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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 02-18-13, 09:22 AM   #1
bjsteinb
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Total N00b, looking for Cyclocross Bike Advice

Hey All,

I've mostly used a mountain bike to ride around and but realize that a road bike or CCX bike might better suit my needs.

I'm looking for a bike that I could ride for fitness purposes firsthand with the idea that I might ride a charity race in the future. My ultimate goal would be to complete a century ride. At this point, I'm not looking to compete in races or anything like that.

I was guessing that a road bike would fit my needs, but have very recently been told by a friend that a CCX bike might better suit my needs. Do you all agree?

TIA!
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Old 02-18-13, 01:49 PM   #2
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The real difference between a road bike and a CX bike will be:
1) Brakes
Road bikes will have road brakes, CX bikes come with cantilever or disc brakes. Road brakes work great on roads but they have a tendency to catch mud so they don't get used off-road much. If you're sticking with roads there is no need for cantilever brakes. If you're going to use it as an all weather commuter disc brakes might be a good option to have and there aren't too many road disc brakes options yet in terms of brakes, frames and levers.

2) Tires
A CX bike will come with knobby tires 38mm+ wide while a road bike will come with 23mm slicks. You can always put road slicks on a CX bike, it's harder to put knobby tires on a road bike as the frame clearance might not be there.

3) Frame strength?
A CX frame might be built to withstand a bit more beating than a road frame which would also might make it a bit heavier. I have no real data to back this speculation but it sounds pretty reasonable to expect this.

4) Gearing
CX bikes usually come with a compact 36/46 front chain ring pair which may or may not work for your type of riding. Road bikes tend to come with a more traditional 53-52/39 chain ring giving you a higher top speed but not as much lower gearing. You can always change out the chain ring or the cassette to adapt the ratios to your riding style and speeds. With the 46/11 on a CX bike you will probably start outpedaling it around 33-35 mph. If you have a lot of fast descends or you're a very talented fast rider it might be an issue. A 50T front chain ring would solve the problem though.

So overall I really don't think there is that much difference between road and CX bikes as people make it out to be. For touring/commuting/group rides a CX bike with slicks on is just as capable as a road bike and if you can get past the cantilever brakes not being as potent as the dedicated road brakes you should be fine with a CX bike, especially if you go for one with disc brakes in which case you get a great brake feel with a bit extra weight.

Last edited by GregTR; 02-18-13 at 02:03 PM. Reason: Added gearing info.
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Old 02-18-13, 02:47 PM   #3
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there are cross bikes in some makets that is what is called a Hybrid in others.

Cyclo-cross racing bikes have no anticipation of using racks and Mudguards.
OTOH, drop-bar hybrid commuters will..
coming from MTB sector maybe the road bar part of the kit matters Less. IDK?


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Do you all agree?
here? You are kidding right?
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Old 02-18-13, 02:50 PM   #4
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Hybrid - Flat/MTB bars
CX - Drop/road bars

There are plenty CX bikes that have braze ons for fenders and racks and there are plenty that don't.

OP - What's your budget?
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Old 02-18-13, 09:12 PM   #5
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OP - What's your budget?
I would definitely like to keep it under $1,000.

A guy around me has a 2012 Kona Jake for $750. He says that there's maybe 50 miles on it.

As far as road bikes, I can purchase a 2011 Specialized Secteur Elite that's (supposedly) never been ridden for $850.
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Old 02-19-13, 08:06 AM   #6
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Either way, make sure whatever bike you buy fits!!

I agree that CX bikes are a little more versatile (you can fit wider tires), rugged, and probably heavier than most (racing) road bikes out there. Gearing won't be an issue unless you develop into a really strong rider. (And as a beginner, the weight of your bike won't really matter.) But in the brakes department, cantilever brakes are a bit of a pain to adjust, while disc brakes are a bit heavy and aren't that widespread yet. If you buy a CX bike for road riding, you will also want to buy a set of slick tires (and tubes), as CX bikes come with tires with wider, knobbier treads.


Another option is the "comfort" road bike which is basically a standard racing style road bike with a more relaxed geometry - taller headtube, longer wheelbase, etc. Quite a few companies make road bikes specifically for this purpose. If you don't envisage yourself ever wanting to ride with wider than 25mm tires, or want disc brakes, etc. I'd go with this option. (Personally, I much prefer the option of running up to 32mm tires on my bikes.)

Last edited by idc; 02-19-13 at 08:13 AM.
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Old 04-11-13, 12:28 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by GregTR View Post
The real difference between a road bike and a CX bike will be:
1) Brakes
Road bikes will have road brakes, CX bikes come with cantilever or disc brakes. Road brakes work great on roads but they have a tendency to catch mud so they don't get used off-road much. If you're sticking with roads there is no need for cantilever brakes. If you're going to use it as an all weather commuter disc brakes might be a good option to have and there aren't too many road disc brakes options yet in terms of brakes, frames and levers.

2) Tires
A CX bike will come with knobby tires 38mm+ wide while a road bike will come with 23mm slicks. You can always put road slicks on a CX bike, it's harder to put knobby tires on a road bike as the frame clearance might not be there.

3) Frame strength?
A CX frame might be built to withstand a bit more beating than a road frame which would also might make it a bit heavier. I have no real data to back this speculation but it sounds pretty reasonable to expect this.

4) Gearing
CX bikes usually come with a compact 36/46 front chain ring pair which may or may not work for your type of riding. Road bikes tend to come with a more traditional 53-52/39 chain ring giving you a higher top speed but not as much lower gearing. You can always change out the chain ring or the cassette to adapt the ratios to your riding style and speeds. With the 46/11 on a CX bike you will probably start outpedaling it around 33-35 mph. If you have a lot of fast descends or you're a very talented fast rider it might be an issue. A 50T front chain ring would solve the problem though.

So overall I really don't think there is that much difference between road and CX bikes as people make it out to be. For touring/commuting/group rides a CX bike with slicks on is just as capable as a road bike and if you can get past the cantilever brakes not being as potent as the dedicated road brakes you should be fine with a CX bike, especially if you go for one with disc brakes in which case you get a great brake feel with a bit extra weight.
Greg thanks for this post. I found it very useful for my current dilemma of deciding between a true cyclocross bike and the trek crossrip. The salesman at my LBS told me gearing on the crossrip would suit my desire for speed better (I only mountain bike currently). However the information you provided leads me to believe it is less of an influence than he had implied. I'd much prefer to get the cyclocross bike because it is an overall better bike (2012 cannondale caadx with a solid discount) and I'd like to have the option to try cyclocross races in the future. I understand that you said the gearing isn't as big of an issue, but if I did decide to do the 50T front chain ring modification you mentioned, what would I expect to pay for it?

Again thank you very much as you have provided me with really good info for my situation!
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Old 04-11-13, 05:55 AM   #8
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You're looking at about $70-90 for either a 50/34 or 52/38 setup: http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...ls.php?id=5617 http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...s.php?id=31510

You need to get the matching large and small chainrings to ensure proper shifting. I have put almost 1,000 miles on my 46/36 and have yet to feel the need to change.

Last edited by GregTR; 04-11-13 at 05:58 AM.
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Old 04-11-13, 08:43 AM   #9
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Thank you sir. Makes it a no brainer for me to get the better cross bike if it is an inexpensive modification such as you described. I doubt I will feel the need to change it also after doing the research and getting the info from you. The guy at he LBS made me nervous because he told me the cross bike wouldn't be that different from what I'm currently on (hard tail 29er MTB). But worse comes to worse I'll just get new chain rings and road tires.

Thank you again. Much appreciated!
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Old 04-11-13, 06:45 PM   #10
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Thank you sir. Makes it a no brainer for me to get the better cross bike if it is an inexpensive modification such as you described. I doubt I will feel the need to change it also after doing the research and getting the info from you. The guy at he LBS made me nervous because he told me the cross bike wouldn't be that different from what I'm currently on (hard tail 29er MTB). But worse comes to worse I'll just get new chain rings and road tires.

Thank you again. Much appreciated!
Well the guy at your LBS could not have been more wrong. Losing the front suspension and rolling on 28-32mm slicks (assuming you'll put on proper commuter tires) on a much lighter frame will be a world of difference. The drop bars will provide you with multiple spots to grab onto making a commute far less taxing on your wrist than a flat bar would. Assuming a 42/11 gearing on your current MTB the 46/11 on the cross bike will be a major difference and something you could actually use. I have a FS 29er and my average speed is about 4-5 mph slower on it for the same effort on the road with both shock locked out compared to my CX bike with 700x28 slicks. I would not hesitate for a second to take my commuter on a century ride (I'd actually prefer it over my tri bike) but there is no way I'd consider riding my MTB that far ever.

Best of luck! I did look at the CAADX myself, which level are you looking at? Ultimately I ended up with a Bikesdirect Ti bike for a bit more money but a lot nicer frame and a bit better groupset.
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Old 04-11-13, 06:48 PM   #11
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Thanks to Greg's fantastic insight I was very comfortable making the decision on the '12 CAADX. The guy at my LBS today gave a different opinion than the original guy and basically agreed with everything Greg posted and thought it was the right move for me and I'd likely not need to change out the chain ring but if I did he'd do the parts for cost and labor for free so that was a nice selling point.



I rode it right out of the store on a short little mixed terrain path (concrete/gravel/wooden plank) and it was great. Very fast and the shifting was very smooth. The bike is incredibly light and everything on it feels very solid. Verdict is out on whether I'll mess with the tires/chain rings in an effort to make it faster at some point, but I'm very happy with the current set up, and the guy at the LBS thought it was good for my desired riding.

I'm a very happy camper and I appreciate the insight I was given in this thread. Thanks!
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Old 04-11-13, 07:08 PM   #12
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Looks like a 2012 CAADX 6 Tiagra! Looking great! You're going to love it I'm sure! Enjoy!
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Old 04-12-13, 12:18 AM   #13
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Yea that is the one. Funny you knew that and I didn't, but a quick search of the website confirmed it.

Now just off to figure out the best way to train for races
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