I've been racing this season on a TCR road bike with 28mm tubie knobbies. It's been a gas. It corners like lightning and is superlight. It's also been great for climbing and traction -- the wheels are very tight together under me, short stays, etc. I gain on riders around me any time that cush isn't a factor. (Or lots of power also. But that's my fault.)
The drawback, of course, is that it's a frickin' roadbike and can only fit harsh little tires. At 175 lbs, I bottom out with what my pump says is 30psi. I suppose with 30-32's I could be running 25psi and getting more cush.
On a smoothish course it's been great. Last weekend I did a race with frozen chatter ruts for 1/2 mi. Bangety-bang! Ouch. ...And slow! Tons of speed scrub from those little tires banging along. (Still, it was fun enough.)
Basically, I go slower than others on a chattery course.
Anyway, I look forward to getting a real CX frame -- but the only change I really need is to fit wider tires.
Is it likely, tho, that to accomplish that the wheelbase will have to get longer and the steering slower, etc.?
I'm not sure I'll be able to be much of a chooser, more of a beggar. I'll need to get something 2nd-hand and cheap.
But do some CX race bikes try to keep more of a roadbike feel in the handling?
I suppose a slightly longer wheelbase might increase speed in the chatters -- along with the wider tires. But then you might have to slow down more in the twisties and technical offcamber fun climbs and such. (I have a sport-tour bike with 30's that is, like, 5" longer than the TCR! And I have to brake a LOT more just to make it around corners!)
A tight front end might mean toe-overlap with fat tires. Is that such a big deal? I haven't experienced overlap trouble yet (my size 10's can't hit my tire in my TCR). Can you usually just adapt OK? ...Or is it splatsville.
I'll probably get something like a TCX or a Crux -- whatever might commonly hit the used market in a thrifty way. In that price-range are there brands/models to look for in terms of lively handling and some to stay away from?