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Best comparison of gravel vs CX yet (canyon)

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Best comparison of gravel vs CX yet (canyon)

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Old 12-06-18, 10:28 AM
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chas58
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Best comparison of gravel vs CX yet (canyon)

While Gravel is the latest fashion, most articles tend to say gravel is better for...X without really contrasting the strengths and weaknesses of both types of bikes.
This article does it far better than any I have seen - clearly calling out the good and the bad for each type (thanks Grand Fondo):
https://granfondo-cycling.com/review...-canyon-grail/

While the bikes compared are both Canyon (grail vs inflite), the design concepts speak well to the benefits of either design direction.

CX - Inflite strong points:
  • Agile at start up and on acceleration. IMHO this is one of the biggest difference between this bike and a more traditional gravel bike like the Warbird, Checkpoint, Roker, etc.
  • Navigate tight corners at low speed (or IMHO to corner hard and sharp at high speed like a crit bike)
  • More playful handling of twisty trails and very direct steering (may be too precise for beginners?). More predictable handling.
  • For the steering, they commented on the quick reaction of the 33mm tires. In my experience on this bike, 54mm tires (front) slow down the steering response a lot!
  • Bottom line: “The playful character begs you to blast out of every corner and tickles the competitive spirit of all passionate lactate junkies with off-road skills.

Gravel - Grail strong points:
  • Good directional stability at speed (i.e. likes to go in a straight line).
  • Confident in wide and fast corners. Unpredictable handling and less “balance” I’m not sure what they mean by this. Maybe it’s a drawback of the long wheelbase?
  • Bottom line: Grail feels most comfortable on gravel highways and in a straight line

My comments:

I’ve never found geometry like the Inflight to “require constant attention” on long tours. Its not quite as brainless as being a stoker on a tandem, but the only thing I notice is it might need a little more attention when riding without touching the handlebars. Although I do find that more of an endurance gravel bike is a bit slow to respond to more all around riding or more of an aggressive urban style, its these traits that make it easy to handle on loose, sketchy gravel.

Like with the GNC video, I think it is irresponsible journalism to complain about 1x on a bike that can be purchased stock 2x. I agree with the complaints, but that is why I got 2x. Reference: “requires a massive pair of quads and a high tolerance for large gear jumps.” That is soley the drivetrain and not the bike or a limitation of a cx bike. In reality, many gravel bikes are 1x while many CX bikes can be configured either way. Racers tend to prefer the gear options and tight spacing of 2x, while more recreational riders are more flexible in gearing.
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Old 12-06-18, 11:31 AM
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The best comparisons between gravel and cx have been posted by you and others on this forum.

I'm not impressed with the article, there's no mention of trail which should be the primary discussion point re: gravel/cross geometry as it's the reason for most of the handling difference. It's also written in the overwrought prose common in high school term papers where the author needs to meet a word count. Could have been a quarter of the length and 10 times as informative.

But the shorter stem doesn’t spoil the sporty riding position at all — quite the opposite. The position feels very sporty indeed but doesn’t stretch beyond the head tube making for a comfortably centred riding position.
Despite reaching the threshold much sooner the Inflite remains honest and predictable at all times. The honest and direct feedback also reflects on the riding comfort of the Inflite: it’s simply a full-blooded and finely tuned racing machine.
When riding at the limit the Grail lacks predictability —the unbalanced comfort distribution is mainly responsible for this.
"Unbalanced comfort distribution" is right up there with "stack/reach ratio."
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Old 12-06-18, 12:00 PM
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gravel highways.

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Old 12-06-18, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
gravel highways.

This is what I envision with that comment:


Yeah, its a bit loquacious.

Canyon does not publish trail for some reason (although they have it in one of their graphics showing why they use 650b in small frame sizes.

I agree, some of the descriptions have me scratching my head. That unbalanced comfort seemed to apply directly to the Inflite, although I have adapted to it. But the front is super stiff and precise (especially with smaller tires), while the rear is the smoothest I've ever experienced. The front end is fine with some fineness for the rider, but a death grip with that stiff responsive steering would not work out well.

Last edited by chas58; 12-06-18 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 12-06-18, 01:41 PM
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Trail is easy to calculate after measuring offset (as not supplied by canyon) by removing the front wheel, measuring bb to fork ends, turning the fork 180 degrees, measuring again and taking the difference. They should have been able to perform this for the article.

MTBs have the same issue and use head angle as an analogue even though trail varies greatly between frame/fork combos with the same value. Trail and the corresponding flop are the most important geometrical calculations - especially for off-road riding.

Symptom of modern bike reviews; limited data, lots of hard selling.
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Old 12-06-18, 01:55 PM
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Have you posted your thoughts on the Inflite elsewhere? I’d be curious to read.
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Old 12-06-18, 02:03 PM
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Trail seems easy to calculate using online calculators, but often my numbers don't match what the vendor advertises.
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Old 12-06-18, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
gravel highways.

They are a German(ic) thing.
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Old 12-13-18, 12:06 PM
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We got gravel highways out here, although a lot of folks would call them F&M roads (farm & market)
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Old 12-13-18, 05:21 PM
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Is it fair to say that CX is more playful and race feely with potentials of having less tire clearance and limited gearing. Gravel is more stable, endurance geometry with potentials for more tire clearance and wider gearing?

For me, I really think I made the right choice in buying CX over gravel.

I would love to ride a Giant Revolt and then hop on my TCX. That would be interesting.

Side note. I think Specialized AWOL's are beautiful. I know they are on the touring side. But they are badass.
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