tl;dr: How would you choose between the Grizl Suspension, Exceed, and Lux as a cyclocross racer who wants a more laid back ride for training?
Racing cross has been my primary focus for several years. I started with road but for similar reasons as Ivy mentioned on the podcast, I’d like to have the option to do everything off road and only take the road bike out for fun rides.
Typically I’ve done my structure indoors or on the road, unless it’s shorter intervals like Mono or speciality workouts, and then do recovery/tempo rides outside. This season I’m trying out a mid-volume plan, which means more time on the trainer on sunny days with my current approach.
I think fatter tyres, suspension, and a wider gear range would make the base recovery and SS interval sessions more feasible without getting as beat up or being sent flying by small ruts on a descent. I’ll also have easy access to some decent trails soon and would like to be able to take advantage of those.
Naturally I assumed a hardtail was the obvious choice and the Exceed looks ideal in terms of weight, kit & price. It seems from posts on the forum that the XC world has moved onto full suspension bikes like the Lux (or, for the same price as the Exceed, I’d be looking at something like the Orbea Oiz H30), and suspension on gravel bikes is now a thing. So how would you choose between those three options?
If your focus is CX, I’d get a bike that most similarly replicates the CX bike, which would be the Grizl. If you can get one with a similar component spec to your CX bike, you have some redundancy which can be huge.
I might suggest getting a normal Grizl (I’ve got one, great bike!) and buy the suspension fork aftermarket so that you can switch back if needed, e.g. if you decide to get into gravel racing. You could get a rigid fork aftermarket too, but the paint won’t match, and I know I’m not alone when I say that would bother me, even if it’s a little petty.
An MTB might scratch an itch but for what you’re looking to do specifically, I think the gravel bike would be a better choice. This is coming from someone who owns a Grizl, Specialized Epic, Santa Cruz Nomad, and YT Tues.
I wouldn’t worry about weight, I’d think about it in terms of versatility. Getting a gravel bike duplicates too much functionality. I’d go with a mountain bike. Those skills transfer to CX and gravel riding, too. On the other hand, you can do gravel rides on a CX bike.
Whether to get a hard tail or a fully is a question of the type of terrain you’d enjoy riding. Mountain bikes also give you plenty of easy gears in case you want to stay in zone 2.
The Lux offers the most “fun” factor/capability but the hardtail will accomplish most of the LUX…plus the technical skills of the hardtail to cross bike are better suited (body english, hopping etc.) without the rear suspension. Finally its also nice to have 1000 and 3 pounds back from the Lux.
I have a Revolt gravel bike that I use as a cross/road bike (with 2 wheel sets) and a Epic Evo MTB, just like yourself my main focus is cross.
What’s your current bike garage look like? Do you use your CX bike as a road bike / do you have a road bike? Where do you live?
I don’t think the Grizl suspension and longer wheelbase (vs gravel/road/cx bike) is going to keep you from going over the bars if you hit a root or rock going downhill. If you’re going to ride on non-groomed trails, get either MTB.
Redundancy for CX racing is a point I hadn’t considered. My frame is a few years old now and has a QR rear axle, so I’m not sure I could share wheels with the Grizl. Maybe I’d be better going for the cheaper option and spend the change on a spare set of wheels.
How do you find the change in fit between gravel and MTB?
I live in the middle of England so there’s none of the endless gravel roads or long fire road climbs like in the US but I can piece together a bunch of bridleways and farm tracks with a few short connections on the road. So the terrain is all fairly ungroomed and ranges from grass fields to gravelly tracks where tractors have cut deeper ruts. No rock gardens or drops at the moment (or plans to). The roughest bits are where tractor tyre tracks in clay soil have baked in the summer.
To be fair, once I get out of town onto quiet roads it’s a relatively cycling friendly area. I find my situational awareness drops when doing intervals and the peace of mind off road is nice. Maybe a Varia would be a good investment too.
Road & TT bike - nicer roads and trainer.
Cyclocross - rough road rides, racing, and everything else. I put 33mm mud tyres on during race season/winter and 35mm gravel tyres in the summer.
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