CGR or Gravel – How do you decide between them?

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

A side by side comparison of the CGR and Gravel geometry which highlights the Gravels long and low geometry.

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.

CGR

VERSATILITY GUARANTEED

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.

Luggage

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.

Handlebars

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).

Gearing

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.

700c Wheels

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


GRAVEL

BORN TO SHRED

GRAVEL

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.

Gravel SL carryall mounts

Luggage

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.

Bottle Cages

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.

Handlebars

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

Wheels

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.

Gearing

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 AvailabilityCGRGravel
Endurance for road riding
All-weather commuting
All-road (one-bike-to-do-it-all)
700c & 650b wheel compatible
Available with road-focused gearing
Available with gravel-specific gearing
Off-road enhanced geometry
Bikepacking/ Adventure touring

In summary

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.


Which bikes earned the title of award-winning bike in 2020/2021? Find out here.


Read our caring for your e-bike battery guide for our top tips on how you can maximise the batteries efficiency throughout its lifespan.


19 Comments
  1. Interesting article, would be great if you could do a similar piece covering the difference/s between the Endurance and CGR – particularly in terms of geometry, overall weight etc, as I’m trying to decide between the two and other than the tyre choice it isn’t very clear from the website what the differences are..

  2. Hi Jason,
    Thanks for getting in touch and it is funny you should mention this as this blog is already in the pipeline. We’ll let you know once it’s live, which should be later today or tomorrow at the very latest.
    Best Regards
    Team Ribble

  3. Hi. I’m confused as the Gravel summary suggests it’s not suitable for road/endurance but it is for bike packing / touring. Surely bike packing / touring does encompass long road stretches and therefore it should be suitable for road endurance riding too?

  4. The table says the CGR isn’t available with gravel specific gearing, but you can get a gravel version of the CGR with GRX, so…

  5. I Second JVN on that comment. As an CGR SL owner, I’d love to know the differences between the Endurance and CGR.
    By the way, I absolutely love the my CRG SL – just curious if I made the right decision as I mainly ride on roads and occasionally off-road.

  6. Can you help me understand why the Gravel has a lower front end, then adds riser bars to give you a higher position? Surely the net impact on riding position is exactly the same as a slightly longer headtube and standard flat bars?

    Cheers!

  7. Is there a reason the Gravel wouldn’t be considered an all-weather commuter? It looks to have mudguard mounts – is there something in the geometry that would not make this a useful commuter? It seems to have similar seat tube and headtube angles, but the Gravel requires a longer seatpost (more comfort?)

  8. The gravel forks and riser flared drops put on the CGR would be perfect for me. Thanks for this guide, hasn’t made my new bike decision any easier!

  9. This makes no sense, comparing geometries of CGR SL and Gravel SL they are the same ????

  10. Hi Jon,
    Thanks for getting in touch, the purpose of adding riser bars was to offer more room for the hands when running a bar bag rather than raising the front end. The long and low geometry provides more stability especially at speed, and when navigating technical descents. When combined with a short stem it provides more direct and responsive steering.
    Best Regards
    Team Ribble

  11. Having a small compact frame means you cannot get it over your shoulder to carry it when you need to go over off road where you cannot ride !!!

  12. Hi James,
    Thanks for getting in touch, It must be restated that what you have read in the blog are simply our ‘recommendations’ for where the bike excels best. The Gravel can certainly be ridden on the road but its MTB style geometry makes it less efficient on the road than the CGR. When we talk about bikepacking we are really referring to the Gravel ranges’ extra luggage capacity, which makes it especially suited to carrying vast quantities of luggage over the type of road surfaces you can expect to encounter on a circumnavigation of the globe. If your tours only involve tarmac road surfaces with a little off-road now and again then the CGR is the better choice, you simply lose the extra capacity of the front fork mounts.
    Best Regards
    Team Ribble

  13. Hi Marcus,
    Thanks for getting in touch. Everything you have read in the blog about where you should ride each type of bike is based on our recommendations only. We aren’t saying where you can and cannot ride the bike, only what terrain suits each bike the best. If somebody rides on the road say 90% of the time and only heads off-road 10% of the time riding then they may feel that the CGR will be the better package. It boils down to how efficient each bike is o-road and off it. This includes the full build package of finishing kit, gear system and wheels as much as it does the geometry. A gravel groupset is less efficient on the road due to the bigger steps between gears. 650b wheels are less efficient on the road as you have to exert more effort to achieve the same speed.
    Best Regards
    Team Ribble

  14. Hi Barry,
    Thanks for getting in touch, whilst having a small compact frame will make shouldering the bike more difficult there are alternative ways to carrying a bike. The only bikes that are designed specifically with features to make carrying it easier are pure cross bikes really. If shouldering a bike is not possible due to frame size then employing a technique used by MTB’ers still enables the bike to be carried over/around obstacles.
    Best Regards
    Team Ribble

  15. Hi,
    Thanks for getting in touch, I’m working on the blog. From your comments though, I have to say that if you ride off-road at all then the CGR is the way to go. It’s not quite as efficient on the road as the road-specific Endurance but not unduly so. However, the endurance range of bikes is not designed to be ridden off-road. Keep your eyes peeled for the blog and we hope you continue to love your CGR as I do mine, which also gets used mainly on the road with some off-road thrown in for good measure. Albeit too infrequently for my liking!
    Best Regards
    Team Ribble

  16. Here’s what’s puzzling me… the Gravel is better off road because of its long-and-low geometry, whereas the CX goes in the opposite direction, and… is designed specifically to race off road?

    Is it just me?

    Also, the geometry table for the CGR SL and Gravel SL are identical. Is one of them a copy-and-paste mistake?

  17. Hi Joe,
    Thanks for getting in touch. Well yes and no! A CX bike shares some of the same attributes as a Gravel bike, a raised bb drop to provide more clearance, a shortened head tube to provide a more dynamic position for off-road terrains. However, a CX bike is not designed with a compact geometry but instead features a horizontal top tube with a flat underside. This is specifically to enable the bike to be shouldered to clear the obstacles on a CX course. A gravel bike borrows the long, low and slack geometry of an MTB and thanks to its larger tyre/mud clearance and compatibility with 650b wheels offers more compliance and comfort. A CX bike has a limited tyre clearance due to UCI regulations which restricts tyre width to a maximum of 33mm. The Gravel SL & CGR SL share the same gravel racing geometry, my apologies for not adding a disclaimer about his in the geometry section, I have now rectified this.
    Best Regards
    [email protected] Ribbble

  18. Hi Pete,
    Thanks for getting in touch,
    Please accept our apologies, there should have been an explanation of this in the geometry section. All of the gravel models except the Gravel SL feature the new long and low geometry. The Gravel SL and CGR SL share the same gravel racing geometry. The blog has been updated with this information
    Best Regards
    Team Ribble

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.