Best Racing Gravel Bike 2024

I don’t think this is likely….they see the numbers and can read a spreadsheet. They know gravel is driving what growth is in the industry now.

What you are likely seeing is a combination of two things:

  • Shimano’s inherent conservatism (amazing for a company that has been so innovative, but it is very conservative in market approach)
  • Shimano’s NIH approach (Not Invented Here)

Shimano is reluctant to follow trends set by other companies, or feel that their product direction is being dictated to them by trends. In the past, they have begrudgingly finally relented to trends that they missed, but only after a lot of complaints from their customers (and not necessarily consumers, but their OE customers)

Shimano likely inherently believes a 2x system is the superior solution, so that is where they focus.

Does anybody have personal experience of Crux vs Checkpoint? I am thinking of a new bike for the rest of the season and these are my top 2 contenders because I will be able to ride them locally before I buy them. I do love me some isospeed, but I am willing to sacrifice a little comfort for speed by going with the Crux.

Haven’t ridden them, but they are going to be quite different. The crux will handle pretty sharply, and the checkpoint will be more stable. I picked something in between them but it comes down to what you want the handling to be like and how you plan on using it. Care to elaborate?


Hard to compare these two bikes. One is compliant, boring, long. The other is lively, light, nimble. I would say it depends on your riding:

  • Lots of climbing, go for the crux
  • Lots of flats, gravel…maybe the Checkpoint.
  • Dual road/gravel, go for the crux

As others had said, very different bikes. I went the more nimble/shorter wheelbase route racing a Domane for a couple years and then switched to a checkpoint late last year. Yep, it’s more compliant, stable, confidence inspiring, etc. Especially if you are riding challenging terrain. I won’t even disagree with the “boring” description above, but I’ll take boring over drama when racing all day long. I find the dynamics of running a big/long gravel bike similar to running 35’s vs. 42’s on chunky terrain. The 35’s will be really exciting and feel faster/frantic, but the 42’w will be boring and significantly faster. The biggest factor for me would be the terrain you are racing on. If it’s always hero gravel, no chunk or fast technical descents, etc., either bike will be fine. If you are doing courses with any technical aspects, I’ve found a long stable bike to be faster with really no downside on the smoother courses. My checkpoint has become my go-to on fast group rides on the road as well, I just prefer the comfort and bigger tires on our local chip seal. I’ll pull my road race bike out every once and a while if I want to remember what a twitchy race bike feel like, but the novelty wears off pretty quick. The only thing that I really don’t like about the checkpoint is the complete lack of aerodynamic efficiency. It’s a pig through the air.

1 Like

I ran a 2021 Domane 56 with 303 Zip FC/38 GK SS+ at Unbound and it held up great. I am looking for a “better” gravel bike, lighter, more responsive, better climbing, a bit more stable, with more clearance for fast gravel and 1x setup. Do not care about bike packing at all or super chunky gravel.

Note I don’t actually have any real gravel near me in TX so all my training is on the road (it’s hilly near me and I can easily do 4000ft of climbing over 4hrs). Looking at the geometries, the Crux is pretty similar to the Domane while the Checkpoint looks like a boat. :slight_smile: I do love the isospeed of the Domane and would consider the Checkpoint based on this alone.

I would think the Checkpoint would have an aero advantage over the Crux? I do run full aerobars when allowed so maybe an aero frame doesn’t matter as much.

In any case, I can’t find a Crux to test ride so not sure I want to go that route.

Very similar to what I was running, I went from a 56 domane to a 58 checkpoint, feels about a foot longer… Both bikes are pretty heavy, but that’s not a priority for me on gravel. Not sure what “responsive” means to you, but I thought the domane was a great gravel bike for fast/smooth gravel (basically road racing on dirt). I raced unbound on my checkpoint this year and pre-rode the course last year on my domane. For me, there were at least a handful of spots on that course where the checkpoint was a better choice (chunky climbing and descending). I just don’t see the advantage of a “more responsive” bike in gravel racing where the domane (or any more agressive geometry) would be faster. I want a stable confident platform above all else. That might just be preference, I also like to size up my mtb’s (while I prefer to size down my road bikes).

I’ve never seen any data on the checkpoint, but none of the tube shapes are particularly aero and that’s one place it feels a little slower than the domane.

At least on Unbound I am thinking about the parts where to pass someone, you had to pop across some sketchy gravel and back. The Domane was not very responsive in those situations and its not all the nimble anyway.

I found chunky gravel not my thing for gravel bike racing so won’t be doing any of those types of events going forward (Big Sugar is out but The Rad looks just like my thing). Won’t be back to Unbound either. :slight_smile:

1 Like

The new gen checkpoint is said to have been made with aero tube shapes….some basic camtail designs it looks like (and integrated cable routing). They make no specific aero claims or have done any testing I have found, but there is at least an element of aero.

I don’t know the crux as well, but isn’t it just round tubes, the whole goal was lightness?

So while the checkpoint probably isn’t as aero as an ostro gravel, I would expect it to be better than a Crux.

For quick reference, here is a comparison of the current Domane & Checkpoint. There is a massive difference in geo and how each will ride as a result.


You can ride those almost like an extended bunny hop where you unweight the bike and float over the chunky middle to land in the other lane. The last thing I want doing that kind of stuff is a bike with any twitch to it. Again, this might all be personal preference, but just giving my perspective as someone who really thought they wanted road bike manners/geo on gravel and then realized how much better I was on a long stable platform.

Yeah, the Checkpoint is a real boat of a bike. :slight_smile: The 56 Domane and Crux geos are closer, Crux reach, stack and wheel base differences seem like it would be a nice improvement over the Domane for gravel.

1 Like

Gravel gearing question:

In terms of gearing, how do people feel about the Easton cranksets. I believe they work with GRX, I’ve found the stock 2x GRX 600 46/30 with the max 11-34T cassette is too light with the 30T. I find when racing CX I really want something in between. I was thinking of trying to switch back and forth between 1x during CX season with 38T (wolftooth chain ring) and 11-34 but then see Easton has a 46/36 and a 47/32 which I could swap on once and not have to switch back and forth. I see they have issues with the Easton chain rings not being properly torqued from the factory or maybe needing to be re-torqued but the gear ratios seem like the best option… While racing CX the 46 is too high except for fast dry straights and the 30T is too light, not sure if the 32 or 36 would be ideal for CX and as the small ring for gravel climbing with bigger gravel tires.
Any thoughts or opinions on that? It looks like with the Easton crankset I would save ~100g from my stock GRX 600 crankset, so better gear ratio and a little bit of improvement in weight as a bonus.
The bike is an alloy Norco Search and I will eventually get a carbon bike to replace it but in the meantime I am using it as a winter/foul weather road bike, gravel and cx race bike and commuter.
I’m ~3.9 w/kg right now but <60kg so thats only 224W so probably don’t have the same demands for a big chain ring for flats and descents (52/36 on my road race bike).

That seems like a good option. I’m very similar w/kg but nearer 70kg. I do like to spin though so often prefer smaller rings than many.

GRX810 48/31 is amazing for me so 47/32 will probably be pretty good for you too.

I wouldn’t like having a small ring as big as 36 for gravel. My bike was originally 1x 40t with 11-42 and I ended up switching to a 38t ring before finally going 2x. So 36f/34r seems like a big low gear for gravel.

My choice would be 47/32 in your shoes, and then fit a tighter cassette for CX. 11-30 and 11-32 are both in-spec.

Suppose you could also buy the 47/32 chainset and then get a replacement 36t small ring to fit during CX season if it turns out your gearing issues are more about small ring and small cog combos rather than your actual lowest gears. Small ring replacements are usually way cheaper than the big ring, and because you’d be keeping the same big ring you wouldn’t need to re-index the front mech.
Could also go the other way and buy 46/36 plus a replacement 32t small ring. (All assuming Easton uses the same cranks for both chainring sizes)
Then you’re still swapping but there’s no messing about with the front mech or chain length and you’re only doing it twice a year rather than per-use.

I looked at that originally but would be the hassle of switching back and forth between that 1x 38t setup during cx season and back to 2x outside of CX season as I think I would appreciate 2x more outside of CX, there won’t be something that is likely ideal for all conditions but thinking 46/36 or 47/32 would be more versatile than 38 or 40 with 11-34

I think that would complicate switching wheelsets if my gravel wheelset has 11-34 and cx/road had 11-32 wouldnt it? Different sized chain and rear derailleur adjustment?

Technically yes, but not in practice. If you size your chain for 11-34 the drivetrain has to keep appropriate tension on it in big-34 all the way down to small-11. Swap in an 11-30 cassette and it still has to keep tension all the way down to small-11, so no difference there. Retailers are notorious for never bothering to size chains anyway, so bikes are often sold with 4+ extra links in them without buyers even noticing.

You may get crisper shifting by cutting out extra links for a smaller cassette, but you also might not. If you’re dropping the chain a lot because it’s too big for an 11-30 it’s probably happening when you’re nearer the 11 than the 30 anyway, so switching to an 11-34 might make it a bit tighter but it isn’t actually going to take up a full 4 teeth worth of slack at the small end of the block.

In my experience indexing between different wheels and cassettes is only ever off by a max of like 1/4 turn of the barrel adjuster and rarely even that much. Even if you forget to do that before heading out you’ll probably still get away with it, might just be a bit noisy in certain gears - annoying enough to stop on a social ride but not enough to slow you down noticeably in a race.

You probably will get crisper shifting by adjusting the b-limit screw (controls how close the top pulley is to the cassette). Again you’ll get away with just leaving it adjusted for the biggest cassette all the time though. When I drop an 11-30 in my GRX drivetrain it’s because I’ve stolen the wheels off my road bike to go for a more relaxed ride so I’m admittedly more forgiving about my shifting, but even though I’ve noticed the difference I’ve certainly never felt like it slowed me down. If I was going to race CX on it I’d probably take the time to make that adjustment, but it’s just as quick and easy as doing the barrel adjuster for your indexing so hardly an extra burden.

And if you take my advice and then after riding decide I’m wrong and chain length actually is an issue for you, then you’re going to need a new chain eventually anyway so might as well buy two and size them one for each cassette.


Love this setup:

1 Like

I was considering a Factor, but a lot of the “harsh” ride comments kind of turned me off.

I did end up pulling the trigger on the Crux. Now I have to go down the SRAM rabbit hole as I have been a Shimano person for 30yrs. SRAM groupset/compatibility is very confusing. :slight_smile:


It needn’t be. I’m a Shimano fan as well, but envious of SRAM’s simplicity in compatibility… Basically if its 11 speed it’ll all work with any 11 speed parts. 12 speed is pretty compatible, but the main differentiator is the chains. You have flat top chains for the road, and Eagle type chains for dirt. Chainrings aren’t as picky, nor are rear derailleurs, but you should match the cassette to the chain.