What is the difference between Gravel and CX bikes?

Posted by AdminCarbonal on

Without looking carefully, it is difficult to distinguish gravel bikes from CX bikes. Both have road bike handlebars, off-road tires, a more rigid frame and wider tire clearance than their road bike counterparts. So what is the difference?

1. The difference in usage

For competitions, UCI has specific rules to manage the manufacturing methods of CX bikes. At least for now, gravel bikes are not subject to any UCI rules.

For example, to participate in UCI-approved CX bike competitions, the bike tire width must not exceed 33 mm, so CX bikes rarely provide clearance beyond this range.

Unlike CX bikes, gravel bikes are usually designed for a variety of purposes, from multi-day bicycle trips to multi-terrain riding near home, and even emerging small off-road venues.

2. Frame geometry difference

The geometry of most gravel bikes cares more about comfort than cross-country CX bikes. They are designed for riding for days rather than a period of time, and are used to cope with more rugged trails. This emphasis on comfort tends to provide shorter stretches and a more upright body posture.

The long wheelbase of the gravel bike also has the effect of improving stability, for example, the effect is obvious when going downhill.

The higher bottom bracket of the CX bike improves the ground clearance of obstacles in the competition and shifts the center of gravity of the rider to the front side of the bicycle to provide a more direct steering response.

Finally, you will find that the head tube angle of the gravel bike will be larger. Compared with CX bikes, gravel bikes are more similar to mountain bikes, and CX bikes are more like variants of ordinary road bikes.

A larger head tube angle improves CX capability, so gravel bikes have a larger head tube angle, while faster CX bikes have a smaller head tube angle.

3. Tire and tire clearance of gravel bikes and CX bikes

In addition to geometry, tires and tire clearance are the biggest difference between gravel bikes and CX bikes.

In professional-level competitions, the width of tires for CX bikes cannot exceed 33 mm, so CX bikes usually have a relatively narrow tire clearance to accommodate these tires, and there is also some room for mud.

CX bike tires range from strong-grip treads used in mud to flat treads used in extremely dry or summer off-roads, and tend to use softer materials than gravel tires because they are designed for grass and mud , Rather than harder ground, such as tarmac.

CX bike tires usually do not have the same level of puncture protection as gravel bike tires, and are designed to be lighter and softer, and are designed to be suitable for use on the field.

Gravel bikes have larger tire clearances than CX bikes, and are usually equipped with 40 mm or larger gravel tires, and the latest frame usually has space for tires about 50 mm wide.

These wider tires not only provide better comfort during long-distance riding, but are also essential for allowing riders to cope with more complex terrain (such as tree roots and rocks) with lower tire pressure, thereby reducing the risk of flat tires. Risks, especially for tubeless tires.

4. Mudguards and shelves

Most CX bikes designed purely for competition will not be equipped with fenders, shelves or other mounting seats, and sometimes only have a mounting hole for the bottle cage. This makes the frame itself more streamlined, simple and easy to clean.

In addition to some special gravel bikes for competitions, most gravel bikes are often more versatile: There are multiple bottle cage mounts, and there is usually an additional mounting hole under the down tube for storing tool buckets or a third water bottle, and a mount for racking.

5. Handlebar

UCI rules stipulate that the width of the handlebar of CX bikes cannot exceed 50 cm. Generally, the handlebars of most bikes are much narrower than this, which is proportional to the size of the rider.

Following the trend of wider mountain bike handlebars, the ultra-wide gravel bike handlebars also have a growing trend, sometimes exceeding the 50 cm limit, suitable for riders who prefer wider and more stable off-road routes.

Although the handlebars of CX bikes tend to adopt the traditional drooping design, flared handlebars are common on gravel bikes. The design ranges from narrow to wide, providing more stable handling.

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