Can I Survive A Road Race On A Gravel Bike?

Can I Survive A Road Race On A Gravel Bike?

Gravel bikes. They are fast, light and versatile. The true do-it-all bike! But can they truly do it all? Can a gravel bike keep up in a road race? To find out, we sent Conor to Thruxton Circuit to enter a crit race on his Orbea Terra gravel bike. With 40mm gravel tyres, a single 40T chainring on the front, 10-42 cassette on the rear and MTB pedals, how long can he survive in this race?

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50 Comments

  1. Geoffrey Honey on May 5, 2023 at 8:58 am

    Stellar content again gcn! Well done Conor! You have demonstrated what Jan Heine of René Herse Tires has been saying for years. Wider tires do not slow you down!



  2. Georg S. on May 5, 2023 at 9:01 am

    I’ve never attended a race with a/my gravel bike but gotta say I use it in all terrain. That’s not always the best for the tires, but it works pretty good and I’m still fast! And now that’s spring I can go into the forests and wilds with my gravel b 🙃 also now it’s getting better in weather conditions I can get my road bike back on track 😛



  3. krishnan srinivasan on May 5, 2023 at 9:02 am

    Fun 🙂



  4. Markus Folkesson on May 5, 2023 at 9:03 am

    I am a biker on the road, not on tracks, so no races for me. But as Treck have figure out with Emonda, a gravel bike and a endurance bike is more or less the same.



  5. Bartosz Krencik on May 5, 2023 at 9:05 am

    I have a gravel frameset or more like an endurance frame that can handle 50mm tyres. I got deep wheels, 32 mm Road tyres and its perfect. Just swap the wheels, 45 mm gravel tyres and it’s a perfect bikes for both worlds.



  6. kevin ndungu on May 5, 2023 at 9:06 am

    a channel for bike ads



  7. MasterBata on May 5, 2023 at 9:07 am

    Would be interesting to see the same bike with road tires. I have a gravel bike with 2 sets of wheels, aluminium with g-one gravel tires and 50mm deep carbon wheels with contis.
    I’m about 2-3km/h faster on the road wheels… That’s quite a bit.



  8. Ken Baxter on May 5, 2023 at 9:08 am

    Hmmm. Ex pro, rides bikes for living, Cat 3? Really. So much content around on "is a gravel bike as good as a road bike". The reality is these are barely any different from road bikes with slightly different tyres and a single chain ring, not that many riders on that circuit benefited from two rings. Lots of this content seems to be just justifying their existence and supporting the marketing money making dream that is cycling and pedalling (pun intended) yet another bike we all need!



  9. Michael Piromalli on May 5, 2023 at 9:08 am

    Try going up a grade and doing it again



  10. Magic Knight on May 5, 2023 at 9:08 am

    Connor is a strong damn good rider, a gravel bike will not be the best but I am not surprised how well he did!



  11. Jeff Humphrey on May 5, 2023 at 9:09 am

    And GCN continues it’s descent into more disingenuous presentations..We want reality…..



  12. Andrés Padilla on May 5, 2023 at 9:12 am

    Nice stuff, interesting. Still not sold into this gravel bike fashion… I´d rather have a light CX MTB for gravel and what else comes because not all you find away from tarmac is nice smooth gravel. Note I have Synapse that I kind of gravel a little 😉 so it is not denial.



  13. Neri Garcia on May 5, 2023 at 9:13 am

    I have Speedvagen Rugged Road which is basically a gravel bike but I set it up as an all-road with 35c slick tires. I’ve started using this as my all-arounder and have even taken it on my club group rides amongst all the carbon race bikes. It does make me work that little bit more to keep pace but it can keep pace and I’m pretty sure my ride is a lot more comfy. I do think that the sluggishness is due to the tires, but maybe more my legs. Although, I still think my carbon BMC Team Machine is a lot more efficient and is about 3 pounds lighter which makes it easier for me to maintain speed for less effort.



  14. Antichraldo on May 5, 2023 at 9:13 am

    I run a scott gravel addict 20 as a roadbike with 28 mm slick tyers. 1x42t 10…44 and ita complete fine. Sure crit racing might not be on the cards – you start to spin out at 45…50 km/h but in terms if any road biking its more than fine. Only weak link tbh are long high gradient ascents as something like 36t chainring would be more comfortable but there are non where i live.



  15. BikeSki Mawk on May 5, 2023 at 9:13 am

    Well done Connor.



  16. mozarthecht on May 5, 2023 at 9:19 am

    I was on a road race yesterday with my gravel bike but with road tires. Because of my gear ratio i could climb up every hill. Not everybody was able to ride up the verry steep section with up to 23%. so i would say it depends. 🙂



  17. Alex on May 5, 2023 at 9:21 am

    Impressive, Conor. Tbh, I didn’t think a 40 tooth chain ring would have a chance! Maybe I need to reevaluate my opinion on 1x set-ups.



  18. BJM276 on May 5, 2023 at 9:22 am

    I thought it would be too much for a gravel bike but well done for a trying



  19. Donald Duck on May 5, 2023 at 9:22 am

    Still not sure of the difference between a gravel bike vs an endurance bike, both can have reasonable tyres, however I much prefer getting out and cycling quiet sustrans routes and tracks than enduring busy roads with aggressive car drivers these days.
    For me, ideally, Ultegra Di2, 40ish tyres, good for road, tracks, light offroad and a strong carbon frame which can take a pannier rack when required for the multi-day excursions.
    However the elephant in the room is potholes, my dog trailer even got a blow out yesterday, much to the dismay of Murphy, are thin road tyres now too dangerous on UK’s treacherous pothole laden roads? Swerving around the multitude of potholes on roads full of speeding angry aggressive car drivers is a recipe for disaster.



  20. Soor plum on May 5, 2023 at 9:23 am

    Basically, there a 1980’s mountain bike with some gucci gear on them.



  21. Mike Woeckener on May 5, 2023 at 9:23 am

    Way to go Conor! Way to humble the "experts" who have never accomplished what you did!! How do you feel now Alex and Olie? Owe your fellow presenter an apology or at least a pint or two, perhaps?



  22. aa401nd on May 5, 2023 at 9:24 am

    It was great to see these images from the inside of the race! 👍 Why don’t they do the same in Pro races?🤔



  23. Cyclical-UK on May 5, 2023 at 9:24 am

    This is useful for showing that you don’t need one bike for every eventuality. It always used to be that way. I’ve used my aero road bike on a section of gravel & forest track for years as part of my standard training ride, never even had a puncture.



  24. ikabod on May 5, 2023 at 9:24 am

    Connor, what kind of shoes are you wearing, is it custom colors? Thanks



  25. Alastair Gain on May 5, 2023 at 9:25 am

    I have a 44 front ring and run on 47mm Byway WTB tyres and it is fast, with the right tyre pressure I’ve ridden my gravel bike at over 20mph av for over an hour, but mostly it’s not about all out speed on the road, it is an exciting bike to ride, really opens the world up to go where you want, it is the perfect all round bike, love it



  26. Brett Goodwin on May 5, 2023 at 9:25 am

    Just imagine how much better your result on a proper bike 😂



  27. Ride Run Walk Scotland on May 5, 2023 at 9:27 am

    I’m doing my first 10 mile TT aged 57 on my 700×47 Gravel bike tomorrow 😮😂



  28. David Henry on May 5, 2023 at 9:27 am

    Not surprised that Connor could hang with them. I suspect that the gearing rather than the tires are what held him back. Nice ride Connor!



  29. Global Cycling Network on May 5, 2023 at 9:30 am

    Have you ever entered a road race on a gravel bike? 🚴 Let us know in the comments below! 👇



  30. Ryan on May 5, 2023 at 9:32 am

    industry keep shilling this gravel bike nonsense



  31. Cycleops70 on May 5, 2023 at 9:36 am

    I went for a ride with my 11 yesr old son at the weekend.
    I followed him for a bit.

    Now I know how Conor feels trying to draft normal sized people.



  32. Sam B on May 5, 2023 at 9:39 am

    Ahhhh I wondered why you were in our race 🤣🤣🤣🤣 and there was me thinking I nearly had you on the line lol #13 @richardclewes555



  33. Jem Panuncialman on May 5, 2023 at 9:41 am

    Next time, use a super aero gravel bike.



  34. Presta chuck on May 5, 2023 at 9:41 am

    Conor is a powerful beast. You might have had a different result had he entered the Pro-1-2 race with that machine though. By the way, was this Manon’s revenge for the unplugged derailleur incident?



  35. Mr G on May 5, 2023 at 9:43 am

    Reminds me of that meme where there is a fox sitting in a pack of hunting beagles trying to blend in 😁😄



  36. Nicolas Ledoux on May 5, 2023 at 9:46 am

    Using a cyclocross bike as a road/tri/gravel bike (with 28mm/42mm tires and 40×11-36). Good enough on flat/uphill but sometimes get dropped on group-ride downhill… which is OK because I ride with friends and don’t care about being competitive. Considering a bigger chainring/cassette though.



  37. C Schmi on May 5, 2023 at 9:47 am

    I personally think Hank should have done this. Conor is a great cyclist but Hank is smaller and he’s built for crits. You can literally see Conor’s head above everyone else’s. Hank would have been able to hide behind people better and give the gravel bike a chance. Conor did well but I think Hank could have gotten top 5.



  38. Aleksi Joensuu on May 5, 2023 at 9:48 am

    Conor is pretty easy to spot in a group 😀 <3



  39. eddy druppel on May 5, 2023 at 9:49 am

    Hy guys , I,ve got a question for you : my Zannata has a problem , or maybe I have 😢 when i m riding in the Belgian Ardennes with very bad tarmac my front wheel starts whobbling under strong braking and i need to relief the front break and rely on the rear brake which compromise my corner speed heavily . If i lose some Bar on the front tyre (2 bar) iits less but still i can not use my front brake in heavy conditions to the fullest . Please help ,comment !!



  40. Andrea Gerosa on May 5, 2023 at 9:51 am

    Yes, but in a pro gravel competition a road bike wins over a gravel bike 🙃



  41. Chris Moss on May 5, 2023 at 9:53 am

    The roads are so bad I use my gravel bike on the road way more than my road bike. I smash past virtually everyone. Comfort does produce performance.



  42. DriveMeNuts on May 5, 2023 at 9:55 am

    The gearing in this video allows for a speed of 47.5kph pedalling at 90RPM.
    For a moderately powerful person with better tyres it would be ‘okay ish’ on a flat track with no wind.
    But if there is a 1% downhill or tailwind on any part of the track, then your legs will spin out.
    The GRX 1x has 40T (shown in this video) and 42Teeth option.
    The bike in this video should really have had GRX 2x with 46 Teeth the larger chain ring. With a 10 tooth Cassette that would get you 57kph.
    GRX 2x is a necessity if you want diverse riding (i.e. both gravel and road).
    Conventional 50/34 (compact) will 11-34 cassette gets you 54.0kph at 90RPM.



  43. Filippo Pogačar on May 5, 2023 at 9:56 am

    Thanks Conor



  44. JH on May 5, 2023 at 9:56 am

    Conor, great job. Gravel bikes are the best. I am not into Road races but I have always believed that they are the only bike needed by most riders



  45. Elmer Hermann Sr on May 5, 2023 at 9:56 am

    A guy could spend £9000 on a bike or…use an old steel bike with tubular tires and drop 8lbs of body mass and get bigger legs.



  46. Gary Eanes on May 5, 2023 at 9:56 am

    I knew the gravel bike would hang just fine. I can easily hang with "spirited" group rides on my Checkpoint with 40mm CinturatoH tires on 40t/10×44 setup. I’ve won numerous sprints with that gearing. If I’m really wanting to be cheeky, I’ll slap the 44t on the front while keeping the 10×44 rear. With that, I can mix it up with the fast races and be very very competitive. Spin to win I guess. The shelter of the group makes it work. If I am solo, the dedicated road bike is absolutely faster for the same watts. But, I have no draft benefit at all. Good on ya for dicing it up with the skinny tire goons on that gravel bike 🙂



  47. Monkey on May 5, 2023 at 9:56 am

    Some road wheels with 28mm slicks and a tighter cassette, and a 52 tooth chainring; you’ve got yourself a crit weapon



  48. Nettled87 on May 5, 2023 at 9:57 am

    I’ve owned a gravel bike for a few years now and love it. I have two sets of wheels; road and off-road. I’ve used it for group road rides, family rides, gravel rides, and city commutes. Gravel bikes can be a great do-it-all bike for those who can only afford one bike.



  49. Charles Chua on May 5, 2023 at 9:57 am

    What’s with the extreme saddle tilt???



  50. Kiran Machiraju on May 5, 2023 at 9:58 am

    The gravel bike was cool. You should have gotten off and onto the track as the crow flies to finish first instead of taking every turn.