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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 11-07-09, 05:55 PM   #1
David325 
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Durability of cyclocross frames?

I was thinking about building up a cx bike as a good back-up/do anything bike, but what concerns me is that the frames basically look like road frames with different geo.. How much of a beating can a cyclocross frame take? I mean I might be shortcutting through rock/root strewn singletrack as well as road riding. What's the most durable cx frame out there? Or is a mountain bike a better bet?
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Old 11-07-09, 06:28 PM   #2
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looks can be deceiving
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Old 11-07-09, 06:47 PM   #3
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Sounds like a 'cross bike is suited for you if you want to ride road and off-road equally. I ride my bike on single track a lot. It's not the same as riding a mountain bike, but I don't have any difficulty. Durability has never been a concern for me. 'Cross bikes are solid.
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Old 11-07-09, 06:55 PM   #4
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Cool, I haven't really read any horror stories so hopefully it's alright. Are cross frames built with different tubing or techniques than road frames?
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Old 11-07-09, 07:29 PM   #5
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Get a monstercross frame like Surly Cross-check or Vassago Bandersnatch, not necessarily because the frames are any stronger than a standard road frame, but because you'll be able to fit substantially larger tires under them than any race-oriented cross frame.
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Old 11-07-09, 07:47 PM   #6
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Cool, I haven't really read any horror stories so hopefully it's alright. Are cross frames built with different tubing or techniques than road frames?
The more race oriented a crosser is the more likely it is to lack durability, as toughness is traded off for weight. Bikes like the Crosscheck otoh survive heavy riding indefinitely. Unless you weigh a lot or plan to do some moderately seriously jumping you shouldn't have a problem with most mid-range bikes. It's the $5000 17lb miracle bikes that you should avoid.

If you are going to use the bike particularly hard then might want to look for a bike with clearance for fatter tyres than are legal for cross races - more bounce will protect your rims and frame. That said my bike is set up with 32mm tyres and I weigh 210lbs - and I ride it on singletrack and take it down steps without problems. So far. I will change to 40mm tyres at some point.

As for tubing and techniques - even MTBs are built with the same techniques as road bikes! But a crosser will tend to weigh several pounds more than a road bike of the same price - it's been beefed up for a harder life.

Last edited by meanwhile; 11-07-09 at 07:52 PM.
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Old 11-07-09, 08:05 PM   #7
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Yeah, I don't have the dough for a racy frame anyways, haha. I weigh 135 so no problem there. Thanks for clearing that up.
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Old 11-07-09, 08:14 PM   #8
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Get a Cross Check.
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Old 11-08-09, 04:13 AM   #9
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but what concerns me is that the frames basically look like road frames with different geo..
That's exactly what they are. Read the specs they use the same steel or AL as their road bike counterparts. They don't use thicker wall tubing or special gussets. Basically, they have canti brake mounts and clearance for wider tires and a higher BB. That doesn't increase their strength. It just makes them more useful in conditions that cross bikes are raced in.
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Old 11-08-09, 05:36 AM   #10
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>That's exactly what they are. Read the specs they use the same steel or AL as their road bike counterparts.

Does that generalisation hold true for all manufacturers, all bikes? Just curious what you're basing it on. I had thought that CX frames were stronger...but then, I'm not basing that on much either.

My tricross really looks pretty tough - very thick tubing all over. It's taken a hell of a battering off road, no worries. But maybe road bikes would too? Interesting thought.
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Old 11-08-09, 06:22 AM   #11
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I had a bad wipeout this summer and my Bianchi San Jose survived without a scratch. I on the other hand was out of action for two months. CX frames are tough mutha bad-ass frames - overbuilt to take anything. So just ride and have fun!
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Old 11-08-09, 07:25 AM   #12
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If you are going to be navigating rocks and tree roots a mountain bike may be your best bet. It is about getting the right tool for the task at hand.
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Old 11-08-09, 10:37 AM   #13
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>That's exactly what they are. Read the specs they use the same steel or AL as their road bike counterparts.

Does that generalisation hold true for all manufacturers, all bikes?
No. And while crossers aren built out of materials also used for racing bikes they are usually built out of the tougher of those materials. Plus it's wrong to talk about material strength - it's always the strength of a particular component relative to the load on it. A specified tube may be strong in one application and weak in another depending, for example, on the length of tubing used. It's reasonable to say that a bike designer will put a higher priority on strength and a lower priority on weight reduction when designing a cross bike and testing it out with FEA programs everyone uses these days.

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My tricross really looks pretty tough - very thick tubing all over. It's taken a hell of a battering off road, no worries. But maybe road bikes would too? Interesting thought.
Large diameter tubing is stiffer. Not necessarily stronger. In fact all things being equal it will be weaker. Don't judge by looks. My old Lava Dome MTB has skinny tubing but these bikes are among the most unkillable ever made, because the walls are thick and the welds are strong. There's nothing wrong with the Tricross, but while it looks tougher than, say, a Crosscheck, I'd expect the chromolly beast to be tougher in practice. (Which doesn't mean everything or that it is a better bike.) The Tricross is a good bike but superb piece of showroom eyecandy.
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Old 11-08-09, 10:43 AM   #14
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If you are going to be navigating rocks and tree roots a mountain bike may be your best bet. It is about getting the right tool for the task at hand.
If you're riding fast downhills and deliberately going over rock after rock... then get an MTB. With a suspension fork.

But for just "short cutting" on single track a crosser is fine. I ride on single track most of the time on my crosser. For hours at a time. And I weigh over 200lbs. My only complaints are that the stock gearing is underpowered for steep climbs with poor traction and that I need a bit more shock absorb at the front. So I'll switch to 40mm tyres, change the cassette, and add some Bar Phat. I definitely try to avoid rocks and roots but when I hit them its not a problem.

I may also put the NOS Pedersen self-energizing cantis I found on ebay on the bike. Aka "tandem lifters". Or not. Depending on how crazy I feel. These things are supposed to be monsters of stopping power.
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Old 11-08-09, 01:42 PM   #15
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x2 on everything said. The mid-price frames are plenty durable for occasional single-track. You'll have to pick your line a bit better and not bomb rocky sections, but as long as you you remember you're on a beefed-up road bike, a cross bike will do fine.

I have two steel cross bikes and couldn't be happier with them. The San Jose is my commuter, sometimes racer, and once in a blue moon it sees singletrack. And I just picked up a Fisher Presidio for racing and road training (and my CAAD5 is being relegated to crits and general road beater duty).
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Old 11-08-09, 05:16 PM   #16
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So a cx frame can handle most things, then, good. I wasn't planning on doing any crazy jumps or bombing downhills on something rigid with small tires anyway, haha.
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Old 11-08-09, 10:37 PM   #17
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> For hours at a time. And I weigh over 200lbs. My only complaints are that the stock gearing is underpowered for steep climbs with poor traction and that I need a bit more shock absorb at the front. So I'll switch to 40mm tyres, change the cassette, and add some Bar Phat. I definitely try to avoid rocks and roots but when I hit them its not a problem.

Yep, agree with all that. Have done a few days of singletrack on the tricross, and it's a blast. Upgraded the gearing, and have ordered more bartape - your hands really take a beating. I started wearing two pairs of gloves as well.

(Steep downhill rocky stuff is doable, but not ideal. Long flowing smoothish singletrack with the odd root and rock is ideal.)
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Old 11-09-09, 10:08 AM   #18
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Yep, agree with all that. Have done a few days of singletrack on the tricross, and it's a blast. Upgraded the gearing, and have ordered more bartape - your hands really take a beating. I started wearing two pairs of gloves as well.
Having four hands must be great when you want to grab a water bottle when riding singletrack.
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Old 11-09-09, 06:01 PM   #19
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Heh, yeah. Downside of two pairs of gloves: if you lose "one glove", you just lost two pairs of gloves. Doh.

(For the curious, I had a thin pair of long fingered mtb gloves, with a thick pair of gel-padded short-fingered gloves over the top.)
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Old 11-10-09, 09:36 AM   #20
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Have done a few days of singletrack on the tricross, and it's a blast. Upgraded the gearing, and have ordered more bartape - your hands really take a beating. I started wearing two pairs of gloves as well.
Why not just swap the Tricross's stock 30mm tyres for 40mm ones? Much more cushioning and you'll go faster too, if you pay for premium low hysteresis rubber.
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