Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking - Is cyclocross right for me?
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10-24-07, 08:12 PM
I'm wondering if you guys can give me some advice. I live in New York City and recently gave up running due to knee problems. I planning to stay in shape by biking, mainly around the city and in the park. Anyone who's lived here knows that the roads aren't the smoothest around and can be downright punishing to a wheelset and your body. I'm considering a cyclocross bike because of its larger tires, which I'm hoping would help absorb some of the road noise before it reaches my rims, bike, and body. Lately, however, I've been wondering if it would be possible/feasible to upgrade a traditional road bike with somewhat thicker tires and stronger rims to withstand city streets on a regular basis. How does a decent set of rims like Rolf Vector Comps hold up in regular city riding (I'm 5'9" and 150lbs) and what are my choices for going larger with the tires?
I really appreciate your help!
10-24-07, 08:24 PM
Something like a Bianchi Volpe or Surly Cross-Check with Panaracer Pasela 32C tires would be very suitable and would give you plenty of versatility for future riding or touring.
10-24-07, 08:55 PM
As long as the wider tires can fit - you could prob use any frame you want.
10-24-07, 09:11 PM
yes it is possible to run largeish tires on a road frame if your brake calipers comply. that being said a cross frame like the crosscheck etc. will probably do you better in the long run.
any normal road rims should take up to 35mm tires and hold up if the wheel is tensioned well. have it looked over by a mechanic you trust and you'll be golden.
10-24-07, 09:14 PM
Let's break your needs into three questions:
1) Is a cyclocross bike what you need?
It depends on the cyclocross bike. A pure cyclocross race bike is probably not what you want. You should look at some the newer cyclocross bikes that can also be a decent commuter and light touring bike. These will feature the same clearance for bigger tires, but will also have a more relaxed geometry and features such as fender/rack eyelets. You should think about replacing the offroad tires with 32mm or bigger touring tires. A bike shop should be able to show you examples of both types of cyclocross bikes.
2) Can a road bike do what you want it to?
It depends on the road bike. Modern road racing bikes won't have the clearance for tires fatter then 25mm. An older road bike likely will have clearance for bigger tires, as would touring bikes and the new breed of "sport touring" or "comfort road" bikes. Your local bike shop should be able to show you examples of these types of road bikes.
3) Are Rolf Vector Comps good for your needs?
These are decent competition level wheels designed for speed and strength. While designed for 23-25mm tires, you should be able to go up to 32mm without much of a problem. Whether they are your best choice at that price point is a different matter. I find that for non-racing needs, a set of 32-36 spoke with 3 cross lacing is about as good as it gets for comfort and strength. A set of machine made wheels with hand-tensioning is about $250. Complete hand-builds (the best kind) are about $350.
Best of luck and as a former runner, welcome to cycling!
10-25-07, 07:30 AM
You might want to look into getting a touring bike, which would also fit your needs quite well. :)
10-25-07, 07:55 AM
Thanks everyone. I will probably stick with the cyclocross mainly because it seems more flexible. The reason I began considering road bikes was that the choices and availability were much greater (especially when searching for a used one). Bitterken mentioned that the newer road bikes, which is what I'm looking at, won't have clearance for tires larger than 25mm. That seems about right when you look at the brakes. I'd also like the ability to hop on/off a curb, or ride down a few stairs without worrying so much about messing up my wheelset.
I'm pretty comfortable on a true road bike, so I don't expect to have much trouble with the cyclocross geometry. I'm looking mostly at the Lemond Poprad and Felt F1X, but leaning towards the Poprad because of the steel frame. I know everybody likes the Cross-Check, but I just can't stand the look of it (shallow, I know)...
10-25-07, 12:30 PM
The question is not if cyclocross is right for you, but are YOU right for cyclocross?
Therein you shall find your answer.
P.S. I have an '06 Poprad (with cantis-- I'm glad to see they realized their error for '07 and brought the cantis back for the '08 model). I really like it. Yes-- steel is good-- make sure you treat the inside with framesaver!
Surly makes awesome stuff that is well thought out.
10-25-07, 12:37 PM
I'm looking mostly at the Lemond Poprad and Felt F1X, but leaning towards the Poprad because of the steel frame. I know everybody likes the Cross-Check, but I just can't stand the look of it (shallow, I know)...I don't think it's shallow at all, it's being honest. (I love the rough 'n' ready aspect of the cross-check, but to each his own.)
I think disc brakes on the Poprad is a great, forward-thinking idea, and I have read and heard good things about the Avid BB7.
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