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Noob Questoin: Grave vs Cross?

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Noob Questoin: Grave vs Cross?

Old 12-22-15, 06:59 PM
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Noob Questoin: Grave vs Cross?

I'm getting interested in getting a bike for the many gravel and dirt hunting roads in my area. I've been interested in a CAADX, Motobecane Ti and Giant bikes. Bikepacking is something that might interest me eventually.

Coming from a road bike background I know that cross bikes have a higher bottom bracket than do road bikes but I'm really ignorant about the difference between cross and gravel bikes, if there is even a difference. Is it correct that cross bikes will have narrower tires?

Not really looking for bike recommendations nor about technique, but hoping someone can give a succinct explanation of the differences between cross and gravel bikes, the machines themselves.
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Old 12-22-15, 07:06 PM
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Cyclo Cross races are different the courses are loops .. parts of course by design, you may have to run up with the bike on your Shoulder

you have to jump off the bike and clear obstacles, then jump back on with minimum Momentum Loss ... fast riders lap slow riders ..

Gravel you are just riding on a non Paved surface use any bike you want .. its on farm roads ..

UCI only cares about Regulations for CX, internationally. non sanctioned local races ? there too ride what you brought.
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Old 12-22-15, 07:16 PM
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Older cross bikes may have less tire clearance because I think there was a tire width limit for competition. Someone please chime in if this is incorrect. A lower bottom bracket will make it easier to get on and off the bike, obviously, and almost any bike will have adequate clearance for dirt roads. That said, a variety of styles can make fun gravel bikes. Old rigid mtn bikes, cross bikes, touring bikes, hybrids, etc. If you are shopping new, a "gravel" bike will likely get you lower BB, taller headtube, more versatile gearing and more braze ons than a "cross" bike.
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Old 12-22-15, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH
Not really looking for bike recommendations nor about technique, but hoping someone can give a succinct explanation of the differences between cross and gravel bikes, the machines themselves.
Thanks.
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Old 12-23-15, 06:06 AM
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shelbyfv pretty much summed it up. However, there are no legal definitions for these terms, so you really have to read the fine print and know what it is you want, because its certainly possible that either a "cyclocross bike" or a "gravel bike" could work fine for the other style of riding. That being said, unless you're looking to do cyclocross racing, there is no need to look for a cyclocross bike with many gravel (aka "adventure") bike options out there now.

I bought a cyclocross bike for gravel (at the time I was looking, I wasn't finding a lot of "gravel" bike options in my price range). It works pretty well on gravel. My biggest two complaints are:
1. Gearing. Cyclocross bikes run 46/36 in front, which gives a narrow range. I don't have problems with the 46, but I'd like the small ring to be closer to 30 for when I need low gears...even 50/34 would be an improvement, as it would give me more on the high end for road riding. Gravel bikes often have a better choice of chainrings and some have a wide range MTB cassette/der in the back.
2. Tire clearance. I can only fit a 35mm tire in the back (maybe 36 or 37 if I really pushed it). That's pretty good for most of what I ride on, but I'd like to be able to go wider. Most gravel bikes can do 40+.
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Old 12-23-15, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH
Not really looking for bike recommendations nor about technique, but hoping someone can give a succinct explanation of the differences between cross and gravel bikes, the machines themselves.
Not a succinct explanation. But go to a cyclocross bike race event. Walk around the start (clean) and finish (muddy) to look at their bike setups. While you're at it, watch how they clean off their bikes.

Can't find an event? Go to the local bike shop where those kind of bikes are sold. Find the schedule of events there.
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Old 12-23-15, 10:09 AM
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Generally cross bikes are designed around 33mm tires (max UCI legal) and have shorter chain stays, higher BB and steeper head tube angle for quicker handling. CX races are fast and short.
Gravel bikes should be designed around a 40+mm tire and have longer chain stays, lower BB and more relaxed geometry. Gravel races and rides tend to be long so comfort is much more important.
As an industry segment gravel bikes are new so many "gravel" models are really just rebranded CX models, so look at reviews or study specs to be sure you are getting what you want.
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Old 12-23-15, 10:55 AM
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In general, gravel bikes tend to have longer chain stays, and slacker geometry than cyclocross bikes. They also usually have rack/fender/bottle mounts that cyclocross bikes often lack.

CX bikes, especially higher end ones tend to have less clearance because as UCI limits tire size to 33mm for cross most good tires come only in that size. So not much need for clearance (incidentally, UCI allowed up to 35mm tires until 2010 so older bikes may have more clearance) On gravel bikes the fashion these days is to use 38mm or larger tires. So many bikes marketed for gravel will clear 40mm tires or larger.

When it comes to gearing, classic cyclocross gearing is 46-36 cranks, and single ring setups (with a 40 or 42 t ring) are getting popular. Gravel bikes usually come with more road-style gearing using compact cranks (50-34)

As others have pointed out, though, there isn't a clear definition of what gravel riding means. And bikes marketed as "gravel bikes" are all over the place. Some are just CX bikes with a different paint job and slicks. Others are road bikes with discs. Or touring rigs...
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Old 12-23-15, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by wheelsmcgee
1. Gearing. Cyclocross bikes run 46/36 in front, which gives a narrow range. I don't have problems with the 46, but I'd like the small ring to be closer to 30 for when I need low gears...even 50/34 would be an improvement, as it would give me more on the high end for road riding. Gravel bikes often have a better choice of chainrings and some have a wide range MTB cassette/der in the back.
2. Tire clearance. I can only fit a 35mm tire in the back (maybe 36 or 37 if I really pushed it). That's pretty good for most of what I ride on, but I'd like to be able to go wider. Most gravel bikes can do 40+.
Originally Posted by FrozenK
CX bikes, especially higher end ones tend to have less clearance because as UCI limits tire size to 33mm for cross most good tires come only in that size. So not much need for clearance (incidentally, UCI allowed up to 35mm tires until 2010 so older bikes may have more clearance) On gravel bikes the fashion these days is to use 38mm or larger tires. So many bikes marketed for gravel will clear 40mm tires or larger.

When it comes to gearing, classic cyclocross gearing is 46-36 cranks, and single ring setups (with a 40 or 42 t ring) are getting popular. Gravel bikes usually come with more road-style gearing using compact cranks (50-34)

Thanks for this.

I'm looking at the 2015 CAADX 105 and it does come with 36/46 but I think road gearing would be better. Some of the reviews say that it will fit up to 40mm tires. A more aggressive geometry doesn't bother me and the Cannondale has “a slightly more upright position" as well as fender and rack mounts.

The Fuji Tread 1.0 comes with 50/34 but they are Oval cranks and the bike is ugly as sin. Price is right tho.

Just thinking things through out loud and I really appreciate the info.


-Tim-
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Old 12-23-15, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH

The Fuji Tread 1.0 comes with 50/34 but they are Oval cranks and the bike is ugly as sin. Price is right tho.
I thought it was a fine ride when I test rode it. Unfortunately I had just tried two other bikes before it that were at the next level as far as ride quality goes - with price jumps to match (Jamis Renegade Expert and Volagi Viaje).

I may or may not have asked a similar question here months ago - my understanding was that while gravel/adventure road bikes were inspired by cyclocross bikes, pure CX bikes have continued to evolve as well, to be more and more specialized for that sport - to the point now that I'm not sure the old advice to consider a CX bike for commuting or all-day riding applies any more.
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Old 01-01-16, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH
Thanks for this.

I'm looking at the 2015 CAADX 105 and it does come with 36/46 but I think road gearing would be better. Some of the reviews say that it will fit up to 40mm tires. A more aggressive geometry doesn't bother me and the Cannondale has “a slightly more upright position" as well as fender and rack mounts.

The Fuji Tread 1.0 comes with 50/34 but they are Oval cranks and the bike is ugly as sin. Price is right tho.

Just thinking things through out loud and I really appreciate the info.


-Tim-
Only with road tires. 46T is a lot of gear with a 700x33 assuming you have an 11T small cog.
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Old 01-03-16, 11:04 PM
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I tour a lot on dirt/gravel fire/logging/mining roads in Northern, Ontario (Canada) I really like the versatility of a rigid fram e rigid front fork mountain bike that's been converted to drop bars. It has all the brazeons i need for racks and water bottles. It can take 2.0" knobby tires for deeper gravel and or sand. It can tqake 1" or 1.5" slick tires for pavement or hardpack dirt roads. The higher bottom bracket allows mt to ride over rocks that'd hit the bottom bracket of a road touring bike. My converted mtb isn't that heavey bare either and it has decent quality cro-moly tubing frameset.

Oh, it can also take a substantial load without me worrying about it breaking. The longer chainstays on the ones I convert means I can use decent size rear panniers and nnot have my heels striking them.

Cheers
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