Yes it’s true that there’s a lot of crossover between the new breed of gravel bikes and cross-country mountain bikes. Both have chunky tyres designed to roll fast off-road, hydraulic disc brakes for wet weather stopping power, and suspension or frame compliance for traction and comfort.
But there’s still a whole load of differences, not least the fact that one has drop bars and the other has significantly more suspension.
So, if you’ve got a gravel bike and your mate has a mountain bike, is it possible for you to ride together and enjoy yourselves on the same trails, or are they still different enough that you need to ride your own way?
To test the theory, BikeRadar pitched lightweight cross-country mountain bike the Canyon Lux against the innovative Canyon Grail gravel bike, complete with it’s eye-catching hover handlebars.
Of course, it needs to be a fair test, so we found a route that would play to the strengths and challenge the weaknesses of both types of bike. The 46km route, which included 1,100m of climbing started at the scenic Llyn Brianne dam in beautiful Mid-Wales and headed out around the Cym Rheadr trail centre, blending gravel roads, hard climbs and techy trail centre descents.
So, can two riders separated by their preferred riding disciplines and respective bikes have a good time riding together, or would they always end up waiting for each other? You’ll have to watch the video to find out.
Gravel bikers and mountain bikers — can they be friends?
Aoife is an experienced journalist, editor and product tester. With 6 years’ experience of reviewing bikes and kit, she’s ridden and rated nearly every women’s road and mountain bike available on the market. She enjoys putting the latest products through their paces, helping riders find the right kit for them and sharing the best advice, hints and tips to help them get the most out of riding. In addition to BikeRadar, she contributes to MBUK, Cycling Plus and formally What Mountain Bike magazines and can be frequently seen and heard on the BikeRadar YouTube channel. She loves big adventures in the middle of nowhere, exploring and adventuring by road or mountain bike, investigating stories and championing women’s cycling in all its forms. @Silverstrange