Differences between gravel and cyclocross - everything you need to know
A few months ago I was talking about gravel, a different modality to cyclocross that is beginning to emerge strongly in the sector. A discipline that combines nature, adventure, speed and that a priori is presumed as a much safer alternative to road cycling.
More and more people are interested in this modality and therefore decide to inform themselves through the internet before buying a gravel or cyclocross bike. Given this situation and in front of the extensive annual catalog of the different brands a strong and quite common doubt arises. Gravel or cyclocross? They are the same? What are the differences between a gravel bike and a cyclocross bike?
Wondering this is absolutely normal and that little is said about real differences between gravel and cyclocross. Two modalities with an enormous resemblance, but with important changes, especially at the level of geometry in the bicycle, that the cyclist should take into account before going through the box.
Unfortunately, not all stores decide to inform the customer correctly. Excess stock, commercial interest ... many can be the reasons that can lead businesses not to act fairly and honestly. For this reason and with the intention of helping all the undecided I have decided to create this post in which I will carefully analyze the similarities and differences between gravel and cyclocross.
Gravel and cyclocross. A reasonable resemblance
I will not deny something obvious and that is that gravel and cyclocross have a similarity more than important.
Both modalities are presented as a mixed alternative between road and mountain biking. A fun cycling that also allows the cyclist to enjoy the bicycle in a safer and quieter way since both modalities run away from the asphalt and motor vehicles.
At the aesthetic level the gravel and cyclocross bicycles They also bear an important resemblance and they are identified as modified road bicycles at a glance. Handlebar, frame and road components but with pedals and mountain wheels. Thus we could define gravel and cyclocross bicycles quickly and superficially.
From here my work arrives and it is that, although voting may soon be somewhat complicated, you must detect at a glance differences between a gravel bike and a cyclocross bike. Many people tend to confuse or group both disciplines which can lead to both physical (in the form of injury) and mechanical problems (bicycles are not used exactly for the same). A bad choice of size or model can lead to bad posture and this in the long run as we know can be detrimental to our health.
Gravel and cyclocross bike differences
As I commented cyclocross and gravel bicycles are NOT the same.
As a general rule, cyclocross is closely linked to competitive practice while gravel tends to be more playful. In addition, the cyclocross runs by default in the circuit and the distances are not usually very long. However, the gravel is developed by track and the distances can be very long.
Although the first gravel competitions are being created, we could say that this modality attracts a more cyclotourist public while the cyclocross seduces people wanting to wear a bib and compete.
These differences in both use and profile are those that lead manufacturers to modify geometries and assemblies. Cyclocross bicycles have attributes focused on competition and are generally more aggressive and lighter bicycles when compared with exclusive gravel models.
We can visually identify a gravel bike by carrying a highest pipe, a design very similar to the one presented by the great road bicycles and which is fundamentally designed to benefit the comfort of the cyclist with the passing of the hours.
On the other hand, following the structure of the frame, comment that gravel bicycles usually present a more curved horizontal tube while Cyclocross bikes have a more straight and aggressive cut. We could say that gravel bicycles prioritize comfort, while cyclocross bikes seek more rigidity and aerodynamics. The wheelbase is also larger in gravel.
As for components and accessories, differences also appear. Gravel covers have a smoother, less marked pattern and with a somewhat wider wall with the intention of extending their useful life and minimizing the loss of asphalt or compacted track. In cyclocross the maximum allowed width of the roofs is 33mm. This measure is limited by competition regulations.
At the development level, cyclocross bicycles are sold recently with a system monoplate, something that allows to take weight off the bike (do not need a derailleur) and save the always annoying chain jump. In gravel the possibilities of assembly and choice tend to be larger. Double plate and different crown games are those available to the cyclist to face any type of slope with guarantees.
In both modes and in the mid-high-end bicycles they are mounted disc brakes and MTB pedals. The pictures can be of aluminum or carbon and the two bicycles are considered a perfect option for the practice of bikepacking.
Finally I would like to invite all those who have not yet done so in the presence of a cyclocross race live. It is a real show. The atmosphere that is generated is very fun and the mixture of the different categories throughout the morning allows entire families to live intensely the passion of cyclocross. In cyclocross races, cyclists spin during 60 minutes in 2-3 kilometers circuit. It is a very intense and tremendously technical modality where career management, intelligence and the ability of the cyclist to get rid of breakdowns usually make a difference. A modality that arouses passions in Belgium and the Netherlands and that every time has more followers in our country.