Higher TSS on gravel vs road?

I consistently see a higher TSS (compared to perceived exertion) when riding my gravel bike vs my road bike. Is there something about riding gravel that would lead to this? Something about my gear? How I perceive my effort? Something else?

My gravel bike is a specialized Crux with 1x Force AXS XPLR and Quarg powermeter. My road bike is specialized Aethos with 2x Force AXS with Quarq powermeter.

Any thoughts?


1 Like

Hey Jim,

A couple thoughts, although I’m sure there are many others.

  1. There should not be an internal load difference between Road and Gravel. The position is similar enough, etc.

  2. This means that an differences would likely be due to external factors.

We can break those down into two categories: External Demands and External Measures.

External Measures is fairly easy to quantify: If you have a Smart-Trainer that you trust, match efforts with both bikes at a controlled workload. Does each Quarq measure similarly?

External Demands is the other factor to consider.
What is your terrain like on the gravel bike compared to the road? Hillier routes are likely to lead to increased workload.

What is the surface like? Softer, chunkier, looser, rockier soils will all lead to increased rolling resistance and therefore an increased external demand of the rider.

If your TSS/HR appears higher, what is your VI on the road vs. gravel? I’d be the VI is higher on the gravel bike due to the higher variability in the terrain whereas the road bike is likely at a lower VI and more steady?