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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 07-13-07, 10:28 PM   #1
Rosso Corsa
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'cross bikes vs. Road bikes-Speed

I am getting a new bike soon, and am not sure whether to get a cyclocross bike or not. I do do some trail riding, currently on my only bike (Trek 3500), and like the idea of cyclocross. Also, there are long winters here, and I could use my new bike all year 'round with if I got a cross bike. I don't want to sacrifice tons of speed though, and would be willing to use my MTB in the winter.

Although, I would be more inclined to train in the winter with a 'cross bike...

I don't really understand the difference between a cyclocross bike and a road bike, except there is more clearance for mud. I was told at my LBS that there would be a significant difference in speed between the road bike and cross bike though. The two bikes he showed me in my (entry-level) price point were the Specialized Allez and Kona Jake.

So, how much faster would a road bike be?
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Old 07-13-07, 10:49 PM   #2
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you could put some "road" wheels on your cross bike
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Old 07-13-07, 10:56 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dlew308
you could put some "road" wheels on your cross bike
+1... For a while, I used my cross bike for everything. Because I used it on the road so much, I bought a 2nd set of wheels and put road tires on them, and a 2nd cassette as well. Depending on the ride for the day, I'd just swap out wheels. Much quicker than changing tires all the time since I used it probably 50/50 on & off road. I used this set up for 1.5yrs and it worked very well.
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Old 07-14-07, 05:15 AM   #4
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Rossa Corsa, I have a specialized roubaix and I just got a cross bike. The roubaix is faster on the road, but not considerably faster. The cross bike is plenty fast also with road tires on it. I agree with the above posters about the second set of wheels. Sounds to me in your case a cross bike with two sets of wheels would be perfect. After riding a road or cross bike on the road, it's no fun riding the mountain bike on the road. At least that is my experience...
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Old 07-14-07, 07:17 AM   #5
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I was in the same boat and decided to go the cross route. Picked up a Lemond Poprad for a very good price in Windsor, $500 off retail. You should be able to get a good deal on any in stock cross bikes because it's the offseason and they've probably been sitting on these bikes for quite a while. If you're in the Windsor area let me know and I can give you further details. I shopped around a lot.

The jake is nice but the components aren't great. The jake the snake on the other hand is a very nice bike. If you want to get close to a road bike the components on the jake are going to let you down.
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Old 07-14-07, 07:56 AM   #6
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Get a "dirt" road bike: a road bike geometry and light weight frame with canti brakes and larger wheel clearance for up to 700x30 wheels. This bike is not made to withstand the sort of abuse a cyclocross bike would have, but it has the clearance for bigger wheels and canti brakes. This is a great setup if you don't plan to ride offroad/mud much, but do plan to ride on "dirty" roads and rough roads or a few firetrails or in the winter muck.

This formerly was the sort of bike you can find pretty easily in the 60s, 70s and early 80s, but suddenly it's either a "racing bike" that only fits up to 700x25 wheels (if that) or a cyclocross bike. If you have the funds a little more money can get Curtlo to build you such a bike.
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Old 07-14-07, 07:38 PM   #7
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Cross bikes have a higher bottom bracket, and usually a more upright position which will create more wind resistance and handling that is not as nimble. I used a cross bike as a commuter/tourer/road bike for a couple years, but enjoy going a little faster on a road bike.
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Old 07-15-07, 06:32 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosso Corsa
So, how much faster would a road bike be?
I put 700x25 Michelin Lithions on my Cross check and it's plenty fast and perfect for touring.
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Old 07-15-07, 09:29 AM   #9
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Query:

When looking into a cross bike, should I look for the same size frame as with a road bike? A seller on Ebay notes you size down with cross bikes . . .
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Old 07-15-07, 03:12 PM   #10
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I think the general rule was you go with a CX frame about 2cm smaller than whatever road frame you normally fit on. Why? CX frames have a higher bottom bracket for ground clearance.
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Old 07-16-07, 07:25 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the great info!

How much more average speed are we looking at in the end though? 2-4 km/h?

Also, this isn't really the place, but would you recommend the Specialized Allez?

EDIT @ SLB Canuck: no, unfortunately I live too far from Windsor to buy a bike, but thanks for the offer.
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Old 07-16-07, 07:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wtex
Query:

When looking into a cross bike, should I look for the same size frame as with a road bike? A seller on Ebay notes you size down with cross bikes . . .

How accurate is this?

...or did I miss the sarcasm boat all together.
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Old 07-17-07, 08:48 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosso Corsa
How much more average speed are we looking at in the end though? 2-4 km/h?
Much less. When I run my 700x25 Michelin Carbons on my cross bike it's only a hair more than 1.0kph slower than my race bike. Most of that can be accounted for with the 2-3kg. weight difference.

I lose another 1.0-1.5kph going from the 700x25's to the 700x32 Vittoria Randonneur Pros. This is my preferred setup as I only lose 60-90 seconds on my commute, I'm much more comfortable, it handles the one high speed, gravel covered corner much better, and I don't sweat going up and down curbs.

I lose about another 1.0kph (road speed) going from the 700x32's to 700x35 Mythos CX Slicks.

Yes. Laugh all you want. I have a tire fetish.
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Old 07-17-07, 09:05 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Dumpsterlife
How accurate is this?

...or did I miss the sarcasm boat all together.
No sarcasm at all.

Standover and toptube length are a little more important than seattube length when determining the proper size.
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Old 07-17-07, 09:07 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Psydotek
No sarcasm at all.

Standover and toptube length are a little more important than seattube length when determining the proper size.
This frustrates me because I'm ordering my bike...
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Old 07-19-07, 11:01 PM   #16
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Sometimes I ride my buddy's bike which is a Specialized Tarmac Comp and it freaking flys compared to my Cannondale(see sig). I don't know if it's just weight or geometry but I can crank up hills(anytime really, just really shows on hills) in a much higher gear on the tarmac than my cross bike.

That said, I seriously doubt that tarmac would do well in rain/sleet/snow/mud/dirt/potholes that I ride my cross bike on. Also, my cross bike is size "52" and my buddys tarmac is size "56". Both fit like a glove.
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Old 07-20-07, 12:09 AM   #17
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You can bet that your cross bike will be slower than someone racing a road bike when you race on the road. You can also count on your cross bike handling different than a road bike when you race on the the road. Hence the reason there are cross bikes and road bikes. Buy a cross bike and race it. If you like riding on the road then make sure you have wheels that will allow you to train on the road. Race the cross bike in a crit or road race and then realize you also will need a road bike if you are serious enought. But do not count on being serious on the road riding a cross bike. As much as some around here might tell you, if you are serious about either discipline you will recognize the need for separate bikes.
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Old 07-20-07, 02:16 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cachehiker View Post
Much less. When I run my 700x25 Michelin Carbons on my cross bike it's only a hair more than 1.0kph slower than my race bike. Most of that can be accounted for with the 2-3kg. weight difference.

I lose another 1.0-1.5kph going from the 700x25's to the 700x32 Vittoria Randonneur Pros. This is my preferred setup as I only lose 60-90 seconds on my commute, I'm much more comfortable, it handles the one high speed, gravel covered corner much better, and I don't sweat going up and down curbs.

I lose about another 1.0kph (road speed) going from the 700x32's to 700x35 Mythos CX Slicks.

Yes. Laugh all you want. I have a tire fetish.
here's the thing, if you're riding with a bunch of guys on the road, and if you're 1 km slower, they are riding away from you. a road bike is about getting every bit of speed out of a bike. on short rides it might not matter, but 40 miles into it and there is a 4 mile 7 degree climb, you're going to want to be on a road bike. but if you're going to be riding on your own, no biggie.
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Old 07-20-07, 03:00 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dumpsterlife View Post
This frustrates me because I'm ordering my bike...

Why does it frustrate you? It's good advice. Plus, it will keep you from ordering the wrong size and then having to sell it cheap on ebay to another forumite. Good luck


Tim
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Old 07-23-07, 01:30 PM   #20
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BB height

not always.. the raised BB height was to give clearance to toe clips, which is now obsolete.

for example, the specialized tarmac only has 0.5 mm different drop than the tri-cross.

top tube length on the tarmac is 7 mm longer for the size 58cm. angles are 0.5/1 deg steeper.

so, the geometry is not radically different.

I recently had to race my CX bike as a road bike and didn't notice any problems- if anything the CX bike _felt _ zippier...though it would be hard to prove one bike is faster than the other (even with my power meter)- how would you account for all the variables? wind, and how fresh you were, to name 2? I think any differences between 2 quality bikes would be slight.

-m

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Cross bikes have a higher bottom bracket, and usually a more upright position which will create more wind resistance and handling that is not as nimble. I used a cross bike as a commuter/tourer/road bike for a couple years, but enjoy going a little faster on a road bike.
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Old 07-27-07, 01:44 PM   #21
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It totally depends on which CX bike you are talking about. Usually a CX bike is going to be giving up at least a solid kilo to the road bikes everyone else are riding. I'm not saying this has to be so but there aren't a lot of sub-17lb cyclocross rigs in most people's budget range. BB height is different from bike to bike but it is generally higher, wheelbase is generally longer. I rode my CX bike with the roadies for most of last season and I really appreciated it when I finally got my road bike back together, especially climbing and 2+ hour rides.
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Old 07-28-07, 06:29 AM   #22
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Jts

Hi,

I'm considering Jake The Snake for a home-to-work-and-back ride. I'd be interested if JTS (or cyclecross bikes in general) has better dirt protection in gearings than an average road bike as I'm looking for something that is reasonably low maintenance with mud guards installed. My current bike is a hardtail mountain bike but it is lacking in speed i.e. the trip to work takes too much time now now as we moved a bit.

An another newbie question concerning JTS: can it be easily fitted with better (=more braking power) brakes?

-T-
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