Best Gravel Bike for Cyclocross

What is the best Gravel bike for racing Gravel and Cyclocross?

I worded the question that way since I’m not talking about a cx bike that can also do gravel. My pick would be the Specialized Crux but wondering if there are any other good options. It seemed to me like the Trek Checkpoint and Factor Ostro Gravel would not be good for cx but I don’t know, just a perception from reading things.

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If you’re doing CX mostly, the Boone is a better choice for the shorter wheelbase and BB height than Checkpoint. The Boone is probably also a better Gravel ‘race’ bike aside from the down tube storage.

Do you need a high BB? The Checkpoint, Kaius, and Aspero are out.
Any bike with more tire clearance and disc brakes is going to have a longer wheelsbase.

For CX, you’re better off getting a used, classic CX bike with a high BB and shorter chainstays.


I plan to race some cx on my 3t RaceMax. Let you know how that goes. My guess will be hilarious.

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Ibis Hakka MX?

You’d need to know/say more about the type of courses you want to ride/race. For a typical European cross course, you want a short wheelbase, steepish head angle, and sharp, handling for tricky corners and steep ramps up. For a typical American gravel race, you want a longer wheelbase, slack head angle, low BB for stability on long, loose gravel. Longer wheelbase/chainstays also help with more room for wider tyres, which helps wirh puncture protection. A true race cross bike will only ever need space for 33mm tyres, plus mud clearance, but nothing overly wider.

These demands are somewhat contradictory, which is why gravel bikes have evolved in the first place. If you want one that you can use for both, you need to think about what you’re willing to compromise on.

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Go with the Crux…it wins gravel as well as CX races.


Am I the only one these subtle geometry differences are lost on? I struggle to tell the difference between a road bike and cross bike, much less cross vs gravel…

Maybe I’m just not picky. Weighs less than a Divvy bike, has 11 gears, drop bars…looks good to me :joy:.

I in all honesty am more likely to tell the difference, without looking, between a GP5000 and a gatorskin than I am a cross vs gravel bike…

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Traditional cx has the crack +20mm off the ground to clear mud, and things and the seat tube is long so you can carry it - at the cost of standover, ride comfort, and draft ability. Road racing dimensions’s basically a bad gravel or road bike.

Gravel is lower and long wheelbase so you can ride with big tires, not hit them with your feet, and can standover the bike.

The CX-lite/racing gravel bikes aren’t good for anything they’re supposed to be good at - except maybe the Boone, which is Domane comfort in Emonda dimensions with some tire and ground clearance - and cool paint.

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Oh I dont doubt there are differences…I just cant feel them. I race cross, gravel, and crits on my CX bike. Have never missed the road bike honestly…

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Here is a typical cx course I do in the Midwest USA.

About 10 weeks of the year I am all in on cross and trying to be competitive in cat 3.
The rest of the year I do plenty of gravel. By majority portion of the year I would use a pure gravel bike but the cx period wouldn’t be ideal. I’m still thinking crux since the geometry seems to blend both pretty well, not as long as a lot of other gravel bikes looks like.


Hey! I was in that race!

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I’ve wanted the most recent crux since it came out. Seems perfect for my blend of some road, some gravel, and then racing cross.

I have been using a Surly Cross Check as my everything bike. I recently picked up a Bianchi SanJose off of Craigslist and I’ve been really surprised at how different the handling is. I haven’t compared the geometry’s, but going from more of a do everything frame to a more cross specific frame is going absolutely help me out this year with faster corners.


Pivot had a CX team a few years back racing on the current iteration of the Vault(v4). I have a v3 Vault and the geometry numbers between the two are virtually identical and are tuned more towards CX with quicker handling. It has head and seat tube angles and a wheelbase like most cross bikes. The newest version has clearance for 47 mm tires which would be nice when running 33s for cross. I use mine for CX and Gravel racing and it is my road bike as well. I like the racier angles and don’t think I’d be as happy on a pure gravel bike.

Some other options to consider would be Blue Norcross, Santa Cruz Stigmata, and the Crux.


I ride a Felt F4X for both. It’s a CX bike by design, but I’ve done plenty of gravel riding on it. It can clear 40mm tires. I think my biggest complaint would be it’s a 1x and I live in the Sierra Nevada’s (very hilly). A 2x would be nice for gravel, but wouldn’t want that for CX. As stated above, what are you willing to compromise…

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I am setting up my TCX with 2x di2, and will just run 2 different cranks so I can swap 1x (for CX) and 2x (for gravel and road).

The longer more modern gravel bikes are a bit slower handling, and the weight balance is off for easy fast flat corners. My cx bike for 6 years was a tcx, and that is about as old-school as cx geometry gets. I don’t think it is ideal, even for cx, but it is very good on slow mud courses. I preferred my otso waheela to it in every way after I adjusted to the change in handling characteristics.
My newest bike is almost a 58 Superx, and while I have t raced cx on it, I like how it handles for everything else, including twisty trails, so I expect it will meet the need just fine. If you have the clearance for tires and chainring that you want, and you like how a bike handles, there is no reason not to use one bike for gravel and CX. People say that the difference is bigger than it is.


Are you doing an gravel rides in sandy western MI? If so, you’ll want something that can take 45mm tires for the floatation. Otherwise, a 38mm tire bike should be fine.
I’d figure out what tire you want to run for gravel adventures and work from there. I’ve got 47mm tires and would only use them for ungroomed dirt road washboard, sand, and soft trails. I think 42s might be slightly faster on the DPRT, but it’s not much.

On a course like that, a high BB and short wheelbase is going to be better.

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I ride the new Boone, which is a CX specific bike. It comes 1x, but I modified and run a 2x. I ride it as my road bike, gravel, and CX by just switching wheelsets and big ring (for CX). It easily fits 40mm tires that I put on when I go off road.

The Trek Crockett is identical geometry, but aluminum rather than carbon. So if you’re on a budget, get the Crockett for half price.

@Abe_Froman i personally believe ‘gravel’ bikes a just a gimmick. I’ve only ever rode a Crockett and now a Boone off-road. Cant really see the need for something different unless you wanted to run proper MTB tires or something, but if I was going over terrain that actually warrants MTB ties, I want the shocks to go with it (ie I’ll just jump on my MTB).