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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 04-05-08, 03:24 PM   #1
M_S
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Why do you ride a 'cross bike?

More on the roadbikereview cross forum but also here, there seems to be an occasional rift that forms between those who buy cross bikes as race machines and those who buy them for other reasons, such as commuting, light touring and trail/dirt road riding. 'Cross racers in my experience aren't really snobs, but there are lots of instances in which racers seem to look down on people who use the bikes for other purposes. I can understand the sentiment in some cases. I too sometimes wince a little bit when I see a Major Jake with 32mm slicks, fenders and a rear rack. But then I have to catch myself and ask if it really matters. Yeah, it's a race bike, but is it really so blasphemous that it isn't being raced?

One of the inherent flaws with this sport, I think, is that “cyclocross” is synonymous with “cyclocross racing.” rarely do you see people mention “cyclocross riding.” It's a pretty specialized racing discipline, true, but in most other areas of cycling, “riding” is just as valid as racing. It's still mountain biking even if it isn't an XC race, and it's still road even if it isn't a stage race or criterium.

Personally, I'm a newb racer. I am looking forward to having at least 7 races here this fall, and maybe traveling a bit for some more. I also may use my cross bike for road racing. Definitely for road riding, at least. A large portion of my riding though really probably could be called cyclocross riding, which basically means a mix of different types of terrain in one ride. One of my favorite short loops starts with a 4 or so mile on-road climb, then a mile or two of climbing on an old logging road, then a descent on a mile or two of twisty singletrack, and the is finished on some screaming fast gravel/dirt doubletrack. I don't see why this isn't as valid a use of my cross bike as racing.

A lot of people commute on cross bikes. I understand why. They can be a bit more practical than traditional road bikes. Though I personally believe touring bikes fill the commuting niche a bit better, if someone buys a cyclocross bike, puts fenders and slicks on it, and never rides it off road, well, I guess that's okay too.

Then there's Markhr always posting that list of his and railing against rim brakes. A dedicated race machine won't have discs for a variety of reasons we don't need to get into, but just because it has them doesn't make it somehow impure.

Cyclocross racing is fun, but as a college student I could never have justified the purpose of the bike if racing were the only thing I used it for. With 32mm cross tires, it's a race machine. With 23mm slicks it's a pretty dang good road bike. With a Panaracer 45mm Fire Cross up front it's an abomination, but it's a lot of fun.

And of course for a lot of people racing is the primary reason they ride a cross bike.

Sorry for the long post. It's just something I've had in the back of my mind for a while.

Also, no poll because I'd probably leave something out and I just want to read written responses.

Last edited by M_S; 04-05-08 at 03:31 PM.
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Old 04-05-08, 03:26 PM   #2
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I ride a cross bike because I like to race cross. I also ride a cross bike because I like riding off road on a road style bike.
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Old 04-05-08, 04:34 PM   #3
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My cross bike serves three purposes:

1. I race cross on it when the road season ends
2. I put on a beater wheelset, bottle cages and fenders when not racing cross and it's my winter/bad weather training bike
3. I commute on it because I don't mind locking it up outside and MTB pedals/shoes make a lot more sense

If I didn't race cross, I'd probably wouldn't use a cross bike for 2 and 3 above. Cross bikes tend to have a higher center of gravity, a slack geometry, less bar drop from the saddle, tend to be heavy and canti's don't stop you as well as regular road calipers (well, unless they are super expensive ones like Paul's or something, but then I would feel bad about leaving it outside.) I'd likely build up a real cheap road bike that could fit fenders over a cross bike for roles 2 and 3 above.

That being said, the more people pedaling a bike the better...and if the bike happens to be a cross bike, the more likely there will be a new cross racer and more chance to get information about this great sport out there. The only downside from selling cross bikes as general purpose bikes is the lack of race-specific models on the low/mid price level. But since I like the fact that my cross bike is multi-purpose, I don't mind that. Some others seem to care though.
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Old 04-05-08, 04:44 PM   #4
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I like how versatile it is:

1. I commute on it daily.
2. I race/ride CX (and certain XC courses) on it.
3. I tour on it (yearly 660km ride from Toronto to Montreal).
4. I use it as a road bike when riding with the roadie scum girlfriend.

Edit: I also like the combination of it being a very fast bike that can still handle a lot of abuse. Not fragile, but also not weighted down by an extra 20lbs of suspension. It suits my riding style perfectly.

Last edited by shapelike; 04-05-08 at 05:03 PM.
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Old 04-05-08, 04:53 PM   #5
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...Then there's Markhr always posting that list of his and railing against rim brakes. A dedicated race machine won't have discs for a variety of reasons we don't need to get into, but just because it has them doesn't make it somehow impure...
Who me?

Cyclocross bikes are great no matter what the brakes (I'd still only use disc brakes...blah, blah...). Fun, versatile, don't mind dirt, gravel and mud and have great handling.

I don't undersatnd Bitterken's complaint about the handling, all the cross bikes I've owned handle like criterium bikes and not like the typical road racing bikes designed for high mileage, predictable handling and stability in the peloton. Also, a lot of the top end CX bikes are as light if not lighter than similar road bikes especially if they're running a 1*X setup.

It's unfotunate that the old farts in Switzerland...sorry, the UCI I mean, haven't pulled their fingers out and actually made a decision on the legality of disc brakes.

I wouldn't buy a "city" bike or tourer to take over the mostly commuting and training duties because I'd rapidly get annoyed at the crap handling and added extras like racks and mudguards.
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Old 04-05-08, 07:49 PM   #6
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This strikes me as an argument in search of a reason to have it.
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Old 04-05-08, 09:32 PM   #7
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I use my Redline Conquest Pro for messenger work with 25mm slicks, full fenders, and disk brakes (very soon). I would do more trails etc. if I wasn't too lazy to switch tires or too poor to have a spare wheelset! I do ride my version of "time trial" kind of solo rides around resevoir loops and stuff (read: road). But now I just got a real road bike, so probably not much anymore. These machines sure do make good commuters.
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Old 04-05-08, 10:12 PM   #8
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I ride it to race.
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Old 04-05-08, 10:15 PM   #9
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This strikes me as an argument in search of a reason to have it.
I'm not really making an argument. I'm honestly just curious why people choose to ride 'cross bikes. reading pretty much any thread here except for in the racing sub-forum shows that there are people using similar bikes for a broad range of purposes. I'd dig up some old threads where people really debated whether cross bikes should be used actively as non-racing machines, but you know how the search function is... There are some early posts in the picture thread where this comes up.

But I still think it's interesting that the term cyclocross is pretty much synonymous with cyclocross racing, don't you?
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Old 04-06-08, 05:45 AM   #10
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i commute on it (on knobbies) - and regularly run down the roadies, too. and i ride XC on it.

thing is, a lot of my commute would destroy my road bike. sure, there's a lot of (supposedly) paved streets - but they're potholed, sinkholed and variously just awful. but there's stretches of cobblestone streets and streets paved with brick and stretches with no street at all. so it works.
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Old 04-06-08, 01:02 PM   #11
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If a cyclocross bike is never used for racing, it's just a hybrid. I'd be the evolution of the hybrid but a hybrid none-the-less.
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Old 04-06-08, 04:36 PM   #12
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Is a road bike not a road bike if it isn't raced? What about a XC mountain bike like the Stumpjumper?

Regardless, I can't wait for fall
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Old 04-06-08, 05:07 PM   #13
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I wanted a bike that I could commute on, roll fast on, take off road, and tour on which lead to either a cross bike or touring bike. Why I chose a cross bike over a touring bike is because I like the steeper angles and tighter wheelbase, just makes me feel faster.
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Old 04-06-08, 05:22 PM   #14
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If a cyclocross bike is never used for racing, it's just a hybrid. I'd be the evolution of the hybrid but a hybrid none-the-less.

I am going to have to disagree with this one.
I have 2 cross bikes, a Trek xo1 and a Bianchi Axsis. The Bianchi is nothing but a race bike. It's set up with a 1x9 drivetrain. and its never seen a light, fender water bottle cage or a seatbag. Training or racing, that's it.

The xo1 gets used for everything. It has been raced as a cross racer, ridden on mtb trails. toured on. Its been set up for winter night rides with fenders and lights. It goes on fast club rides in rainy weather. It gets ridden when I know the roads I am heading for are trashed with a winters worth of pot holes and frost heaves. It gets taken into the heart of amish country on roads that will never be paved, not evan chip and seal.

Dose this make eather one of them a hybrd? No I dont think so cross is not just racing its a type of riding.
Start on the road end up on a section of mup. Then maybe end up goiong off that to a chunk of single track to a undeveloped or rail bed.

Now I dare you to try to tell me that my bikes are hybrids not cross bikes.
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Old 04-06-08, 05:33 PM   #15
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I originally purchased a cross bike for a tough city road bike, I live in inner city and don't drive so my road conditions are less than perfect. I also wanted to have the ability to take a nasty pot hole without worries and go off road. I also looked at a touring bike originally, but come on I live in Houston no need for a triple here and they were quite a bit heavier. I definitely put more miles on my cross bike than my road bike. The only advantage of calipers I find over cantis is they are less finicky to setup. I might actually try racing this year but I have not committed myself to doing it yet we shall see. Don't get me wrong my cross bike likes to play hard on and off road and in the mud. I like cross bikes so much I am buying a second one. I am surprised more people don't have them, I had a hybrid but the drops just seem superior to flat bars so many more hand positions.
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Old 04-06-08, 05:40 PM   #16
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Some people don't have the room for mulitple bikes and a lot of cross bikes can fit the roll of a do-it-all type of bike. I'm not in that group though. I have 5 bikes, but I'm working on getting rid of most of them except a mountain bike and a cross bike. The cross bike will be the jack of all trades, master of none and will serve as my commuter, round town bike, road bike and light trail bike. It does all of these well enough. I didn't buy a cross bike that is race centric though. I got a Specialized Tricross and it's more of the "hybrid" bike than a race oriented cross bike is. I think this type of bike is a much more appropriate bike than your typical road bike for most people.
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Old 04-07-08, 05:18 AM   #17
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I always wanted a cross bike, I just thought the range of use was cool. I just built up a 2001 Trek xo-1 for commuting and to serve as a road bike. I also plan to race cross in the fall but for now I'm in triathlon season. I use it with slicks for my recovery rides expecially after running 12 miles I don't feel like being stretched out on my tri bike so the more upright position of xo-1 feels nice. I also take a couple of dirt roads on the way home from work. I have to say riding it off road is a great time, I can see my handling skills on the mtb improving from it. Now I just can't wait to learn all the skills I need for cross.
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Old 04-07-08, 05:57 AM   #18
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it's my commuter, I've never even seen a cross race.

someday I hope to take it on some single track, yesterday I took it off road in some fields.

Damn I love it.
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Old 04-07-08, 07:24 AM   #19
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i like this thread -- interesting...

I ride one (Kona JTS) because I have room for 2 bikes and I already have a hardtail MTB. I used to ride a road bike and broke it quite a bit (6'3, 230) and I don't like having to worry about the bike under me on bumpy roads or trails. It's an incredibly versatile machine -- very quick on slicks with dedicated wheels (deep v / ultegra in my case), brakes very well with salmon kool stops and keeps up with my buddies on roadies. THen, with knobbies back on, can go up a fire road no problem.
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Old 04-07-08, 07:33 AM   #20
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Because all of my bikes are cyclocross bikes.
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Old 04-07-08, 08:00 AM   #21
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i've met a bunch of people that race cross by now and i gotta say i've never picked up on ANY resistance to cross bikes being used for non-racing purposes by non-racers. i think the only mention i've heard of such attitudes are in the third person i.e. "some people say cross bikes shouldn't be ridden except for cross racing"
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Old 04-07-08, 09:29 AM   #22
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I've not heard it in person but once or twice, and those were in a sort of ribbing nature. I'm not claiming an active hostility. Most crossers are too drunk half the time

It is something I've seen expressed in online forums, sometimes here, more at roadbikereview, as stated in my OP. Perhaps just a symptom of the internet making people behave in a more brash manner than they otherwise would.

I also noted that occasionally I've felt a tinge of snobbery myself when I see a 'cross bike that is far from being race ready. But then I learned not to jump to cnclusions, however. A guy I had seen riding aJTS with fenders and platform pedals turned out to be a really fast racer, though of course he used ATACs and no fenders for that purpose.
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Old 04-07-08, 10:15 AM   #23
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I ride a cross bike because it was the most comfortable/enjoyable/versatile bike that I did a test ride on.

I added lights, water bottle, fenders, rack, slick tires and I ride it to work.

Never raced - likely never will, but it sounds fun and I'd like to try it sometime.
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Old 04-07-08, 12:08 PM   #24
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Quote:
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I am going to have to disagree with this one.
I have 2 cross bikes, a Trek xo1 and a Bianchi Axsis. The Bianchi is nothing but a race bike. It's set up with a 1x9 drivetrain. and its never seen a light, fender water bottle cage or a seatbag. Training or racing, that's it.

The xo1 gets used for everything. It has been raced as a cross racer, ridden on mtb trails. toured on. Its been set up for winter night rides with fenders and lights. It goes on fast club rides in rainy weather. It gets ridden when I know the roads I am heading for are trashed with a winters worth of pot holes and frost heaves. It gets taken into the heart of amish country on roads that will never be paved, not evan chip and seal.

Dose this make eather one of them a hybrd? No I dont think so cross is not just racing its a type of riding.
Start on the road end up on a section of mup. Then maybe end up goiong off that to a chunk of single track to a undeveloped or rail bed.

Now I dare you to try to tell me that my bikes are hybrids not cross bikes.
They're bikes.
Really, it doesn't matter what you call your bikes. It's all semantics.

A lot of people have nice cross-terrain or cross-functional bikes. The term 'cross (with the apostrophe) is an abbreviation of cyclocross, a specific type of racing. While you can use a 'cross bike for a lot of other riding, that function has typically been filled by hybrid bikes. Therefore my assertion that using a 'cross bike for cross-terrain or cross-functional riding makes that bike more an evolved hybrid than a 'cross racer.
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Old 04-07-08, 12:18 PM   #25
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i've never ridden my mountain bike on a mountain. nor my track bike on a track. guess i just ride a bunch of hybrids.
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