Cyclocross & Gravel Bikes

One of the emerging trends in cycling these days is towards gravel bikes, also known as, adventure bikes and gravel grinders. But what exactly is a Gravel Bike? And how is a Gravel bike different from a Cyclocross bike?Cannondale CAADX 105, 2017

For starters, cyclocross bikes seems to have emerged from the winter months and a desire to be able to race despite icy, sandy, muddy and gravelly conditions.  Cyclocross races are generally held on short, closed courses that incorporate the challenges presented by sand, mud and hurdles. Running with a bike & jumping over obstacles during a fixed time (rather than a distance), generally pushes athletes for a range of 30 minutes to 1 hour ~ making this a very spectator friendly sport. Consider it nature’s velodrome for cardio crazed, mud-loving, versatile participants.

Alternatively, gravel bikes have been designed to access the worlds beautiful and often car-free back roads. These bikes are designed for riding long distances – many hours on the saddle – on a mixture of surfaces. They are designed for comfort and can double nicely as commuter or fitness bike. They are often equipped with racks, mudguards and a wide gear range.

Generally, both of these bikes share the traditional road frame with beefed up tyres and disc brakes for great braking power, even when wet.

Here are the main distinctions:

Cyclocross Bikes Gravel Bikes
·      Short length races (30 min – 1 hour)

·      Light frame (so they are easy to carry)

·      Less Trail **

·      Shorter head tubes (more aggressive position)

·      Higher BB (So rider can pedal in corners)

·      Shorter chain stays

·      Narrow gear ranges

·      Long length races

·      Heavier frame (stiff enough to carry loads)

·      More Trail**

·      Longer head tube angles & shorter top tubes

·      Lower BB (lower centre of gravity= improved stability)

·      Longer Chain stays (heel clearance for panniers/mudguards)

·      Wider gear ranges


**Trail: “ the product of the head tube angle and the fork rake. This measurement gives us an idea how the bike will steer; lower trail equates roughly to a faster steering response while higher trail tends to dull the steering. “

The lines between the cyclocross bicycle and the gravel bicycle continue to blur as consumers and bicycle manufacturers try to find the best qualities of each bike combined. For instance, you can now find a cyclcross bike that offers the possibility of adding racks and mudguard eyelets. A perfect example of this is Cannondale’s CAADX 105, which, Ma Bicyclette currently has available for rent, or to buy.  These bikes are the perfect mix of high performance and durability, of race and commute.  The team at Ma Bicyclette has been having so much fun riding these bikes ALL OVER THE PLACE and are excited to be able to offer you the chance to rent them weekly or seasonally.


For more reading:

The Radavist, Guitar Ted Productions, Riding Gravel










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