Gravel or Cyclocross
You like riding off-road. It can be muddy, or dry as dust. Through forests, over fields and back on the road. You prefer drop handlebars. That means you’re a CX enthusiast. Or, no wait, maybe you’re an all-road lover. Perhaps both? What is the difference between a cyclocross bike and an all-road bike? They both have off-road tires. Both have enough tire clearance, off-road-appropriate gearing and disc brakes. So, where do they differ? We’ve placed two experts around a table. All-road vs. cyclocross. Why do they prefer their own Ridley? What kind of riders are they? And what do they think of each other’s bikes?
Bart Gregoor, all-road lover, owner of Belgian cycling hotspot Café Coureur: “I’m riding the Ridley X-Trail Alloy with SRAM Apex1 and Fulcrum wheels. The gravel movement is fairly new, but I was sold immediately. Having the chance to go off-road, but without having that super aggressive fit. I can go off-road and conquer pretty rough terrain. The all-road bikes feel solid and really comfortable. But don’t be mistaken, this isn’t a tank of a bike. It’s not super light either, but it does perform perfectly.”
Eli Iserbyt, CX professional and 2018 U23 Cyclocross World Champion: “I’m a pro rider with Marlux – Bingoal and riding on a Ridley X-Night SL since 2016. It’s assembled with DT Swiss CRC1100 Spline 38T wheels and a Dura Ace groupset with a Rotor cranks. I just love this bike. Its reactivity is on such a high level. It’s perfect for me. Of course I use it as a pro rider, but I’m sure that any recreational cyclocrosser would like this feeling.”
What would happen if our CX pro would ride an X-Trail. Or what if our all-road lover would go off-road with our X-Night? We’ve put the theory into practice. Bart and Eli got to test each other’s bikes for a while. They rode them both off-road and on. Took them through forests and across fields.
Eli: “Bart has an alloy version, but I tested the carbon one. So, it’s a bit closer to my carbon X-Night SL. Either way, it’s a big difference. This bike is made for adventure. A bit more at ease. But it gives you a confident feeling. The X-Night is more aggressive. You gotta love that, but perhaps not everyone does?”
Bart: “To put it boldly, the difference couldn’t be bigger. If you would compare it to a family, the X-Trail and the X-Night are like fourth cousins. You feel they share the same blood; they both like to go off-road. But their characters are so different. The X-Night SL is the wild, impulsive nephew that has insane reflexes and likes to show off. Whereas the X-Trail is the calm nephew, but also that guy where you just know ‘still waters run deep’. When you ask him if he wants to start a new adventure with you, he just looks at you and says when do we start?”
Eli: “Exactly! I just think they complement each other. Do you want to go hard? Take the X-Night SL. There’s no other bike that pushes you and motivates you to take the next turn even faster. Or do you want to explore the world…not as fast as possible, but with that extra portion of confidence? Well, then pick the X-Trail.”
Bart: “That’s what I just love about the X-Trail. It motivates me every time to discover new roads. Turns out the road is going off-road? Even better!”
Let me challenge myself, please
Over time, Bart and Eli have gotten to know their respective bikes quite intimately. But what kind of terrain do they especially enjoy taking their bikes on?
Bart: “That’s a hard one, I really like variation. Up, down, long stretches of straight ahead. Sometimes a bit more technical, but not too much. I don’t mind riding singletracks where you take a turn every ten meters, but I’m not that good at it. So, I take it slower. I do have to admit that I really can enjoy a wonderful piece of nature. When you’re riding through a forest and suddenly the top appears. You stop, only to realize that there’s so much more to discover. How cool is that?”
Eli: “I’m one of the more technically skilled riders of the CX peloton. I’m thinking it’s because I just like to go hard through corners. Or discover what obstacles I can take without crashing. Or discover the limits of me and my X-Night SL. I’m not saying I can’t enjoy a gorgeous piece of nature, just like Bart. But I want to have fun on the bike as well. Let me challenge myself on the way to the top. That way I will enjoy the cherry on the cake so much more.”
The ultimate tip
Perhaps one ultimate tip from both of our Ridley ambassadors?
Bart: “Do you love to discover the world? But averages or KOM’s aren’t your main focus? Then I would pick the X-Trail. Carbon or Alloy? I just love alloy because it’s so comfortable. The few extra grams I don’t mind. I need to be as sharp as a knife myself, before I start shaving grams off the bike.”
Eli: “Do you like challenging courses? Do you want to get the best out of yourself off-road? Then you need the X-Night SL. The Ridley CX bikes are the ultimate partners to reach your goals.”