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Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

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Old 01-07-06, 07:42 PM   #1
heyalex40
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Do I really need a cyclocross bike ???

Hello all,
My wife and I are new to cycling and we went looking for new bikes today. We went shopping at the LBS and were shown both road bikes and cross bikes. We started by looking at road bikes but after we told the salesman where we would be riding, he suggested the cyclocross style bikes and I'm not sure we really need them. The area we will be riding is a compact dirt fire road, around a local lake. It is mostly flat and smooth with no obstructions. I asked if we could put a more agressive tire on a road bike and acheive the same effect as a cyclocross bike. He said that he would not recommend using a carbon fibre fork in an off road application yet when I got home, I looked on the web and I see that meny manufacterers of cross bikes use carbon forks. What do you guys (and gals) think of that? Also, what are the major differences between cross bikes and true road bikes? I really liked the Cyclocross style bikes but the Trek 1000 I was looking at is much cheeper and when you are buying 2 bikes that is a big factor. Thanks in advance.
Alex
PS I was looking at Trek 1000's, Trek X01, and the Lemond Poprad any info good or bad on these bikes.
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Old 01-07-06, 09:13 PM   #2
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Does it ever get muddy on the path? If it does, I might want the CX bike. You could but 28mm tires on it so that it rides faster.

I have a Trek 1500. Putting 28mm tires on it would be a real squeeze.
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Old 01-07-06, 09:57 PM   #3
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I'd look at another LBS that carries some other brands. A Giant OCR3, for example, has clearance for some wider tires and I think it is actually cheaper than a Trek 1000 if I remember right. You might also consider some of the flat-barred road/hybrid bikes for the type of riding that you'll be doing...for a little more upright position and better control on dirt/gravel. Jamis Coda or Coda Sport, Raleigh Route 1, Kona Dew, Trek 7.3FX, Bianchi Boardwalk etc. might be worth considering and are less expensive than the Trek 1000.
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Old 01-07-06, 10:00 PM   #4
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I have a trek 1000 and i have to ride about 2 miles usually to get to the paved roads. It gets a little bumby hear and there but its not to bad. This is a gravel road that i ride on. I dont know anything about cross bikes though. I am kind of wanting one to but dont have the money.
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Old 01-07-06, 11:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heyalex40
I asked if we could put a more agressive tire on a road bike and acheive the same effect as a cyclocross bike. He said that he would not recommend using a carbon fibre fork in an off road application yet when I got home, I looked on the web and I see that meny manufacterers of cross bikes use carbon forks. What do you guys (and gals) think of that?
I think the construction of the fork is the issue and not the material. carbon cx forks are overbuilt to take abuse and hopefully survive the inevitable (in cx) crash, road forks of any material are made to be light and aerodynamic, but don't have the same toughness.

Having said that, the path you describe probably won't place excessive stress on any fork you choose, however a road bike will require narrower tires which will mean less cushion for you.

I would definitely reccomend a cross bike because it does have the "go anywhere" versatility that will let you venture down different paths in the future
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Old 01-07-06, 11:27 PM   #6
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It is surprising that they didn't suggest a hybrid which is a cross between a road and mountain bike and might more versatile for your use.
The main difference between a road and a cyclocrosscross bike is that they (cross bikes)are made to accomadate bigger tires and typically use a canteliever brake which is is less likely to clog up on a muddy cyclocross course and gearing is different.
A hybrid is typically priced more modestly and has a more upright relaxed ride style. Check out some manufacturer websites, since you mentioned Trek start here:
http://www2.trekbikes.com/bikes/subc...?c=4&s=16&f=25
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Old 01-07-06, 11:57 PM   #7
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I'd take the advice of going to another bike shop for a second opinion. Cyclocross bikes, whilst being versitile, are mainly racing machines for a specific purpose. Yes, they are great for riding flat, hard, fireroads, but if you decide to move onto the road, you might find that cyclocross bike to be a bit sluggish. cyclocross bikes are essentially high-performance race machines. You might want to check out sport touring bikes as well, especially a bike that can handle a 700x30cc or 32cc "trekking" style tire.
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Old 01-16-06, 04:21 AM   #8
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Another reason to consider a CX bike is that they often include eyelets for racks and fenders. Modern roadies rarely have them. If you ever want to do some touring and/or camping with the wife, a CX bikes can make an ideal light touring bike. The key here is to get rims big enough to fit 32mm+ tires for stability and comfort off-road.
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Old 05-26-06, 10:19 PM   #9
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I've been reading alot threads on cyclocross to learn more on them and if maybe this is a good bike for me. I saw in the Specialized catalog the mention of the tricross being a good bike for bike messengers and that would be right up my alley. (I'd also like it for some medium distance road riding or even commuting as well as some trail riding) jpearl's reply though about cyclocross bikes being perhaps a bit sluggish on the road makes me wonder if this might not be the best bike for short hops on the street such as a bike messenger might do. Is this true? What makes them 'sluggish'? I thought they were quick. ...What are models of sport touring bikes that would be quicker if this is true? Would a bike such as the Specialized sirrus also be more suited to a bike messenger than a tricross? ...or are they not sluggish at all; that is, I almost can't believe that because i had gotten the idea they were anything but.
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Old 05-27-06, 06:26 AM   #10
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sluggish on the roads? Maybe you should thell that to the guys getting beat in town line sprints to cross bikes.
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Old 05-27-06, 01:49 PM   #11
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There are cyclocross bike made more specifically for racing and there are the compromise bikes like the Surly Cross-check, the Soma Doublecross. I really like my bike (a Surly) for the type of riding you describe. I had a hybrid, but those usually are truly sluggish. My bike feels pretty quick with smooth tires on the road and takes nice fat knobby tires when I need them. Easy to mount rack and fenders. Unless you really want to focus on fast, I think 'cross bikes are a great choice--far better than a hybrid unless you plan on riding only short distances infrequently.
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Old 05-27-06, 04:33 PM   #12
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Sounds good. i suppose the best thing will be to try some out such as the Tricross and ask at shops for their opinions on these as well. I was just doing a double-take based on what jpearl had said about 'sluggish on the road'. My use would be pretty much the same as a bike messenger; short hops of about a block or 2 so I'd be interested in something that wasn't too slow on getting up momentum. I'd probably be inclined to leave the bourough tires they come with on as these seem to be smooth on the tops with some tread on the sides so seem like a good compromise for some at least light trail use. ...Emerson, is your Surly the cross-check you mentioned? I'll have to also look at those so thanks for the idea of that as well.
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Old 05-27-06, 08:49 PM   #13
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I ride a Kona jake the snake and use it as a road bike. I love the over built ruggedness of this machine as the pavement around here is a bit broken up due to extensive buggy use (hammers asphalt, a fact of life around here). The bike is not sluggish at all, and is very nimble. I plan to replace the headset/bb and wheels as soon as the cash flow lets me for stuff with sealed cartridge bearings (similar to what my mtn bike has) to make it more weather proof. Starting Monday, I am commuting on it with a rack and bags 60km round trip, so there is some versitility there that a pure road race machine would not have (or would likely not have). Just love this bike.
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Old 05-27-06, 10:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simmons Lane
Emerson, is your Surly the cross-check you mentioned? I'll have to also look at those so thanks for the idea of that as well.
My bike is a Surly Cross-check. I looked seriously at the Specialized Tricross, but the lack of a triple and a distrust of carbon made me look elsewhere. The Surly was a better choice for me. Hunt around the forums and you'll find a number of quite loyal Cross-check owners.
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Old 05-30-06, 04:28 AM   #15
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For light riding along good, smoothe trails you could use a 25mm tyre but a 28 or 32 will be tougher and more comfortable. It is always useful to have the option for medium width tyres even if you select a narrower one for the road.
Road bikes often limit the tyre clearance to 25 mm, usually defined by the style and placement of the brake calipers and brake bridge. If you want to use wider tyres there are 3 options:
Cantilever brakes
V brakes
Long drop caliper brakes.
CX bikes usually use cantis. They give plenty of clearance for tyres and mud but are tricky to setup and can feel spongy with road levers.
V brakes (as found on most hybrid and MTB bikes) take too much cable pull to be efffective with drop bar levers. You need flat bar levers for V brakes.
Long drop calipers can take 32mm tyres and are easy to setup with a sharp response using road levers.

I use cantis and long drop calipers on 2 road/touring style bikes and ride on road and light trails. I prefer the calipers for the ease of maintenance and sharp response.
The Specialized Sequoia and Trek Pilot are both fairly relaxed day-touring style road bike with long drop caliper brakes that can handle your style of riding. They also have threaded eyelets for rack and fenders which is pretty essential on a non-competition bike.

You have to pay a lot for an ultralight carbon fork. Most lower end forks have more weight/material and they are all strong enough for normal riding.
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Old 05-31-06, 09:40 AM   #16
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What type of riding are you looking to do? All-out race-type riding or something a little more casual? Like Emerson said, there are two types of cyclocross bikes: those made specificly for cyclocross races, and those that are sort of an "uber-hybrid" - that are good for all sorts of riding. Others on this board can recommend the good racing bikes. If you want more of an all-around bike, make sure to cross-reference the touring and commuting forums also. I just got a Bianchi Volpe (which I love) for trail and road riding. This bike is marketed as a cyclocross/touring bike and is very similar to Emerson's Crosscheck. This bike is only a few pounds heavier than a road bike and is by no means sluggish.
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Old 06-08-06, 10:45 PM   #17
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I have the Trek X01, with some upgrades to the pedals and brakes (brakes only because my novice tweaking destroyed the threads on the tension screw... d'oh!).

I have gravel/dirt/mud/rock/compacted trails near me, as well as full mtn biking single track and of course, plenty of road... I'm sooooo happy I got a cross bike instead of either a road bike or a new mtn bike (was replacing my old mtn bike). I bought a 2nd set of wheels, and put 23c road tires on them, so depending on what kind of riding I want to do, straigt road vs. combination of everything, I just switch them out.

I'm a bigger guy (6'1", 205lbs), and I ride pretty rough no matter what surface I'm on and the bike responds better than I could have hoped for. I also like cross bikes because they seem to be more versatile when it comes to upgrading or adding on those fun to buy accessories. you can outfit them with different braking systems (although the x01 won't allow a rear disc brake, but who need those anyway, overkill if you ask me).

I like the fact that if I want to go ride some trails or different terrain that slicks (thin road tires, no tread) may not be suitable for, I don't need a 2nd bike, just different wheels. Cross bike geometry also allows for the larger tires where road bikes won't (well, not all of them). Cross bikes are used for commuter bikes too, which makes them perfect for panniers, racks, etc... The larger, stiffer down tubes give them more strength than road bikes as well.. albeit at a weight cost, but that doesn't seem like it's a major concern.

As for the carbon forks, it seems that more an more are popping up on cross bikes. Why? I don't really know... carbon is extremely light weight, at a cost, but strong. Carbon also allows more of a 'give', however I don't think it really softs the ride that much. My fork is aluminum and it's nice and strong. Different materials will give different feels to the bikes.

I suggest trying out TONS of bikes and see whats comfortable, especially since you're buying two. I love my X01, but it's because it suits what I use it for.
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Old 06-09-06, 07:08 AM   #18
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grahny,
I'm in the same position as you bike-use-wise, plus a 13 mile round trip commute to work most days. I'm currently shopping for a cyclocross bike to replace my old Trek hybrid. I'm tired of the flat bars, twist shifters, etc, so I'm scoping out my first cross bike. I hear some people disparaging it as a jack of all trades, master of none. But with the kind of riding I do, that's precisely what I'm after. The bulk of my miles are on a path or cutting thru a park on my commute. I don't have any roadie buddies that I ride with that a cross bike would slow me down. So I figure if I want one bike, then a cross bike will be it- now I just need to decide which one, but a Kona Jake looks likely.
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Old 06-09-06, 07:35 AM   #19
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You're a new rider. While I wouldn't be much bothered by riding on a compacted dirt fireroad on a road bike I also have fallen off enough times when the traction disappeared to understand what I'm getting into.

Of course there are road bikes that could mount larger tires but they are unusual these days. Most people try to find 1980 or earlier road bikes for such purposes.

Cyclocross bikes are generally not "jack of all trades" bikes. The best ones are very specialized and believe me are NOT what you want.

However, the most common ones, the Trek XO-1 or LeMond Poprad or the Surlys are pretty good general purpose rides that can do just about anything.

After you get a good cyclocross bike the real problem will be in finding a tire that works under your conditions. Specialized and Ritchey make tires with small knbs close together. These perform pretty well under most conditions though on hard pack and asphalt they do wander about a bit. The Vitoria and Panaracer etc are designed more to throw mud and actually work pretty well on the street though you stil have to be careful of traction.

If you intend to ride most off road you can worry about the knobbies but you probably intend to ride more on hard surfaces and in that case you need to look at something like the Panaracer Pasela. The trouble is that once you're used to riding these you won't want to ride on anything else. (On motorcycles we used to call this sort of tire a Trials Universal)

Cyclocross bikes vary a whole lot across the board the way they are intended to fit. Generally you have to buy one with about 2" of crotch clearance but there are exceptions. Your dealer should be able to help you.

Other than avoiding full-on cyclocross racers the specific brand isn't too important. Bicycles are pretty much bicycles and a brand that one man likes might irritate you for some petty reason. Buy what you're attracted to.
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