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 intended use of the bike?
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 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. A 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. Thus, providing the agility required to navigate trail hazards like tree roots, carve through corners with surgical precision and navigate technical descents.
The CGR family has been described as the ‘swiss army knife of bikes’ which gives you some idea of the versatility of this platform. They are ‘all-road bikes, a jack of all trades rather than a master of one and designed to excel across a variety of terrains. Their on-road performance means that you can easily keep pace on group rides or go all-out for a few PB’s.
Mounts on the rear triangle enable a rear pannier rack to be fitted. Perfect for carrying those essentials for a casual day trip or a change of clothes, laptop, lunch, etc for the daily commute to work. With the capacity to fit mudguards, the CGR is a hugely capable all-weather commuter and winter training bike.
Bottle Cage Mounts
Like most road bikes, all of the CGR’s are designed with the fittings to mount two bottle cages, situated on the down tube and seat tube.
Each CGR bike equipped with road-specific handlebars that are ergonomically shaped to provide all-day comfort. With further options available in BikeBuilder, you can choose standard alloy handlebars, upgrade to carbon for those marginal gains and even opt for a fully integrated carbon handlebar & stem combination (CGR SL only).
Road double chainring systems offer a closer gear progression with less gaps between shifts. In essence, this means that when shifting between gears your pedalling cadence remains more consistent than a 1x system. The road optimised gearing improves efficiency when riding on the flat, climbing and descending. With the option to add wider (climbers) range gearing the road gear systems can also cope with some off-road action when the mood takes you.
Larger diameter road wheels improve rolling efficiency, particularly on paved surfaces, 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. However, they lack the agility and vibration cushioning characteristics of the smaller wheel.
Click here to view the CGR Range
BORN TO SHRED
A gravel bike is a specialist vehicle with one sole purpose in mind. To maximise off-road performance and rider enjoyment when tackling the most challenging terrain. They deliver a ride that is fast, light and agile, and explode into life when tearing up singletrack or navigating techy descents at adrenaline-pumping speeds.
All models in the gravel range (except the AL) have mounts for a rear pannier rack, in addition to ‘carryall’ mounts on the front forks. The fork mounts allow oversized cages to be fitted for carrying larger items of luggage such as ground mats, sleeping bags, etc. In combination with handlebar bags and under saddle seat packs, the Gravel range can handle a huge volume 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. Each gravel bike (except the electric AL e) is fully equipped with no less than 4 bottle cage mounts. These are situated on the seat tube, on the down tube, underneath the down tube and on the top tube.
Developed specifically for our gravel range, an all-new alloy riser handlebar features gravel-specific ergonomics for enhanced comfort and control over the roughest surfaces. Flared drops provide a wider, more stable stance for improved handling at speed, while the riser shape provides more room for fitting 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
650b wheels enhance the go-anywhere attitude of any gravel bike and enable the fitting of large air volume tyres. The smaller diameter of the wheels enhances the agility and traction of the bike 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 most extreme gravel tracks.
For a bike range dedicated to gravel, there were some standout choices when it comes to the drivetrain. Groupset manufacturers Shimano and Campagnolo have developed all-new, gravel-specific gear systems, GRX and Ekar respectively. Whereas SRAM has been producing 1x drivetrains for some time. 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||✘||✔|
|Bikepacking/ Adventure touring||✘||✔|
So, to summarise, the bottom line of whether to choose a CGR or Gravel boils down to where you intend to ride and how you wish to ride. If you require a bike that performs like a road bike on tarmac and also offers you 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 ride faster, smoother and explore the most challenging terrain. The Gravel series’ mammoth luggage capacity also makes it supremely suited to epic bikepacking trips into the unknown.
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