Cyclocross Bike VS Gravel Bike


Cyclocross bike vs gravel bike

Cyclocross bike vs Gravel Bike is an emerging topic nowadays. It appears to have a lot of things in common. So, how can you tell the differences and similarities in a cyclocross bike vs gravel bike game? Let’s attempt to sort this out.

For many years, there have been heated discussions regarding gravel bikes. The most recent one has been the resemblance to a cyclocross bike. Many people believe that these bicycles are the same; however, that’s not true. No, a gravel bike and a cyclocross bike are not the same things. When you go deeper into what they are built for, you’ll see some minor distinctions that make them perfect for these two completely different disciplines.

If you’re seeking to buy one of these bicycles, want to try something new, or are honestly confused, I’m here to illustrate the difference. I will carefully guide you in the correct direction by presenting you with all the necessary information about cyclocross bikes vs gravel bikes.

What Exactly Is a Gravel Bike?

Gravel Bike

Gravel bicycles are placed between road bicycles and cyclocross bicycles. They combine the best of the two, ideal for both flat surface roads and tougher rocky terrain. They are perfect for riders who ride mostly on roads but also spend quality time off-road.  Their adaptability makes them an excellent choice for any biker.

This bicycle, featuring its low handlebars as well as wide tires, is suited for cycling in all weather conditions and on a variety of surfaces. Although riding on gravel entails straight roads, these bikes are not intended to manage sharp turns and curves like cyclocross bikes.

Gravel Bikes Aren’t Going Away.

Some argue that gravel bicycles have been around for over 75 years, and I just did not realize it. It has been suggested that vintage road bikes were actually gravel as they were built on frames that let for wider wheel widths, but I feel the transformation occurred during the last five years.

The Features of a Gravel Bike


The tires of a gravel bike always have tread, although the width ranges from a sporty 28 mm to a convenient 45 mm. Wider tires make the bicycle more comfortable; however, they also make it slow to manage and enhance rolling resistance. Although 28-inch rims (700c) are normal on these bicycles, several companies also fit their gravel bicycles with 27.5-inch rims (650b). This common rim size for MTBs boosts off-road performance.


A gravel bike provides a more comfortable riding posture than a road bicycle. A short top tube is paired with a long head tube to accomplish this. As a result, the bicycle is in a much more upright stance, significantly increasing its adaptability for long-distance and tour riding. Based on the company, the bicycles have stack-to-reach values ranging from 1.5 to 1.65.


Mudguards and cargo racks are typical additions to gravel bikes. As a result, they are perfect touring bicycles in all weather conditions. Some companies provide headlights and hub dynamos as usual on their gravel bikes. It implies they are legal for use on German roads and may be ridden throughout the year.


Gravel bikes provide a huge variety of gear options. Almost all gravel bikes will be outfitted with a 1x drivetrain like SRAM’s Rival and Force 111. It is usually made of a single ring of 38-42 teeth in the front and an 11-42 cassette in the back. A gravel bike having a 2x drivetrain with a 48-32 in the front and an 11-36 at the back is even uncommon. But most true gravel bikes will prefer the 1x setup due to its increased convenience and durability. Furthermore, 12-speed gear is now widely offered on gravel bikes.


Disc brakes are typical on these bicycles, as they provide maximum performance even in wet conditions or while carrying a heavy load.

Pros & Cons of Gravel Bike

  • Mudguards and usual accessories
  • Tackle rough terrains effectively
  • Designed simply
  • More comfortable
  • A bit slower due to wider tires
  • Heavyweight

What Exactly is a Cyclocross Bike

Cyclocross BikeA cyclocross bike is a kind of bike designed for use in cyclocross racing. It is designed for cyclists that ride primarily for sport and mainly off the beaten path. It is an off-road variation of a road bike that is suited for racing. Cyclocross bicycles are built to endure mud, dirt, sand, and possibly snow, and also sharp curves, corners, and speed, all the while keeping you safely ahead of the competition.

A cyclocross bike can manage so much terrain that most commuters choose it as their bicycle. Cross-country cyclists are equally at home on wet forest pathways as they are on pastures or gravel.

The History of Cyclocross Bikes

Let’s start from the beginning. Cyclocross is a sport that originated in France at the start of the twentieth century. It comprises completing a specific number of laps over a varied course that includes asphalt, mud, and dirt, as well as obstacles such as steps, bumps, and other obstacles that do not have to be handled on top of the bicycle.

Cyclocross has a long history and a large fan following in nations such as Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. The tournaments are steadily growing across Europe throughout the winter season. Furthermore, because cyclocross competitions start happening during what are technically the months of leisure, there has been an increase in the number of elite road riders who participate in them.

The Features of a Cyclocross Bike


Tires with a great tread pattern and a thickness of 32 mm to 35 mm offer the best traction on the terrain. The tire width for cyclocross bikes is restricted to a range of 33 mm. Cyclocross bikes often have 28-inch rims (700c).


A cyclocross bicycle is more sporty to handle than a gravel bike. Its top tube and head tube have been shortened, and also the seat has been slightly raised. The rear bracket is situated a bit higher for better road clearance, which also elevates the bicycle’s entire center of gravity.

The bicycle can be properly managed downhill and on varying terrain due to a low steering angle. Its stack-to-reach values vary from 1.5 to 1.35, which is rather competitive. The flat-top tube is very eye-catching. It helps in carrying the bicycle easier on the shoulders. As a result, external cables are placed on the upper end of the top tube.


The most significant characteristics of a cyclocross bike are its lightweight and outstanding reliability. Mudguards and cargo rack installation solutions are not always available.


Traditional cyclocross race gears consist of a 46/36 chain set with a medium-wide cassette, such as an 11-28. You will not need to have the high gears ratios of a road bicycle as you won’t be racing downhill at more than 40mph, although you will need reasonably low ratios to ascend the course’s more maneuverable hills. On cyclocross bicycles, single cranks are also common. They conserve weight and make it less likely that you’ll drop your chain during an important part of the race.


Cyclocross bikes use disc brakes as well. They can be mechanical or hydraulic, based on their price range. Cantilever brakes are exceedingly rare since they do not provide the same effectiveness.

  • Better brakes that provide greater stopping power
  • Strong frame
  • Lightweight than an MTB
  • Can withstand uneven pavement
  • Less aerodynamic due to its bigger tires
  • Contains skinnier tires than an MTB
  • Less traction and less control while tackling rocks and roots.
  • Expensive

Cyclocross Bike Vs Gravel Bike: Similarities


Both bicycles are adaptive, versatile, and long-lasting.


Both bicycles are roadworthy. Both can be driven on roadways, although they are built for off-road areas.

Similar Brakes

Due to the extra tires and effectiveness in all-weather situations, both bicycles prefer disc brakes.

Cyclocross Bike Vs Gravel Bike: Differences


As the cyclocross bike is designed for pretty tough racing, the biker is quite stretched out. However, the gravel bike features a more comfortable upright riding position for the pleasure of the biker.

Tire Clearance

The gravel bike can accommodate tires with a width of up to 47mm, but the Cyclocross cycle has a maximum clearance of 33mm.

Top Tube

The gravel bike features a slanted top tube. However, the top tube of a cyclocross bike is nearly horizontal to enable the easy carrying of the bicycle when needed.

Storage Options

A cyclocross race can last from 30 to 90 minutes and is defined by hard cycling. There is no necessity for the biker to bring stuff that would normally be carried on a road trip. A Cyclocross bicycle brings supplies such as extra hydration flat tire repair kit, food products.

On the other hand, a gravel bike provides storage solutions for hydration, nourishment, spare tubes, equipment, and everything else a biker could use for a long day on the bike.


Gravel bikes are built to be stable, and the lower bottom bracket gives the impression that you are ‘in’ the bicycle instead of on top of it. The duration of the Cyclocross race ranges from 30 minutes to an hour.

A gravel event, such as the Derry Kanza, can last roughly ten hours. Regarding stability, I prefer gravel bikes; however, you will want a faster bicycle on the road on a cyclocross bike.

Cyclocross Bike Vs Gravel Bike: Which One Is Best For You

Deciding between a gravel bike and a cyclocross bike is essentially simply a question of preference. If you enjoy racing and challenging terrain, cyclocross bikes are the best option for you because they are designed for that reason.

If you want a bicycle that can function as both a road bicycle and a cyclocross bike (in regards to pace), the comfy gravel bike is the way to go.

We recommend that you prepare ahead of time and determine what kind of biking you will perform next year; it will undoubtedly help you decide which bicycle would best fit your needs.

FAQs Related To Cyclocross Bike VS Gravel Bike

Are cyclocross bikes suitable for road riding?

Absolutely, cyclocross bikes are suitable for road cycling. The geometry of these bikes is extremely close to that of conventional road bikes. Consider upgrading to road-specific wheels and a small or semi-compact crankset for making them more appropriate for quick rides on flat pavement.

What is the reason behind the high price of cyclocross bikes?

Cyclocross bikes are pricey since they are designed to be used on difficult cyclocross races. As a result, they are constructed with high-quality materials and long-lasting components to survive the harsh conditions of cyclocross races.

Why are the handlebars on gravel bikes flared?

Flared handlebars on gravel bikes increase control on difficult gravel and muddy roads, particularly downhill. Flared handlebars also make more space for handlebar bags, which are a frequent component of gravel riding equipment.

Do cyclocross bikers clip in?

Cyclocross racers, indeed, clip-in. They utilize clipless footwear and pedals since flat pedals will be very slippery and practically impossible to ride in muddy circumstances. SPD pedals are commonly used.

What is the charm of gravel bikes?

Gravel bikes are famous for steering bikers away from crowded areas and onto low-traffic sand and dirt routes. Bikers can enjoy riding without bothering about automobiles while engaging in the surroundings and gaining new experiences. Gravel bikes are also quite popular since they are a one-size-fits-all option that performs well in most circumstances.

Are both gravel and cyclocross bikes comfortable?

Gravel bikes are, without a doubt, among the most comfortable kinds of bicycles. Gravel bicycles, featuring their upright frame and studded wheels for increased padding and braking force, are undoubtedly quite comfortable for any style of biker.

Regardless of the fact that they are racing bicycles, cyclocross bikes are fairly comfortable and offer you safety when riding through difficult terrain. The seat position is higher, allowing for a more upright riding stance and, as a result, better control.

Final Words

It isn’t easy to choose which bike is ideal for you. However, after reading this post, you should be able to understand things a bit more easily: Consider how you ride your bike the most and how essential daily use and comfort characteristics are to you. It is all we can cover in Cyclocross bike vs. gravel bike.

If you’re still unsure which bike is best for you after reading this, keep in mind that bicycles are versatile. Let’s assume you usually ride gravel, but you feel like getting a rush and want to try cyclocross one day. Would you be able to ride your gravel bike? In general, sure, you can. However, it’s not ideal. If you are still not satisfied, you can acquire a bicycle that allows for modifications that will let you use it for cyclocross and gravel.

Written by

Jeffrey Kuck

Meet Jeffrey Kuch, a passionate cyclist who has been cycling for more than a decade. With his love for the sport and his unwavering dedication, Jeffrey has not only honed his skills but has also inspired many to take up cycling. As an avid blogger, he shares his insights, experiences, and knowledge about the world of cycling, helping fellow cyclists to improve their techniques and learn more about the sport they love. Whether he is exploring new terrains or competing in races, Jeffrey's enthusiasm for cycling is contagious. Through his writing, he hopes to inspire others to embark on their own cycling journey and discover the joy of the sport.

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