I'm interested in getting involved in cyclocross, but only have a road bike currently.
Any good ideas for getting involved without dropping a bundle?
I don't have any fantasies of winning races, etc. Just looking to have some fun on a bike that can handle road, dirt, grass, and less techinical single-track. I don't need the latest & greatest and don't mind turning a few bolts.
Are there any specific older commuting bikes that I may be able to pick up cheaply that could be easily converted to being more cyclocross-friendly (ie. rugged, good tire clearances, pre-rigged for cantilevers, etc.)? If so, I'd love to know the make/model/year(s) to look for.
Or, would I be better off looking for a light(er) mountain bike?
cyclingtom gave some good advice on a thread earlierer today about using an older touring road bike. You could modify an old mtb but I'd look for an older steel cross frame like a lemond poprad. Check ebay and ask around some local shops and races with a little luck you should find something. If you have time and are willing to "turn some wrenchs" you can easily put together a race ready cross bike.
2 Felt F1X's, Surly Steamroller Fixed / Free, 2007 IF Crown Jewel, 2007 IF Planet X Singlespeed
I would not go with the mtb option. especially if you are already a roadie.
maybe this will sound strange, but I think a great way to get involved in cross is by riding/racing a single speed. first, you can use just about any cross frame as an SS if you ENO hub the rear wheel. that means you can pick up a used redline or some other raceworthy frame for super cheap. also keeping the cost down is the fact that you wont need expensive derailieurs and sti shifters/levers (this will also make your bike lighter). you can pick up an IRO rob roy complete bike for under $700 i think.
other benefits of riding/racing ss is that you'll never drop your chain, cleanup/maintenance is easy, you wont have to replace expensive broken parts, and, as a beginner, you can just hammer and focus on getting your cross-specific skills down, which will help you 10x more than having a great bike. also, you CAN be competitive on a SS...i see ss-ers finishing well ahead of gearies all the time.
i race geared now, but my first 2 years racing i raced SS and it was great.