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  1. #1
    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    Cyclocross bike for road/distance use?

    I know some folks race cyclocross, and people ask about bicycles all the time, so it's my turn!

    I am looking to weigh some options, and come early next year (possibly late this year) I want to get a new bike, or possibly light used few-year-old kinda thing. I went to a cycling shop here in Chicago and talked to one of the reps there (made sure to let him I wasn't buying today so as not to "waste" his time). After telling him what I am interested in doing, i.e. some commuting on nice days, long distance (100 miles +) cycling, potential cycling camping, speed, and so on. I mentioned mainly in the city and on paved trails, and that I grew up riding dirt trails on a MTB.

    He suggested the Trek Ion cyclocross bike. After talking about the setup, the differences between that and a Domane, and that I am rough with my stuff, he basically talked me into it. He suggested I wait until later in the year where the '13 model prices drop and the new '14 rolls out, so that is what I will do.

    But wanted to know my fellow C&A folks who ride a cross bike as a road bike what they liked. Or should I go with the Domane? I really like the Iso-coupler (or whatever it is called) with the seat stem on the Domane, but living in Chicago with our wonderful streets and potholes, and the fact the salesman rides both but prefers his Ion, I lean more towards a cross bike. Any thoughts?

    This is also my reward for dropping weight. I want to be around 200-205 before I allow myself a new bike, and I have 20-ish more to go after starting at my highest of 272 at the end of '12.

    So, have at it!
    Looking forward to my winter commuting adventure.....

  2. #2
    Senior Member mustang1's Avatar
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    My background is road cycling. A few years ago I bought a CX bike but wasn't too thrilled by it. I continued riding the rb. Last year I bought another CX bike and while initially I didn't like it much, now I like it rather a lot. I still prefer riding the rb, but the CX bike has become my daily ride.

    The ride is comfortable, it supports a rack, has full fenders.
    1992 Peugeot mtb, gone
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  3. #3
    Senior Member slowride454's Avatar
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    I love my Soma Double Cross and ride it most of the time. It is my do everything bike, and if I had to chose just one bike it would probably be it. Having said that, I really would not want to part with my Specialized Roubaix for its light weight and better aero when in road specific events. Climbing hills at mile 80 of a 90-100 mile race would be brutal with twice the weight under me.
    Specialized Roubaix - Canfield Brothers Yelli Screamy - GT Karakoram SS - Soma Double Cross Disc

  4. #4
    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mustang1 View Post
    My background is road cycling. A few years ago I bought a CX bike but wasn't too thrilled by it. I continued riding the rb. Last year I bought another CX bike and while initially I didn't like it much, now I like it rather a lot. I still prefer riding the rb, but the CX bike has become my daily ride.

    The ride is comfortable, it supports a rack, has full fenders.

    What's the reason you prefer the RB over the CX bike? Just the ride position?
    Looking forward to my winter commuting adventure.....

  5. #5
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    I can't give you any direct feedback about CX bikes as I don't yet own one. But, lately I've been thinking along the same lines.

    A fender capable, 28mm tired, disc braked, all weather, training/communting/grocery getting machine. Hmmmm.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

  6. #6
    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
    I can't give you any direct feedback about CX bikes as I don't yet own one. But, lately I've been thinking along the same lines.

    A fender capable, 28mm tired, disc braked, all weather, training/communting/grocery getting machine. Hmmmm.

    The "all weather" aspect is what appeals to me most. I want to commute in the winter which I like that the CX bikes can hold fenders.
    Looking forward to my winter commuting adventure.....

  7. #7
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    I'm a big fan of my soma doublecross as well. Cross bikes are great for road riding. You can run skinny tires or fat. You can run fenders and a rack or not. The OP does need to decide whether he wants a triple or a compact. The Surly cross check is a nice bike and easy to modify because of the bar end shifters.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chitown_Mike View Post
    The "all weather" aspect is what appeals to me most. I want to commute in the winter which I like that the CX bikes can hold fenders.
    Same here. Fenders and disc brakes. And, wide'ish rubber. It rains here quite a bit. Braking and less tire spray would make all weather riding safer and less uncomfortable.
    Birth Certificate, Passport, Marriage License Driver's License and Residency Permit all say I'm a Fred. I guess there's no denying it.

  9. #9
    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
    I'm a big fan of my soma doublecross as well. Cross bikes are great for road riding. You can run skinny tires or fat. You can run fenders and a rack or not. The OP does need to decide whether he wants a triple or a compact. The Surly cross check is a nice bike and easy to modify because of the bar end shifters.
    The one thing I like about the Ion is it follows the standard crank gear mounting for most road bike out there, so I could swap to a triple from a double, or gear it for a CX race and then back to road. Which is what the salesman said he does since he is a messenger and runs some CX events.



    Quote Originally Posted by bigfred View Post
    Same here. Fenders and disc brakes. And, wide'ish rubber. It rains here quite a bit. Braking and less tire spray would make all weather riding safer and less uncomfortable.
    We get sloppy snow and slush in the winter. Riding with a rooster tail of cold slurry isn't my idea of fun so fenders are rather appealing. Plus I can probably find stud tires for it, although I might also turn my Schwinn into my general commuter and I know I can run fatter tires on that.
    Looking forward to my winter commuting adventure.....

  10. #10
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    I just finished 273 miles in 5 days on a Motobecane CXX. It is my first "real" bike, so I can't compare it to a rb, but it served me well on my supported tour. My favorite CX moment was when I was alone for awhile, ahead of everyone else, and realized that our map maker had messed up and had us on almost 2 miles of sandy 2-track. I rode it, but the 23mm roadies wouldn't have been able to. I did see 32.7 mph coming down the last good hill, and felt very secure on my 32mm tires.
    "There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode." chasm54

  11. #11
    That guy from the Chi Chitown_Mike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChuckHubbert View Post
    I just finished 273 miles in 5 days on a Motobecane CXX. It is my first "real" bike, so I can't compare it to a rb, but it served me well on my supported tour. My favorite CX moment was when I was alone for awhile, ahead of everyone else, and realized that our map maker had messed up and had us on almost 2 miles of sandy 2-track. I rode it, but the 23mm roadies wouldn't have been able to. I did see 32.7 mph coming down the last good hill, and felt very secure on my 32mm tires.

    I'd probably run some skinnier tires for when out on the road and then keep some knobbies for any non-paved fun but glad to hear it served you well. I am thinking a CX bike will be better suited for my riding style.
    Looking forward to my winter commuting adventure.....

  12. #12
    Senior Member Notgrownup's Avatar
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    One thing for sure is the CX is a solid set up...i should've studied my purchase more before i bought my CAAD8... i might've ended up with a CX of some sorts...Might support my bis A$$ better.
    BE THE PERSON YOUR DOG THINKS YOU ARE.....

  13. #13
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    I'd wait til after interbike which is middle of next month. All the 14' model bikes will be release in that week +/1 2 weeks of the show.

    Allot of CX models will be sporting disc brakes this yr. If I bought a CX bike this yr, I'd want disc brakes. Fork shutter from rim brakes its pita plus disc brakes will modulate a bunch better in foul weather.

  14. #14
    Getting older and slower!
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    Some years ago I bought a Trek XO1 to ride the unpaved rails to trails and around town. Nice bike. Much stiffer than my road bike and a bit harsher ride, but it carries me on unpaved trails and is solid.

  15. #15
    Senior Member mustang1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chitown_Mike View Post
    What's the reason you prefer the RB over the CX bike? Just the ride position?
    Geo allows me to put power down better. The wider tires (despite what the wide-tires-are-just-as-fast-brigade say) are not as fast as the slimmer variety. It's not just the slim tires feel faster, they really are. I find acceleration much better on the for example, when I see the traffic lights are still green, I always sprint for them on the rb. On the CX, I usually start coasting.

    I cant fully explain it, but I think it's a combo of geo and other factors, but on the RB i have to concentrate to NOT go fast. On the CX, I have to concentrate TO go fast. Also the RB makes this almost-silent hum which (psychologically) gives me the impression of power. The rb is just more fun to ride.

    To counteract that, I can take my CX bike off ride which is also a bunch of fun.
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  16. #16
    Senior Member mustang1's Avatar
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    Oh, one more thing I have to mention about my CX bike which I think is quite important:

    My first CX bike, a tricross, had 'normal' CX brakes (cant remember what they're called) but they shuddered quite a bit. I had a little rubber-strap fix that kinda alleviated the problem, but could still feel vibrations during braking. My current CX bike does not have this problem as I have road brakes.

    The old CX bike also had MTB gear cassette whereas the new one has road cassette (tiagra) with much closer ratios - suits me better.
    1992 Peugeot mtb, gone
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  17. #17
    Senior Member mustang1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chitown_Mike View Post
    I'd probably run some skinnier tires for when out on the road and then keep some knobbies for any non-paved fun but glad to hear it served you well. I am thinking a CX bike will be better suited for my riding style.
    My new CX came with conti cyclocross tires which, while (shallow) knobby, were surprisingly fast on tarmac. But they punctured often so I swapped them for schwalbe marathon supreme which are great. I'm keeping the conti tires to see how they fair in snow.
    1992 Peugeot mtb, gone
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    2009 Specialized Tricross, gone
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  18. #18
    Senior Member
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    If it fits, why not. I had a XO1 12 years ago and it was my favorite bike. did a few centuries and was gravel grinding before it was ever heard of. Had a Cross Check and the frame was noodley. Now I am riding a 20 year old Bianchi and love that steel frame. Some of the steel frames accept wider tires if you want to that route. I think the Domane is overpriced, my buddy just bought one. I would look at a Gunnar also.

  19. #19
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    Another good but lesser known frameset is the Handsome Cycles Devil. It's built stout like a Surly Cross Check but has more roadish geometry yet still takes wide tires. It can be set up in numerous styles:

    8013611499_f9b7faa493_o.jpgDevil (15).jpg3713862026_c171ab06e6_o resized.jpgDevil (8) resized.jpgIMG_1308.jpg
    Currently riding a 1995 Trek 730 Multitrack converted to 26" wheels.

  20. #20
    Senior Member chrism32205's Avatar
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    I have a Bianchi Axis cross bike. Like others have said a cross bike is a "do everything" bike. I have a rack and fenders on mine, 25mm tires. It's setup for commuting. While it is not as fast a my road bike, it would still get the job done on long rides.

    Both bikes would be nice, but if I had to pick one I'd go for the cross bike.

  21. #21
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    Been riding a Tricross (comp) as my road bike for the past four years or so -- averaging about 3,200 miles a year. I wouldn't give it up for anything. Much of my riding is my commute, which can be flat and fast or hilly depending on route. My usual route is 28 miles round trip.

    Just got back from a morning ride with my wife, and we decided on a whim to cruise down a few miles on the top of a grass covered flood control levee with some single-track type paths...no issues even over the rocky parts (she's on a cross bike too).

    I usually have 28mm gatorskins on it, but in the fall when I'm commuting in the dark and there is more debris on the road I'll put on 32mm tires with more tread - the extra cushion is nice, and they arent' much slower.

    This past weekend we both competed in a fairly large sprint triathlon. I took the fenders, locks, lights, etc off -- and I out climbed and out road large numbers of "road" bikes and even some of the pure triathlon bikes...even those being ridden by people half my age. Maybe I'd have been a couple minutes faster on a road bike, who knows.

    IMO cross bikes are a great all around choice for road riding, unless you plan on fast group rides -- and even then it motor matters more than the bike.

    As for the brakes - I have the original Avid Shorty 4 that the bike came with - put on some good brake pads (I like the Kool stop dual compound mountain pads) and toed them in a bit - not shudder and plenty of stopping power. And I live on top of a bit hill so I need to be confident in my brakes.

  22. #22
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    Last year I picked up a Specialized Crux CX bike for racing with the intention of making it my wet weather commuter after race season. Snapped on a seatpost fender and worked out great as a commuter when the weather turned wet. During the Summer kept on rolling and the CX bike saw just as many miles as my road bike.

    What I like. The CX bike opened up many new miles of trails and dirt/gravel fire roads for me. Also that CX bike is more rugged. It rolls over potholes and junk on the shoulder of the road and keeps on going. I do a fair amount of camping and the CX bike is the ride I bring. My commute route (45 miles round trip) has some parallel gravel paths and CX likes to play out there too.

    https://vimeo.com/71122767

    Things I don't like. It's heavier than my road bike and takes longer to get up to speed. Canti brakes on my CX aren't as strong as the brakes on my roadbike. However, I put a set of Koolstop salmon pads on those canti brakes which did improve it some. It wouldn't be my ride of choice for a 100 mi day, but have done many 50-60 mile rides on the CX bike. Because of the weight and rolling resistance of the bigger tires it's not a great bike for hill climbing, but put a bigger cassette on her and it's passable.

    Today ... Saturday ... I could grab either road or CX for a nice solo ride. My choice is CX.

    I'm 190 lbs (formerly 250 lb) and between commuting and recreation, put tons of miles (~12k/yr) on my bikes.

    Good luck with your choice.

  23. #23
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    I ride a Specialized Tricross Sport - I wanted a bike that would be good on road but also be OK for light off-road use. I've got a hardtail MTB if I want to get muddy, so the primary focus was speed on the road without getting something that wouldn't work if I hauled my fat ass over gravel paths or tried to put panniers on it.

    Over time I've gradually modified stuff to focus more on speed than off-road capability (changed the 700x32 tyres for 700x25 Duranos, lowered the bars etc) but it still works on things like canalside towpaths, and I can sling panniers on it any time I need them. I often think of upgrading parts of it but then get to thinking there comes a point where what I need is an all-out fast road bike. I don't have space for any more bikes so just keep riding the tricross. I must admit I really like it, I probably put about 1000 miles on it the year I bought it (bought it in August and promptly went away for a long trip), then 3000 miles the second year and about 2000 so far this year. I weigh about 240-250.

    ETA: I've used the tricross (with 700x32 tyres) for anything from 200km brevets to riding across muddy fields, and since I put the 25mm Duranos on it I've done rides up to 200k brevets, although don't tend to ride on muddy fields in it any more.
    "For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"

  24. #24
    Senior Member mr,grumpy's Avatar
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    I had a Trek 1.5 It was fast. Stupid Fast. It was harsh. Stupid harsh, to the point that I didn't want to ride it. I have a MTB. It comfy but slow. Stupid slow. I have a Tricross. It's fast. Not stupid fast. Its comfy. It's rugged. It can suck up bumps and go on dirt trails and roads. It supports my vast bulk. If I were going to be doing a lot of "group rides" I might get another road bike . For me, where I live and how I ride and what I like to do, my Tricross works just fine for me. (fenders this racks that, utility, commute blah-blah)
    "I'm built like a marine mammal. I love the cold! "-Cosmoline
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    My little bike blog.

  25. #25
    Hey Charlie Pedal Faster
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    I have a jake xc bike, and a CAAD road bike. I think of the jake as a truck. If I need to haul stuff the jake works great. I have done up to 30 miles on pavement but it was a SLOW 30 with stock tires and not much faster with slicks. One thing I would be sure to do (besides get the right tires) is get a better seat. My last trek had a seat that tried to sterilize me.

    Another option I would look at is a Jamis Aurora . I had a coda and that thing was bullet proof. The aurora is basically a classic steel frame with modern components, but lighter than a xc bike and with actual road wheels and tires.

    Personaly I love my aluminum road bike, and suffer the stares of being a fat guy on a thin bike. But whatever works for you workd for you I say. Just take your bike on the longest hilliest ride you can find before you buy it.

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