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  1. #1
    Senior Member neilfein's Avatar
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    Ramp-up bike for cyclocross for $500 - is it possible?

    A co-worker is interested in getting into triathalons and cyclocross. While he could go out and buy a brand-name cross bike, he very wisely has decided to first find something inexpensive to see if he'll stick with cycling. (He already runs and swims.) Getting a more expensive bike can come later. He came to me because he knows I do a lot of riding, but my knowledge is limited to touring and commuting, mostly.

    His budget is five bills, but he knows full well that finding a cross bike for $500 is nigh impossible - I gather it'd be tough to even find one used for that little. Are there other types of bikes that would do for him? Of course, if he gets into serious competitive events, he'll want to get a proper cross bike later on. (I gather bikes for triatholons and CX are pretty similar.)

    Would my co-worker be relatively happy with, say, a light hardtail mountain bike or a hybrid? He plans on doing century rides in the short term. Or is he better off looking for an aluminum road bike with slightly wider tires?

    Anyone here ride tris or CX on a bike that isn't meant for it?

    Edit: Thanks for the answers, these are helpful. I'd like to add that my co-worker knows very little about bikes, and building one up is not an option for him, although fixing up a used one might be.
    Last edited by neilfein; 09-01-13 at 08:30 AM.
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  2. #2
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    I would suggest he find a steel drop-bar bike from the 1975 to 1990 time period on Craigslist. If you could help him find something that fits well and is reliable, it might help him have a positive result. $400 can buy a good quality bike that can be resold easily once he steps up to a modern bike, see: http://cnj.craigslist.org/bik/3965275204.html

    Finding a steel bike drop-bar bike from the 1975 to 1990 that can take 700x32 Cyclocross tires is not easy, but can be done,

    see: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ghlight=Gravel
    Last edited by Barrettscv; 08-31-13 at 01:02 PM.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Blue Belly's Avatar
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    There are lots of hoarders of junk parts. Performance sells a cheap aluminum cross frame & fork. Ask around friends for junk parts & piece it together

  4. #4
    Senior Member XLR99's Avatar
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    If he starts off with something like a Bianchi Volpe, Spec. Crosscut , Trek 520, or a Performance or Nashbar cross frameset, he could use it for cross, tri and centuries by just swapping out tires or having a second wheelset.

    Post up wanted ads on your local bike forums, people always have stuff they're willing to part with, especially to help a new rider.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Kopsis's Avatar
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    Much depends on where you live. Finding a used CX bike for under $500 is certainly possible if you're in a place where CX has a decent size following. You want to find someone who is upgrading from an entry-level bike to something better. Just because it's not listed on Craigslist, doesn't mean it's not for sale. Most regions with a quasi-organized CX series will have some kind of an online community (at least a Facebook page). Try reaching out there to see if you can plant the "upgrade bug" in someone's ear

  6. #6
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    For a complete bike in that price range your best bet is probably used. Nashbar sells an entry level bike for $599 and this bike goes on sale frequently (sometimes marked down 20%). My Scattante Cross bike from Performance is an entry level model that I purchased 2.5 years ago and has served me very well. Nashbar and Performance generally use the same frames as they are owned by the same company. My frame was actually made by Fuji for Performance. The Nashbar Cross Frame( http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...97_-1___202389) is pretty popular around here and is similar to my frame.
    2012 Pinarello FP Due,2010 Scattante X-330(Cyclocross),1988 Fuji Sagres SP (Road Bike)

  7. #7
    Senior Member koolerb's Avatar
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    I took an old mountain bike and set up for cross for about $200. Two one hour test rides and race today, it held up.

  8. #8
    Senior Member chriskmurray's Avatar
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    If he is OK with the idea, he could save a good amount of cash by converting an older style road bike with 27 1 1/4 tires to 700c and running it single speed. Most of those frames have semi horizontal dropouts so you do not have to mess with any tensioner and obviously, not having to buy shifty bits cuts down the cost considerably.

    With that being said, he could likely find a used CX bike within his budget if he looks in the right places, Kopsis mentioned asking around on local facebook pages or forums, that is a great start, craigslist can be good, even posting a "Want to buy" post on craigslist could work well.

  9. #9
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Generally Tri's for fun are not needing a much of a full race bike as those that want to Win.

  10. #10
    Senior Member azgreg's Avatar
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    Here's a vote for a full rigid mountain bike with CX Pros.

  11. #11
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Single Speed . less parts to Buy and break, more running ..

    light because things are down to a minimum.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 10-27-13 at 02:42 PM.

  12. #12
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    $500 is definitely doable. My cross bike cost me around $500 after seeking deals on parts and building it over time.

    If he's looking for a way to have a newish modern bike with STI ****ing and light weight then it could take a while.
    If he's ok with an older bike that is upgraded to be a cross bike then he's got plenty of money.

    Look for a full bike used, obviously, or look for a touring or older frame and add modern wheelset and shifters. Run it 1x8 or 1x9 easily. $100 frame, $200 wheelset, $150 shifters, $50 tires. All else can be upgraded and filled in from a parts bin.

    Also look to Bikes direct.
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  13. #13
    Ghost Ryding 24/7 Ghost Ryder's Avatar
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    My 1st drop bar bike was a CXer, I was able to hold my own on casual group rides. We went about 100kms, & I was comfortable.
    My gearing(46x36) lacked top speed on decents, & some flats, but overall it was a pleasant ride.
    A mid level ALU CXer is as light as an ALU entry level road bike.
    I'll take the mid level CXer with the better components over the entry level roadie any day.
    105>Sora, heck I'd take a Tiagra equipped CXer over Sora.
    CXer are so versatile!
    CXer are do all bikes, forget hybrids.
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  14. #14
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    I bought my 2001 GT ZRX on craigslist for $250. Its not pretty, but its a good enough entry-level CX build.

  15. #15
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    I'd advise your friend to look reasonably hard on CL for a semi-modern (ie, with brifters) cyclocross bike with brifters. It really depends on where you are:I bought my current cross bike at $300 (a 2000 Trek XO-1 that I've since dropped unreasonable money into upgrading), and I see good cross bikes at under $500 semi frequently, but I live in an area with a large cross race scene and generally a large bike market. If he just wanted to try cross an old mountain bike could be a solid recommendation, but I think for distance road riding (centuries etc) and tris something that can set up well as a road bike is really going to make a big difference. For your friends needs a bike that has a road compact or a triple might be a little better (for the road training and centuries) but a cross compact would probably be fine. With some reasonable road tires (and hey, a cross bike can fit wider tires for comfort on centuries) it'll be nearly as good as a dedicated road bike. If your friend wants to be really competitive at triathlon he'll eventually want a dedicated tri bike anyways. Potentially he could get a little faster on a cross bike using short clip on aero bars for tri.

    Frankly it'd be a lot easier for your friend to find a good road bike that meets his non-cyclocross needs. He's asking a lot out of a bike he wants to spend only $500 on.

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