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    CX vs. road bike - how dramatic is the difference (speed) on straight roads?

    Is there a big noticeable difference between the two on longish type road rides? I have a Kona Jake that weighs in at around 23 lbs. It has 25mm Conti slicks on it. My last road bike was a Specialized Allez Epic carbon fiber that I sold years ago that I think weighed in at around 21 lbs. Although the Jake is only a couple of lbs heavier, it just seems to be more sluggish out there on the roads. Maybe it's my imagination, but is there anything about the geometry of a typical CX bike that makes it handle differently on straight open roads?

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Really nice, but pricy, tires , like the 33.3 wide Jack Brown , light, supple, ( that comes thru Merry Sales and RivBike )..
    and some of the Grand Bois that come from Japan , narrow the difference , some what ..

    fast is the work output, you, and staying low in the drops.

    to broad a generalization to really have a simple answer, Just go test ride bikes and find out 1st hand.

    Lots of people post about the drop bar bike they commute on .. heavier frames butt places for racks and maybe disc brakes ..

    a full tilt carbon fiber Cyclocross race bike can be just as light as your road bike ,..

    It, the likes of Carbon fiber cantilever brakes may be even lighter than the Ones on your road bike

    and given competitors preference of Sew up tires for CX racing

    though bigger they can be very light as well ..

    got $4K to throw at it , much can be done..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 12-17-13 at 04:21 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member shoota's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TTON View Post
    Is there a big noticeable difference between the two on longish type road rides? I have a Kona Jake that weighs in at around 23 lbs. It has 25mm Conti slicks on it. My last road bike was a Specialized Allez Epic carbon fiber that I sold years ago that I think weighed in at around 21 lbs. Although the Jake is only a couple of lbs heavier, it just seems to be more sluggish out there on the roads. Maybe it's my imagination, but is there anything about the geometry of a typical CX bike that makes it handle differently on straight open roads?
    I think a lot of that is possibly your imagination but without comparing similar specs it would be hard to say. Typical cross geo has you sit up a little more upright than a road bike (assuming a racing style not something like endurance). So it's pretty tough to compare.
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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Un less its a Competition Oriented Cyclocross race bike , then the purpose has more about sprinting between dismounts

    Ridley and the like at the top end.. most people want a light touring short chain stay gravel grinder thread stuff.
    maybe rack mounts for commuting ..

    Cross is pretty dilute-generic , now ... EU sites hybrid and cross are the same thing. flat bars, 622-35 tires.

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    thanks for the replies. Sounds like the differences might be small to not really notice. Maybe someone that commutes daily between a CX and road bike would have some more insight.

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    Senior Member Kopsis's Avatar
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    Not sure what you mean by "sluggish". Between the Allez and the Jake you're looking at about a 2 cm difference in chainstay length and about 4 cm in wheelbase. Combine that with more slack ST and HT angles and the extra weight, and the Jake is going to feel quite a bit less nimble. The Jake's wheelset is likely a good bit heavier which you'll feel on acceleration. Depending on your setup, you're riding position is likely less aero which you'll feel at higher speeds. I went from doing longish (40 mi) road rides on a CX bike with 25c slicks to a 2 lbs lighter true road bike (on the exact same tires) and I could definitely feel a difference. In terms of actual performance, I picked up 1 - 2 mph on my average speed.

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    Senior Member hodag's Avatar
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    Compare the crank sets, there's your loss of speed.

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    Senior Member Revracer's Avatar
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    I agree with the OP and Kopsis. I have a Felt F65X CX that was recommended in size 57 (22lbs) for me and a Cannondale Synapse in size 61 (19lbs) and I feel a noticeable difference in that I can achieve 1-2mph more on the Synapse road bike. I am somewhat doubtful of the aero advantage due to the high seat position I ride on the CX bike due to the 57. I have often wondered, is it:

    1) 3lbs of difference (I can gain/lose 3lbs and I ride heavier steel road bikes that are still faster)
    2) Wheel weight, Felt probably carries an extra pound in the wheels
    3) Aero, while 57 makes me get lower, the CX has shallow drops
    4) Geometry, there is something about pushing on the pedals of the road bike that feels easier
    5) Tire size - I have never tried a 700x23 on the CX, but even rolling down a hill the Synapse is faster
    6) Aluminum vs Carbon, is the stiffness of the CX bike burdensome? It should be faster due to stiffness I think

    Is has been an interesting consideration for me, as I thought after getting the CX, it could be a be all bike for me, but the road bike (and even a few vintage steel road bikes) are able to maintain better speed on the roads.

    Great topic of debate!

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    I have agree that wheel weight probably plays some role to it. I don't know about the crank set making a difference. In any case, probably wouldn't make much sense doing some upgrades to it in order to try to get it to that road bike "feel". My first thinking was to upgrade the wheelset and maybe the crankset but I doubt it'll give me that much return on dollars spent.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    set up a DIY time trial .. ride them both, same course, and compare times ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 09-08-13 at 09:17 AM.

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    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revracer View Post
    I agree with the OP and Kopsis. I have a Felt F65X CX that was recommended in size 57 (22lbs) for me and a Cannondale Synapse in size 61 (19lbs) and I feel a noticeable difference in that I can achieve 1-2mph more on the Synapse road bike. I am somewhat doubtful of the aero advantage due to the high seat position I ride on the CX bike due to the 57. I have often wondered, is it:

    1) 3lbs of difference (I can gain/lose 3lbs and I ride heavier steel road bikes that are still faster)
    2) Wheel weight, Felt probably carries an extra pound in the wheels
    3) Aero, while 57 makes me get lower, the CX has shallow drops
    4) Geometry, there is something about pushing on the pedals of the road bike that feels easier
    5) Tire size - I have never tried a 700x23 on the CX, but even rolling down a hill the Synapse is faster
    6) Aluminum vs Carbon, is the stiffness of the CX bike burdensome? It should be faster due to stiffness I think

    Is has been an interesting consideration for me, as I thought after getting the CX, it could be a be all bike for me, but the road bike (and even a few vintage steel road bikes) are able to maintain better speed on the roads.

    Great topic of debate!
    I'm in a similar situation and I would attest to everything you've said here.

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    CX bike i

    Quote Originally Posted by TTON View Post
    Is there a big noticeable difference between the two on longish type road rides? I have a Kona Jake that weighs in at around 23 lbs. It has 25mm Conti slicks on it. My last road bike was a Specialized Allez Epic carbon fiber that I sold years ago that I think weighed in at around 21 lbs. Although the Jake is only a couple of lbs heavier, it just seems to be more sluggish out there on the roads. Maybe it's my imagination, but is there anything about the geometry of a typical CX bike that makes it handle differently on straight open roads?
    I think the differences due to the frame are miniscule.

    If you have road tires, it's pretty much the same.

    If your position is higher on the CX bike you may have more drag.
    Depending on your brakes they might not be as smooth as road brakes- some CX brakes feel good, others don't
    I don't think the gearing is a big issue - turning 100rpm with a 46 x 12 on 25mm tires is 30.1 mph.
    A couple lbs won't affect your flat road speed measurably.

    you might feel more (or less ) comfortable on the CX bike depending on which setup you are used to and suits you.

    As some said, it's hard to generalize based on all the things might be different, but I think the frame has very little effect comparing a racing CX bike to a road bike.

    Thomas Frisnecht rode the olympic road race on a CX bike. Marianne Vos trains on her CX bike on the road.

    Wheels, tires, pressure, etc could make it feel different.

    PS I was on a road ride on a CX bike a few days ago and a guy who drafted me for a while was surprised at how fast we were going. I really didn't even think about the fact I was on a CX bike until he mentioned it. I had road tires on and it felt good.

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    Ride a 2012 cannondale superX Ultegra that weighs 18lbs... 36/46 upront, 12-28 rear block with 35mm panaracer cindercross tyres...

    I assure you this bikes plenty quick enough to mix it with the local roadies on a good 3hr ride...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by RolandsuperX View Post
    Ride a 2012 cannondale superX Ultegra that weighs 18lbs... 36/46 upront, 12-28 rear block with 35mm panaracer cindercross tyres...

    I assure you this bikes plenty quick enough to mix it with the local roadies on a good 3hr ride...
    I have a Cannondale SuperX Rival with 28 gatorskins on them and you wouldn't know the difference with a road bike. The SuperX and Evo frames are nearly the same with weight other than the SuperX having a slight upright position (barely noticable anyway) and a more reinforced head tube. They also use both the same SAVE technology. No problem keeping up with roadies here.

    That's why I have a cx bike. Can have the best of both worlds with just swapping the tires.

  15. #15
    idc
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    I have a Kona Jake as well, and I do find it slower on the road than my road bike (compact geometry). The Jake has no toe overlap so it's obviously going to have a bit of a longer wheelbase and less responsive steering.

    Part of it I think was the heavy stock wheels on the Jake - I've since upgraded them but since I keep my CX/gravel tires on them I haven't tried it out on the roads for any comparisons lately.

  16. #16
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by idc View Post
    Part of it I think was the heavy stock wheels on the Jake - I've since upgraded them but since I keep my CX/gravel tires on them I haven't tried it out on the roads for any comparisons lately.
    What did you upgrade to?

  17. #17
    idc
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    Quote Originally Posted by ill.clyde View Post
    What did you upgrade to?
    I have a disc brake Jake, so Stan's Iron Cross (disc brake wheelset) which is around 1600g.

    There is a weight limit on those though which may affect some.

  18. #18
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    Thanks ...

  19. #19
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    Very few people compare apple to apples when it comes to this topic. Bikes with different frame sizes, carbon v steel, wheelsets, tire types and widths, commute vs road ride etc all get mentioned when they throw around the whole 'cross vs road bike issue.
    To make a truly scientific comparison you'd need to equalize everything but the geometry of the frame (rake, top tubes, angles) and see what comes of it.

    I ride a Redline Conquest Team scandium built to 18lb in road mode. 700x23 tires. I think a lot of what people notice is the wheelsets and tires they are using, along with possibly their position setup. Not to mention I hear many people state their crank lengths are not identical from one to the other and this is noticeable as well.

    Given heavier wheels and wider tires the cross bike may feel slower (but the same wheelset can be swapped)
    Given a slightly higher and less aero body position a cross bike may lose 1-2 mph on a TT if all things are equal. (but the cross bike can be adjusted to match the roadie).
    Given a higher BB on the cross bike along with slightly longer wheelbase and slacker angles a cross bike may make it feel slightly slower on tight turns or canyon carving. (but the rider can adjust by adding more input or taking a slightly different line)
    The small aero difference of cantilever brakes, wider forks, exposed cables, possible weight gain on the frame of the cross bike still seems too small to notice, other than over a long TT or a big sprint.
    Given the same bike but drastically different crankset gearing and rear cluster (and possibly heavier FD/RD/shifters for durability) a cross bike will feel different, may lack some top end gearing, or not. (This can be made equal as well)

    All together, these differences add up to a bike that may feel slower my a small margin, but to claim that as 'gospel' to a bunch of weekend Freds is pure marketing shenanigans.

    My cross bike has the same lower aero position, same wheels and tires, same light frame, same gearing


    I swap wheelsets back and forth between cross and road bikes (actually roadie is steel 20lb). I notice very little difference.
    I have my cross bike set up In the exact same position as my road bike. I notice very little difference.
    The gearing and components are equal, I notice no difference.

    The main thing I "feel" to the slightest degree is the higher BB on twisty descents, the feel of the canti brakes, and the slightly slower turn in due to the wheelbase. As to actually hindering my riding in any way? not a chance.

    Other than that, until I enter the Paris-Rubaix and have to choose between a road and a cross bike I don't think it'll affect my Strava score...
    My blog about rides, bikes and builds: ridesgoneby.blogspot.com

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    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thenomad View Post
    Very few people compare apple to apples when it comes to this topic. Bikes with different frame sizes, carbon v steel, wheelsets, tire types and widths, commute vs road ride etc all get mentioned when they throw around the whole 'cross vs road bike issue.
    This is off-topic, but would you mind elaborating on the bold part? I've been wondering what "road biking/riding" means. I commute by bike 2-3 times a week, and my commute route is 100% road, but that's obviously not what you guys are referring to as "road biking."
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Anderson

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    Senior Member Blue Belly's Avatar
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    Pretty much comes down to wheel weight & tire size, all other things being equal. I set mine up pretty much the same as my road bikes, Bars being a bit higher. I have 2 more teeth on the rear, run road rims & it probably weighs in about the same. Geometry is slightly different. I run 32cm sewups. They
    are fairly nimble for a dirt tire. Rotating weight of the tires is what I notice the most.

  22. #22
    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daihard View Post
    This is off-topic, but would you mind elaborating on the bold part? I've been wondering what "road biking/riding" means. I commute by bike 2-3 times a week, and my commute route is 100% road, but that's obviously not what you guys are referring to as "road biking."
    Sure, allow me to generalize my experience to the populace:
    Commute routine: Wake up early, fill panniers or backpack with stuff, cycling shorts and sport t-shirt or warmer mix of gear on. Hop on cyclocross bike with lights, possibly fenders, larger flat resistant tires, water bottle, and ride to work, watching the sunrise. Get a good workout sweat going, rinse and repeat at the end of the day, get home tired and happy.

    Road ride: Wake up early, gather only the essentials and stuff them into my jersey pockets and slide into spandex. Hop on the road bike, ride out to meet a local club and hit the hills or have a hammerfest for a few hours. Get home tired and happy.

    So road riding was meant to be the "ride for miles or training" type of thing, while commuting is a different animal as its utilitarian in nature.

    Despite the difference in purpose, I could complain about why the hill to the town line just feels so much faster on my road bike than my cross bike. When I look at the bikes, heck, they both look so similar. My conclusion may be that the cross bike is noticably slower than the road bike.
    My blog about rides, bikes and builds: ridesgoneby.blogspot.com

  23. #23
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thenomad View Post
    Commute routine: Wake up early, fill panniers or backpack with stuff, cycling shorts and sport t-shirt or warmer mix of gear on. Hop on cyclocross bike with lights, possibly fenders, larger flat resistant tires, water bottle, and ride to work, watching the sunrise. Get a good workout sweat going, rinse and repeat at the end of the day, get home tired and happy.

    Road ride: Wake up early, gather only the essentials and stuff them into my jersey pockets and slide into spandex. Hop on the road bike, ride out to meet a local club and hit the hills or have a hammerfest for a few hours. Get home tired and happy.

    So road riding was meant to be the "ride for miles or training" type of thing, while commuting is a different animal as its utilitarian in nature.
    Thanks! That makes me wonder if "road biking" should really be called "road racing/training," and road bikes should be called "racing bikes." That helps clueless newbies like me.
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Anderson

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    Riding like its 1990 thenomad's Avatar
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    Yeah, its all just riding to me for now. I took all the computers off my bikes a while back because it just seemed to take the fun out of just hammering along (why am I going 1mph slower!) or even riding with friends (why can't they go faster than 11mph!).
    My blog about rides, bikes and builds: ridesgoneby.blogspot.com

  25. #25
    Senior Member daihard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thenomad View Post
    Yeah, its all just riding to me for now. I took all the computers off my bikes a while back because it just seemed to take the fun out of just hammering along (why am I going 1mph slower!) or even riding with friends (why can't they go faster than 11mph!).
    Interesting. I just installed a computer on my hybrid bike. It gives me more fun by showing me how I've improved over time. I ride partly for fitness, so seeing improved average speed is certainly encouraging to me.
    Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all. - Mikael Colville-Anderson

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