Cyclocross - Could someone help clarify
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I was looking through the internet and as I bike around (I have a road bike, i think?) and I notice that I could not figure out the difference between a cyclocross bike and a road bike other than the fat tires or cyclocross. Is that the only difference?
I see a lot of similiarities though. Same tire diameter 700, same drive train, handlebar, shifter, etc.
Thanks, I know the similar but more interested in the difference between the two.
10-10-09, 09:54 AM
Not much difference between a road bike and a cross bike and a few decades ago racers used their road bikes to do cross racing to keep up their fitness. Today there are specific bikes that race cross but mainly this is to invent a market. The usual differences you'll find are in the brakes, where most cross bikes will have either cantilever, v-brakes or maybe even discs. Geometry is another place you may find differences between road and cross where the cross bike will have a higher bottom bracket and possibly longer chain stays. Cross bikes frames and forks will be beefier with wider chain stays and forks to fit the fat tires and along with the brakes, allow mud to pass through easier.
Other differences are usually gearing where a cross bike will have something like a 46/34 crankset which will work on road, but this is usually lower in the top end than most would like. There are even special brake levers for cross that are mounted on the top of the handlebars, but this is a matter of preference. On my cross bike, you'll find my handlebars have very shallow drops that flare out a little. This is very good for cross, but might not be desirable for road.
While the differences are subtle, these differences make one bike suitable for cross where a road bike difference make it mroe suitable for road. You could ride either for either purpose, but you wouldn't be as pleased with the results as you would if you used a purpose built bike.
Same thing can be said if you compared a MTB with cross bikes. Some similarities there as well. But I wouldn't want to take a cross bike where a MTB shines. It could do it, but it wouldn't perform nearly as well.
10-10-09, 10:23 AM
+1 The main and most easily detected (visually) structural difference is that the frame and fork have bosses to mount the brakes that you won't find on a road bike.
I did see a guy at the last race using standard dual pivot brakes however. Maybe they were long reach so that he could fit the fatter tires in there. Some road bikes have fork and seat stay tolerances that simply too tight to fit 30-35 mm tires in there.
10-10-09, 10:44 AM
I've seen people use these brakes as well and if used in dry conditions, they work fine. Let's see how far they go when it's muddy.....
Thanks for the replies, appreciate it.
10-11-09, 12:46 AM
A couple of other CX specific touches you might see are the cables on the top of the top tube and the top tube itself flattened on the bottom.
Helps facilitate shouldering the bike.
10-11-09, 12:16 PM
Cross bikes are touring bikes with fewer braze-ons.
10-11-09, 03:06 PM
Not much difference between a road bike and a cross bike and a few decades ago racers used their road bikes to do cross racing to keep up their fitness. Today there are specific bikes that race cross but mainly this is to invent a market.
This is far from true. Older road bikes are much more like modern cyclocross bikes than today's roads bikes. Road bikes have evolved shorter chain stays and reduced tyre clearance and other features that make them more "aggressive" over the years, making them less suitable for cross use. It's for this reason that you now see road bikes designed for Roubaix (racing on rougher roughs, less aggressive riding position) and winter training (can fit slightly wider tyres and fenders) to supplement mainstream road bikes.
As Smart Cycles (the authors of the famous SmartFit system) put it:
A discerning rider should look upon lightweight road bikes as basically falling into two categories.
1. All-out racing bikes (and lower-priced clones that purport to be the same, but have none of the competitive advantages and all of the disadvantages of these bikes) that, while not offering the most comfortable or pleasurable ride, give the serious athlete a chance to race without worrying that his equipment will hold him back. Many items that claim to be in this category are marketing tools aimed at the misinformed. But more about this later.
2. Riding bikes. An intelligently designed bike will offer a wonderful ride, handle like a dream and only slightly compromise the all-out need for the ultimately competitive bike. I believe that these are the bikes most people should ride.
This all used to be so easy.
In 1975, a professional rider rode a bike made of Columbus, or Reynolds 531. The usual group was Campagnolo Nuovo Record, but a mixture of French or even Spanish components could be used. The rims would be tubulars like Fiamme strung up with 36 spokes, and have handmade (cold-treated) tubulars glued on. The bars were most likely Cinelli, the chain and cogset Regina. The bike probably weighed about 21.5 pounds. It was the state of the art. No bike could be made that was faster, more reliable or significantly lighter.
At the same time, no bike could be had that rode better than a handmade frame, built by a master out of 531 or Columbus and assembled with the pro equipment of the day. The bike was not only competitive at the highest levels of the sport, it rode comfortably and had excellent vertical compliance so that it adhered to the road. The sensual element that gives a bike ride its real pleasure could find no better tool than the true pro bike of the '70s.
Bikes have changed..
..and a typical road racer is now, as stated in 1., a much more specialized creature and generally a pain in the ass than its 1980 equivalent.
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