Racing crits on a Gravel bike

Hi there Forum,
so just discovered a fairly big spider crack on my downtube (quarter size, does not indent with the thumb test that much, makes a dull noise with the Nickle test, probably a rock kicked up). Its a Ritte Vlanderen I was riding it and tracking the crack (not moving) but just can’t stop thinking about it and think its time to retire/fix the frame.
Problem is i gotta crit coming up (friday) and recently put road tires on my gravel bike with the plan to finish off the road season with it.
The gravel bike is a Wilier Jena and overall its a lot longer and taller 13mm longer chain stays, 2 degree more slacker head tube and .5 slacker ST. Head tube is 20mm taller and the overall stack height 50mm higher! Its weighs in 3-4 pounds heavier (heavy wheelset…don’t have a light 700c disc).
Just wanted to see if anyone had any tips to mitigate the gravel bikes failings in road and crit racing/riding and/or if i should just pack it in. Also i have a cross bike (Lapierre carbon CX) that i could fire up (thought the brakes are reversed out) if you all think that it might be the better option. Honestly the gravel bike has always felt like a tank and now more than ever with road livery on it…help

Hard to know for sure, but I would imagine your CX bike might be more nimble on the geometry and feel more ‘racey’ in a crit. I’d imagine you would be totally fine on the gravel bike with road tires unless your crit has hills? I would be pretty comfortable on my CX bike in a crit with road tires on.

For what it is worth, at our local weekly crit a few weeks ago a guy showed up on a gravel bike with gravel tires… and he finished in the main pack!


Pro crits have been won on gravel bikes!


As long as you can hold the wheel in front of you through accelerations and corners, you’re good to go with the gravel bike. You might just have to lean a little harder and bend your elbows a bit more.


I’d be inclined to use the CX bike, personally.
Throw a longer stem and some race tires on and don’t give it a second thought.


Some points to think about:

What’s the course like? Sharp hairpins will be more difficult on the longer bike.

Are you a ‘jumpy’ rider or more steady? Fast accelarations will require more power, and will likely feel sluggish. If you usually manage to ride fairly smooth in the pack, that will be less of an issue, as if you’re either attacking a lot or chasing a lot.

What’s the gearing like? Is it similar ro your road bike? (That would be my main concern about the cross bike)

Whether you should pack it in - if you think riding the gravel bike in a crit is dangerous (can’t corner fast enough, for example), then don’t do it. Also depends how important the race is - are you in the hunt for points, or just racing for fun? Would a DNS harm your overall standings or anything like that? Or is “participating” more important than “competing”?

The only problems you’ll have are the stack height if you want to get low and the max chainring up front (50t in the 2x big ring position??)

Handling wise, the longer chainstay just puts the pivoting wheel further behind you, so the handling just feels slower.

Thanks all…that’s what i figured, i too have seen people in crits on CX and other weird setups do well. The crits around here are fairly punchy with some climbing. Gearing wise should be fine (50/34x11-22). I’m not a punchy rider and do well in crits where i can tailgun and ride smooth in the pack. The bike just feels like i’m driving a truck with the weight and steering. I’m not racing for anything other than fitness, and just want to be able to finish and not get pulled.
I might give the CX a try but the BB height on that is so high that i always feel a little “teetery” where the gravel bike feels more planted.

Beware of a possible low bottom bracket height on the gravel bike. That’s usually a key difference that makes a gravel bike a gravel bike, besides bigger tire clearance.

So you might be at risk of striking a pedal if you pedal through the turns.


Ive raced quite a few crits on the CX bike, even won a couple. Id pick a CX over gravel if i had the choice between the 2


Most gravel bikes still have fairly high BB’s (although some are starting to go lower like the Aspero)….but even the low ones are not really any lower than most road bikes. Maybe a mm or two at most.

But those would be the exception….most gravel bikes will still be higher than a road bike.


Yep gravel bikes have lower BBs than CX bikes but about the same as road bikes, but you have to take into consideration the tire size the bike is designed around as that will affect the actual height too if using smaller tires. Still not really a concern IMO unless you’re competitive in the upper cats. Most people are not railing turns just wait a half second longer to start pedalling


Going through the feedback here, I just wanted to clarify - the bike with the dent IS NOT your gravel or CX bike? Its your road bike?

*not a coach, equipment manager and certainly not YOUR coach or equipment guy:

For a crit, I’d ride the CX bike over the gravel bike (all else being equal). “Twitchy” handling should be a benefit if you’re turning every 17-28 seconds, while slow handling might be a negative. If the front ring/cassette combo works on both, totally take the more reactive bike.

#rungwhatyabrung and other hashtags encouraging you to race even if the bike isn’t “perfect.”


yep, my road bike is the victim(cracked). I think i’m just gonna use my gravel rig. Slammed the stem and it has a 17 deg neg drop (the bars are ritchey gravel bars with the rise/flair but not extreme. The CX bike has the brakes reversed out and one good point that others had made is that the gearing on a CX bike is woefully too small (front ring) and the crankset only takes direct mount (i think the largest ring is a 44t) …thanks all for the input! Its all about the engine at this point…i’ll report back if anything good/bad happens on the friday night crit.
Have not posted here in a while and forgot how strong and responsive the community is!


A counterpoint to the “CX geometry is quicker so would be a better crit bike”….a lot of the “quickness” of a CX bike comes from the high BB. That leads to a higher CG, which in turn is less stable (or, in this case, a feeling of being quick”)

Personally, I find a more stable geometry to be a faster bike…because it is predictable and inspires confidence.

Way back in my bike biz days, I did a run of steel CX frames with a low BB and long top tubes. They rode amazingly well and some people are still riding them today.

That is a good point

My CX bike is 2x, classic 46/36, have never run out of gears in a crit with the 11t. Going smaller would likely be an issue though, or a course with a downhill finish

I purposefully use a cx bike for crits as the high bb means I can peddle through corners that others can’t. Useful place to put the hurt on people as they have to sprint after the corner to get back on your wheel.


I run shorter cranks on my race bike pretty much for the same reason.

A side benefit is that I can raise my saddle a bit higher and tilt my pelvis forward to get more aero.

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As a follow-up all points were well taken. Pedal clearance was good, road my same pedals as CX and my CX shoes and the cranks were shorter than my normal 175 (these had 172.5’s) and never had a pedal strike. Bike was fine and more the engine but did not get dropped and hung with it.
Sometimes on road bikes i totally overthink it and just need to realize its all about the engine. I might swap out bars and saddle for something more aero and lighter (was peeling off the back on the 2 climbs but again, prob the engine)


What was the verdict? Did I happen to miss it? My road/crit bike has a pretty sad dent in one of the seat stays and I really don’t want to buy a new frame. I was thinking of turning my cx/gravel bike into a crit machine to finish out the season. Though, I was looking into putting a 50 tooth sram x-sync 1x ring on up front and swap rear derailleurs, chain, and cassette; but I’m worried there won’t be enough room for the 50tooth and it’ll rub against the chain stay.