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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 04-30-14, 10:54 AM   #1
furiousferret
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Climbing Dirt Roads and Singletrack

Hello all!

For the past few weeks I've been eyeing cross bikes. Our area has several mountain ranges with some awesome climbs, and while I love riding on the road, these trails have been calling me. Most of these are fire roads but some are singletrack. I'd prefer to get a cross bike since I'd also be interested in racing this fall. Are cross bikes feasable going up 6-10% dirt roads with 1k to 7k of gain, or do I need the traction of a mountain bike?
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Old 04-30-14, 11:21 AM   #2
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A Cx would work good. I'm putting together a flat bar one with a 10x2 system. 40/28T front with a 11-36 cassette. That gives me 3.64 to 1 at the top and .77 to 1 ratio at the bottom. You may want it a little taller at the top for racing but yes, the gearing and the tire styles are all there. Just about anything is possible.
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Old 04-30-14, 05:47 PM   #3
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My cross bike works just fine for the conditions you've described as well as some conditions that many would argue warrants a mtb with fat tyres.
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Old 05-01-14, 03:33 AM   #4
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Do these trails and fire roads have a good amount of rocks, roots, and are they twisty? Lastly, how is it coming back down? I think those factors weigh more heavily on deciding the type of bike than elevation gain. My gravel and cx bike do well in places that are not too technical...otherwise my mountain bike is definitely best for pure singletrack.
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Old 05-01-14, 08:36 AM   #5
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Do these trails and fire roads have a good amount of rocks, roots, and are they twisty? Lastly, how is it coming back down? I think those factors weigh more heavily on deciding the type of bike than elevation gain. My gravel and cx bike do well in places that are not too technical...otherwise my mountain bike is definitely best for pure singletrack.
The terrain is mostly dirt; we're in a desert and even when we get to the higher elevations at 6-8 thousand feet vegetation is still sparse. Some of the trails aren't flattened very well, they may have deep grooves from water runoff but not many roots and they are mostly straight.

The biggest danger is the descent, but I'm not to care how slow I go down the hill. For me, going up is the challenge
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Old 05-01-14, 09:26 AM   #6
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The biggest danger is the descent, but I'm not to care how slow I go down the hill.
Just keep in mind that your speed can easily "get away from you" on steep descents. I'd also strongly recommend that you try to avoid riding down hills that you haven't first peddled and/or walked you're way up.
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Old 05-01-14, 11:11 AM   #7
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Climbs, gravel, dirt, sand, mud...I can do all of that well on my CX. Large Rocks and stumps? NO

I have found that tires and air pressure are extremely important to the terrain you are riding with a CX bike!
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Old 05-01-14, 11:16 AM   #8
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Climbs, gravel, dirt, sand, mud...I can do all of that well on my CX. Large Rocks and stumps? NO

I have found that tires and air pressure are extremely important to the terrain you are riding with a CX bike!
+1

I have what I deem a gravel bike that is suited mainly for gravel roads and rail trails (32mm tires with some tread, no knobbies; rim brakes). When I lower pressures I can float over larger gravel/rocks and pot holes I can't avoid. I have a cross bike with 40mm tires and disk brakes, and with a lower pressures that bike can do ok in anything more technical.
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Old 05-01-14, 11:19 AM   #9
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You would be fine with a cross or even road bike with appropriate tires/gearing.
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Old 06-01-14, 09:48 AM   #10
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Hello,

I am planning to get a new bike, and while one friend is pushing me to get a 29-er, there's another friend that convinced me that a CX will do just fine unless I'm riding up in the mountains or doing downhill or something else hardcore I am a recreational biker with a bit of sport attitude (but no plans to race), having lots of hilly area around, but it's not really mountains. Lots of woods with singletracks and lots of offroad to explore. While I believe that getting a 29-er would be also just fine, I am tempted to get a CX for a bit more challenge.

Now, yesterday I took my current XC/MTB bike for a ride off the city, and while 80% was paved road, I had quite a steep climb up on a singletrack in the woods, according to Strava the max grade was 11-12% - I was fighting the hill on my slowest gears, 28T in front and 30T in the back.

I know my form sucks at the moment, but the only concern I have about getting the CX bike is that the crankset/casette is usually geared towards slightly less aggressive hills. I am now looking at bikes with triple crankset and a casette with those "MTB" gears. I could find Pinnacle Arkose Three with front 34T/back 28T, and Giant Anyroad 2 with front 30T/back 32T. In here CX is not so popular so the only bike I could actually try was the Giant, and as you can see on the picture it is quite comfortable indeed with quite long headtube (it would need tire replacement for wider ones, but it has plenty of clearance for those).

Which one should I aim for, having the crankset with smallest possible cog, or the casette with biggest possible cog?
Most CX bikes have cranksets with 36T and casettes with max of 30T...
Should I even worry about this? I can always carry, it's CX after all

Thanks!
Tom

PS. sorry for digging up an old thread, but realized it's better than writing a new one with similar subject..
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Old 06-01-14, 10:01 AM   #11
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Tom, I would not pick a bike based on the stock gearing - focus on buying what fits you well and matches your quality and price requirements. Once you have something to ride it's a relatively small matter to change the cassette and/or chainrings to suit your preferences.
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Old 06-01-14, 11:50 AM   #12
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A cross bike with a variety of tires will take a good cyclist up almost anything that a mtb can climb. Descending is another situation, a cross bike is not ideal on faster or highly technical descents.

I have added a triple crankset and can use 700x38 knobby tires on my CX bike. Climbing a 15% gravel road is do-able.

Tom, where do ride?
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Last edited by Barrettscv; 06-01-14 at 12:12 PM.
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Old 06-01-14, 01:53 PM   #13
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Tom, I would not pick a bike based on the stock gearing - focus on buying what fits you well and matches your quality and price requirements. Once you have something to ride it's a relatively small matter to change the cassette and/or chainrings to suit your preferences.
Yeah, you're right here, I am totally after these criteria, but on the other hand I have to look at other things too a bit, I wouldn't want to have to fix the bike right after a buy it.


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A cross bike with a variety of tires will take a good cyclist up almost anything that a mtb can climb. Descending is another situation, a cross bike is not ideal on faster or highly technical descents. I have added a triple crankset and can use 700x38 knobby tires on my CX bike. Climbing a 15% gravel road is do-able. Tom, where do ride?
I hope I will eventually be able to do that ascent on my future CX
I am in Lesser Poland, here's the trip I mentioned Bike Ride Profile | Las Zabierzowski near Krakow | Times and Records | Strava

Thanks!
Tom
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Old 06-01-14, 02:06 PM   #14
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I hope I will eventually be able to do that ascent on my future CX
I am in Lesser Poland, here's the trip I mentioned Bike Ride Profile | Las Zabierzowski near Krakow | Times and Records | Strava

Thanks!
Tom
Hi Tom, Krakow is a beautiful area and one of my favorite cities.

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Old 06-01-14, 02:14 PM   #15
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Hi Tom, Krakow is a beautiful area and one of my favorite cities.
Nice pic, glad you made it here
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Old 06-05-14, 06:33 PM   #16
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Now, yesterday I took my current XC/MTB bike for a ride off the city, and while 80% was paved road, I had quite a steep climb up on a singletrack in the woods, according to Strava the max grade was 11-12% - I was fighting the hill on my slowest gears, 28T in front and 30T in the back.

I know my form sucks at the moment, but the only concern I have about getting the CX bike is that the crankset/casette is usually geared towards slightly less aggressive hills. I am now looking at bikes with triple crankset and a casette with those "MTB" gears. I could find Pinnacle Arkose Three with front 34T/back 28T, and Giant Anyroad 2 with front 30T/back 32T. In here CX is not so popular so the only bike I could actually try was the Giant, and as you can see on the picture it is quite comfortable indeed with quite long headtube (it would need tire replacement for wider ones, but it has plenty of clearance for those).
If you feel 28/30 is too tall for what you want to ride, then buying a bike with a 34/28 low gear would be a big mistake. There's nothing you can do about that 34 tooth chainring because a compact crank won't take a smaller one. You'd have to replace the whole crank, and there aren't a lot of choices that will allow you to keep your brifters. I was in the same situation, and ended up buying a rare and very expensive Sugino 0X801D crankset to solve the problem. I ordered the crank as a 44-30, and now have a 30/32 low end, which is roughly equivalent to what you have today. I think the same crankset can be ordered as a 26-40, which would probably make you happy. But who wants to spend an extra $300-400 to make a brand new bike usable?

Q: What's the difference between a cyclocross bike and a gravel bike?
A: Folks who do gravel grinders want to ride their bikes, not carry them.
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Old 06-06-14, 02:31 AM   #17
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If you feel 28/30 is too tall for what you want to ride, then buying a bike with a 34/28 low gear would be a big mistake. There's nothing you can do about that 34 tooth chainring because a compact crank won't take a smaller one. You'd have to replace the whole crank, and there aren't a lot of choices that will allow you to keep your brifters. I was in the same situation, and ended up buying a rare and very expensive Sugino 0X801D crankset to solve the problem. I ordered the crank as a 44-30, and now have a 30/32 low end, which is roughly equivalent to what you have today. I think the same crankset can be ordered as a 26-40, which would probably make you happy. But who wants to spend an extra $300-400 to make a brand new bike usable?
Of course I would not want to replace the crankset for cost reasons, the only thing I would consider is changing the casette to have more low gears. That's why I am looking for a bike which would fit my needs plus that extra gear requirement, if possible. If that doesn't work, I will think of modifications after first season.

I am waiting for some more info and availablitiy from a used bike seller, so far I don't know much except that there will be some Wilier and Colnago, I checked specs of those from past years and I don't think they will have the gears I'm after but who knows, I need to wait for now.
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Old 06-19-14, 11:17 AM   #18
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Guys, what do you think of this bike?
I was talking to a seller about another CX bike and he told me he has another one which he wants to sell, it's great albeit for a more serious price ($2000):
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/xznsbtsra...VxMgs2TGUYgzka

I love it, the casette is 11-36, but the crankset is a single 42T... If this had a nice double or a triple, I would seriously consider it.

Cheers!
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Old 06-19-14, 12:33 PM   #19
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They set it up for Cyclo cross racing ...single ring stuff is another recurrent trend. ..

You can change parts .. or pay someone to do it for you, if shopping is all you can manage.

red is a fast color.
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Old 06-30-14, 07:55 PM   #20
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I use a stock mtn bike 11 28 on back an 28 38 48 on front and I climb fine and descend just as good but I am not that experienced. So I half to be a little more vigilant as to the terrain changes. And my bike loves single track mud not sand though. Im running semi knobby got some but not as much as some tires do and it does fine on most terrain .Have not rock hopped yet and don't plan to either I am not even close to that yet .
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Old 07-02-14, 08:35 AM   #21
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Another gearing option would be to use a mountain cassette and rear derailliuer. 36 -12 is a popular one, in either 9 or 10sp.
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