Looking for some advice, and really a polling of the brilliant minds in this forum.
I plan to buy another bike in the spring so that I can commute into my office. It is a 6 mile commute, which will cut my commute from 1 hour to 30 minutes on a bad day (Boston public transit is the worst). Anyway, my plan was to get a bike that I could also use for cross races in the winter. I don’t race cross now but I figured why not, so I was going to get a cross bike and use it as my commuter.
But now, I’ve seen a few gravel races/rides in the area that might be cool to check out.
So the question is what to get…gravel bike or a cross bike? Can I use the gravel bike at cross races or a cross bike at gravel races? Should I get a gravel bike and then get multiple wheels for the different rides (commuting/gravel/cross).
I don’t anticipate being good enough to race UCI events ever in my life, so really looking for the “one bike to run them all.”
Opinions are valued!
Thank you all for your help!
Get a cross bike and extra set(s) of tires for commuting, gravel, etc.
^ This or on the other end, a teammate of mine races the Checkpoint and she does good. It sounds like you will be doing more commuting than CX
I have the Checkpoint as well and have been happy so far. All of my prior riding had been on a traditional road bike, so it feels a little slow, but it lets me ride the unpaved roads of rural Michigan all day long. Very comfortable bike. Worth a test ride. A CX bike may be marginally faster but also marginally less comfortable. Depends on your priorities.
Thank you for the advice!
GCN just did an episode on Gravel vs Cross.
It’s easier to use a cross bike in a gravel race than a gravel bike in a cross race.
Gravel bikes have a longer wheel base and lower bottom bracket. Those two things make it a real disadvantage on a typical cross course that requires a lot of tight corning at speed.
If you can find a cross bike that can still handle 40mm+ tires, Bob’s your uncle.
I was dead set on a Crux cross bike, and thought the Diverge was a weird bike which wasn’t road, and wasn’t cross. A real jack of all trades and master of none. Then I realized that local cross races are not that extreme in Utah, and mostly grass. Why buy a Crux for the few 30-45 min cross races I’d do each year, when I could have a Diverge and use it for cross, gravel and even road rides on worse roads. And commuting. I’m off to Tahoe with friends for a few days of ‘‘training camp’’ each year (well, we’ve done it once and are doing it a second time in 2019), and a diverge would be a little slower than my road bike, but would work, and would let me do gravel etc. But if I went cross rather than gravel, I wouldnt want to spend a few days doing the road rides on that.
I think a Diverge can take something like 40mm tires, and the geometry is reportedly more ‘‘roubaix’’ like, whereas the Crux is more hard tail mtb like (according to salesman. They have no demos).
I’ve not made the purchase of either, as I want to replace my mtb first. But in summary, I’ve concluded that unless you’re really going to be into cross, then a gravel bike is probably more useful. But your results may vary.
I have a Kona Major Jake Cross bike from 2015.
The geomtery matches up exactly with the bulk of the “Gravel” bikes out there save for bottom bracket height, and about 2mm of wheelbase. Both the frame and fork can take 45s (Maybe more, but I’ve got 700x43mm GravelKings on it now that measure out at 45mm exactly, so I could easily fit larger with 650xXX for gravel rides.)
During Cross season I might put a 10-20mm shorter stem on it to set me a bit more upright or maybe not. Honestly, as you said, I’m not a UCI rider, and I’m not even really a serious cross racer, I just enjoy it. I rack up reasonably long road and gravel rides on it now, in fact during the winter, its my primary bike. The geometry differs from some of the current cross bikes, and I think it makes it a more versatile bike all around. If I could change a thing or two it would be thru axles (just for wheel changes and brake location, and commonality among bikes), and internal routing for a dropper. I have Di2 with hydraulic brakes (RS785), I keep the cross gearing on it year round, and other than wheelsets and tires, I don’t change a thing.
I forgot to mention that I commute 17 miles each way on it on the reg as well.
CX + another wheel set. You’ll be fine.
I bought an aluminium Diverge E5 Sport based on exactly that thinking, I found it remarkably poor on the road and ok off road. On road, I found it quite ponderous and unresponsive, not helped by it being heavy and what felt to me a halfway house geometry, which made it pretty uninspiring to the point were I sold it as I didn’t want to ride it. I wouldn’t want to have done a fast paced group ride on it for certain.
Off road it was ok, I never had chance to race but didn’t inspire that it would be too responsive. I felt that I made a mistake not to go for a CX bike instead.
I think it may be a love or hate it bike so definitely test it if you fancy it.
I feel like this is the most polarizing topic in cycling right now haha, “is the gravel bike the best all around bike.”
I’m definitely doing to get multiple wheel sets, that seems like a given based on the advice above and just my general thinking.
But it seems like a split between CX and Gravel. Leaning towards CX but who knows. Definitely and interesting topic though. The GCN video was interesting.
I think the biggest part of this is that “gravel bike” covers so many different types of bikes that it’s almost a worthless designation.
My road bike and gravel bike are literally exactly the same frame, just one has road wheels and groupset, and the other multi terrain tires, wheels, and a 1x groupset.
Then there are outright cruiser bikes called gravel, so it’s a huge range.
What if I told you, you can race your local cx race with 40s and no one is going to care.
I think the Cannondale SuperX is the bike to get.
It’s more relaxed than other cross bikes so it will feel good on gravel and road and it’s still sharp enough to race cross on it.
You could get an eThirteen 9-46 cassette and it would have plenty of gearing for road and gravel races with steep climbs or fast downhills. (or a more typical 11-42 sram cassette would work well too).
If you get one extra wheelset you could switch between road and gravel/cross pretty quickly.
My sister is in the same boat as you and she got the SuperX as her one bike. She might even put aero bars on it for triathlons!
Here’s what she got: Cannondale
In comparison I have the 2018 Crux which is much steeper and sharper turning than the 2017 Crux. That makes it feel good in cross races but not very good going fast downhill on gravel.
It’s still totally rideable on the road and in gravel races though. I’ve put a TON of miles on it in non-cross riding and I still love it. I road in in Hawaii for two weeks only on the road on twisty/fast descents and I never disliked it. We’re really splitting hairs here.
My local race director told me that in USAC races you only have to have bar end plugs (not even drop bars, flat bars are okay) in non-championship races. You could ride a fat bike if you wanted in non-championship races.
He heard this from the higher ups at USAC. The local guy ran Cross Nationals in Reno so he’s “in the know”.
In CO there are a lot of us with with our xc race bikes as our pit bike. Hell, we have a junior in our cat 3 who is usually on the podium every weekend with an xc bike. And these are all sanctioned. I did an unsanctioned race last weekend and there was a fat bike category and it was awesome to watch!
I recently acquired a Super X to race cross with but will also be doing some gravel races later on it. Cannondale actually markets this bike for both disciplines which is very rare for a manufacturer to do these days. I can tell you that it sticks to the ground on turns in CX and has gotten me some solid results so far this season. I will be swapping tires out (from PDX’s to Compass Barlow Pass’s for gravel) and BOOM! Good to go
The super X is the only bike that might get me off my Kona in the next year or so. I agree with @Nate_Pearson here, its a fantastic bike. They are also sold at my favorite local dealer…
Yup. The SuperX is the bike. Love the 2018 crux, but something about the SuperX screams ‘buy me!’ Big fan of the Felt fx line too