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-   -   CX vs. road bike - how dramatic is the difference (speed) on straight roads? (

thenomad 09-17-13 11:47 PM

I may put one back on soon, it can be encouraging to see improvement and idle curiosity of speed, distance, and a running odo. Just haven't had the need just yet.

daihard 09-18-13 09:27 AM


Originally Posted by thenomad (Post 16077846)
I may put one back on soon, it can be encouraging to see improvement and idle curiosity of speed, distance, and a running odo. Just haven't had the need just yet.

If nothing else, a computer will remember your total mileage for you. :)

Digitalfiend 11-22-13 12:17 AM

I just got a Ridley cx bike and, in its current form, it is noticeably slower than my Madone 6.9 on the road. My Madone feels about 5-6lbs lighter, much more nimble, and power transfer is more immediate/efficient. With that said, my cx bike has 105 components, a heavy SRAM crankset, heavy wheels and tires (Stan's Ironcross w/32c Challenge Griffos), and a more upright position. It's about 4-5 km/h slower over a two hour ride than my Madone according to my ride data, but I put that down to the fat nubby tires and heavy wheels. The level of effort for climbing is also higher for the cx bike.

With narrower slicks, lighter wheels, and perhaps a slightly more aero setup, I think the speed difference would be much less but that would defeat the purpose of having a cx bike; I bought my cx bike to explore gravel roads and the various trails/single-track stuff around here. My road bike is infinitely slower in that regard ... :)

grolby 11-22-13 01:38 PM


Originally Posted by dc.cyclocross (Post 16058832)
Thomas Frisnecht rode the olympic road race on a CX bike. Marianne Vos trains on her CX bike on the road.

Vos training on her CX bike on the road really isn't relevant. ALL pro cyclocross racers (and the smart amateurs) will do 100% of their 'cross season training, on-road or off, on the 'cross bike. It's about getting in the miles in the cyclocross racing position, which is different from the road racing position. Vos is certainly going to have a slower average speed on her 'cross training rides than road training rides, because the fit is much less aero. And that's what the question comes down to: what's your fit like? That's why knowing that Frisnecht rode a 'cross bike in the Olympics RR isn't enough to answer the question, either. Did he have it set up with his 'cross fit, or a road racing fit? How did he do? Was he in the top 20?

There's a lot of talk about comparing apples to oranges here, but when it comes to a road racing bike vs. a cross bike, there's no good reason to compare apples. If a road bike and a 'cross bike are set up appropriately, they'll have different fits, and the 'cross bike will be slower, period. If someone is using the exact same fit between a 'cross bike and a pure road bike, one of them is setup less than optimally. Even if you're riding on gravel roads or touring, rather than racing 'cross, those uses call for a more upright, less aero fit than a road bike.

Fishmonger 11-22-13 01:52 PM

It all comes down to the bike. I sold my road bike and bought a cyclocross, and I usually have a faster commute time.

Ghost Ryder 11-23-13 03:34 PM


Originally Posted by TTON (Post 16041119)
thanks for the replies. Sounds like the differences might be small to not really notice. Maybe someone that commutes daily between a CX and road bike would have some more insight.

I commute on both my CX, & road bikes.
Winter is here so its CX time. My Commuter CX rig is 8 lbs heavier than my roadie. My commute to work is roughly the same total time. I never really compare my top speed cause I'm.just commuting. I think my Tank/CX is faster cause I ride through almost everything, while on my roadie, I'll avoid most bumps, gravel, etc.


Originally Posted by hodag (Post 16041727)
Compare the crank sets, there's your loss of speed.

This make sense but it would be minimal on flats, you'd really feel it on descents though.

Jiggle 12-09-13 10:14 PM

My CX bike with road wheels is around the same weight as my road bike - 15.2 lbs. The only difference I can tell is when going up steep climbs out of the saddle the rear tire slips a lot easier. I guess that's due to the increased trail.

NatUp 12-17-13 02:21 PM


Originally Posted by Revracer (Post 16042181)
I agree with the OP and Kopsis. I have a Felt F65X CX that was recommended in size 57 (22lbs) for me and a Cannondale Synapse in size 61 (19lbs) and I feel a noticeable difference in that I can achieve 1-2mph more on the Synapse road bike. I am somewhat doubtful of the aero advantage due to the high seat position I ride on the CX bike due to the 57. I have often wondered, is it:

1) 3lbs of difference (I can gain/lose 3lbs and I ride heavier steel road bikes that are still faster)
2) Wheel weight, Felt probably carries an extra pound in the wheels
3) Aero, while 57 makes me get lower, the CX has shallow drops
4) Geometry, there is something about pushing on the pedals of the road bike that feels easier
5) Tire size - I have never tried a 700x23 on the CX, but even rolling down a hill the Synapse is faster
6) Aluminum vs Carbon, is the stiffness of the CX bike burdensome? It should be faster due to stiffness I think

Is has been an interesting consideration for me, as I thought after getting the CX, it could be a be all bike for me, but the road bike (and even a few vintage steel road bikes) are able to maintain better speed on the roads.

Great topic of debate!

I can't exactly tell from your post, but it sounds like you are comparing the CX with 'cross tires to the Synapse with 23mm slicks. If that's the case, then I'd be willing to bet item number 5 is indeed nearly all of the noticeable difference.

I consider my 'cross bike to be two bikes in one, depending on whether I use my 'cross tires or my road tires.

fietsbob 12-17-13 05:26 PM


The only difference I can tell is when going up steep climbs out of the saddle the rear tire slips a lot easier.

I guess that's due to the increased trail.

:roflmao: trail is the front fork geometry data. how do you think it effects your climbing traction,

you just need to have more weight on the rear wheel , Rider , not the ride..

Niloc 12-18-13 12:04 PM

It's a case of horses for courses. Of course a road bike should feel (and be) somewhat faster than a 'cross bike on straight roads (or curvy ones for that matter). I rode my 'cross bike for commuting, general riding, charity rides, fast training rides, i.e. everything (except actual cyclocross!) for a while. This year I got a real road bike and set the 'cross frame up for 'cross and I can tell the difference. It is so nice to have the options. As someone mentioned it is important to compare apples to apples and no one really does. Someone above actually said maybe it was the knobby tires on the CX bike! Sheesh, at least put road slicks on the CX bike, the feel and drag of the knobbies will completely drown out any other other difference that may be detectable between the two frames. In my case, both bikes are lugged steel frames with approx the same level of componentry. I.e. the weight is probably close. However the gearing is not. My road frame just feels more secure in high speed road situations, the BB is quite a bit lower and geometry allows me to get lower. This is also theoretically faster but I haven't measured it. It also feels slightly stiffer and more response (twitchy). Perhaps if I deliberately sprinted the same stretch, there wouldn't be much difference between the two but that would be b/c of rider effort. As the miles roll on, I'd much rather be on the road frame.

I don't know if the OP is trying for this, and I can understand why people would try to have "one bike to rule them all" but I'd rather have a quiver of bikes to choose from. But then I'm a bike nerd who likes to tinker and I have a shed to store the bikes and do that in. Sure cost is a factor, but I'd rather hunt around for deals, and build up say two bikes for different tasks (I.e. cross and road) than spend every last shekel on one super bling bike and then try to force it to do everything. I'm not a weight weenie (within reason) so that helps. You can get or build up a 'cross bike for relatively cheap and given the nature of 'cross (short, high intensity races, loading down your bike with grass and muck as you go) you won't gain much advantage from spending oodles on the super bling light stuff. If you do a lot of road riding, I'd spend more effort and money on the road steed. Not only might you notice differences in weight or geometry over a long road ride, but you're in contact with your bike and components for much longer periods and will appreciate the subtle differences in quality.

I guess you can set up the cross bike to do road, but it takes some doing. If you're actually racing your cross bike here's what you'll have to do every time you want to ride it on the road:

- swap the tires and tubes. (or wheels if you have a spare set)
- put on the fenders (if you're talking about winter riding). This step is not a quick one either.
- put on the water bottle cage.
- put on a bell, and lights. These are not needed or desirable for cross, but you'll sure want them on the road.
- put on the rack (if you're commuting on it) or saddlebags etc.
- swap out the chainring/crank and/or cassette. Depends on your set up of course, but generally your 'cross bike will not have high enough gearing for the road. Mine doesn't have low enough gearing either. I live in a very hilly area and like to do longer rides so I run a road triple. For cross I don't need the lower gears because I'm racing and I'm running up anything steep. If you do anything to the drivetrain, you'll probably have to swap the chain too to account for chainwrap differences.

'cross season is several months long not counting any training so you're going to want to also be doing some road riding in there too. Wouldn't you rather a ride a road bike on the road, all set up how you like it, and when it comes time for a 'cross race (or gravel ride or single track ride etc) pull down the right tool for the job?

Mondo734 12-26-13 04:11 PM

I ride a Specialized Crux as my "road" bike. Here are spme of my observations:

1. The tires make a huge difference, switching from 32 small block tires to 28 road tires changes the handling, speed, and comfort. Some in good ways some in bad.
2. Comparing my bike to other true road bikes that I test rode, my Crux it is slow to accelerate and doesn't quite handle as nimble.

That all being said it works plenty fine as a road bike. And when you factor in the ability to ride just about any terrain with it, if you can't have one of each the cross bike is the way to go for an all arounder.

fietsbob 12-26-13 04:35 PM

The Fat 33.3 wide Jack Brown tires are very nice rolling (on my '90 Pinarello steel Cross bike
[bought as frame and fork]) .

but speed? you got me, I dont measure that, I'm just happy to cruse along and enjoy the ride ..

Bike may be sorta like the Cross Checks that sell so well, now, in a touring drivetrain set-up..

NatUp 12-27-13 11:48 AM


Originally Posted by Fishmonger (Post 16269475)
It all comes down to the bike. I sold my road bike and bought a cyclocross, and I usually have a faster commute time.

I have a theory that the majority of bike purchases come around the same time as an increase in enthusiasm, time or training intensity spent on the sport. Might not be true for you, but when people buy a new bike to go with their increased focus on cycling, it's no surprise their performance usually improves.

There's no equipment change anywhere near as powerful as an engine upgrade.

mjtac06 01-18-15 12:47 PM

I believe the crank set is the major difference. My wife has a sportif and I ride my cyclocross bike on the road and I have a hard time keeping up..

macca33 01-18-15 06:27 PM

Old thread resurrected, so I thought i'd add my experience.

I have CAAD10s (aluminium) and a Focus Mares CX (carbon) and run the Mares with either 35mm Conti CX Speed tyres, or 23mm Conti GP4000s. Notwithstanding the less-dynamic nature of the handling of the Mares, when it is shod with the CX tyres it is a tad harder to push up to speed and does require you to expend slightly more energy to ride at your usual road bike speeds, but the difference isn't a whole lot. With the road tyres, it is easier to roll on.

I've ridden the Mares solo and in bunches (CX & Road tyres) and manage to keep the pace without too much drama, but wouldn't use it on our local fast bunch rides, as I reckon i'd suffer too much!

I do some commuting on the Mares and figure that if I am working a little harder, it is good for my fitness.

CX bikes open up a whole lot of variety and have the potential to be the one bike type that will do most - to a fairly high degree.


headloss 01-18-15 09:10 PM


Originally Posted by mjtac06 (Post 17480219)
I believe the crank set is the major difference. My wife has a sportif and I ride my cyclocross bike on the road and I have a hard time keeping up..

Typical cross bike has a higher BB, so higher rider, less aero. Relatively relaxed frame angles, results in a more upright position, less aero. Frames tend to have more give, less power to the wheel in a sprint due to longer chain stays (maybe negligible). Wheels tend to be wider and heavier. The list goes on... gearing is nowhere near the top of my list. Welcome to the forum!

FlashBazbo 01-24-15 07:50 AM

I have roughly a 2 mph long-term average speed difference on the road between my road bike and my cyclocross/gravel bike. But, there are a number of factors that make the difference.

Road bike is carbon-framed and weighs in at 15.1 pounds, all in. Gravel bike is aluminum-framed and weighs in at 21.5.
I also carry more stuff on my gravel bike -- a few more tools, twice as many tubes, more CO2 -- and a frame pack rather than a saddle bag, so that adds a couple pounds more.
Road bike rides on light wheels and 23c tires. Gravel bike rides on heavy-duty "light" wheels and 28c to 38c tires.

On the same roads, on easy solo zone 2 HR rides, I average a little over 19 mph on the road bike -- a little over 17 on the gravel bike.

bgav 01-24-15 07:54 AM

Same rider with lighter more aero road bike vs heaver CX bike, road bike will be "faster" albeit marginally if there isn't much of a weight difference and riding position is similar..

Now comparing it to riding against others, it's all about the engine ;).

Gus90 01-24-15 02:36 PM

I have an endurance road bike with a compact crank (50/34)and a cyclocross racing bike with a CX crank (46/36), the cassettes on both are 11-28. I'm a little faster on pavement on the road bike for sure but I don't think it's the gearing as much as it is the thinner tires and less rotating weight which helps me accelerate a little easier. 25s (Mavic Yksion Pro) on the roadie and 33s on the cross (Clement X'PLOR USH). I'm rarely in the highest gears on either bike and their overall weight is very close (17lb road vs 19lb cross). Still, I do average between maybe 1 or 2 miles faster on my road bike along the same route. I may not have my CX dialed in perfectly yet though so perhaps it will eventually even out.

I was considering putting a compact on my cross but I really liked how much less of a gap there was between the chain rings when climbing and I didn't feel like I was really missing the extra 4 teeth on the big ring. And since I like to take the cross off road, I'm leaving it as is.

fietsbob 01-25-15 11:12 AM

Things get cloudier .. Road bike frame + straight bars is a Fitness Bike. (as noted in European bike catalogs)

Campagnolo and Shimano make straight bar Brake/shifters to satisfy that market segment.

flargle 01-25-15 04:09 PM

Carbon CX frameset will be a maybe a pound (?) heavier than a comparable road frameset. There are a lot of light canti and mini-V brakes out there. The wheelbase is a bit longer and the bottom bracket probably a touch higher, both of which will influence handling (but not speed, really).

Cervelo states that the savings in drag due to its aero road frame is ~1.5% compared to its non-aero climbing frame.
Weight vs Aero - Cervélo

So what you're looking at is a marginal difference when you keep the wheels and components the same.

Jiggle 01-26-15 08:27 PM


Originally Posted by fietsbob (Post 16338210)
:roflmao: trail is the front fork geometry data. how do you think it effects your climbing traction,

you just need to have more weight on the rear wheel , Rider , not the ride..

omg, fiets is laughing at me. My online reputation is officially dead.

fietsbob 01-27-15 08:40 AM

not that mine doesn't have demerits :lol:

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