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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 01-01-09, 04:24 PM   #1
FlashUNC
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Its not about the bike...

Hi all. I'm hopping over from the roadie forum as I'm looking at picking up a cyclocross bike and trying my hand at some cross riding, but I have a question for you experienced crossers.

Just as roadies always mention budgeting for the ancillary items (pedals, helmet,decent shorts, etc.) during a road bike purchase, what would be prudent for me to budget for in this initial purchase. I'm already accounting for the standard items: pedals, saddle, etc.

But what do some of you veteran cross folks find as key to riding cross that newbie riders would be wise to pick up/budget for?
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Old 01-01-09, 04:37 PM   #2
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Tubular wheels and tires.
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Old 01-01-09, 10:56 PM   #3
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Why tubies? Superior performance? Resistance to punctures and ability to run lower pressures for a better ride quality?

Reason I ask is that on the road, at least, most tire tests show clinchers these days to be comparable, if not superior in some cases, to the sew-ups.
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Old 01-02-09, 06:26 AM   #4
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Being able to run low pressures without pinch-flatting or rolling the tire. Lower pressure means lower rolling resistance on grass and dirt.
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Old 01-02-09, 09:02 AM   #5
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Tires to match the courses
Wheel upgrades
Brake upgrades
MTB pedals
MTB shoes
$ put away to replace broken shifters, RD's, RD hanger, etc. Things break and wear out...
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Old 01-02-09, 09:03 AM   #6
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Even if not tubulars, replacement tires. CX tires (at least the knobbies) wear relatively fast. (If I get 500 miles on a Hutchinson Bulldog rear tire, I have done extremely well.)
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Old 01-02-09, 10:43 AM   #7
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+1 tires to match the course. I found this critical, in the first few races I was using a tire with less tread/rolling resistance as the courses were hard dirt. Then as the weather turned wet a mud tire came in handy. Some guys do a lot with tire pressure though and might be able to get by with one pair of tires, I usually didn't change up pressure as much as I just changed tires.
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Old 01-02-09, 12:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flargle View Post
Lower pressure means lower rolling resistance on grass and dirt.
I thought it was the opposite
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Old 01-02-09, 12:28 PM   #9
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I thought it was the opposite
On uneven and rough surfaces, a lower pressure is better. It smooths out the ride. High pressure will have you bouncing around. This isn't like track racing or even like road racing.
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Old 01-02-09, 01:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
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I thought it was the opposite
It depends on the surface. Once you leave the pavement, lower pressures roll much better.

"...unevenness means that part of the forward propulsion force is required to lift machine and rider upwards. This is equivalent to riding a short uphill grade that requires a certain amount of lifting energy. A tyre with less inflation can adapt to unevenness more easily."
http://www.bicicletta.co.za/Download...llustrated.pdf

It's the exact same reason why mountain bikes have suspension forks and road bikes don't.
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Old 01-02-09, 06:19 PM   #11
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Tubulars are good but not essential, some of the strongest cross racers I know run clinchers.

If you don't have it already, get some cool weather stuff, knee/leg warmers, long finger gloves etc.

Other than that you're good to go.
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Old 01-02-09, 07:08 PM   #12
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You can go singlespeed if you want to save some $$$.
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Old 01-02-09, 08:38 PM   #13
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I believe that cross is more dependent of equipment than road racing. While the motor will help you win, having poor equipment or poor equipment choice can mean winning or losing in cross.

Assuming you already have a decent bike, here is my list of things to get
Lots of clothes. i bring all my winter clothes to cross races because you never know
A trainer. Your mileage may vary but I personally am a warm up on the trainer type of guy
More clothes. Don't forget a variety of gloves
Some tools (should have these anyway)
Spare Chain!!!
The above will get you started.

If you have some money to burn and want to upgrade
Tubular wheelset
Tires appropriate for the majority of your races
Go with a standard tread Challenge Griffo, Tufo Flexus or Vittoria XG. Depending on your conditions choose a 32 or 34 tire. See what other riders are riding. Skip the Dugasts, they are nice tires but are fragile. Tubulars are king in cross. You can run super low pressures with tubulars you can't with clinchers. I raced on one course where it was half frozen and bumpy, and half muddy. With clinchers you are forced to run a higher pressure so you can make it through the bumpy sections with out flatting. With tubulars, I was able to run pressures that suited the mud while not having to worry about the frozen bumpy section. Yes I bottomed out several times but I didn't flat

Now here comes the tricky part. Do you buy a spare bike or get more wheels and tires.
If you go the wheels/tires route, get a pair of the other size you didn't get on your first set. If your main set is 32, get 34s and vice versa. If you race in anything muddy, get a pair (or two) of mud tires.

If you get a spare bike, try to get the same bike. You want it to feel practically the same. Maybe down spec the group or get the aluminum version instead of the carbon (I wouldn't race carbon in cross anyway) But do whatever it takes to maintain the same position.
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Old 01-02-09, 10:57 PM   #14
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Skimp a bit on derailleurs, chain, cassette, shifter, etc. Budget more for wheels and tires, but really if you're on a budget, get things that are sturdy but not ultra light. Best route IMO. Tubulars are nice but certainly not necessary. Warm weather clothes are good, and obviously if you're a roadie you'll need mountain shoes and pedals. Get shoes with replaceable toe spikes or studs if possible.

Other than that just budget for racing fees and replacement parts. Stuff breaks, and you'll figure out what gear choices work well for you after a season or so.
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Old 01-03-09, 09:48 PM   #15
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Just an update for those interested: I picked up a Redline Conquest Pro on clearance today from my local shop after about an hour test ride over some paved and off-road sections near the shop.

Awesome, thanks for the advice all. I'll definitely keep an eye out the next 12 months or so for a decent used set of tubies around my neck of the woods.

Since I'm hitting the trails at the conclusion of cross season, it'll give me a few months of riding the trails and trying stuff out before I sign up for the suffer-fests next fall. I'm looking forward to being pack fodder in a third cycling discipline.
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Old 01-04-09, 07:28 AM   #16
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Congrats! Georgia Cross series is great. And clinchers work fine. If you do get tubulars, get a nice pair of Challenges, glue them yourself, and don't skimp on the glue.
http://crazyfast.blogspot.com/2005/1...y-fingers.html
http://www.cyclocrossworld.com/Tech....ShowDisabled=0

More important than equipment is attitude. Read this:
http://race.cx/2007/01/04/cpq-6-greg-reain/
17. For you, what is the essence of cyclocross?
Making do with what you got. Equipment, body type, and terrain. Just make it work.
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Old 01-09-09, 02:28 PM   #17
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light bike > durable bike.

a realization that i made much too late... so yea, lighter wheels... lighter frame... components are dictated often by things other than weight... like your riding style as to your gearing and such.
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Old 01-09-09, 10:05 PM   #18
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light bike > durable bike.

a realization that i made much too late... so yea, lighter wheels... lighter frame... components are dictated often by things other than weight... like your riding style as to your gearing and such.
I'm curious as to your reasoning behind this. I'm not a lightweight rider (pushing 190lbs in the offseason, lightest I've ever been is 165 lbs. At 6'2" I can't get much lighter it seems) and while I don't punish cranks and parts like other stories I've seen/heard, I would think for 'cross the key would be durability above weight. I'm not climbing mountain passes and I'd hate to have a crank or lightweight wheel break mid-trail miles from a ride home.
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Old 01-14-09, 03:26 PM   #19
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so all of these opinions really depend on what race you are in and what your goals are. Realistically, some of the people I see having the most fun racing cross are folks on sh!$boxes of bikes that they cobbled together. But when discussing improving performance there are things to keep in mind (keep in mind that my mindset is based on 60 minutes, but it transfers to the shorter races as well). And you can have a light and durable bike, totally possible. Well, I guess it depends on what you consider light, for me, mine at 17.5 is plenty light and they get raced hard.

Just the nature of the race punishes extra weight. The slowing for corners followed by hard accelerations for the entire 30-60 minutes really takes it's toll. So the more weight, the worse off you are, and that is why the guys at the top are lean. Yeah Wicks is 6'-4" or something, but he is skinny! I am defiantly not someone who is counting the grams of components in my builds, but there are a few guidelines that I follow.

Absolutely no carbon in my cockpit. Seatpost, stem and bars are all aluminum. They can be just as light as the carbon counter part, but cost significantly less, and if crashed, it is clear they are broken...

There isn't really any significant benefit to riding Dura-Ace or Red...yeah it weighs a little less, but it really isn't getting you off the line faster. There were a ton of guys who started this past season with the fancy new $200 SRAM cassettes and ditched them after the first few races because the chain just wouldn't stay put. When you wash out in the corner, it is much less expensive to replace a ultegra shifter than a DA one...and carbon cranks look like crap after the first muddy race weekend ATMO...

Tubular wheels, carbon or aluminum will give you a better more efficient ride, less risk of flatting, improved corner handling, but also, a tubular wheel is lighter. It takes much less effort to spin it around. Makes a huge difference in the corners. Deep Carbon wheels really are not as fragile as everyone makes them out to be either. I have raced them for two years now, over 20 races a year and they have held up fine. And the benefit they have through mud sand and snow really can't be described until you experience it.

the other two things for me concerning a build are really just personal opinions. Crankbrothers egg beaters for pedals and either those cheap tektro brakes or Pauls. Screw those fancy euro style brakes and their pain lack of adjust ability. Yes, I know they have those new auto toe in pads, but still, way too expensive...

What it comes down to in the end is how dedicated you think you will be to cyclocross? If it is just as much of a social hour as it is a bike race, where you are going to the course to race bikes and have a awesome time, your equipment really isn't a huge deal. Ride the he1l out of the stock redline you bought and cheer on everyone after your race. Stick around and enjoy the atmosphere. If you are going to the races to compete, win, cat up and win again, then take on Trebon, you need to find what works for you and those things are going to be pretty specific to your riding style and set up.

Extra gear...nothing out of the ordinary that you don't already have. I ALWAYS pack a wash cloth and towel with a bottle of pain water for after the race to get cleaned up. an extra change of cloths, you are bound to get dirty. We bring a bucket and brush to the race to clean up the bikes a little post race...

ug, that is probably way too much, but oh well
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