CyclingTips Digest: Gravel Bike vs Mountain Bike, E-bikes vs Gravel Bikes, and Lego Bikes

May 25, 2020
by Sarah Lukas  


What's going on in the curly bar world? CyclingTips Digest showcases articles from our sister site, CyclingTips. In each installment, you might find endurance coverage, power-to-weight ratios, gravel bike tech and, of course, lycra.





Gravel bike vs mountain bike: Are you just better off with a hardtail MTB?
By: Dave Rome

So often we joke that gravel bikes are just old mountain bikes from a time that’s now in the rearview mirror. And really, a look at the latest geometry, tyre widths and technology to hit the gravel riding world don’t help to make that joke any less true.

So if gravel bikes are effectively where mountain bikes came from, then why not just pick a modern mountain bike? Is a light, cross-country hardtail MTB the ideal gravel bike? Or do gravel bikes truly fill a gap in the market that the progression of mountain bikes has left empty?

These are questions we’ve pondered as gravel bikes have risen in popularity, and something we wanted to answer while at our inaugural Field Test in Sedona, Arizona.

(Read more.)





Do e-bikes make sense for gravel?
By: Caley Fretz

With the push of a button, you’re faster. It’s the dream, now a gravel reality. More e-gravel bikes are hitting the market all the time. We’ve got the Specialized Creo SL Evo, the Orbea Gain, the Yamaha Wabash, an e-version of the Giant Revolt we recently tested, and lots more.

As part of our gravel bike Field Test, our goal was not to test specific e-gravel bikes, but to suss out the quirks of the sector as a whole, and, hopefully, provide some insight into what you may want to look for if it intrigues you.

(Read more.)





You can now get oversized jockey wheels on Zwift, because of course you can
By: Iain Treloar

As Zwift continues its steady march toward global dominance, setting new records for user numbers along the way, it stands to reason that the lines between the virtual cycling world and the real world will begin to blur. As proof, consider this fact: you can now accessorise your virtual bike with virtual oversized jockey wheels to save virtual watts.

All very normal stuff.

(Read more.)





Watch this Lego shred-sled get built from scratch
By: Iain Treloar

Forget the S-Works, Pinarellos, and Colnagos of the world: there’s a new dream machine to aspire to.

Handcrafted by Danish firm Lego under the guiding artisanal hand of the Christiansen family, this premium mountain bike features the finest high-modulus machine-laid acrylonitrile butadiene styrene frameset.

(Read more.)





Lab testing confirms: Clean your damn chain
By: Dave Rome

I’ve taken some pretty deep dives into the topic of chains over the past few years, and the common theme throughout is that having a clean chain is not only a more cost-effective way of riding, but it’s also more efficient, too.

While the cost savings from using a good lube suited to your riding conditions have been tested and discussed, the impact of contamination on efficiency has been glossed over. So I’m back today with some long-lost data to put efficiency numbers to that gritty chain.

The outcome? Well, it’s a story that’s been told before: research the best chain lube for you, and keep your chain clean.

(Read more.)





Niner MCR 9 RDO bike review: Does full suspension make sense for gravel?
By: James Huang

The Niner MCR 9 RDO is a distinct outlier in the world of gravel bikes, a full-suspension heavyweight bruiser in a field of pared-down welterweights. To be completely honest, I went into Field Test fully expecting not to like it for all the reasons you’d expect on paper: it’s too heavy, it’s too complicated, it crosses too far over into mountain bike territory. When all was said and done, though, my opinions of the “Magic Carpet Ride” were far more nuanced.

It’s still too heavy. It’s still too complicated. And it still arguably crosses too far over into mountain bike territory. But it’s also its own unique beast, with its own unique merits, too.

(Read more.)






98 Comments

  • 34 2
 "Is a light, cross-country hardtail MTB the ideal gravel bike?" if there is any steepness up (gravel runs out of gears) or down (terrible braking ergonomics) involved, then yes.
  • 21 10
 They didn’t take two things into account. You can install 35-45c tires on a XC MTB (just get another for them) and if you are running flat bar, you can hold it near the stem and tuck a bit anytime you want to be more aero. But each group will have their likes. Roadies may as well say, if someone made room for 2.25” tires on their gravels, you could ride it like a MTB.
  • 9 0
 I've learned this the hard way. I've been dabbling in some gravel riding in the BC interior. Long grinds up are OK on my Journeyman while in the 30 up front and the 42 in the rear. The ride down some of these roads is brutal; squirrely control, poor braking, and stupid rough. I'm already considering replacing it with a Fargo or a Krampus. Deciding on bar style is more important now than frame layout and tire options.
  • 14 1
 My problem is that on the MTB i always spin out of the top gear, need a 42 or 46 front ring, most current hardtails cannot fit these size rings.
  • 6 1
 @SLBIKES: Exactly. On the average gravel road at speed you need a wide enough gear range to cover both ends of the spectrum. Having a 50 tooth chainring would sometimes be pretty awesome.
  • 7 8
 @SLBIKES: a problem indeed. Blame plus tires. With 60mm wide tire in the rear and a wishbone stay you can fit anything. But honestly you do need a front mech and 2x chainset with 2x chain guide and guide ring to keep the chain on. Wide range cassettes suck for long rides with road/ fireroad mileage involved
  • 2 0
 I've seldom found an uphill that my 44x50 can't handle. But I agree on the downhill. Every gravel bike should have a dropper post; the road-bike sitting position doesn't work on a 25% descent with a sharp off-camber turn at the bottom.
  • 4 1
 Flatbar gravel bike, 42/10-42 and you've got everything you need.
  • 3 5
 This afternoon I went up a 22% grade on my gravel bike using the 36-23. That means there was a 25 and 28 unused on my cassette, but if it was really steep I have an 11-34 cassette at home to use. So how steep is it going to be that my gravel bike can't climb it? So steep my wheels lose traction?
  • 5 1
 @JohanG: yesterday I tried to ride my gravel bike on the same singletrack route I ride my mtb, and I could not, even after after several attempts, make it up the climbs that my 180mm enduro bike winches up almost everyday. So for gravel roads an 11-34 cassette is probably plenty, but I ran out of gears (42 x 11-36) pretty quick on singletrack. I think ill go back to 2x for that bike
  • 1 4
 @fullfacemike: how do you live with long bits with minimal changes? I can easily live with 10-42 6sp on MTB but on roads I want a cassette with no more than 2 tooth jumps between cogs
  • 13 3
 @WAKIdesigns: You learn to operate across a wide range of rpm and let go of all that fussy fiddly roadie shit.
  • 3 0
 @pcledrew: Just a few thoughts. Tyre size and geometry makes a big difference but there are some other things that matter as well.
Your Journeyman has cable discs with flexy plastic drop bar levers. I don't care what anyone says, these will never come close to hydros even if you get better pads and compressionless housing (been there, done that). I've had rim brakes that were better than my "upgraded" Spyres. Hydros make a huge difference, but sadly they're stupid expensive for drop bars.
On a drop bar the best position for descending is the drops. You have the most control over the bike here, you can get a good grip on the bars but relax your arms, and you have the most leverage on the brake lever and you can brake with one finger. If you can't go to the drops easily, because it feels too low and you feel too stretched out, you need to raise the bars. It's important to make the drops accessible on an off road drop bar bike. The Fargo for example has a super high front end. You can also get dirt drops that flare out a ton, and give you a much wider bar when you're in the drops.
The Journeyman can clear 2.2s in a 650b size which is pretty sweet, that helps a ton on the rough stuff.

But a gravel bike will never be an MTB. Flat bars help a ton when descending, and even a plain old XC hardtail with a 100mm front fork will be better offroad, but those things are not cool anymore. Big Grin
Gravel bikes can still be fun offroad. Plan your routes so it's not rough terrain all the time, and if it's possible climb on rougher terrain, and descend on more mellow terrain.
  • 3 1
 @tfriesenftr: 42-36 is way too high for offroad climbs. Most stock 1x11 gravel bikes come with a 40-42T chainring and an 11-42 or 10-42 cassette. Which is still high, tons of people go lower. A stock Shimano GRX double setup will give you a 30-34 low gear, but a lot of people use an 11-40 cassette.

Most gravel bikes are over geared. The problem is that most gravel bikes are "modified" road bikes, and they inherited road drivetrains. Both Shimano and SRAM is taking their sweet time to come out with low gearing. IMO Shimano underdelivered with GRX, and while on the MTB side we have Eagle at freaking SX level, on the drop bar side you need to go to electronic shifting to get a 12spd 10-50.
To me it makes no sense that most gravel bikes come with a higher low gear than what most rigid MTBs had in the 90s...
  • 2 4
 @fullfacemike: yeah and nah, if it works for you then fine. Sure. I have 10sp 11-32 in the rear with 38 front ( gives me 30km/h on flat no probs with two cogs left at the bottom) and quite frankly I hate it already. I am installing 11-28 rear, then front mech with 28/44 front. I ride road/gravel to spin my legs out and get juices flowing, not blow them with even more lactic acid after MTb and gym Smile
  • 1 2
 @HollyBoni: agreed on gearing. But I am surprised you lack power with Spyres with flatbar levers (god we have to call them this way these days hahah Big Grin ) Can it be the road version vs MTB version? I had BB7 MTB with FR5 levers and they were pretty ok for my likes. I now run XTs but I am gentle on the levers in wet. Not that I washed out front, but I am a bit concerned how easy it is to break traction on the rear with sudden braking. Maybe shitty 42c continental contacts dunno. I have ridden a pro road bike for a moment and I will never get roadies saying rim brakes have equal power to discs though. I haven't even dragged them on a long descent - just a quick roll down the road in dry. Dura Ace on Cosmics - and dude rides in Alps, proper stuff, Stelvio and sht - raves on how he hates disc brakes... awkwaaaaard - skeeetchy!
  • 1 2
 @HollyBoni: BTW Which tyres would you recommend? I want slicks with minimal pattern that roll fast and have good grip on tarmac. I can handle gravel and some basic dirt no probs, know where the edge is and don't ride on anything slick like mud. Thinking of upgrading to G-One Speed 38c and setting them up tubeless. Any other tires in 40c width area?
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Did you mean drop bar levers? I have Spyres with Rival 1 drop bar levers.

I suspect the lever itself makes a big difference. I've heard people say that the performance and feel of their Spyres improved when they switched their drop bars for flat bars and used (short pull) flat bar levers. A nice flat bar lever is fully aluminium and it's pretty stiff. My Rival 1 levers on the other hand... The pivot point has tons of play. The body of the lever itself is made from plastic, and it's made from multiple parts, and there is play between those parts. When I really pull the brakes, I can see the whole thing flexing. Even with compressionless housing, the levers feel a bit mushy, and the power is not there.
Spyres with drop bar levers are better than even new road rim brakes IMO. However, I have an old 26" full sus bike sitting in the garage with Deore LX V-brakes that have that fancy linkage thing, and to me they feel more powerful than my Spyres. Frown

When it comes to tyres, i'm a huge fan of Panaracer GravelKing SKs. I went from 37mm Vittoria Voyager Hyper slicks to 40 and 43mm GKSKs. According to bicyclerollingresistance.com, the Vittorias have pretty damn good rolling resistance for their size, but honestly I can't feel a difference on pavement between my GKSKs and the Vittorias. The GKSKs hook up way better everywhere than slicks (that includes pavement in the wet), they're not overbuilt but not paper thin either, not too expensive, they're durable, they come in tons of sizes, and so far I haven't had any tubeless related issues with them. I think they're an awesome mixed terrain tyre, but you might be able to get something that's faster on the road.
I'm a bit afraid of G-Ones to be honest. They come in tons of versions, but i've heard some bad things when it comes to durability (both in terms of wear and punctures), quality control etc. Panaracer makes the GravelKings in a file tread/slick version, and they just came out with the SS version which only has tiny side knobs. Since i've had such a good experience with the SKs, i'd happily try these for sure. But there might be better road focused tyres out there, i'm not the best guy to ask. Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @pcledrew: Yeah, I cannot reccomend the Fargo enough to a MTB rider who wants to cruise forest roads. 29+ Chronicles at 16psi is all I need to say. ggggggggggrrrrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiiiiippppppppp
  • 1 2
 @HollyBoni: I too had LX levers and they were indeed powerful - but heard horror stories from bike mechanics about cable snapping, and have observed it myself on my cables how they are getting worn out quickly at the top of the lever. I had gravel kings in 32 and must say they were rolling nicely and grip was evident. And yes durability of Schwalbe is always an issue across whole board. May try Vittorias then! My best bet would be if companies made premium road tires in 42c, but they don't. But then... maybe they would get destroyed on gravel roads too quickly.
  • 1 2
 @thedirtyburritto: I have personally experienced how fantastic 29+ is for crossing forests where trail surface is crap (or there is almost not trail) but don't you find them too heavy and sluggish for stuff that can be easily rolled on 1.5" tires? Also be careful with loose small rocks in corners, they work like ball bearings under fat tires. All the grip one could imagine on fixed surface, but hell i felt sketchy on them on loose dry gravel.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Oh these are LX brakes but the levers are old SRAM ones.

Sadly the Vittorias are not tubeless ready. Despite the name, personally I would happily call the slick GravelKings or the new SS version premium road tires.
René Herse (formerly known as Compass) makes super light slicks from 26 to 55mm. But they are very expensive, and the 38mm Barlow Pass performed worse on bicyclerollingresistance.com than the Vittorias which are marketed as light touring tyres. Big Grin Soma also makes some big light slicks. AFAIK both Soma and René Herse are made by Panaracer in Japan.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I push 29+ around mainly because the cush factor is off the charts good in terrain like you describe. I can ride 'normal guy hardtail trails' with ease on my Fargo, and the sluggish factor is simply mind over matter: If you dont mind, it doesn't matter.
  • 1 0
 @fullfacemike: comment of the day.
  • 1 0
 I just built up a Kona Libre and decided to try out GRX 1x with 42T front and 11-46 rear. Can't complain so far. More that enough gearing on the top for really steep stuff and good for the flat road. I am not road racing so I could care less about about my rpms and all that crap that roadies are obsessed with.
  • 1 0
 @SLBIKES: a sonder transmitter can take 42t chainring
  • 1 0
 @SLBIKES: I have “created” a Gravel/Adventure/Monstercross... bike from a Cannondale FSi hardtail. Works like a dream. Only draw back is wide Q factor restricts 2x. It can be done but some extreme chain cross gears aren’t so efficient. As a 1x it works perfectly. Fits upto a 48t no issue. I’m testing the market in my BUY SELL, considering a Salsa Cutthroat instead.
  • 13 0
 I love a gravel bike with 780 bars, 150 in the front, 130 in the rear , dropper post and if I can 26” wheels and a slackish head angle !! Water bottle comes second , soz
  • 4 0
 I'd probably pit a shorter stem on too, just for personal preference.
  • 13 1
 I used a hard tail for gravel and then purchased a gravel bike. Hands down the gravel bike is better in every way for me.
  • 6 0
 The riding positions, while pedaling for hours, that you can comfortably hold are far superior to a mountain bike.
  • 2 0
 @pcledrew: I still think there's going to be a revolution in mountain bike bar ergonomics. With the flat bar, yes it's not comfortable for hours, but it's also super awkward for riding out of the saddle. I love riding out of the saddle on my road bar bike, so smooth and natural. Can we get there on mountain bikes? I hope so.
  • 1 0
 @JohanG: I'm not against trying other layouts. Have you put any thought into something that could work better without adding any hindering characteristics?
  • 12 3
 If the Niner is 25lbs without pedals and with those light tires, I'd rather have a 100/100mm fs carbon bike with dual lockouts. With 40-50mm tires, 20-22lbs is attainable without going crazy on components.
  • 4 0
 @JohanG except it isnt...a brand new supercaliber 9.9 xx1 i weighed last week with everything weight weenied out was 23 pounds. It definitely takes money and effort to get that light with full suspension. The niner isnt focused on weight, but there are other bikes with equal capability that weigh less.
  • 2 6
flag JohanG (May 25, 2020 at 18:47) (Below Threshold)
 @Zimbaboi: Use an i22mm carbon wheelset, 1000g, and 400g gravel tires. Just knocked two pounds off that number. If you could link to that Supercaliber I'll show you where to trim the weight. Also remember we're not spec'ing a dropper.
  • 9 0
 @JohanG: I didn't say it was impossible, but you said "without going crazy on components" you kinda just went crazy on components
  • 8 0
 First bike priority for me is a kickass enduro bike for big rides and races. I got a Transition Patrol. Then I still want to ride everything from road group rides to mellow single track. I could buy a road bike and an XC bike, or I could just buy a gravel bike that I can ride every kind of terrain I wouldn't ride on my Patrol. If you already have an XC bike and a road bike, then a gravel bike doesn't make much sense. But if your other bike has 160mm travel and wide chunky rubber, a gravel bike does a good job covering everything else.
  • 1 0
 On the same boat, own a patrol n my gravel
  • 5 0
 So many miss the point. It’s not replacing a mountain bike. A gravel bike will give you a fundamentally different ride than just riding a hard tail or trail bike on the same route. The trails that are boring on my Django are a lot more entertaining and challenging on my gravel bike. N+1 right? I could probably sell my dh bike, dirt jumper, bmx, fixed gear, and gravel bike and do everything on my 125mm trail bike but where’s the fun in that? Quiver killers don’t exist.
  • 1 0
 Amen. If only they did. The only true quiver killer is finding the perfect bike for your terrain if you only ride one kind of terrain. Once you leave that you'll be compromised, and if you aren't, then you're still on pretty much the same terrain.
  • 5 1
 I used to go to school in Monterey. Fort Ord (Sea Otter Classic trails) was right outside my dorm. I had my enduro and my gravel bike with me, but almost every day, I'd choose the gravel bike. Gavel bikes suck, but that's what makes them fun when you only have green trails to ride, or if you just want to have a wild silly time trying to make it down black diamonds with your buddies.
  • 4 0
 Same. My local trails are dog shit and there local Evergreen chapter sniffs out every rogue trail that’s fun and destroys it so the gravel bike is the only real option to keep things challenging.
  • 3 1
 If you had an xc bike you would have had way more fun out there
  • 1 1
 @Rucker10: evergreen gradually turning into IMBA.
  • 1 0
 @VFreehd: If you guys haven't yet, check out the trails Evergreen built near Darrington. Some of the best I've ridden in Washington. Get some buds and shuttle up to ride showcase showdown, preferably in the wet. Good times will be had.
  • 1 0
 @fpmd: I've ridden there. Honestly a lot of what Evergreen does is great, and I don't even understand how they let their name get applied to the shit that goes on in my area.
  • 1 0
 @fpmd: yes they've definitely made some rad trails and look forward to checking out Darrington. I've built a few trails with evergreen and loved working with the couple guys that helped. But regardless IMBA established standards (not all bad) sneak in and make some trails and systems lean A little too far towards the smooth, wide, and straight trend.
  • 7 0
 When your parents make you share your internet account with your nerdy brother.......
  • 2 0
 this needs more upvotes.
  • 12 6
 Does anyone like riding on gravel enough to buy a whole bike for it?
  • 18 1
 You need to keep in mind that there are places where a long gravel road is literally the most gnar for hundreds of miles.
  • 5 0
 I lived in North Dakota for 8 years and gravel riding was the only riding. It's completely flat in the eastern part of the state so a road bike with big tires makes a lot of sense. Good MTB riding was a 2 hour drive.
  • 3 0
 It’s definitely a good time doing 20+ mph over rough ground. Anything to put a smile on your face is a good time
  • 6 0
 Gravel doesn't mean gravel. It includes dirt roads. And also of course the occasional pavement and single-track. And yes, for the same reason people love mountain biking, it is also fun to have a 50 mile adventure ride on logging roads, just to see where they go.

"If you don't really know where you are and you have only the vaguest notion of where you are going, and you're not sure exactly what's between where you are and where you're going then you, my friend, will have an adventure"
- Kent Peterson
  • 1 0
 @RonSauce: Fair enough, I didnt know gravel riding was a thing.
  • 1 0
 @Lt-Scallywag: Lubbock, Texas. After 40 miles on those roads you'll be begging for a gravel turnoff through some guy's cornfield.
  • 2 0
 @RonSauce: Ride it on a road bike if you want excitement. Don't make a new bike for it.
  • 1 0
 @A-HIGHLY-EDUCATED-PROFESSIONAL: honestly I'm not worried a out it. If you want to buy a bike, for every day of the week why should I care?
  • 1 0
 @RonSauce: Fair enough. I was under the impression you wanted to find gnar without having good gnar. A road bike is great for that when all you have are gravel roads and smooth trails. If you want to maximize comfort for most of your riding and buy a bike that shoots for the comfort on the terrain you'll be riding the most, a gravel bike makes sense if you have the cash.
  • 2 0
 @A-HIGHLY-EDUCATED-PROFESSIONAL: honestly, other than an amazing trail system down the street from me my 120mm hardtail is overkill. I dont ride gravel, but big tarmac/gravel loops are the norm for alot of places in the midwest.
  • 4 2
 I never understood gravel bikes. Back when I had my road bike, I used to have panaracer gravelking tires on it. You could run those at 60 psi and on the gravel roads, it provided enough comfort to cycle along, at a very good pace as well. Or I could pump them up to 100 psi and basically have a pretty good rolling road tire.
  • 4 1
 Me neither. A hard tail mountain bike is better in every way for any kind of off-pavement riding that I am interested in.
  • 2 0
 Its for the sake of having a quiver. If you have a road bike meant for speed, you wont have the clearance to go off road, and youll want a second bike with larger clearance that isnt necessarily a hardtail. On the other hand, if you dont care too much about lycra and aerodynamics. Any bike in the hardtail/curly bar with tire clearance is going to cut it for you
  • 3 2
 @Zimbaboi:

The issues is that cross/gravel bikes are just crap on anything that involves non consistent terrain. Like even rough gravel is very rough on a CX bike, to the point where I would rather be on a hardtail with much fatter tires.
  • 2 0
 I never understood why buyers let the road bike market (except the high zoot aero ones) go to this unnecessarily restrictive tire clearance. Back in the day, all road bikes could be "gravel" bikes with some fatter tires. I bought a nice carbon bike marketed as "cyclocross" that takes 38mm tires in the rear and I use it for road, gravel, and cx racing. One bike. All those. Just swap wheelsets.
  • 3 0
 as someone who doesn't have a road bike at all but does want to put in base miles in - i'm really considering a gravel bike instead of a roadie. It's a gateway drug bike for both sides
  • 5 0
 LEGO bikes vs everything - LEGO bike wins every time
  • 1 0
 Yup!
  • 1 0
 the gravel bike makes familiar trails fun again and makes accessing trails from home easier. I train on my gravel bike to get stronger everywhere and maintain good bike handling skills and you dont need to go insanely fast to make it challenging, unless you wanna make it really challenging and dangerous. I jump back on my mtb and crush ALL of my descending times after not touching it. Im absolutely convinced that its the best way to train if youre serious about racing mtb. My weakness isnt being able to ride fast and technical but maintain full out attack without getting too tired and then slowing down/making mistakes/crashing. People complaining they need fat tires, more gears, and suspension are probably right because they are too soft and weak... But go on and make fun of me for wearing tights and smoking you up and sometimes down if its not too tech. ill be laughing at you from the top step
  • 1 0
 If you want to spend a long day in the saddle an XC bike really sucks because of the restricted hand positions. Also, gravel grinder events are quite fun and really different compared to your normal XC marathon events.
  • 4 1
 Curious how that fully gravel would do with flat bars instead.
  • 9 8
 I bet 100$ Dave Weagle’s Evil gravel with sick geo is faster than this abomination
  • 3 0
 Answer to all the questions: whatever floats your boat.
  • 2 0
 That Lego bike looks like my alu handrail from the ninineties with Manitou forks and World Force stem.....????
  • 1 0
 The Zwift Jockey wheel upgrade is only available this month as part of the challenge. It will be removed even if you completed the challenge, it's a joke...
  • 2 1
 So gravel bikes are good for riding on gravel and mountain bikes are good for riding on trails. Who'd have thunk it?
  • 1 0
 I've always wondered why cyclocross racers don't race on HT mountain bikes. I know I'd be faster on a mtb than a cx bikes.
  • 8 0
 At a certain level your tire size is restricted to 33mm and you're required to have drop bars. I don't race at that level and I'm definitely faster on an XC bike so I spent last season doing what you suggested and, while I did a lot better than I usually do on a cross bike, the guys on proper CX equipment still smoked the shit out of me on everything except the most technical sections. Ends up a cross bike is the horse for the course.
  • 1 0
 I tried cyclocross many, many years ago. I tried both my hardtail mountain bike and my cross-oriented road bike. I don't know why, but I placed much better on the cross-bike. I guess you'd have to try it yourself and I don't know the reasons, but that was my experience.
  • 3 0
 Short answer grasshopper is that they are slow.
  • 2 0
 @igxqrrl: If the course designers are good, there will be a few sections where an xc hardtail will be faster, but that won't make up for the sections where the skinny tires have more speed.
  • 1 0
 @igxqrrl: Reasons: cx courses aren't gnarly enough to overcome the mountain bike's shortcomings; air resistance is higher; they are heavier; pedaling position is not as good for either power output or bump absorption. In that flat back road position, butt hovering above the saddle, a lot smoother over chatter. That suspension fork is just an extra 1000g along for the ride.
  • 1 0
 @kookseverywhere As was mentioned it’s partly an equipment restriction thing,

But a large portion of it is also a frame geo thing, an XC bike is still going to be significantly more relaxed than a CX bike so you won’t really be able to get the same top end wattage, there are certainly top level XC racers who will be able to come close but it will still be a notable difference.
  • 3 0
 Really stretching the definition of “know” here.
  • 3 0
 Take it from a local Cat 3, which means I am neither fast nor slow, if you don't play at a level where your equipment gets checked then you play at a level where they're just glad you showed up with a helmet on. Amateur cross is 100% run what you brung and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
  • 1 0
 @fullfacemike: Such a true statement. Local race has the 100% try-hards, then there's us folishly racing fatbikes and crap in the back doing beer handups.
  • 3 5
 I think the gravel trend is strange. I rather ride a single track on a shitty Hardtail or even a full ridged bike in the forest rather than some squirmy gravel road in between the forest.
The other interesting thing about gravel is it’s very dangerous for your lungs. Have you ever seen a gravel race and seen all that dust? That’s some serious silica going in your lungs!!!
No thanks.
  • 3 0
 I don't think most people are doing races....just FSR rides for lots of km instead of overcrowded technical trails. I agree a semi-technical ride is more interesting, but covering some distance can be fun too and can allow you to reach places with lower crowds.
  • 5 0
 There's another option. Ride a double-track dirt road in the forest. Here in the PNW we have thousands of miles of logging roads that make for fantastic riding. On a gravel bike you can cover triple digit miles in a day plus make good time on the paved roads to get to and from your ride. I recently got a 3T Exploro. It handles 650x2.1 or 700x43 tires, is a damn fast road bike riding from Portland to the Tillamook State Forest, and then damn nice on the dirt roads the rest of the way out to the coast. It's a fantastic combination that I don't get either on a hardtail with dual-purpose tires or on a road bike with 700x32 tires.
  • 4 0
 I found it strange also, then I was given a gravel bike to use for the summer and have to say love riding my gravel bike. It's a nice change and it has really improved my fitness.
  • 2 0
 gravel bikes are an ideal complement for mtb riders. great for training, fitness, distance. they're especially good as urban bikes too, almost as fast as a road bike but the big tires are brilliant for rough urban streets. so if you're based in a big city with limited access to trails, then a gravel makes a great addition.
  • 4 0
 That’s a good point. Nobody has ever kicked up dust on a mountain bike ride.
  • 3 1
 I think every single question can be answered with “Depends”.
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