Gravel Bike Vs Cyclo-Cross Bike

(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.

  Fitness Training

– 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!


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)



– I can’t stop giggling.

What a legend, yeah.

Come on mate.

– Why, I’m flying!

– Go, go, go!


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

  Lose Weight Through Cycling

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.

  Super Bike Vs. Mid-Range Bike

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.


– [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?


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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