Gravel Bikes vs. Cyclocross Bikes

Approx Reading Time: 8 minutes

For some years, there are recurring debates about gravel bikes. The recent one has been the similarity with a Cyclocross bike. A lot of people think these bikes are the same, but this is not the case. No, a gravel bike is not the same as a Cyclocross bike. There are several differences that we will investigate in this article.

Gravel Bikes vs. Cyclocross Bikes:

Both a gravel bike and a cyclocross bike look quite similar but are bikes for a different purpose. A cyclocross bike is designed for cyclocross racing, with specific race features and frame design. Gravel bikes are designed for long rides in diverse terrain and on mixed surfaces, or even multi-day trips with luggage.

Gravel Bikes vs. Cyclocross Bikes 1
(CC BY-ND 2.0) by american_cyclery

Which is Better, Gravel Bike, or Cyclocross Bike?

Both a gravel bike and a cyclocross bike each have their use case. The gravel bike for trips on mixed surfaces, the cyclocross bike for cyclocross racing. The question of which is better is thus difficult to answer as each bike is good in its way, and everyone has their own opinion.

What is a Gravel Bike?

Gravel bikes are adventure bikes designed as road bikes to tackle various surfaces – fire roads, forest trails, and town paths – they have the additional gear and are suitable for all-day riding on less-traveled roads. They are made to be more robust and durable than a standard bike.

Gravel bikes are typically lighter and versatile, borrowing elements from the road, mountain, and Cyclocross bikes to create an all-in-one option.

Features of Gravel Bike

Geometry:

The geometry of a gravel bike is targeted at providing comfort and stability. This is made possible by the long wheelbase, which helps on long distances. It has an extended head tube combined with a shorter top tube that puts the rider in an upright position while riding. The headtube is bent, and it performs slower at speed and does not give a twitchy feeling.

Frame:

The gravel bike frame is heavier than most road bikes, which makes it resilient to carry any extra load for the adventure. He frames mostly come in aluminum form.

Tires :

The tires are large and are up to 33m and 42mm to improve stability, grip, and comfort. The frame needs to have a clearance, which is assisted by using a disc brake that helps in all weather conditions to maintain stability.

What is a Cyclocross bike?

A Cyclocross bike is a bike designed for a Cyclocross race’s rigors – a bicycle race that takes place every autumn and winter featuring wooded trails, pavement, grass, and steep hills. They look like bicycles used in road racing, but their frame geometry and wider clearance are different for their tires. They are built for intense racing and are more aggressive than gravel bikes. A Cyclocross bike race can be on surfaces like snow, dirt, sand, stairs, rocks, and incredibly steep hills.

Features of Cyclocross Bike

Geometry:

The geometry of Cyclocross bikes makes it viable for intense racing and off-road cycling. It has a horizontal top tube that enables the cycle to be carried on the shoulder when the conditions dictate that the only option is to dismount the bike to clear the obstacle.

– Frame:

The frame has a relatively short head tube, a long top tube, seat tube angles, and a steeper head. This made the rider to be lower and stretched out over the front end. The frame angles affect the steering, which on Cyclocross bikes are designed to offer fast turns. The frames of the Cyclocross bikes are usually aluminum and steel.

Tires:

The tires are higher volume than road bikes tires to provide grip, punctured resistance, and increased cushioning. They are often tubular or tubeless, which reduces the situation of pinch flat punctures. The tire clearance for a UCI approved maximum tire width is 33mm.e they are usually fitted with either cable or hydraulic brakes. They reduce the chances of the bike clog up mud or related potentials.

Similarities between Gravel Bikes and Cyclocross Bikes

1. Versatile

Both bikes are versatile, adaptable, and durable

2. Roadworthy:

Both bikes are roadworthy. Even though they are designed for off-road terrains, they can still be ridden on roads.

3. Similar Brakes:

Both bikes opt for disc brakes because of the additional tire and performance in all weather conditions.

Key Differences of Gravel Bikes vs. Cyclocross

What are the key differences between Gravel bikes and Cyclocross bikes?

1. Geometry:

The Cyclocross bike is built for intense racing, which results in the rider being more stretched out. On the other hand, the gravel bike has a more relaxed upright position for the rider’s comfort.

2. Tire Clearance:

The gravel bike takes wider tires up to 47millimeter while the sports regulations restrict the Cyclocross bike to a maximum clearance of 33millimeter.

3. Top tube:

The gravel bike has a sloping top tube. The Cyclocross bike top tube is almost horizontal to allow for easy carriage of the bike when necessary.

4. Gearing:

The Cyclocross is short with high intensity. Therefore, gearing needs vary greatly depending on the racecourse. The gearing setup of a Cyclocross race bike is a 46/36 chainring combination with an 11-33 cassette to ensure that jumps between gears are kept to a minimum during the intense riding.

On the hand, a gravel bike is geared to encounter any typography such as short, punchy climbs and long sinuous ascents, and you may be riding off-road on hard-packed dirt. This is why gravel bikes have a wider tire and wide-range gearing to conquer any climb. Bikes with a single chainring are 38 to 42 teeth combined with 11 – 42 cassette and bikes with two — 50/34 and 48/32 paired with 11-34 cassette.

5. Storage Solutions:

A Cyclocross race lasts between 30 and 90 minutes with intense riding. There is no need for the rider to carry supplies that a person would take on a road ride. A Cyclocross bike carries supplies like superfluous hydration flat tire repair kit, nutrition products. By contrast, a gravel bike has storage solutions to bring hydration, nutrition, spare tubes, tools, and anything the rider needs for the long day on the pedal.

6. Stability:

Gravel bikes are designed to maximize stability, and the lower bottom bracket makes it feels like you are ‘in’ the cycle rather than on top of it. The Cyclocross race lasts for 30 to 90 minutes.  A gravel event like the Derry Kanza lasts for about 10 hours. We tend to favor the gravel bike in terms of stability, but on a Cyclocross bike, you would like a faster bike on the road.

Gravel Bikes Comparison Table

This table shows the overall best Gravel bikes and their specifications:

Bike
Frame Material
Gears
Tires
Brakes
Cannondale Topstone 105
Aluminum
2 x 11
700c x 37mm
Hydraulic disc
Giant Revolt Advanced 2
Carbon
2 x 11
700c x 38mm
Hydraulic disc
Salsa Journeyman Claris 650
Aluminum
2 x 8
650b x 2.1 inches
Mechanical disc
Trek Checkpoint SL 6
Carbon
2 x 11
700c x 40mm
Hydraulic disc
Canyon Grail AL 7.0
Aluminum
2 x 11
700c x 40mm
Hydraulic disc

Cyclocross Bikes Comparison Table

This table shows the overall best Cyclocross bikes and their specifications:

Bike
Frame Material
Gears
Tires
Brakes
Genesis Vapour 20
Aluminum
1 x 11
700 x 38mm
Mechanical disc
Liv Brava SLR
Aluminum
1 x 11
700  x 33mm
Hydraulic disc
Cannondale SuperX GRX
Carbon
1 x 11
700 x 33mm
Hydraulic brakes
Specialized Crux Expert
Carbon
1 x 12
700  x 33mm
Hydraulic Disc
Canyon Inflite CF SLX 90
Carbon
1 x 11
700 x 33mm
Hydraulic Disc

Functions of Gravel Bikes

The versatility of the Gravel bikes makes them a great option for multiple cycling courses. They are all-round, on and off-road.  The wide-range gearing and broader tires make off-road trails, gravel, and fire roads manageable. They promote comfort and stability, which makes them ideal for adventures.

Functions of Cyclocross Bikes

Cyclocross can be used for on-road and off-road cycling. They are versatile and durable, making them ideal for terrains like grass pavement, mud, woodland trails, and even sand!

A Cyclocross bike is specifically designed for the Cyclocross form of racing. The design qualifies the bike to go faster and carry out terrain demands

Final Remarks

The gravel bike is designed to promote comfort and stability due to the elements borrowed from other bikes to make it an all-encompassing option for people. On the other hand, the Cyclocross bike is specifically designed to face rigors, especially in racing with high intensity. These bikes have their different features, which makes them ideal for their respective uses, and makes them qualified for on-road and off-road cycling.

The Gravel bike is excellent for road riding but can also be used for off-road cycling, while the Cyclocross bike is great for both on-road and off-road cycling. They can take any terrain and carry out their demands.

With these analyses, we hope you can pick a bike that has the feature you want and be able to use all-year-round.