Mixed Surface Race - What bike should I ride - Podcast Question

Just after a rapid fire answer, but secretly hoping for some technical discussion.

Thanks for the podcast and TrainerRoad platform. Can’t rate you guys highly enough. So pumped for Adaptive Training!

I have a 130km “Gravel Ride” coming up which consists of at least 60km fairly rough and loose gravel sections and the rest is on the road. The course is undulating and has approx 1000m of climbing.

I have a 2016 Cannondale SuperSix Evo which I rode last time and managed not to get any flats which was a miracle, however, I felt physically and mentally busted from the vibration and harshness of the ride, and there were a lot of sections that were very sketchy with sandy surfaces and some water rutting (saw a pretty bad crash at one of those sections). Concentration on riding line had to be sky high the whole gravel sector.

My question is what bike would you ride if you had the following choices:

  1. Road Bike - Cannondale SuperSix Evo (about 7kgs) - 25mm tubed clinchers - Gatorskins (rode last time) or GP4000’s - higher pressure to minimise pinch flat risk.

  2. XC Bike - Giant Anthem Pro (dual suspension - around 10.5kgs) - Any tubeless 29er tyres and pressures of your choice - I might even throw some clip on aero bars for the road sections and put a 38 tooth chainring on the front. Also has dual lockout. (lets make it fast on the road)

  3. Tri Bike - Giant Trinity - Jokes! Haha

Some basic details about me:
I’m 78kgs and 180cm tall
FTP 290w - 3.72w/kg - hoping to hit 4w/kg by the time the race rolls around (October)

Any suggestions would be much appreciated,


Shane Lutze - Australia

Neither of those bikes are ideal, but if I had to choose, I would personally take the Anthem. Sure, it’s heavier, and your hands will get tired from being stuck in one position, but I’d rather be comfortable, safe, and finish. That’s just me though. I’m in my 50s and I don’t race. It might just come down to “are you riding to win or riding to finish”?

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In Michigan we have a similar mixed but it’s flat white gravel so a road bike will do.

My advice is your tires will be more important than bike choice. If you can fit some wide gravel tires on the super six - I’d do that.


Totally agree. I assumed 25 was as wide as he could go.

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Cheers for the reply. If I put the clip on aero bars on the Anthem that may give me some additional positions to ride in and also will give me an opportunity to get out of the wind while I’m on the road. I think overall, I will end up riding what ever is the fastest setup. I’ll try to hang on to the pack for as long as I can, then once I get dropped, just try to get to the finish (that may either be with 129kms to go or 1km??)

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Can you get 25mm gravel tyres? My 25mm GP4000’s and Gatorskins are arguably too big for the frame already.

Not with side knobs, which is what you would want - they would be too big. If your wheels can handle it, or you can buy/borrow wheels that can be tubeless, do that - lower pressures and less chance of punctures.

If you’ve ridden the road bike successfully before, I’d go with that. I can’t see the XC bike being faster, unless you lost a lot of time on the gravel sections.

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Does best bike split answer questions like this? I honestly don’t know, and I ride more for fun than to race, but if you want to hang with the lead group for as long as possible, I wonder if you can compare the bikes in BBS?

Cannodale says you can run 30mm tires. At lease for the 2021s

good question. I’m all out of free BBS analysis. The road bike may not be the most reliable or best for handling, however, I think the realistic answer is that it will be the fastest setup.

I was hoping that someone was going to tell me that I could make the MTB quicker, but I’ve also never seen an MTB in a lead pack for a gravel event before. haha

Until I get a new road bike that can take 30-32mm tyres, I’ll just have to persevere.

Thanks all

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Hi Erik,

Unfortunately the bike is a bit older and with the 25mm tyres I have about 1-2mm clearance which is not ideal.

I think until I get a new bike with larger clearance, I’ll just have to keep at it with this one.


Is it tight on the frame, or just the fork? If it’s just the fork you could get a gravel fork to throw on there.

Panaracer makes the GravelKing SK in 700x26. I would toss those on the Evo and send it.

That being said, that’s my solution. For you, it’ll come down to what you’re comfortable with, and how much you’re willing to risk. The higher your comfort level with a particular bike in a situation, the lower the risk. So you can make that decision where you’re at now, or since it seems like you have some time until race day, you can try to stretch those limits. In your shoes, I would swap the tires on the road bike and spend some time on gravel. Get to know it, find the limits, explore the edges of your comfort zone. Make yourself more capable, the limits change, and with them perhaps your opinion on which bike you’d rather ride.

I suggest using the XC bike with aero bars, normal tire pressure and supple tires. You can go pretty decent on the road and excel off road, plus it’s considerably safer.

The vast majority of aero drag is your body. The aero bars are going to help a lot there.

The lower rolling resistance of supple tires is the second biggest drag, much greater than the effect of an aero bike and wheels. On the road even big tires (if supple and run at optimal pressure) will be lower rolling resistance than narrow tires run at high pressure to avoid flats.

I was amazed at how much faster my gravel bike became just by putting really supple tires (Rene Herse Hurricane Ridge Endurance). There aren’t many gravel or wide tires that are similar to road tires in their rolling resistance. Even slick tires are often over built and higher resistance.

Not so with Rene Herse tires. They roll excellently and are available in mountain bike widths, either with a subtle herring bone pattern or with knobs. The slicks give great grip unless it’s muddy. Their knobby tires roll surprisingly well on the road.

I often run the 650x48 Rene Herse knobby tires when riding at 20+ mph and I don’t feel hindered compared to my 700x28 GP5K on that same bike (two wheel sets).

Road bike and send it. Paris Roubaix, Strada Bianche, Belgian Waffle…it’s all drop bar bikes. Roads bikes were being ridden on gravel before gravel bikes and tires came about. Just a matter of luck on flats.

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