Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking - I will never be a cyclocross racer
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07-15-08, 09:51 PM
but a friend who is recommended that I get a cyclocross bike, now that I'm thinking of getting a road bike. His argument is that: it gives me the option of putting on wider tires if I needed to since I live on a dirt road and it's a more upright ride than a traditional road bike and I don't like being stretched out. I was thinking that if I got a cross frame, I could set it up for serious hill climbing (we live in the mountains) with a mt bike cassette and shifters, and put them on a trekking bar since I'm not a huge fan of drop bars/STI shifters. Any thoughts?
ever consider a hybrid bike with skinny tires?
07-15-08, 10:25 PM
I think that's basically what I'm proposing to build, but one with a bit more aggressive geometry and one that's considerably lighter and peppier. Most of the hybrids I've been on are kind of sluggish. My cross racing friend, btw, wants me to put on drop bars and compact gearing, He's not so keen on my mix and match.
Buying a drop bar bike and then converting to flat bars is simply wasting a LOT of money. One of the biggest costs in a road bike over a hybrid is the integrated shifters.
It sounds like you want a mountain bike with trekking bars... or something. Or an urban hybrid with bigger tires and trekking bars. It will be a lot cheaper to go that route than to get a CX bike and convert it's bars and shifters.
you can get a nice hybrid if you look.
check out the trex FX series of bikes. the FX comes in a wide range of bikes going all the way up to a full carbon fiber bike... one of these bikes should do you well.
07-16-08, 07:52 AM
Get used to drop bars you won't regret it.
07-16-08, 08:14 AM
You may be right about the drop bars. I'm going to try to figure that out. In any case, I wasn't thinking of getting a bike and swapping out parts. I was thinking of getting a frame and building up a bike. (There's a LBS here that specializes in buying used bikes for parts, so it's possible to get shifters, bars, cassettes, etc., pretty cheaply.) My friend suggested a cross frame because he thought it could be built up with a lot of versatility...
07-16-08, 08:16 AM
yeah, basically there are a lot of frames out there that are marketed as "hybrids" that would be considered "cyclocross" bikes if they had drop bars, and vice versa.
agreed that it would get pretty expensive to buy a cross bike and change out the bars, levers, shifters, and derailleurs. unless you have all that stuff laying around i guess.
check out the giant fcr series, that's probably a little bit closer to what you're describing.
07-16-08, 10:41 AM
How will this bike be used?
Just because you live on a dirt road doesn't mean you shouldn't get a road bike. They make road bikes that have more relaxed geometry and room for bigger tires (Trek Pilot, Gunnar Sport, Cannondale Synapse Sport, etc) that might be a better match for how you intend to use the bike.
That said, my road bike is a cross bike (Soma Double Cross). My only reservation for riding a cross bike on the road is that cantilever brakes are a bit more difficult to adjust than calipers. I've read good things about mini-Vs as a good compromise.
07-16-08, 10:43 AM
Wait, what're you using this for? To me it sounds like you want a mountain bike.
Are you going to be commuting? Road biking? Puttering around on logging roads?
I think for all the above except for road cycling a rigid mountain bike can serve the purpose just as good as a "hybrid" or "'cross" bike can. There's just not enough of a difference between 700c and 26" wheels to argue that a MTB isn't a worthy commuter or logging road bike.
If you're looking at putting in some road miles then yeah, a road bike is best. If it's a double duty bike, a road bike/commuter then I would still say get a road bike, something with braze ons like a Soma Smoothie or Surly Pacer for example.
There are some Ridley 'cross bikes (if you can find a dealer) that are sold with flat bars, tho.
07-16-08, 01:47 PM
These are all good questions, and in fact I'm going to try out the Trek Pilot tomorrow. (No one around has a Synapse in my size.) My plan is to use this as a road bike--taking it out for daily rides, and longer (50 mile ish) rides on the weekend. In order to get to pavement, I've got about 2 miles of (loose) dirt. And the pavement is really crummy. Because I'm in the mountains, there are lots of steep and long climbs. So, a mountain bike would not be appropriate, but neither would a typical road bike with super skinny tires. I want the bike to be light and responsive and comfortable enough to spend hours at a time in the saddle.
07-16-08, 02:00 PM
A bike like the Pilot would work well, so would any number of cross bikes. Just make sure you have a low enough gear for all that climbing. A triple crank or road compact crank would be the way to go.
A cross bike would give you the option of going for an even plusher tire, like 35mm, but out of the box a bike like the Pilot would probably give you the lightest/snappiest ride for the money. I have a feeling that when you look at a few bikes, your gut will tell you which way to go.
07-16-08, 05:44 PM
flargle, i think you're right. i'm going to ride a friend's Redline, a Cannondale cross bike, and try out the Pilot at the bike shop. Fun! Thanks to all for your help.
07-16-08, 06:32 PM
I'd strongly suggest that you don't switch to a "flat" bar out of hand. A conventional flat bar is about as sophisticated as a piece of plumbing pipe, but made out of insanely expensive materials.
If you don't like a drop bar (conventional drop bars are only good for actual road racers) you should take a look a the Midge bar by On-One. It's design is sometimes referred to as a "dirt drop" -- meaning a drop bar for off-road use. Not really. It works well for just about any kind of riding. It features a short reach and shallow drop coupled with generous slope and flare. Many different hand positions, ergonomic shape. Plus you get to use bar tap that comes in a multitude of colors!
After a few rides on my cross bike off-road (on actual MTB trails) I decided that the conventional drop that it shipped with was a poor fit for off-road use. I was fortunate enough to discover the Midge. On the very first ride my level of comfort and control increased dramatically. It just fit so well.
One key to setting up the Midge properly is to couple it with a high-rise stem-- like 35-deg. You want to bring the drop up to a level similar to where your hands would be on a flat bar. With the Midge you'll spend 80-90 percent of your time in the drop, especially in off-road terrain. The tops and hoods positions are just for cruising around, not for control.
I liked the Midge so well after a season of cross racing that I put one on my MTB (Cannondale F700). I had to switch from hydraulic brakes to mechanical so I could run road bike brake levers. I felt that the expense and time was well worth it.
You can find the Midge at universalcycles.com, pricepoint.com and probably through a LBS.
i suggest checking out interrupter brakes... you will remain able to ride upright on the top of the bars and brake while still having the option of using the regular drop bar brakes, best of both worlds. i have them on my poprad and they are cool
Secondary brake levers that "interrupt" the cable housings (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gloss_ho-z.html#housing) used with "śro" brake levers (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gloss_aa-l.html#aerobrake) on drop handlebars. (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gloss_dr-z.html#dropbar) These allow the rider to brake while holding on to the top/middle section of the drop handlebar. Instead of pulling on the inner cable, interrupter levers activate the brakes by pushing on the cable housing.
07-16-08, 09:46 PM
This is good. I didn't know about Midge bars, or about brake interrupters. I was thinking of putting on a trekking bar, not a flat bar, since it can take mt. bike shifters and it has lots of hand positions. But this is a whole other way to go. Thanks.
07-17-08, 04:58 AM
I'd say, perhaps you could look at touring frames as well. They usually have clearance for wider tires in addition to being setup to take triples (for lower gearing). Some may already be set up with trekking bars, as well.
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