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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 05-05-14, 09:31 AM   #1
WestPablo
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Typical Cyclocross Terrain vs. MTB Terrain

We used to do singletrack cycling on Cruisers long before people ever heard of mtbikes or suspended forks. We thought nothing of bombing down fairly steep hills on those things.

Today, I hear cyclists debating whether Cyclocross or mtbikes are better used for one type of off-road terrain or another. Personally, I still think that most Cruisers, Cyclocross, and HT mtbikes can all handle the same types of terrain in most cases.

However, I will make an exception to downhilling, which IMHO, should be reserved exclusively for FS mtbikes.

What are your thoughts?

Last edited by WestPablo; 05-05-14 at 09:40 AM.
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Old 05-06-14, 01:06 PM   #2
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You can find videos of Cyclocross Races .. they are on easily accessible twisty loops, that are done over and over again for 45 minutes + a lap
(hour for cat 1&2 and the pro, Men)

, course designers make it pretty easy for spectators to watch the action and use parks and the grounds of city sports complexes

the terrain is not open woodlands .. like Mountain bike races can be, but requires rider skill to make tight corners at speed
on muddy and perhaps Icy sections, and jump off the bike lift the bike over barriers Intentionally placed there , and get back on

so another place where Rehearsed Skills make the loss of momentum as little as possible ..
CX race season starts when the weather gets bad and the road season ends .
they began the racing as a way to maintain fitness during the winter months , off the roads ..


gravel grinders seem to be a dirt road in farm country thing which is getting it's own market niche. (and this BF,net section)

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Old 05-06-14, 01:38 PM   #3
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You can find videos of Cyclocross Races .. they are on easily accessible twisty loops, that are done over and over again for 45 minutes + a lap
(hour for cat 1&2 and the pro, Men)

, course designers make it pretty easy for spectators to watch the action and use parks and the grounds of city sports complexes

the terrain is not open woodlands .. like Mountain bike races can be, but requires rider skill to make tight corners at speed
on muddy and perhaps Icy sections, and jump off the bike lift the bike over barriers Intentionally placed there , and get back on

so another place where Rehearsed Skills make the loss of momentum as little as possible ..
CX race season starts when the weather gets bad and the road season ends .
they began the racing as a way to maintain fitness during the winter months , off the roads ..


gravel grinders seem to be a dirt road in farm country thing which is getting it's own market niche. (and this BF,net section)
Thanks, Fietsbob!
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Old 05-07-14, 08:01 PM   #4
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Granted he's a pro but his bike seems entirely capable of anything you can through at it...

[video=vimeo;89689947]http://vimeo.com/89689947[/video]
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Old 05-07-14, 10:16 PM   #5
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Granted he's a pro but his bike seems entirely capable of anything you can through at it...
Nice vid, Gus!

Thanks for sharing
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Old 05-09-14, 08:23 AM   #6
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Yes, you can ride that terrain on a cyclocross bike, if you have good skills. But WTF does that actually tell you? The guy in the video would still be capable of riding the same terrain faster and doing the same tricks more easily on the more appropriate tool for the job. It's fairly pointless to talk about whether or not you CAN ride a certain type of bike somewhere; generally, you can, and I've ridden plenty of MTB singletrack trails on my cyclocross bike. If the trail is relatively smooth and fast without lots of technical obstacles, you'll be faster on the cross bike. Most of the time, though, you have to pick your line much more carefully to avoid pinch flats and keep traction. And that slows you down a lot. And big drop-offs you wouldn't think twice about on the sleekest, twitchiest hardtail XC mountain bike become a lot scarier on a cyclocross bike.

All that said, of course there's overlap, and it all depends upon the technical skill of the rider. Personally, I'm a better bike handler than most 'cross-racing roadies, so I tend to be able to ride stuff they can't, but I'm far worse than a typical mountain biker, and they'll float easily over trails that challenge me.
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Old 05-09-14, 09:31 AM   #7
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Yes, you can ride that terrain on a cyclocross bike, if you have good skills. But WTF does that actually tell you? The guy in the video would still be capable of riding the same terrain faster and doing the same tricks more easily on the more appropriate tool for the job. It's fairly pointless to talk about whether or not you CAN ride a certain type of bike somewhere; generally, you can, and I've ridden plenty of MTB singletrack trails on my cyclocross bike. If the trail is relatively smooth and fast without lots of technical obstacles, you'll be faster on the cross bike. Most of the time, though, you have to pick your line much more carefully to avoid pinch flats and keep traction. And that slows you down a lot. And big drop-offs you wouldn't think twice about on the sleekest, twitchiest hardtail XC mountain bike become a lot scarier on a cyclocross bike.

All that said, of course there's overlap, and it all depends upon the technical skill of the rider. Personally, I'm a better bike handler than most 'cross-racing roadies, so I tend to be able to ride stuff they can't, but I'm far worse than a typical mountain biker, and they'll float easily over trails that challenge me.
Excellent!

This is exactly the type of response I've been looking for to confirm my experiences! It's only the downhill-drop off stuff that gives pause to the CX bikes. IMO, that's best done by FS mtbikes. Otherwise, CX bikes are good to go!
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Old 06-13-14, 09:29 AM   #8
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Granted he's a pro but his bike seems entirely capable of anything you can through at it...

[video=vimeo;89689947]http://vimeo.com/89689947[/video]
Awesome video! I'm a newbie who's just about to buy his first cyclocross bike, and had no idea that one could do such things with one - I'm sold!
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Old 06-13-14, 12:56 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
We used to do singletrack cycling on Cruisers long before people ever heard of mtbikes or suspended forks. We thought nothing of bombing down fairly steep hills on those things.<br>
<br>
Today, I hear cyclists debating whether Cyclocross or mtbikes are better used for one type of off-road terrain or another. Personally, I still think that most Cruisers, Cyclocross, and HT mtbikes can all handle the same types of terrain in most cases.<br>
<br>
However, I will make an exception to downhilling, which IMHO, should be reserved exclusively for FS mtbikes.<br>
<br>
What are your thoughts?
<br>
<br>
Great topic! Just to share my experience: &nbsp;On my commute to work - I ride daily on a 20'ish miles (round trip) trail with a friend that has a MTB. He kills me on the downhill! It's mostly a fire road but there are a lot of rocky stretches where I need to, as @<a href="http://www.bikeforums.net/member.php?u=23594" target="_blank">grolby</a> mentioned, pick my line to avoid pinch flats. However, I kill him on the climb. I'm planning to get a MTB

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Old 06-13-14, 01:32 PM   #10
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Consumer level "gravel road" bikes ditch the pro CX geometry in favor of a more stable and forgiving road bike geometry.

I expect CX bikes to decline because the new off-road road bikes are vastly superior in every respect.
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Old 06-13-14, 03:53 PM   #11
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Is there really that much of a difference between off-road road bike geometry and CX geometry?
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Old 06-13-14, 04:01 PM   #12
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Consumer level "gravel road" bikes ditch the pro CX geometry in favor of a more stable and forgiving road bike geometry.

I expect CX bikes to decline because the new off-road road bikes are vastly superior in every respect.
Uh, not to put too fine a point on it, but gravel road bikes are by definition not "off-road" bikes at all.

And you're way overstating the superiority of gravel bikes, here. The only consistent difference in geometry you'll find across the two categories is that gravel bikes will typically have lower bottom brackets. The importance of that difference depends on who you ask, but it's not a huge deal IMO. The defining characteristics of gravel bikes vs. CX bikes have more to do with tire clearance and braze-ons for fenders and bottle cages. CX geometry is variable enough that you'd be hard-pressed to point to a standard, and gravel bikes are being built with a variety of geometries as well.
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Old 06-13-14, 04:01 PM   #13
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Consumer level "gravel road" bikes ditch the pro CX geometry in favor of a more stable and forgiving road bike geometry.

I expect CX bikes to decline because the new off-road road bikes are vastly superior in every respect.
Vastly superior in every respect? They're designed for endurance events and can take fatter tires and so more suitable for many riders who aren't racing but no not vastly superior in every respect.
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Old 06-13-14, 04:51 PM   #14
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What are your thoughts?
My thoughts? You don't live anywhere near mountains.
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Old 06-13-14, 05:01 PM   #15
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My thoughts? You don't live anywhere near mountains.

You've just gotta be kidding!

I was a military kid. We lived all over the United States, including Golden Colorado and Honolulu Hawaii!

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Old 06-13-14, 05:20 PM   #16
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I expect CX bikes to decline because the new off-road road bikes are vastly superior in every respect.
Really? Does "every respect" include actually doing Cyclocross (you know, that thing for which CX bikes are actually designed)?
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Old 06-13-14, 08:14 PM   #17
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Really? Does "every respect" include actually doing Cyclocross (you know, that thing for which CX bikes are actually designed)?
No. I don't think people buy those bikes to race.
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Old 06-13-14, 08:20 PM   #18
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Uh, not to put too fine a point on it, but gravel road bikes are by definition not "off-road" bikes at all.

And you're way overstating the superiority of gravel bikes, here. The only consistent difference in geometry you'll find across the two categories is that gravel bikes will typically have lower bottom brackets. The importance of that difference depends on who you ask, but it's not a huge deal IMO. The defining characteristics of gravel bikes vs. CX bikes have more to do with tire clearance and braze-ons for fenders and bottle cages. CX geometry is variable enough that you'd be hard-pressed to point to a standard, and gravel bikes are being built with a variety of geometries as well.
Sure but I had in mind gravel road bikes produced for the mass market.
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Old 06-13-14, 08:39 PM   #19
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No. I don't think people buy those bikes to race.
wut?? You don't have races near you? There are plenty at the right time of the year.
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Old 06-13-14, 08:43 PM   #20
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wut?? You don't have races near you? There are plenty at the right time of the year.
People who race buy a bike that offers them a competitive advantage.
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Old 06-14-14, 04:12 AM   #21
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People who race buy a bike that offers them a competitive advantage.
People that race cyclocross buy cyclocross bikes. Google something like "cyclocross race" and look at the photos.
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Old 06-14-14, 09:33 AM   #22
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No. I don't think people buy those bikes to race.
The thousands of people around the world who race Cyclocross (myself included) beg to disagree with you.

I think the point you were trying to make is that some recreational riders have bought CX bikes because for many brands that was the often the only "fat tire road bike" offering. Those riders may now be better served by the expanded range of "gravel bike" options. But the idea that no one buys a CX bike to race CX, or that only pro racers will buy CX bikes couldn't be more wrong. CX is probably the most "accessible" form of bike racing. In many parts of the US it's hugely popular and that popularity is growing. The market for Cyclocross racing bikes is not going away any time soon.
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Old 06-14-14, 09:53 AM   #23
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The thousands of people around the world who race Cyclocross (myself included) beg to disagree with you.

I think the point you were trying to make is that some recreational riders have bought CX bikes because for many brands that was the often the only "fat tire road bike" offering. Those riders may now be better served by the expanded range of "gravel bike" options. But the idea that no one buys a CX bike to race CX, or that only pro racers will buy CX bikes couldn't be more wrong. CX is probably the most "accessible" form of bike racing. In many parts of the US it's hugely popular and that popularity is growing. The market for Cyclocross racing bikes is not going away any time soon.
+1 ^ Agreed!

In fact, here's proof!

The Fuji Cross LE CX Racing Bikes:

www.performancebike.com/bikes/Product_10052_10551_1147686_-1_400315__400315

AND

www.performancebike.com/bikes/Product2_10052_10551_1147678_-1

Last edited by WestPablo; 06-14-14 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 06-14-14, 11:02 AM   #24
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Yes, you can ride that terrain on a cyclocross bike, if you have good skills. But WTF does that actually tell you? The guy in the video would still be capable of riding the same terrain faster and doing the same tricks more easily on the more appropriate tool for the job. It's fairly pointless to talk about whether or not you CAN ride a certain type of bike somewhere; generally, you can, and I've ridden plenty of MTB singletrack trails on my cyclocross bike. If the trail is relatively smooth and fast without lots of technical obstacles, you'll be faster on the cross bike. Most of the time, though, you have to pick your line much more carefully to avoid pinch flats and keep traction. And that slows you down a lot. And big drop-offs you wouldn't think twice about on the sleekest, twitchiest hardtail XC mountain bike become a lot scarier on a cyclocross bike.

All that said, of course there's overlap, and it all depends upon the technical skill of the rider. Personally, I'm a better bike handler than most 'cross-racing roadies, so I tend to be able to ride stuff they can't, but I'm far worse than a typical mountain biker, and they'll float easily over trails that challenge me.
Point is if you have to choose one bike, a cyclocross bike might be a better option for something between a road bike and a mountain bike vs a fully dedicated mountain bike. But whatever.
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Old 06-14-14, 11:15 AM   #25
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A cross and/or gravel bike with 2 sets of wheels, one with skinny tires for fast road riding and one with fatter tires for adventure riding, makes for a versatile bike. The differences between cross and gravel bikes is a matter of degree.

It is also a category of bike that is growing at least from talking to the people at the two local bike shops. They like being able to put someone on a road bike with wheels and tires that make sense for most people.

I've long been a fan of road bikes that can take fat tires. Touring bikes have been around a long time but they are not as good for general purpose riding as cross and/or gravel bikes.
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