that’s what
riding as fast as you can always feels like. I didn’t feel quite as quick but it’s going to be close I reckon. Right, where’s Chris. He looks aero don’t he? What up mate. – A little bit more prepared for that. It does feel efficient though doesn’t it? – It does yeah. And it just a little bit
like lighter more nimble, so even though it’s not
technical you’re still like, don’t know, it’s agile. – Direct and agile. – Yeah. And your deal with time? – Find out in a minute. So the results for easy gravel. Si on his mountain bike
took six minutes 34. And then six minutes 29 on the Grail. That’s a difference of five seconds. And then for me I took six
minutes 20 on the mountain bike and six 11 on the gravel bike. That’s a difference of nine seconds. So the gravel bike seems
to be holding it’s own. Why? Well, one point is that
mountain bike tires are generally fatter. Most gravel bikes come
with 40 to 45 mil tires. With our Grail hitting
the sweet spot of 42. Whereas most mountain bikes
start at 54 millimeters and yes you could fit
narrow tires but these days that’s a very rare sight. These narrower and more
lightly treaded tires on the gravel bike, which are
oh so typical of the genre, roll really, really
fast on the other hand. Now they’re not quite as
fast as a road bike tire but they’re not like too far behind. The tires on the mountain
bike meanwhile though are harder to get up to
speed and harder to maintain at your given speed. You can of course though, run a semi-slick or a slick mountain bike
tire but these ones here are definitely a little bit slower. In this case though on this
super smooth fast gravel the Grail still
unsurprisingly has the edge. The body position that we’ve
just been talking about is still paying dividends
because we’re traveling relatively quickly and so
the fact that we can move more easily through the
air is a big plus point. And then of course the
fact that these tires are rolling more efficiently as well means that it just holds its
speed that bit better. You can’t help but feel that it’s a more rewarding experience, traveling faster for less effort. What’s not to like? – Right then Si, so far so gravel. It’s now the time for the balance to tip completely in favor of the
cross-country mountain bike. – Well potentially we are going
to move on now to chunky gravel as our man J-pow would call it. Basically still hard
packed but the rocks are a little bit larger
and potentially looser. Run number one, chunky gravel,
Canyon Grail gravel bike. Chris just get a little bit steady mate on some of those chunkier bits. – Yeah alright I can’t promise that. – No. – I want to win the test Si. – By the way. – Three, two, one, go! Ooh. Bit a wheel spin of the line.
– Oh ho ho! (chill step music) – Watch this, I’m going
to put so much power through this back wheel that
it’s just going to wheel spin even more than Chris. (laughing) I’ll go now. (chill step music) – These test tracks is always
harder than Si lets on. A little bit rougher as
well for the gravel bike. It’s good fun though. Strong finish. How was it? – It’s good, just got to,
just monster truck your way through everything you know, like. I don’t say there’s no skill involved but you just kind of… – You float, there’s more
cruise, there’s more float, there’s more… – Yeah, exactly that.
– It just goes. Whereas I felt a little bit
jerked around If I’m honest, so I’m quite looking forward
to getting on there hey. C’mon, let’s swop.
– All right Can I have a rest? – No, straight back down. – Now Chris you don’t need
to worry about wheel spins this time mate, there’s a
lot more grip on those tires so you’ll be fine. Felt like I held myself
back a bit there really. – Yeah okay right. – It’s good, three, two, one, what do you mean there’s more grip? (chill step music) – I will spin this back wheel. Yes, woo hoo hoo hoo! Yeah! (chill step music) – He wasn’t wrong, it definitely
does float a little bit. I’m not sure which one I enjoyed the most but it was definitely smoother on this. I want to know how Si is
getting on with the gravel bike. I’d almost say you look faster on that. – Ah mate, I made the biggest
wheel spin off the line. You should’ve seen it. I must have lost a good four seconds just, wzooo, yeah.
– Four seconds of wheel spin? Your legs must be toast off the line. How was that anyway? – It’s like, you got to get
your upper body involved a little bit to help you
maintain that forward momentum. The more sort of engaged
you are in that regard, the smoother you can ride across the bumps and the rocks but. – But your heart rate goes up. – It’s just a different ballgame isn’t it? Like you know, both great
just very different. – Yeah you experience them
in such a different way but they’re equally good fun. – I reckon this is probably
going to be a bit slower, what do you think? – Find out in a minute won’t we. And the results for the chunky gravel, well Si took four minutes
32 on the mountain bike and four minutes 41 on the gravel bike. Whilst I took four 11 on the mountain bike and four 24 on the gravel bike. So that does now tip the
balance slightly in favor of the mountain bike, don’t you think? Why? Well first and foremost, this wider tire that’s been slowing us down until now is about to come into it’s own. Not these knobs on the
side, their time will come. But simply the volume. You see a tire with
higher volume can be run at a lower pressure without
fear of hitting the rim when you have more
control and more comfort from the suspension that they offer. – Plus we also have mechanical suspension. Yes! Mine jacks it up 100 millimeters, making this less aerodynamic
for the road but here, it’s now actually allowing
us to roll more efficiently over this rough surface. We actually saw that to
great effect when we took a Canyon Exceed onto the
cobbles of Paris-Roubaix and we found that it was
significantly quicker over the pave compared to
not only just a road bike but also a gravel bike as well. – Let’s not do the gravel
down too much though, yes it may be a little slower but it’s coping pretty well. Evolutions like the Shadow plus clutch and the rear GX derailleur helping keep the ride nice and silent. Very similar to the XTR Rear Mech and there’s a reason for that, the tech comes directly from there. And while the Grail doesn’t
have any active suspension, it does have and awful
lot of design tweaks that helps improve the
compliance of the bike. So taking the edge off the bumps. Everything from these
dropped seat stays here, the location of the seat
clamp, again down here. This amazing split seat
post design that acts like a leaf spring and then up
front we have of course the hover bar. Visually very distinctive,
the idea behind it is that the design allows for more
compliance on this top section so you actually get a
little bit more flex, a little bit more comfort from it compared to a normal drop handle bar. All of them very effective
and so yeah you got to say a gravel bike, whilst not
as fast as a mountain bike in this, is still very capable
and very fun but ultimately you can’t get away from
the fact that the rougher and rockier it is, the faster
a mountain bike is going to be. (chill step music) – What then about actual mountain biking? – Well, Chris there is a little known but amazing bike park
right here, no there isn’t. – No. – What we’re going to do,
is go old school okay. This here is a piece of single
track that I’ve been riding for god knows how long,
20 something years. And it should be a pretty
nice test actually. It’s proper mountain biking, but old school proper mountain biking. – Cool, who’s up first? – Uh well you’re on the
mountain bike so you go first. I have a feeling it might be quicker. – Uh Si, just for an idea, how long roughly is this going to take? – It’s about a mile and a half. – Oh okay. – So uh, at your speed mate,
probably about three minutes. No, might be a bit longer than that. It’s a corker though. – Yeah all right okay,
three, two, one, go. – Just you got to watch
out for the caves Chris, there’s some quite big caves. (rock music) – Almost feels a bit lonely
when you’re left here on the start line. Anyway, ready? Three, two, one, go! (rock music) (bike braking) – Woo that’s quite
different to the gravel. It’s quite dirty,
slippery, pretty rocky too. You enjoy that? – Ho! – It lived up to expectations for me. – It did like, it’s
frustrating that we set this as the course ’cause that
is proper mountain biking but it’s really rocky and
rocks, sharp big pointy ones and gravel bikes don’t really mix do they? – No.
– So it kind of means it’s a bit less fun. If that had been super
smooth, ah man this would be a big grin, as it was it
was a little bit of like, ooh eeh ah ooh ah! Can I have that one please? – Yeah sure, I’m looking
forward to clinging on for dear life on that thing. It’s going to be good fun. – Okay Chris now you know
what it’s already like, how you feeling about
tackling it on the Grail? – Yeah there’s a little
air of anticipation. Is that not a word? – Could be mate, depends if
you’re anticipating something. – We’ll find out will we? Three, two, one, go! (rock music) – Now, I confess, I am really, really looking forward to this. (rock music) – Yeah I know what you’re thinking, I shouldn’t have finished first. (laughing) – Are you still laughing from the start? – What happened Chris? – I feel like I may be sabotaged, it must have been flat before I rode it. My goodness me. I was clinging on and I must’ve
just caught one of those, the square edged stones. Good to run though, it’s good exercise. – Yeah. Got to say we are not running
cheapest today are we? – We’re not running cheapest.
– Which is probably the reason you could’ve gotten
away with it otherwise. Right we’ve only got one
counting result then, it’s all on my shoulders. These ones aint it? – Well technically you could
say that we just found kind of the edge of what a gravel
tire is actually capable off. So the results will stand. It’s like getting to the end
of a bike race and saying, “I punctured, doesn’t count”. – What as in like it does count? – Off course it counts. – Good point. Well the results don’t lie
do they and what a surprise. On the mountain bike
trial, the mountain bike has utterly smashed it. – That’s it basically.
– Yeah. And I think we can
attribute that probably down to those big wide tires
again, the suspension forks and then maybe like, the position as well. – Yeah it’s not a massive surprise is it, but I think you still have
to give credit to the Grail, right up until I pinged it on that rock it was coping incredibly well. – It was, you got to ride
it differently down there, you kind of nurse it as
opposed to sort of launch it but yeah, it does go across. One final aspects that
we haven’t touched on yet is the weight. If you have any concerns
about the robustness of gravel bikes, check this. A Grail CF SLX frame set is 830 grams, the Exceed SLX frame
set is just 870 grams. Both are super, super
light but telling, I think, that there isn’t that much
difference between them and the gap is even smaller
on the CF SL models, just 10 grams in fact. However, as a result of
the forks, the wide rimmed, burlier wheels and tires
plus the dropper post, our Exceed is now significantly
heavier than this Grail by 1.4 kilos in fact,
’cause this Grail tips the scales at just over nine. – And you know what, I’ve
done a lot of gravel riding this year, it’s the first
time I’ve punctured it. – Is that right? Well there we go. Right Chris I think there
is more to conclude with. But it feels like a windy
Mauland as the light is fading is not the place, shall
we head to a pub mate? – Should we find an open fire? – Yeah, god yeah. – Oh hang on, I’m shouldering. See you there. – All right mate I’ll get the round in. I don’t want to tell him
but actually it’s that way. Cheers mate. – Cheers, you see who’s
driving today can’t you. – Yeah right, warmed up, we can
now give you our conclusion. Which unsurprisingly shows,
that gravel bikes are faster than mountain bikes on the
road and still slightly faster on smooth gravel. How much faster they are depends on how fast you’re traveling. So the faster you go, the
greater that speed differential between the two bikes is. – Yeah and then when it
comes to the mountain bike, it’s definitely faster
on the chunkier gravel where it gets a little bit
rougher and it completely comes into its own when you take it onto proper mountain bike trail doesn’t it? – It does indeed, now the reasons for those differences, I think, essentially boils down to the fact that a gravel bike is more
efficient at traveling quickly and that principally is
down to your body position on the bike, but also some of
the component choices as well. Whereas on the flip side
the mountain bike is faster on mountain bike trails
because of those big, wide, volume tires and the
wide handlebar that gives you that ability to basically
smash through anything. – Plowing down the hill. – Plow through anything yeah. – Si I think it’s worth noting
that our comparisons with the mountain bike have been done on some pretty rocky terrain. Smoother surfaces would have revealed a much smaller difference
between the two bikes. – That’s right actually
yeah, mountain bike trails vary significantly and
ours were definitely at the rockier end of the spectrum. And that’s really an
important point because actually gravel bikes don’t
really like big rocks. And that’s the point where
you start to lose a little bit of the fun factor because you
just have to be a little bit more careful about what your hitting. Smoother mountain bike
trails, not only would the time difference have
been smaller actually it would have been an awful lot
more fun on the gravel bike. – Yeah definitely although
ultimately I don’t really think it matters which bike you choose. Both of them are brilliant bikes and they’re both a lot of fun to ride. And when it comes to decision making time. It’s the terrains that you frequently find yourself riding on that’s going to help
influence that decision. If you ride on the faster,
smoother terrain, or the slower, rougher terrain, that’s really
going to make a big difference to what you choose isn’t it? – Yeah it is yeah, very good point. What’s your hot take then,
your personal take-home from today’s riding. – Ultimately I think they’re
both brilliant bikes. And they’re brilliant ’cause
they’ll get you out there on the trail and riding. I think they can both kind
of do each others domain. Like the mountain bike is
great at doing a lot of the things the gravel bike does. Equally the Grail is also
great at doing some of the things a mountain bike does. But I wouldn’t want to
spends hundreds of kilometers on the road on a
cross-country mountain bike. – No. – And equally, if I was riding loads of proper mountain bike trails
I wouldn’t choose the Grail. – No, no, that’s a fair point actually. For me, one of the things
is that I love the way a gravel bike feels in
that it’s kind of small and it’s quite low to the
ground, it’s quite lively, it’s quite responsive and I just enjoyed the feeling that you get when you ride it. I like the fact that it feels
kind of like a road bike when you’re riding on the road. And I like the fact that
you can take that feeling and take it away from
cars and onto the dirt. – It’s very freeing that. – It is yeah. And I do ride my gravel bike
on proper mountain bike trails as well but I choose ones that are just a little bit smoother and
nowhere near big rocks basically. – You find yourself tiptoeing
otherwise don’t you? – Exactly, and that’s no fun. And I do ride a mountain
bike a lot as well but the type of riding
I do is very different. I tend to ride much more technical terrain and I won’t tend to ride
such big distances either, like a big mountain bike ride for me is probably only like 40 K. It’s a couple hours of
riding so it’s just, they are just different aren’t they? As well as being able
to do the same things, you use them in different ways. – It’s very similar for me
as well, like I would choose the Grail if I was going
to ride longer distances. And if I wanted to tackle
something more challenging, I’d definitely choose the
cross-country mountain bike. You know there’s steep climbs
that you can only get up in like tiny tiny gear that a
mountain bike has and again, the technical steep twisting descends. It’s not really the
domain of the Grail is it? – No, you know what Chris, I’m
going to be really interested as well to know what the
viewers think about this. ‘Cause it’s proving to be something of a controversial subject. 29-er mountain bikes have a lot of fans who rightly point out that
they are still really fast on road and smooth trails and capable of mountain bike trails as well. But be interesting to see
how you’ve interpreted these results. So make sure you let us know in the comments section down below. – The ultimate YouTube pub discussion. – Absolutely. – Give us a big thumbs up
if you enjoyed this video. – Yeah. – And for more content right now. – Well yeah why not check
out a proper all-American gravel race that I got to
do in Steamboat this year. Probably got more than I bargained for but it was cracking good fun.

100 comments on “Gravel Bike Vs XC Mountain Bike: Which Does It All Best

  1. Almost all of the substantive differences you talk about are down to the tires. Just get some gravel tires for your MTB!

  2. Thanks for the comparison! I have been wondering about the differences. I think the work you were looking for in the video was “trepidation”

  3. I have tow Canyons Aeroad and Exceed. In my opinion this is a perfect solution. On a read bike I can be fast on a tarmac and go for a long distance. With a MTB bike I can go on tarmac and everywhere else. I can use MTB for a real mountain ride where rocks are big and you need a suspension. With a gravel bike it is impossible to go there. Gravel bike is something in between: not perfect for tarmac and not enough for mountains.

  4. Great video thanks. The Grail could have been made more versatile by swapping to 650b wheels with bigger air tyres. Then the Ven diagram would see much more overlap with the 29er. The decision on which bike is ultimately 'how much 20%+ slope with rocks roots and drops you will encounter and at what speed you want to navigate it'. 50kph on a full suspension, 35 kph on a hardtail and significantly less on a rigid bike

  5. I'd be interested to see how the gravel bike does with 650b wheels and 1.9" or 2.1" MTB tires. Maybe that doesn't work on the Canyon but it would on many gravel bikes.

  6. If one has any interest in offroading the mtb is better. You can ride road with a mtb as much as you want, it will just be a touch slower than the gravel bike while you simply can't ride technical stuff with a gravel bike. So you trade 1mph on the road for a decent amount of freedom of where you can ride. Then if you have absolutely no interest in riding anything technical then go gravel i guess.

  7. So basically if you have a lot of disposable income, buy a gravel bike, if not have a road bike for riding on tarmac and a mtb for everything else.

  8. tbh, i have to give it to the mountain bike here. The mtb is just so much faster on dirt roads, and im not talking about extremely rocky, muddy terrain. Im talkin about normal gravel roads… you only tested "easy" and medium gravel roads on uphill, but… the difference it makes the mtb on downhill is just massive there too.
    Yeah, the gravel bike is excelent at paved roads, but the XC bike is 90% there too, wich is good enough (and you can jump over curbs or descend some stairs while you at it) The gravel bike in the other hand is just 60% there in gravel/mtb trails. wich is not good enough.
    In conclusion: if you want a balanced bike: buy the xc bike. If you ride more singletracks: buy a xc bike. If you do 80% road and 20% easy gravel, buy a gravel bike. And that last case i think is a very niche market.

  9. I found my Trek 29er hardtail with double fighter tyres does it all, slick in the middle for speed, nobbles on the side + lower pressure for fun stuff, It's a bike that does it all

  10. The ultimate gravel bike is one, which can fit 27,5" and 28" wheelsets. Choosing a semi-slick 27,5" on a gravel bike would be the best of both worlds. If you plan a road ride only, you just fit your deep section road wheels on them. After Open and 3T starting this trend, I think this brilliant idea puts the versatility of a gravel bike to the next level.

  11. Even on the easy gravel that looks like a workout on the arms riding that gravel bike, and the lack of control shown by the gravel bike on anything but light gravel particularly on shared trails may cause problems with other trail users, it’s about respecting other users and control not just riding fast.

  12. So neither can do it all, but the gravel bike is better for all but the most extreme of surfaces. Sounds like the gravel bikes wins to me.

  13. New mountain bikes eliectric drivetrain 200 mm of travel 29er and fast as hell roadies my bike is ten mm lighter but mtb is boring

  14. This video shows how to chose cloth sizing. Look at chris at 2:28, that size shirt is correct, where Si's shirt at 2:28 is too big.

  15. Cool video but what is that awful sounding shit playing in the background? It detracts from the video. Thank goodness for mute! Finally, to all youtubers out there. There is no requirement to add a sound track to your video. Really. The sound track usually does more harm than good. Leave off the sound track when in doubt.

  16. Really surprised the difference on the road wasn't far greater, as roadies we're sold all this aero etc, but the mtb with no aero, those super wide nobby tyres was not that much slower. Expect to see a aero benefits video soon from gcn! Lol

  17. How long before we see more 'hybrid' hybrids ….
    Are we going to see droppy-straights? Or elongated drop-bars?
    + only a matter of time before someone comes up with gear range AND ground clearance …
    different chain route? Dual cassettes? The science in materials might be slowing down, as things have progressed
    so far … but there must be a lot of innovation still to come in other aspects.

  18. I ride a 29er XC MTB every morning on the roads around my home as a morning workout. Essentially it is heavier & harder to move so it gives a great 1 hour workout. On the weekends I get to go have fun on over 60 miles of local xc mtb trails. I have thought about getting a gravel bike but I think it will make the morning workouts easier & will choke on the heavy rocks & sand we have on our local Florida trails.

  19. I think it would be great to see a cx-mtb vs gravel bike race with mixed terrain. Each discipline would place in their own class, as well as an overall class. Kind of like GT series car racing.

  20. I think for the main part gravel adventure rides will be covering many miles over road, smooth gravel and rough gravel. There may be some single track links, but mostly the first three. Over a 50 – 100 mile ride the differences will add up and you will find the gravel bike much quicker and more suitable.

    I think that generally, people wouldn't be adopting those strange/dangerous areo positions on there MTB and the gap on roads between gravel and MTB is probably larger in normal use.

    An adventure ride on a MTB would probably swing more towards gravel, chunky and single track, and use roads to link.

    In the summer I can throw road wheels on my gravel bike and then there is just no way the MTB is coming close, and would result in a similar or greater difference seen here between the MTB and the gravel bike on rocky single track.

    A MTB it a true all rounder, it genuinely can do everything.
    A gravel bike is effectively 2 bikes in 1, so while not truly a full all rounder, its incredibly flexible.

    Gravel and 29ers are both able to do it all, but both sit on opposite sides of the 1-4 terrain scale.


    Gravel bike 1,2,3
    MTB: 2,3,4

  21. – Place where Gravel should excel: 11-30 seconds faster (distance is even shorter on gravel roads, which actually should be where they excel actually)
    – Place where XC bike should excel: 74 seconds faster

    To me it's pretty clear which is a better all rounder, but I agree they're meant to be used in very different ways: If you ride on roads just to connect trails, an XC is a sane choice. If you mainly travel on road but you'd like to enter some light-looking trail when you're riding on the road, then a Gravel is a good choice.

  22. Best video ever, by your good selves in my opinion (been a subscriber for years) and this just sums up my own personal riding throughout the year…Thumbs up for it…..I run a CX, gravel, 29er and an old 26" and do as many off-road rides as I can manage….Each bike has its own use and I do all of the video's type of trails on all of them
    My conclusion is as Simon and Ollie's……..although I do find rough trails on drop bar bikes more of a laugh and reminiscent of early 1990's MTBing when I started cycling properly on rigid MTB's (Kona's)….
    This cross discipline stuff is brilliant and just gets it (Jeremy's CX stuff for an example)……My old roadbike doesn't get a look in now…..!!!
    By the way, the trackstands were impressive…..10/10 for the channel

  23. It’s always about speed, but what about other factors such as comfort, room for fenders and racks and ease of maintenance? Personally, I’m not interested in how many seconds I can save and how fast I can go on my gravel bike, and I’m convinced, that I’m not the only one…we are not all racing cyclists GCN!

  24. I just bought a new xc bike. I don‘t see the point in investing in a gravel bike. I can ride light gravel with my road bike. Might be a good thing for people who can only afford one bike or don‘t have the room for multiple bikes. In my opinion it‘s just another attempt of the industry to sell you stuff that doesn‘t make sense.

  25. No matter what you say the Grail is just a road bike with fat tires that belongs in the road . Is just the industry trying to sell something useless. Which is totally understandable they want your Money!

  26. The utility of a gravel bike all depends on where you live and ride. I either have road or mtb trails. My cx bike is fun to ride but is no fun on mtb trails and is slower than my road bike on… the road. I don’t have significant stretches of “smooth gravel” in my area so my cx bike is my “all weather” road bike.

  27. Why not put narrower tires on the XC bike for the smooth trails? It seems like if the difference is down to tire size, then change the tires.

  28. So to sum up: If you are a MTB rider and want to ride tamer trails then you can do it on a MTB bike and not be too slow. If you are a roadie and want to go on some slightly rougher terrain then a gravel bike (or even an endurance bike with wide gravel tyres) can get the job done without being too slow. Overall there's no need to buy another bike unless you are traversing to each extremes (tarmac or really rough trails).

  29. Great review. I personally have a 29er and a gravel bike. Riding to work is mainly road so use gravel bike, but then I head out on trails at the weekend. I find riding 29er on too much on road takes edges off tyre knobbles, which makes them worse when you need them off road.

  30. Those MTB tyres are way to knobby to be XC. Different tyre setup and the mtb would have had 3/4 wins. but good fun test. still want a gravel bike 😀

  31. The issue with my Cannondale 29 Carbon 5 is that the 11th gear on a commute lasts around 1400km as it is always in top and you wear out the tiny gear.. I bought a Trek Checkpoint Gravel Bike to complement it on the ride to work and use around 4 gears on the commute, rather than sitting in top 98% of the way to work.

  32. So, I own a Grail and have taken it on many a rough ride. Although my goal was to have a one bike garage, I am currently building a hard tail mountain bike because I don't have near as much fun on the descents even though climbing with my gravel bike is a blast. Washington state and BC riding over here in N. America.

  33. I'm over here thinking "uhm, I've put thinner tires and solid forks on hardtail mountainbikes for ages, and ran them on paved roads and back roads" We just called it riding in the country. Now there's a whole group of trendy fuckers getting all yuppie calling themselves gravel riders. Wtf. Oh ok. Your a gravel rider….. with a bike that has the word "gravel" in it somewhere. You must be onto something noone else has figured out yet. Bahahaha …..

  34. Great video. The last segment of this video has shot a whole in my dream of getting down to just one bike (my gravel bike). I've never tried riding my gravel bike on a rocky mountain bike trail and now I don't think I ever will… if I want to have fun! I guess my new dream is to only have two bikes 😉

  35. I bought a gravel bike since my mtb was just too slow on the gravel roads. Mostly on the descents spinning out. One of each is really the answer.

  36. Goodness, I used to race my mountain and road bikes, but that was years ago, LONG before 29" tires had been developed, and just as disc-brakes were starting to be used on full-suspension mountain bikes. Seeing all the new technology, I've started to invest in new racing-level bikes, both for on- and off-road riding, and so yes, I HAVE decided to use a cyclocross bike for my road bike, while for a mountain bike, I will NOT be using full-suspension, and will just use a suspension fork. I have to say that THIS review, while interesting, did not influence those decisions at all…

  37. I hate new comments section on YT android app. So unintuitive.
    And I think a gravel bike is useless when you have a good and modern 29 XC

  38. What the world needs in an amorphous autonomous bicycle that automatically transforms to the bike best suited for whatever surface and terrain you are on at any given moment.

  39. Nice vid boys. Well done. Having ridden a lotta MTB back in the '90s and early 2000's and now being smitten with the gravel bike movement, my personal feeling is that it all comes down to a speed-over-distance equation that Simon eluded to in his commentary. How far do I want to go? And over what kind of terrain? And how fast? The answer is in the bike you choose after you answer those questions! And no, I don't think there is 'one bike that can do it all'. Pick the right tool for the job!

  40. By chance,I just did a gravel ride yesterday. 35 miles with 4700+' of climbing in the first 20 miles on hardpack gravel.smooth……..I rode my dual suspension Kona XC Mt bike with skinnier tires then usual.2.05 tires. Almost every one else was on a gravel bike,20 riders total. I was able to hang on the climb just fine,front third of the pack. Hard climb………..theeeeeeen we got to the dirt downhiill that lost all altitude gained. I flipped levers and turned my suspension on and was off and gone. Way faster and more fun then any gravel bike by a long ways. Downhill with semi rough sliding corners is no place for a gravel bike. 36 mph drifting both tires was done and was so fun,I wanna go back and do it again. So which is more fun? It Really Depends.

  41. Gravel bikes are unnecessary. Drop bars and hooded brakes on gravel are stupid. Throw a ridged fork, 45mm tires and inside bar ends (for fast sections) on an xc 29 hardtail. And you get the best of both words. Choose a chainring accordingly. Now go on a 40 mile varied terrain gravel ride, gravel bike won't keep up. Gravel bikes just plain suck at descending and are unstable navigating anything technical.

  42. You can put aero bars on the XC HT and ride a century with it. You can climb Alpe d'Huez on it, even better than on the road bike with its ridiculous gears. You can put chunkier tires and descend Megavalanche on it too. It is much more versatile than the gravel, that is good ONLY on fire roads and sux everywhere else.

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