Since the launch of our gravel dedicated range of bikes, a question we are sometimes asked is ‘what is the difference between the CGR and Gravel bikes?’. If you are torn between the two, our in-depth guide should provide the answers you need to decide whether a CGR or Gravel bike suits your riding style and needs best.
What is the bikes intended use?
Or more specifically, what sort of terrain do you expect to ride on? Will you mainly ride on paved or unpaved surfaces? The terrain that you expect to encounter most regularly should be the definitive factor in deciding whether a CGR or Gravel bike best suits your needs. In this blog, we explore the differences between the two different bike types. Read on for the full lowdown on CGR vs Gravel.
Let’s talk geometry
The first major difference between the CGR and Gravel bikes is the geometry*. A CGR frame features a road-focused endurance geometry that places the rider in a more relaxed, upright riding position. This all-rounder geometry provides long-distance comfort over varied terrain, keeping you fresher for longer.
*Excludes the Gravel SL which shares the same gravel racing geometry as the CGR SL
Gravel bikes are designed specifically for off-road riding and racing. The gravel-optimised geometry offers a longer and lower frame for a more planted feel over technical terrain. A long top tube combines with a short head tube and handlebar stem to deliver a stable ride with more direct and responsive steering. Delivering the agility necessary to navigate trail hazards like tree roots, carve through corners with surgical precision and navigate technical descents.
The CGR family of bikes has been described as the ‘swiss army knife of bikes’. Which gives you some idea of the level of versatility that this platform offers. The CGR falls under the category of all-road bikes, a jack of all trades rather than a master of one. They are designed to excel across a variety of terrains and in all weather conditions. Yet despite their multi-terrain prowess, the CGR is still highly capable when it comes to paved surfaces. It’s more than up to the job of keeping pace on fast group rides.
Discreet mounts enable a rear-mounted pannier rack to be fitted for any luggage carrying duties. Perfect for carrying those everyday essentials for a casual day trip, or a change of clothes, laptop, lunch, etc for the daily work commute. The CGR 725 Steel model also features an additional top-tube mount to allow a bolt-on top bag to be fitted.
Bottle Cage Mounts
In traditional fashion, each CGR is equipped with 2 bottle cage mounts situated on the seat tube and down tube.
As standard, each CGR is equipped with road-specific handlebars that are ergonomically shaped to provide all-day comfort. With further options available in BikeBuilder, you can choose flared bars for ultimate off-road control, upgrade to carbon to save weight, and even opt for a fully integrated carbon handlebar & stem combination for a fully cable-free look (CGR SL only).
Road double chainring systems offer a closer gear progression with fewer gaps between shifts. In essence, this means that when shifting between gears your pedalling rhythm remains more consistent than a 1x (single chainring) system. The road optimised gearing improves efficiency when riding on the flat, climbing and descending. Or there is the option to spec a 1x system with gravel-specific ergonomics and optimised gear ratios.
700c or 650b Wheels
Larger diameter road wheels improve rolling efficiency. This is particularly beneficial when it comes to riding on paved surfaces. Where big wheels roll faster and maintain speed better than a smaller diameter wheel. If taken off-road they will actually roll over obstacles better than 650b wheels, thanks in no small part to their larger wheel diameter. However, they lack the smaller diameter wheels agility and vibration cushioning characteristics. Tyre widths up to 45mm can be accommodated with 700c wheels and 50mm with 650b.
Click here to view the CGR Range
BORN TO SHRED
A gravel bike is a specialist vehicle, engineered for one sole purpose. To maximise off-road performance and enhance rider enjoyment whilst tackling the most challenging terrain imaginable. They deliver a ride that’s fast, light, agile, and explodes into life when tearing up singletrack or navigating techy descents at adrenaline-pumping speeds.
Each model in the gravel range is equipped with a whole host of luggage mounting options to transform them into the ultimate adventure bike packers. At the rear, there are mounts for a rear pannier rack (excludes Gravel). Upfront, mounts on the fork allow oversized cages to be fitted to enable larger items of luggage such as ground mats, sleeping bags, etc to be carried. In combination with handlebar bags and under saddle seat packs, the Gravel range can accommodate a vast amount of luggage. Ensuring you never have to leave home without those bikepacking essentials.
Whether you intend to grind some gravel or embark upon the bikepacking trip of a lifetime, staying hydrated is essential. Our gravel bikes (except the electric AL e) are fully equipped with no less than 4 bottle cage mounts. These are situated on the seat tube, down tube, underneath the down tube and on the top tube.
Developed specifically for the gravel range, an all-new alloy riser handlebar features gravel-specific ergonomics for enhanced comfort and control over even the most boulder-strewn of surfaces. Flared drops provide a wider, more stable stance for improved handling at speed, while the riser shape provides more room for a bar bag. The Gravel SL carbon model also offers compatibility with the new gravel-optimised iteration of the LEVEL 5 carbon integrated handlebar system for fully cable-free aesthetics.
650b or 700c Wheels
650b wheels enhance the go-anywhere attitude of any gravel machine and enable the fitting of large air volume tyres up to 50mm in width. The smaller wheel diameter delivers more agility and traction for aggressive cornering at higher speeds. More fun and more control, what’s not to like? This allows supple tyres to be fitted at lower pressures to cushion both bike and rider from the shocks transmitted when riding on the gnarliest gravel tracks.
For a bike range dedicated to gravel, there were some standout choices when it came to the drivetrain. Groupset manufacturers Shimano and Campagnolo have developed all-new, gravel-specific gear systems. Whereas SRAM is an old hand at producing 1x systems and has been producing high quality 1x groupsets for some few years. These specialised groupsets have been developed specifically for the gravel scene with gravel-optimised gearing, ergonomics, and rugged reliability. With no front mech to worry about, and a clutch on the rear mech unshipping the chain on bumpy terrain is a thing of the past.
Click here to view the Gravel range
Differences at a glance
In the table below is a simplified comparison of our recommended usage for each bike type, in addition to what component options are available for each within BikeBuilder.
|Usage /Spec Availability||CGR||Gravel|
|Endurance for road riding||✔||✘|
|700c & 650b wheel compatible||✔||✔|
|Available with road-focused gearing||✔||✘|
|Available with gravel-specific gearing||✔||✔|
|Off-road enhanced geometry||✘||✔|
So, to summarise, the bottom line of whether to choose a CGR or Gravel comes down to where you ride. In addition to how you wish to ride. If you require a bike that performs like a road bike on the tarmac with the versatility to add some off-road adventure into your rides, then the CGR is the clear winner.
On the other hand, if you require an incredibly fast and agile gravel grinder for off-road fun and shenanigans then a Gravel bike is the one for you. They are designed to be ridden faster, smoother and explore the most extreme of terrain. The Gravel series’ mammoth luggage capacity also makes it supremely suited to epic bikepacking expeditions into the unknown.
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