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  1. #1
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    Why do cyclocross bikes make for such good commuters?

    I see a lot of people in here talking about using cyclocross rigs for commuting. Is that a waste of money? What makes them so good for it? My commute will be in Seattle, so it will have hills and rain and need to be responsive for city riding. Is the cyclocross style what I should be looking at? Discuss.

  2. #2
    Crushing souls Hickeydog's Avatar
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    I'm no expert, but the nice thing about cyclecross bikes is they have the holes for racks (most of them), they are light, they have road frame geometry (for more aero riding), they come with knobie tires.... the list goes on and on.
    Quote Originally Posted by Wordbiker View Post

    What's frightening is how coherent Hickey was in posting that.

  3. #3
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    They're basically just heavy-duty road bikes with room for fat tires and fenders.

    Road bike = fast.
    Heavy-duty = reliable.
    Fat tires and fenders = I don't know, some people like these and live in places where it rains a lot.

  4. #4
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTones View Post
    I see a lot of people in here talking about using cyclocross rigs for commuting. Is that a waste of money? What makes them so good for it? My commute will be in Seattle, so it will have hills and rain and need to be responsive for city riding. Is the cyclocross style what I should be looking at? Discuss.
    It's not that they make such good commuting bike but it's because they are hot right now. A cyclocross (yes I own one) is basically a shortened version of a touring bike (own one of those too). It has wide stays and wide forks, as well as cantilevers. All of that adds up to a bike that has room for fenders, if you want them, and wider tires for a smoother ride.

    Some of them have rack mounts for carrying stuff...a must if you are going to be serious about commuting...but some of them don't. They are short wheelbased so if you want to carry panniers, you may have heel strike issues.

    Some of the cyclocross bikes are built like a tank and others are more road bike...and perhaps a little more delicate. Lots of them have carbon forks which are light but maybe not the most durable for commuting.

    If you really want the ultimate in go everywhere (and I mean everywhere), carry all of your junk (and I mean all of it), hell-for-stout commuter bike then look at touring bikes. There are lots of them out there but the 3 very best (in ascending order, imho) are the Trek 520, Surly LHT and Cannondale T series with the T2 being a better bike than it's more expensive T1 bother. These bikes have every rack/fender mount you can think of, they have space for 3 water bottles and they will last you for decades.

    As an added bonus, you can take touring for an adventure that beats the pants off any commute you'll ever do
    Stuart Black
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  5. #5
    Luggite bsyptak's Avatar
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    Ti cross better


  6. #6
    AEO
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    room for fat tyres and fenders = I can run snow studs and stay dry in slush. can run 28mm treaded, which most road bikes can't.
    700c wheels = I can run 23mm slicks and all the way to 35mm studded. (All seasons)
    relaxed road geometry = comfortable, with many hand positions
    longer wheel base = comfortable over rough terrain.
    not made from CF = can attach a kick stand without worrying about breaking the CF tubes from clamping force.

    The other option is the Touring bike... which on the spectrum must be like

    Light--M--Heavy duty
    Road-CX-Touring

    but CX/Touring both run the same sort of equipment, touring bikes tend to be less glamorous though.
    Food for thought: if you aren't dead by 2050, you and your entire family will be within a few years from starvation. Now that is a cruel gift to leave for your offspring. ;)
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  7. #7
    I like my car ShadowGray's Avatar
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    Cyclocross just has an awesomename... cmon... CYCLOCROSS!!

    But yeah, touring bikes make way better commuters than cx bikes, but cx bikes also carry the image of being sportier, and image is everything, of course.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShadowGray View Post
    touring bikes make way better commuters than cx bikes
    This might be true if "way" is defined as "a little bit, if you need to carry a lot of stuff and ride really far".

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    CX=short wheelbase touring bike. Touring or CX is going to be the best commuting bike type, depends on what fits you and what fits your riding style/terrain better.
    David in fla
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  10. #10
    I like my car ShadowGray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by notfred View Post
    This might be true if "way" is defined as "a little bit, if you need to carry a lot of stuff and ride really far".
    Also a lot more cheaper for what you're getting! Commuting is about utility, and a touring bike is geared towards that, CX is just way too sporty for most needs.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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  11. #11
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    'Touring' bike is something your grandpa rides.
    'Cyclocross' bike sounds novel and interesting.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by schnee View Post
    'Touring' bike is something your grandpa rides.
    'Cyclocross' bike sounds novel and interesting.
    Sadly... that's the way most bicycle manufacturers see it. We Americans like our vehicles to be extreme! Why drive a sedan when you can drive an SUV or a sports car? It's the same with bicycles... they want to sell us racing bikes or mountain bikes. People don't see touring bikes as extreme... even though they really are. Touring bikes are some of the toughest bikes there are, and will haul more gear than a cross bike.

    Cross bikes do make excellent commuters though... mainly because they have clearance for wide tires and fenders, as well as a braze-on for a rear rack. Cross bikes are also sporty and aggressive, which appeals to people who regularly ride a racing bike.

    I also like sport-touring bikes (which some manufacturers call "club-racing bikes" since "sport-touring doesn't sound extreme enough). They are pretty much the same geometry as cross bikes, but already come with smooth tires and can get by with a little tighter geometry in some models. They can also be fendered and racked.

    I actually ride a touring bike (so go ahead with your grandpa jokes!). It's a great bike that handles well under load and over any terrain. It isn't as light, stiff, or fast as a cross bike or a sport-touring bike; but it's great on the gravel path I take for part of my commute... and the low gears make it easy for me to pedal a full load of groceries up our insanely steep hill.

    Sean

  13. #13
    Senior Member envane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean000 View Post
    Sadly... that's the way most bicycle manufacturers see it. We Americans like our vehicles to be extreme! Why drive a sedan when you can drive an SUV or a sports car? It's the same with bicycles... they want to sell us racing bikes or mountain bikes. People don't see touring bikes as extreme... even though they really are. Touring bikes are some of the toughest bikes there are, and will haul more gear than a cross bike.
    Touring bikes are making a comeback. I think the LHT really got people interested in them again. I ride a 2008 Jamis Aurora tourer and there a lots of people in the commuting forum rolling them.

  14. #14
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    I'd go with the psychological thing.
    I mean seriously, this is more useful:

    But this just looks badass skitching off a bus or truck.

  15. #15
    One speed: FAST ! fordfasterr's Avatar
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    I tried a specialized tri-cross (oops, ordered it from the lbs, and then promptly rejected it after the test ride). I didn't like the handling, or the power transfer. It felt sluggish and slow vs normal road bikes / track bikes.

    I guess I'm spoiled. I ended up with the specialized roubaix elite triple ( ugh, the triple was a STEAL OF A DEAL @ the lbs so I took it ). MUCH improved IMHO.

    it is a kick-*** commuter and has served me well since !

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  16. #16
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    It's a subtle thing but a cross bike with the shorter wheelbase and steeper head angles will feel a touch more nimble and spirited than a longer wheelbase touring bike. Otherwise there's not much difference between them other than the uber kewl name.....

    Of course when you've had one too many that same nimbleness may feel more like nervousness....
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  17. #17
    Committed Commuter jimlamb's Avatar
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    I switched from a flat-bar hybrid to a Specialized Tricross last summer and I've been very happy with it. I didn't really consider any road bikes without dropouts as I wanted to be able to put on a sturdy rear rack to carry my laptop and gear. I haven't had heel strike problems, but I do have to be careful about pedaling while turning as my toe (size 11 feet) tends to catch my front fender.

  18. #18
    I carry one spare tire. nbac23's Avatar
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    I have size 13 shoes and I have a similar problem. No fenders on my Kona Jake, but I have brushed my front tire a few times. It isnt a problem enough to switch bikes though

    I think the advantages of a cyclocross bike as a commuter are: bigger tires for all weather/comfort and the ability to get put smaller road tires on and you can keep up with the roadies if you want to do some non commuting riding. I also like having brakes on the drops and the flats. It helps in the city. I can break from any hand position.
    "If you are not having fun, they are not having fun."

  19. #19
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    Price is also a serious consideration.

    Around here, "touring bikes" mean hard to find bikes and most often expensive bikes. There are a few cyclocross bikes available under 1000 $ and some models have a triple.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

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    a cross bike with the shorter wheelbase and steeper head angles will feel a touch more nimble and spirited than a longer wheelbase touring bike.
    I own an early 80's "sport tourer" Bianchi and a Cross Check. I rode the Bianchi today for the first time after a month on the Cross Check. I'm going back to "nimble and spirited" tomorrow The cross bike is just a commuting monster, I adore it.

  21. #21
    mere commuter breadgeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwoTones View Post
    I see a lot of people in here talking about using cyclocross rigs for commuting.
    I have often wondered the same thing. I am just a plain commuter, know nothing about cyclocross, and my bike is just a plain, no-frills Dutch commuter (Koga-Miyata Expression 2007).

    I thought that you might find it interesting that when I am shopping for brake shoes and tires, I am constantly asked if I have a cyclocross rig. I do not, but evidently (besides geometry) my bike shares features found in such bikes. The goofy brakes I have are hydraulic Magura rim brakes, which has evoked a single reaction in every LBS: "huh?". Go figure.

    I suspect that durability -- of frame, tires, wheels, & components -- is yet another commonality among cyclocross and good commuter bikes. My bike is a tank, too -- perhaps one characteristic unlike 'cross units.

  22. #22
    Senior Member envane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon View Post
    Price is also a serious consideration.

    Around here, "touring bikes" mean hard to find bikes and most often expensive bikes. There are a few cyclocross bikes available under 1000 $ and some models have a triple.
    There are a few sub $1000 tourers too - like my Jamis.

  23. #23
    Senior Member climbhoser's Avatar
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    Short story on why I went 'cross:

    So, I started commuting on my MTB. I realized quickly the disadvantages to MTB geometry on long rides (my commute was 15 miles one way at the time), but the advantages in wide tire capability. Alas, though wide tires are great in snow, and even in summer help dampen the ride day in and day out, they are slower.

    I knew I needed geometry that was more aggressive, and that I wanted something that was well balanced with narrower rims and tires. 700c is the best category for finding narrow rims, but still offering wide ones. 'cross and touring were the category of bike that gave me wide tire capabilities but kept aggressive geometry for go-fast longer distances.

    Between the two I noticed that touring bikes were heavier, the BB is lower, and the wheelbase is longer. Well, some 'cross bikes are plenty heavy, but the low BB meant it would be a less likely good candidate for riding fixie when I convert it for winter commuting. The long wheelbase is good for loads, but my loads are small, and a shorter wheelbase also means more instant power response.

    In short, I could go faster, and a 'cross bike would be more overall versatile than a touring bike. I could run it fixie no problem, mount stuff, do some light touring, even ride it in rec. rides on the weekend and actually keep up!

    Now, if I were riding 50+ miles a day I would want a touring bike geometry, but the 'cross bike geometry is just perfect for under 40, but it can still do a fast century or long rec. ride! Plus it's lighter!

    I don't carry big loads, just light little ones for commuting duty. I do, however, like to joing group rides on weekends. I do like to get to work super fast, treating most of my commutes as a training ride. I do like nimble and quick bikes with tons of versatility.

    I bought a 'cross bike, and always will!

    Versatility is king.
    View my blog: climbhoser.blogspot.com

  24. #24
    nashcommguy
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    Purchased a Motobecane Fantom CX from bikesdirect.com for 2 reasons. 1. Price-499.00 w/no shipping or sales tax. 2. Versatility-It came w/30mm knobbies w/alex aero rims. I'm running 25mm nashbar kevlars right now until my Nu-tecks come in. Sun cr-18 rims and Sora Hubs...32h. I'll be running 130 psi 28mm airless for commuting and the nashbars for weekend rides. Stock chainrings were 34-50 which I changed to 40-50 w/12x26 9 sp cassette. Entry level components, but still very good bike for the money. Cantilever Tektro brakes and Sora Brifters w/suicide levers...again Tektro. I run it w/a Delta Universal Mega Rack and Jandd Saddlebags. When I'm loaded w/my lunch and work clothes the whole thing weighs 50 lbs.

    My commute is 40 mi rt w/a 200ft elevation increase on the way home. All rural except the last 3 miles(in) which is busy semi rural. 1 traffic light and 3 stop signs the whole way. The first six and the last six are on the Natchez Trace Parkway which has a 40 mph speed limit and clearance regulations for car vs. bicycles. My homeward commute is at night and is like cycling heaven. Maybe 10 cars. Skunks, racoons, deer, bats...they love to snatch bugs out of my light beam. This bike is perfect for me at this time. We'll see how it holds up over the winter. But it DOES have a lot more spring than my old Softride World Traveler or my Specialized Crossroads hybrid, but not like my 85 Cannondale SR300 rebuild. The frame is aluminum w/a cro-mo fork. For fenders I use SKS Raceblades.

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