– What is the king of the mountains? Is it a heavy-weight
hard-hitting e-mountain bike or is it something
skinny, light, and tight? Chris Opie. – Ah, I'm the gravel bike. This is eMTB versus gravel. (rock music) – Chris, there has been
some king-size talk of these gravel bikes in recent months. They've been heralded as
the new great all-rounder, enabling you to do
everything, from tarmac roads to gravel roads to fire
roads to single track. But, ultimately, I just see people ridin' these down badly maintained roads, the kind you find in, I dunno, middle of Los Angeles or somewhere. – Yeah, or out here in Mid
Wales in the Black Mountains. – I think you've underestimated just how capable these machines are. Today, I have borrowed an
Orbea Terra from Si over on GCN and it's got 40mm. gravel tires on it, Terra speed tires. We've also got hydraulic discs, something which all bikes
should have really, by now. We've got Sram Force gears,
22 speed, wireless shifting– – Whoah! – No cables to snag, and it
looks ultra sleek, I reckon.
Super slack head angle, 70 degrees. – You do like your head angles, don' ya? – Well, I mean, it's worth mentioning. – And you did say that
it was a flying machine that would tear my time apart. – Yeah, I might be
eating those words later. It's a gravel bike, but
it's basically a road bike adapted to ride off road, isn't it? – Yeah, well, my bike also
has fancy carbon fiber and disc brakes. However, it has rims and wheels and tires that are actually in the 21st Century, not the 20th Century. But not only that, it has 150mm. travel, but crucially it has that
long-range 700 Watt-Hour battery and that motor, which is going to get me up those punchy climbs.
But the bottom line is if you go to the mountains, right, you should have a mountain bike, not a city bike– – Yeah, all right. Hey, hang on, before you go, can you do this with yours? – Oh, crikey! Wait, how much is that? – 7.8 kilos, Steve. – Ah, crikey. 20. – Can you even lift yours? – 20. – So, I checked out the route
that you sent me, Steve. 2275 meters of climbing and descending. 16 miles, which doesn't sound like a lot, considering it says it's going to take us three hours to complete. And as much as I do fancy
doin' a three hour time trial, I've always wanted to do
an enduro-style stage race, and so I think we should
break the route down into little stages and race those instead. – Little but hard stages, Chris, and I think it's got all that. So, why not? Let's just do that. But, you'll not have read
the small print of my script. It says that this bike
– Oh. will be unsure of its ability
and identity in a land that is really made for– – Sheep? (Steve laughs) The sheep. There are literally sheep
as far as the eye can see and as far as your ears can hear.
I have never seen so many of them. (sheep bleats) – Righteo, then Chris let's start where both of us are equally comfortable on the tarmac and next to a pub. (electronic rock music) The Red Lion, free house and home cooking. Well, Chris, I reckon this
is going to be the part where you've got free speed. The first part of the journey
is largely tarmac for, I reckon, about 20 minutes on my bike with my super taggy tires
and big volume tires. Whereas, you've got super
skinny, full Lycra, aerodynamic. – See, I reckon it's going to
be nearer 15 for me, Steve.
'Cause this, it doesn't really weigh any more than my normal road bike, anyway. – Yeah, well, how many
watts you got on those? – All right, so these legs, 1600 watts. Admittedly only for a
few seconds at a time. I reckon– – 1600 watts? – Yeah, well I had a misspent
youth on a bike, didn't I? – Holy (sheep beats)! I mean, I've got 250 watts average, but it does peak at about
five to six hundred, but I think that's going to– – That's not bad. – Yeah, it's not bad, but it's not 1600. – The only thing that worries me is you've got 90nm of torque. And I happen to know that 90nm of torque is pretty much the best I've
ever done for six minutes. – Let's crack on with the tarmac stage. (intense music) (timer beeps) (electronic music) – [Steve] That's ridiculous.
(electronic music) (tires whirring) – You're lookin' fast, Steve. (Steve sigh loudly) Worryingly. (Steve screams) (laughs) – Ugh, I got to say, were
you chasin' the sheep there or the fastest stage time? Whatever way, I was
after you and the sheep! (laughs) – I'm not sure what it says, that. It was an unexpected obstacle. I know you promised me
we'd see some sheep, but– – Yeah, I've got to say one thing, I do agree the 25 kilometers
an hour restriction can be a hindrance if you're
racing e-mountain bikes, but we're not racing most
the time, except for today. And tryin' to keep it just
on the 25 k's was really, really physical– – Yeah, I bet. – 'Cause if you go beyond
the 25 k, you're actually into no man's land, where you
put in a huge amount of effort into a 20 kilo bike as a 90 kilo rider, and I am chasin' an 80 kilo rider on a lightweight, skinny bike.
– Yeah, and so my strategy,
knowing that you could only do 25 k's an hour with assistance– – Strategy? – Yeah, I've put a lot of thought into this, Steve.
(Steve laughs) It's important to me that I win. – (laughs) Me, too. – I tried to go 26 k's
an hour the entire time. – Right. – But I promise that was equally tough, because it wasn't as flat
as you'd made it out to be.
– All right, the the score is indoors, what you reckon on the first run? I reckon you've got that,
by a considerable margin. – Yeah, I mean I'm not
out of breath anymore, (Steve laughs) which kind of implies that
I might have the edge there. – However, this is where we transition from tarmac to gravel, and that, being a gravel bike, you should now be in your element. We're on to a farm track, bit of a punchy climb. – Well, that's what's got me worried, because, actually, in
the start over there, on the road segment, you weren't that far behind me.
– I did push a little bit too hard. – But I'm now worried
that if you can maintain anything like that, going up there, I'm going to be suffering. – There's only one way to find out. (pumping music) (timer beeps) (rock music) (brakes squeal) – Ugh, Steve. – Mm-hmm? – Lookin' good. You've been here that long? You've grown a mustache? – (laughs) Was that gravel enough for you? – Whew, I'm a little bit disappointed. You just disappeared. – Well, there is a tipping
point, isn't there? Where an e-mountain bike becomes
faster than the gravel bike and vice versa. And I think we are such a
short way into this journey, we've yet to find out that tipping point. – It's made me nervous
for the rest of the race. That's for sure.
– Well, I suggest we get
now onto that open mountain, where it's a mixture of
smooth single track and bog. (rhythmic drum music) (rock music) – [Chris] Wow. (breathing heavily) That mustache gets bigger
every time I see you, Steve. – As the years roll by. – Ugh! – I started doing poetry. – Oh really?
– Yeah. How long have you been here? – I dunno, five minutes? – Aww! (both laughing) No, you haven't. – I have, I have.
– Yeah, but– – I gave that everything. – I mean, five minutes
between friends, what's that? That's nothing. – Well, our relationship
stacked up a level. I didn't realize we were friends now. That's nice.
(both laughing) That's a start. – But, you know, at the end of the day, I put maximum effort into that. You certainly did the maximum of it. – I did, yeah. – Do you know that the watts here. Are you serious? – 3-5-7. And I had to get off at one point. – Right. – I was goin' through a bog. – Yeah, but look, we're
only 3 stages in, right? I'm sure you might going to
be pullin' back some time on this next section, steep bank. – I reckon I can stay on
the bike longer than you can because of what, your angles. They're all wrong, Steve, but I've got a little secret something up my sleeve for later. – Like I had a little
secret something on my lip? – Ah, it's better than that.
– It's going to have to be,
'cause you're way behind! (laughs) – Yeah, I know. (alternative music) – Stage four! We are starting by here to by there! – Is that Welsh for round the mountain? – [Steve] Kind of, and it starts
with a super punchy climb. Let's go! (rock music) (record scratching) – All right, pull over, stop
the stage, stop the stage! – Why, why, why, I was findin' my foot. – What the hell? So, we've come 2000 feet up a
mountain on natural terrain, and then there is this. Gravel! – Yeah, well, if you're wondering why I was looking so tired, I was up here last night with
a wheel barrow and a shovel. – That is just ridiculous. – We're not even at my
secret weapon yet, Steve. – Right, what's that? Oh, God, seriously? (rock music) – You know what I said earlier, that we were going to go
from over here to over there? Well, there's over there there, look.
(laughs) – You can barely see it. – Can barely see it, mate. (laughs) So, gravel, gravel is your friend. Momentum is your friend. And I think you definitely had
the advantage on that stage. – Do you want to hear a fact? Because that was actually
the first time I've ever used a gravel bike on gravel. – Get out of town. – And to be really honest,
I'm still a little bit dubious about these things– – Really? – It felt really good. – Wow, well, you're fast. I cannot believe how you
got up that last climb. – Momentum, Steve.
– It's ridiculous. – Momentum. – But, Chris, I think you will find that
now we start mountain biking. – We've still not been
mountain bikin' then? – Nope, no. – Cool, and I've still
got my secret weapon. – What? The penultimate stage. I think you'll find this
is proper mountain bike single track racing. – [Chris] Finally, I've been lookin' forward
to this one, Steve. – [Steve] After you. – No, no, no, actually, after you. I'd like you to show me a few of the lines through this top section. – Really? – Yeah, please, yeah.
– Okay, all right. See you at the bottom. – Yeah, you will. What are you doing? – Now, unknown to Steve Jones, this is where my little
secret weapon comes into play. I've spotted, on the maps
earlier, the smoothest, fastest looking gravel
track down this mountain. He has no chance. (fast electronic music) (gravel grinding) – I'm kind of wondering
if Opie has underestimated the potential of an e-mountain
bike across rough terrain.
I've been lookin' at the track
which runs parallel to us, which is a really fast fire road, and I can't see him. I have not seen him
behind us or ahead of us, so either they're miles
ahead or miles behind. (accelerating electronic music) What? No, no! – Where have you been? – Ah, well, I tell you what,
as Moorland crossing goes, that was epic. – Yeah. – I can't believe you
went down the fire road. – I have never ever gone
that fast off road before.
That was insanely fast, tail-wind, downhill, smoothest
surface you can imagine– – Are you kiddin' me? – Well worth the short cut. – Ah, wha, what's the time. – Oh, if only you knew. – Oh, God, what's the time? What's the time? Please tell me you washed it in soft. – 11 minutes. – No, it wasn't! No!
(Chris laughs and claps) No, it wasn't! No, please tell me it wasn't that much. – Go on, what've you got? – 17:55. – Ah, ha, ha, ha, hah, yes! That's those magic five
minutes I've been lookin' for and a comfort minute, as well. – Fair, it is. That is epic. That's exactly what I expect
out of a pro sprint cyclist. – 70 k's an hour I done there. – Get out of here. – No, no, honestly. I was really surprised how fast it was. – Whoah. – [Chris] There it is. So, you've been talkin' up
this last descent all day. – [Steve] Well, here we go,
here is the last descent. (electronic music) Three, two, one, go! (electronic music) That was mega, whichever
way you look at it. – Best run of the day, that final one.
– Gravel or mountain bike, seriously. – I think maybe on that
one a mountain bike would've been better. – Well, I tell you what, I'm surprised that your 1980s mountain
bike with drop handle bars actually performed pretty well. – I think it did help that
I grew up riding them. (Steve laughs) Um, I think you had more fun, Steve. – Do you think so? – I can't believe how fast you were going down those last descents. – Only 'cause I couldn't go any slower. – I think what happened today does not surprise me in the least. And I think these bikes are really so good when it comes to gravel roads. And I keep tellin' people
who whinge about the 25 k restriction on these bikes. If you want to go faster
on roads, or fire roads, get yourself a gravel bike, because, how fast did you say you went? 70 mile an hour, down that road? – Uh, 70 k's an hour on that gravel road, (Steve laughs) which felt pretty fast, to be fair.
Um, yeah, there was a
lot of time where you are over that 25 kilometer an hour limit– – Yeah. – But only on the gravel roads? – Yeah. – But you'd probably never
think to take that one on a gravel road anyway. – I tell you what, though,
that gravel road you did, I was bog-trottin' on that bike as a pretty accomplished bog trotter. I can tell ya. Even though I was slower,
I think you'd have found it very, very difficult to
have ridden that bike– – I honest think I would've been running. – What was your final time? – My final time? I'm quite proud of it,
'cause I feel confident, one hour, seven, and 11 seconds. – [Steve] (gasps) Wait for
the old Peugeot to go past. My time, one hour, six minutes (Chris groans and laughs) and 28 seconds. But it was a story of
profit and loss, right? – [Chris] Yes. – [Steve] Absolutely all through the day. And like I said, we'll repeat it again, that bike was absolutely
lightning down fire road. Obviously the rider was, too.
– Yes, he was good.
But, I think if we did go into more challenging technical terrain, that bike would probably pull away. – Yeah, and it did look
like you had more fun, but you disappeared on a
couple of those descents and even some of the
technical climbs, actually, where you had traction and I didn't. – Yeah, but disappearing and
then there's disappearing at high speeds. But anyway! Great day out on two great bikes. End of story. So, there ya go, let's here your thoughts on e-mountain bike versus gravel bike. Chris, I had a great day, great day!
– Thank you, Steve. Thank you very much for having me. – We've got the Red
Lion really close to us. We can go there in a minute. Uh, let's leave thoughts on the video, and if you want to see more epic rides, have a look at what me
and Hannah Barnes did on the Knoydart Peninsula
in Scotland over here. And also the Lake District
Epic with Adam Brighton. In the meantime, just click
on the globe to subscribe and get even more e-mountain bike videos.
– And how 'about a big thumbs
up if you enjoyed this video? – So, Chris, I'm lookin'
forward to that next challenge. – I am, as well. Next week? – Game on..