Aero vs allrounder race bike

Tour tested the Grail and against the new Ridley aero gravel bike. They tested the Ridley on a lot of size tires down to a road setup at 212w (?) on a full aero 28mm. It was linear, so you can assume the Grail would be ~240w on a full road setup. (12/23 & 1/23 issues.

if only I could move 52-36 up long or technical gravel climbs

If I lived in an area with flatter gravel I would totally consider this, it’s a comfortable bike and feels fast, so with deep wheels and road tires should be fast enough

At 246w it’s not very aero, but I guess that a big part of that is due to the rubber. The 3T improves by 7w just moving from 40mm to 34mm tires so I would asume that the Grail going from 40 to 28 with deep section might be around 235w in a road setup?

Kind of puts in perspective how un-aero my current bike must be, since I feel that on the road and even with gravel tires the Grail is just as fast and I guess the main factor must be the aero difference between the two bikes

Overall, aero is probably more important at road race speeds.

But, most of the aero gains are from things other than the frame. Rider position, helmet, wheels/tires all make a bigger difference than the frame. And then smaller (but cheaper) impacts from things like aero socks, bottle placement, shaved legs.

Since you have the Tarmac listed, another option is the Allez Sprint (aero aluminum). Buy the frameset, build however you want. It’ll be light, aero, and save you $3000+ over the Tarmac. Way less heartbreaking to ding it up in a circuit race.

Not certain what point you are making here….i didn’t say anything about aero, I said the Grail would be limited as a roadie racer due to gearing.

Really interesting article, thanks. What I draw from that is that a recreational rider under 2.5 W/kg should not give a damn about weight OR aero, but give nearly all of one’s attention to fit and comfort and the rider’s physical condition, because neither the bike’s weight nor aero factors are a big deal below 200W or above 90kg. :grin:

Am I missing anything?


I think that if you’re not racing anyone you couldn’t care less at anything other than comfort and having a bike you like. That said we usually like nice things, so if someone at 2,5 w/kg wants to buy a superbike because he can and he’ll enjoy it I’m all for it

At the end we’re speaking about saving seconds, and if it’s not a race why would you want to save a couple minutes in a 4h ride?


What I understood from that brief comment is that the Tarmac is not optimized because of the round downtube.
Meaning that they’re leaving watts on the table. It could be more aero but I don’t think that he was comparing it to other bikes. So, both things could be possible. The SL8 could be more aero than most bikes and still not fully optimized.

I can only guess that aero optimization comes at the expense of other features and specialized considers the SL8 is a good balance.

I wouldn’t draw too much conclusions from that comment because he didn’t go into details, or pay too much attention to one particular test.

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I went through some of the same considerations last summer, so perhaps some of my experiences may be of some help. I have owned (and ridden) a few representative bikes, both from the big S - Tarmac SL6 (which is probably not too far off from an SL8), a Crux (with Roval CLX32 wheels), an Aethos - and a Canyon Aeroad SLX8 (with Ultegra Di2). I bought the latter to smash PB’s around where I live, to commute faster, and race when I feel like.

The Aeroad is definitely a harsher ride than the mentioned Specialized bikes, the narrow handlebar takes a little bit of getting used to, and the deep rims can be a bit challenging in cross winds. The Aeroadi s definitely less snappy and uninterested in flying up steep hills compared to especially the Aethos… But having said that, the aeroad is a monster on flat and undulating courses, it handles nicely, and it is by no means a slouch in the mountains: I had no problems riding the Tour des Stations on it (15 hours, 9,000 climbing metres). And I assume that the Aeroad represents most aero bikes in these regards. The perhaps 500-1,000 grams you’d save on an allround bike vs aero bike is easily negated by the benefits the aero bike will give you overall. Get the aero bike.

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There’s about a .5w per mm of tire at this speed that has been pretty consistently seen. That canyon had decently aero bars already. I don’t see it getting better than 235w all tricked out.

Does anyone know if Specialized does have offer a crash replacement program or I’m going to have to pay full price for a frame if it breaks one I’ll inevitably crash it?

It’s not a total dealbreaker but Canyon offers “cheap” frame and fork replacement prices the first 3 years and I guess if I’m going to race it the chance of breaking it is non-zero so it’s nice to have

Today I did a 3h ride with an Aethos and I did like it very much, it was comfortable and snappy. Good news is that I’d get along well with the Tarmac geometry based on todays ride, but it’s a shame that the Roval cockpit it’s only offered in 90 or 115mm stem length for 38cm, the Aethos 90mm stem was a bit short, but I might not need +25mm

I’m still to make the decision but unless I find a Van Rysel RCR in stock I might go for the Aeroad and save 2k€


I’m thinking this way too. Recently been thinking about lower priced quality frames. I currently own an S-Works SL6 frame, but I think Spesh may have priced me out of their product.

Why do people expect some sort of replacement on a crash? Would they expect the same for a car?

Seeing as several brands offer some sort of crash replacement program, mostly some sort of discount on a replacement, I don’t see it as strange that it would be something one could expect or enquire about from other brands.

Compared to cars bikes are far cheaper to produce and seeing as at least a few brands offer it they must find it worthwhile.

You have car replacement if you have insurance.

The “insurance” for your bike is the crash replacement in the warranty. It is priced in the cost of the bike.

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Well it’s not that’s expected, but if you are comparing two products and one has crash replacement insurance built in the price and the other doesn’t it’s something to consider when choosing between them

As for the rationale for the manufacturers offering the crash replacement programs, my understanding is that you are paying for a lot of R&D and general costs in the price of a frame, being the frame significantly cheaper to produce than it’s price. If you crash it they simply offer one to you at cost plus margin without factoring R&D and other costs into the price

Sorry for chiming in late, I meant to earlier. In my mind, this is not a decision you can make based on paper. Test ride as many bikes as you can to find out what you like. E. g. on the mountain biking side I really like how a hardtail feels even though in most situations it is slower. So find out what you like.

Here are a few observations when I had to make the same decision you made. What I would not do is buy a bike on specs (especially weight) and price.

I test rode a bunch of bikes. The two I liked (loved!) best were BMC’s Teammachine and 3T’s Strada. The Teammachine felt like a Porsche 911, similar to the SL8 it is a race bike with aero features. It was a 9 out of 10 in a lot of categories. It wanted to carve corners, it felt fast and super competent while being very comfortable. The Strada is more polarizing, it isn’t as comfortable on long rides, but when I got on the first time, I could immediately tell it wants to go fast. If my buddy who was selling his Teammachine had a size 56 instead of a size 54, I’d be rocking a Teammachine now.

Where do you fall on that spectrum?

Then there is the thing of the aero advantage: IMHO the largest share of the aero advantage is that aero bikes tend to put you in a very aggressive body position. Does that feel comfortable to you? Can you hold that aggressive position for a long time? If not, go for the supposedly “less aero” option.

One thing I would completely ignore is specs and weight differences. What I would do instead is make sure you have proper climbing gears. Forget about drivetrain efficiency figures and opt for lower gearing than you think you need. Race gearing is very different. (My last race was a hill climb TT. When I pre-rode the course, I used every gear and wouldn’t have complained if I had one extra. On race day, I think I had two gears to spare.) But you aren’t just racing on your bike, you are also training on it. And if you need to do your endurance rides on rolling terrain, you need easier gears than you think you need.

Another thing is bike fit and e. g. crank length. I found out shorter cranks work better for me. This is cheap/free at the point of purchase, but €€€ if you have to retrofit shorter cranks after the fact.


For this purpose I use my home insurance. $1000 deductible, and it’s not just the frame.

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I just bought 2 bikes last year, so this would be for late this year or next. I’m considering:

  • SL8
  • Canyon Ultimate CFR
  • Canyon Aeroroad CFR
  • Crevelo S5

I’m specially curious to see the diff between an SL8 and a weight wennie Aeroroad.

Why not the Madone? From the comparison testing I have seen it outperforms the SL8 even on climbs (I own a SL8).