Over the years, the Gravel and Cyclocross bike types became among the best units in the biking industry with consumers and brands discovering the potential of exploratory spirit and wide tires. With such biking options, you can make your own path instead of heading for the paved roads, limit communication with distracted drivers, and additionally, you also tackle different terrain while floating back and forth on and off-road.
The History of Gravel and Cyclocross Bikes
The cross-compatibility is like a compelling sales proposition for the riders who want to add a new motorcycle to the fleet. However, appeal for Gravel bike doesn’t lie in just an added bike as its adaptability across different surfaces suggests that various riders are attracted to one like a single all-purpose bike.
Before the Gravel bike category becomes the most demanded ones, the Cyclocross bikes were in a similar niche and when the Gravel’ started to emerge like a distinct category many people thought that the bikes were the same thing in a different name, cunningly devised by the industry nature like a means of selling more bikes.
However, there are some similarities between Cyclocross and Gravel bikes and it’s reductive to suggest both these as the same things. Let’s have a closer look at these – where they can match up and where they’re diverging.
Gravel vs Cyclocross
For bikers who wish to have even more volume, the Gravel bikes can easily fit around 650lbs wheels for mimicking diverts and mountain bikes further from the conventional Cyclocross.
The Cyclocross frames have been designed to race for no longer than an hour. These are low and long and have a steep head tube and shorter wheelbase angles to handle nimble and quick tight turning. Geometry for the Gravel bikes isn’t much different.
Slacker head tubes, long wheelbase, and low bottom brackets also mimic mountain bikes while providing better stability. Other than that, Gravel bikes also have a higher stack and shorter reach where long-distance comfort is preferred.
Both types use 1x as the basic type and Cyclocross bikes rarely involve the use of wide-ranging Shimano XT and AXS Eagle cassettes are prevalent in the Gravel. Sure, it is a fixable difference, unlike tire clearance and geometry. However, something to consider while using the Cyclocross bike for climbing a long-distance and steep Gravel path through a 42 x 28. Chances are that you might shoulder or dismount the bike and run!
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Other Technical Differences
These are commonly available in carbon fiber or aluminum frames, although chances are that you’ll also encounter titanium and steel for this category. While the Cyclocross is present in demarcated guidelines, Gravel’ is defined more loosely, and as an outcome there is greater diversity in such a category. Road like Gravel bikes are there that for racing purposes, dual suspensions Gravel bikes blur lines with the mountain bikes, mounting points oodles, meditative adventure bikes, dropper posts, or touring, and all other things.
Although there are many differences present in the category, which is one defining feature across the board compared to the CX bikes that Gravel bikes most likely offer better clearance of tire. Most Gravel bikes nowadays can easily accommodate a minimum of 700 x 38 mm tire, and in lots of cases, there is a lot of scope for everything all the way up to a full-blown tire mountain bike.
On the other hand, Cyclocross bikes are commonly, but not available exclusively with carbon fiber or aluminum frames. They ensure minimalism in their bike design that doesn’t include extraneous bottle cage or fender mount or anything that is not possible to fit within technological necessities of sporting discipline.
In earlier Cyclocross the bikes got slowed through mini v or cantilever brakes that provide better tire and mud clearance compared to road caliper brakes. However, as single brakes first got approval for the CX competition through UCI in 2010, these became the dominant braking format and nowadays you’re hard-pressed for finding bikes in such category sold without these. Which, like different Cyclocross generation past riders probably attest wouldn’t be any bad thing.
Cyclocross bike gears typically feature narrow gear range with either double chain ring (with 46/36 tooth configuration) or single chain ring. This is the reflection of the fact that you’re thinking of getting around as much quickly as possible, need tight spacing between gears, and generally don’t have huge mountains on the course.
For example – On the TCX Advanced Pro, a single 40T chain ring was there with an 11-34T cassette providing a suitable CX range but that didn’t catch the range quickly on mountainous ascents. As they’re specifically meant for racing, the Cyclocross bikes ensure better stiffness through contact and frame points to get maximum power transfer, with direct and confident handling.
Despite obvious superficial similarities, there is an obvious difference between the two. Among the two, you’ll run into variances, geometry differences, etc. Buying among these is like getting the proper tools for the job. However, it’s important to don’t let the bike’s low features divert you from enjoying a simple ride.