Cyclo-cross - gravel - adventure road/tourer

Jamie W

New Member
Tyne and Wear
Hi All,

Can anyone explain the real big difference with the above 3 styles of bike, if any?
I currently ride a Giant roam xr3 Hybrid (2011) and would like to move away from a flat bar to a drop bar style of bike that still covers the waggon ways and roads with a bit more speed than my current bike which has 700 x 35 tyres and 27 gears.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Legendary Member
Speed more down to the engine and the road surface than the style of bike. Get one that has the gearing and geometry you want, that fits you properly, will wear the tyre size you like. takes mudguards, pannier rack as required a colour that you like and fits your budget whatever that may be ...ignore the marketing terms ...and ....

Go test ride a few that meet your criteria


Silencing his legs regularly
How long have you got?

Seriously though, those two (yes two) categories- gravel and adventure road are the exact same thing- have a lot of crossover, because of the types of surface involved are frequently similar, and because different manufacturers (and riders, naturally) have varying ideas on what exactly they should be. CX bikes have won gravel events like the Dirty Kanza. You could ride CX on a gravel bike. And there were gravel bikes well before the marketing men came up with the term.
+1 to @vickster. And type of tyre is more important than size of tyre. My Litespeed is fitted with 35mm Marathon Supremes. Every bit as fast as my Viner (23mm front 25mm back) on smoother roads, faster on bumpier ones. Something like Gravel Kings would be better for off-roading, still good (less good, natch) on road.


Bionic Subsonic
If I stuck knobblies on my tourer then that would meet all the normal requirements for a gravel bike (though it does have rim brakes).

Basically, with the exception of some very racy CX bikes, then you can probably take any Touring/Gravel/Adventure bike and it will be reasonably good at the areas the others claim to specialise in. The race-focussed CX bikes are likely to have relatively high gears, be lacking in bottle cages and luggage mounts, and a more aggressive geometry. Other than that the titles you've used are different sorts of drop bar hybrid really.


Legendary Member
Northern Germany
As already mentioned, Gravel/Adventure road/Tourers are all pretty much the same beast. To prove the point, earlier this year I took my old Dawes Super Galaxy (Back in the early nineties these were considered the dogs spherical bits in touring bikes) and stuck some fat gravel tyres on it. Aside from the old school cantilever brakes, the rest of the bike is not that far different from modern gravel bikes and because it is a tourer, it has enough clearance for tyres up to 38mm.

Here in Germany we have hundreds of kilometres of forest gravel tracks, the ideal place for these bikes. Not technically demanding enough for full mountain bikes, but rough enough that a bike shod on 28mm tyres would bog down and prove to be a bit of a pig to ride with any sort of decent forward motion. Having ditched the 28mm Marathons in exchange for 38mm gravel tyres, my bike now flies along quite happily on these surfaces. I took the experiment to it's logical conclusion in Easter and went bike packing in the Harz mountains on some quite tricky off road terrain. All great fun and demonstrating that there is a bit of a point to this Gravel biking lark.


World class procrastinator
I have a Croix de Fer. Technically a gravel bike and it’s fabulous on the trails. Currently it has road tyres on (28mm) and it’s comfy, quick and fabulous on the road too.
It is my do everything bike. There is also the facilities to take panniers to go touring. I am a little bit smitten with it.


I’ve got a Surly crosscheck. It can do most things well. It’s been a tough commuter, child carrying flat bar(current guise) and a 23c speed machine....granted not on TdF level but good enough for most applications. It’s well worth a nosey imo
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