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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 05-13-10, 07:13 PM   #1
timg7
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CX bikes: just how strong are they?

Dear Group,
Just recently have been enjoying haring around on an old road bike I rescued from a friend's trash, but I'm always wishing I could take a forest trail or dirt track to make a more interesting route. Could it be that a cyclocross bike is what I need?

Coming from the world of mountain bikes, CX frames look awfully fragile. I know they're made for use on grass and mud, but can they withstand trundling down a rocky track, or bumping over a dry furrowed field? I'm not talking about very steep or rough terrain, but the kind of tracks that an ordinary 4WD car could get over.

Is there a preferred frame material for this kind of use? All other things being equal, I'm inclined towards the Scott Addict carbon-framed bike.

Thanks for your thoughts,
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Old 05-14-10, 09:42 AM   #2
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CX racing puts bikes through lots of crashes. This is not good for carbon frames, which can have serious damage thats not visible. MTBs have better control over rocks with their wide handlebars, but 35 or 38 mm tires would cope with the sort of riding you describe.
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Old 05-14-10, 10:55 AM   #3
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A cross bike would work for this, but may not be the most fun as there is no suspension. You'd get beat up pretty bad. While carbon would be fine as long as you didn't crash it, if it was me, I'd use something like a Surly cross check with it's steel frame, you wouldn't have to worry and would have just as much fun. Plus the bank account would be much fatter...
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Old 05-14-10, 12:26 PM   #4
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Not that cross frames are in any sense fragile.

But it sounds like what you really want is known as a monstercross, something that is in the realm of cyclocross but is a touch burlier, has clearance for larger tires, perhaps allows the choice of using disc brakes, etc etc.

If I were building up a monstercross, I would start with the Vassago Fisticuff frame.
http://www.vassagocycles.com/fisty.html
I have a minor quibble with their decision to use trackends (rather than horizontal dropouts), but otherwise it's stellar.
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Old 05-14-10, 12:49 PM   #5
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The Motobecane Fanton CX frame I'm building for my brother is downright beefy! It's light but has large downtube and nice thick stays. It's a tank.
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Old 05-14-10, 01:58 PM   #6
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The Fisticuff is interesting, I doubt the frame is that much stronger if at all vs the Surly Cross Check.
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Old 05-14-10, 02:37 PM   #7
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The Masi Speciale CX also has a very beefy steel frame.

You very rarely see a carbon bike in a CX race. The slightest crack and the frame is done for. You crash a lot in CX and having the lightest frame does not make you the fastest. If you want a bombproof CX bike while still having something light go for a titanium frame.
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Old 05-14-10, 02:39 PM   #8
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sorry double post
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Old 05-14-10, 03:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flargle View Post
But it sounds like what you really want is known as a monstercross, something that is in the realm of cyclocross but is a touch burlier, has clearance for larger tires, perhaps allows the choice of using disc brakes, etc etc.
I've got disc brakes on my cyclocross bike - front and back. I love them, and won't ride another bike without 'em. And I take dirt trails, gravel roads, and all that, even stairs ... going down only, of course. But I tend to take this stuff pretty slowly. It's not really that I'm worried about braking my bike so much as a leg or elbow when I crash into a rock. But the bike's been able to handle everything my nerves let me throw at it.
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Old 05-14-10, 07:05 PM   #10
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JFYI, cyclecross competitions does not generally allow disc brakes.
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Old 05-14-10, 08:24 PM   #11
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JFYI, cyclecross competitions does not generally allow disc brakes.
I've never competed in a cyclocross race that disallows disc brakes, and I'll bet you haven't either.
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Old 05-14-10, 08:40 PM   #12
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I've never competed in a cyclocross race that disallows disc brakes, and I'll bet you haven't either.
UCI sanctioned events do not allow disc brakes.
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Old 05-15-10, 12:45 AM   #13
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I've never competed in a cyclocross race that disallows disc brakes, and I'll bet you haven't either.
Excuse me, actually they do not generally allow disc brakes and in the past, yes, I have and no they didn't. Disc brakes are found on consumer bikes not intended for competion within UCI rules.
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Old 05-15-10, 09:13 AM   #14
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UCI sanctioned events do not allow disc brakes.
This is a true statement. Irrelevant, but at least it's true.
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Old 05-15-10, 05:41 PM   #15
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Thanks for the replies. I hope this bike won't have to withstand too many crashes -- I'm not planning on doing any racing, and I'll keep the mountain-bike for difficult terrain. Any thoughts on tyres for use on dry rocky tracks and roads?
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Old 05-15-10, 07:45 PM   #16
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Look for something with a smoother-er center tread and a more aggressive shoulder. If your paths are not to bad might try a "urban" tire. I am considering something more like a Specialized Freeroad 32mm tire next time.
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Old 05-29-10, 02:25 AM   #17
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Last summer, I was through a wipeout on my Bianchi San Jose. A brake lever got scratched. I ended up faring worse than the bike. CX frames are built to handle nearly anything. That's why people race em on tough courses I am too chicken to handle!
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Old 05-29-10, 07:10 PM   #18
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I ride all over with my cx bike, up until about a week ago I used 700x30c Kenda Kwicks. I now have Ritchey Speedmax 700x32c tires. After taking them up Mt Laguna today with lots of singletrack climbs, which were rocky and in some places loose, I'd say they work quite well.
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Old 05-30-10, 07:58 AM   #19
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Really, toughness is going to depend on the bike. A cromo Cotic Roadrat is built tough for training and offroad touring. A pro level carbon racer is built light for racing. If you want a tough bike then get a Roadrat or Crosscheck or lower end Kona Jake.

Last edited by meanwhile; 05-30-10 at 08:03 AM.
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Old 05-30-10, 07:59 AM   #20
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UCI sanctioned events do not allow disc brakes.
That's because they'd take away from the core skills that the UCI encourage - like cheating on dope tests...
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Old 05-30-10, 08:02 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by timg7 View Post
Thanks for the replies. I hope this bike won't have to withstand too many crashes -- I'm not planning on doing any racing, and I'll keep the mountain-bike for difficult terrain. Any thoughts on tyres for use on dry rocky tracks and roads?
Yes. Use the fattest tyre you can. The UCI ban tyres over 35mm because they provide too much of a handling advantage. The difference in suspension and grip between a 35 and a 40 is considerable. Bikes that can be used as "Monster Crossers" can wider again.

Also, pay for GOOD tyres. The have more grip and less rolling resistance. The Marathon Dureme sounds about right for you.
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Old 05-30-10, 10:28 AM   #22
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Thanks for the replies. I hope this bike won't have to withstand too many crashes -- I'm not planning on doing any racing, and I'll keep the mountain-bike for difficult terrain. Any thoughts on tyres for use on dry rocky tracks and roads?
I use these for that type of riding. http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...nuItemId=12450

Love them. They work very well on the road also. Much better than the non-armadillo version. I have those too and they are horrible.
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Old 06-01-10, 10:39 AM   #23
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what about the carbon forks or a carbon seatstay? im wondering how they do if i hit a root or something. I just purchased a major jake at a great price and was wondering how much abuse it can take. I did notice right away when i took it on a local trail that the ride was different than my low end fisher hardtail. I couldnt bomb down hills or anything but i definately could climb them much easier. And descents were just a different type of gnarly. Im looking forward to taking it out there again.
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Old 06-07-10, 10:28 AM   #24
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Well the beast has arrived, and I'm glad to report that it's everything I had hoped for. With a carbon frame and near-road geometry, it's amazingly precise and climbs like a demon. I'm very pleased with its off-road abilities: deep mud, long grass and uneven pasture are no problem at all. It's rather jittery on dry terrain, but I'd expect that with mud-tyres. I hope to try some less knobbly, more textured tyres soon. The only terrain it (or I) absolutely can't deal with is large rocks, but with that light road-like frame I'm quite happy to take a detour on the tarmac or even carry the bike for a while.

The new CX addict,
-Tim
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Old 06-07-10, 10:44 AM   #25
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What did you end up getting? Oh and you have to post a picture if you state you bought a new bike.
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