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  1. #1
    Cubicle warfare
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    Can cross bikes be as fast as road bikes?

    Love the speed and simplicity of road geometry but secretly harbor a dream of touring from CA to CO. Love the utility of cross bikes and love occasional mellow singletrack but hate lagging / getting dropped on the road. Question: can a cross bike with road slicks be for all practical purposes as fast as a comprable road bike? I'm not looking to race or anything, am just new to the world of gears (selling the fixie) and want to fit in all my above desires in one bike d/t budget constraints.

    Any reccomendations on a good, simple, inexpensive, geared steel cross bike with fairly aggressive geometry?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    If cyclocross bikes were _just_ as fast as road bikes, you'd see 'cross geometry and clearances at USCF and UCI road races. Since you don't, there is a reason, or rather, a host of reasons. That being said, a 'cross bike is in my opinion the best all around bicycle that can be had and certainly will not contribute to your being dropped unless you're racing or on "A+" club rides. Define "inexpensive" as it applies to you and we'll all recommend away. First off, since you asked for steel, Jamis Nova, Soma Double-Cross build (I will refrain from droning on about my build recommendations yet), Lemond Poprad.

  3. #3
    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    Having used cyclocross bikes as commuters/road bikes for 5 years I'd say you should have no problem keeping up. Generally, they are strongly built and have quick handling that makes them a pleasure to ride in traffic and tight groups.

    I didn't do much digging but I did struggle to find steel cross bikes. Condor Cycles, London, UK sells steel cross frames and could make up a custom order if you know exactly what you want though.

    http://www.condorcycles.com/pages/about.htm

    Personally went for an alu bike so I never have to worry about rust (sunny, sunny London). See the link at the very bottom for pics (...yes, I'm showing off now).
    shameless POWERCRANK plug
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    Don't run red lights, wear a helmet, use hand signals, get some cycle lights(front and rear) and, FFS, don't run red lights!

  4. #4
    Get the stick. darkmother's Avatar
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    I think the difference should be fairly small. From what I can see a cross bike has the following disadvantages built in, compared to a dedicated "road" bike:

    Heavier Fork (usually)
    Slightly heavier frame
    negligibly higher aero drag on the bike itself.

    Since you can set up a cross bike with road tires wheels and riding position, I figure they must be comparable. Am I missing something?

  5. #5
    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    nope - you got it in one
    shameless POWERCRANK plug
    Recommended reading for all cyclists - Cyclecraft - Effective Cycling
    Condor Cycles - quite possibly the best bike shop in London
    Don't run red lights, wear a helmet, use hand signals, get some cycle lights(front and rear) and, FFS, don't run red lights!

  6. #6
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    Thomas Frishnecht rode his 'cross bike at the Atlanta Olympics , or so the story goes.

    With road tires you will be just about as fast as you would on a road bike. ie indististinguishably.
    Even with 'cross gearing (like 48 x12 high gear), a normal pedaling cadence will allow you to go over 30mph.

    you can set up the bike to be essentially as aero as a road bike- the only difference i can see would be the added drag from cantilever brakes, but are we really going to worry about that? there are super light 'cross frames out (candium-Al, crabon) but you are looking for steel, so a fraction of a lb extra weigth shouldn't stress you.

    so, a 'cross bike makes a great road bike.

    Marc

  7. #7
    05 Roubaix Comp Double
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    If your going to do a Ca to Co, being fast doesnt matter and dont worry about being dropped,its the riders fault,not the bike.{i hate that word,dropped.Its something small kids would use,general statement**
    Touch every 3rd person and you'll find an idiot.

  8. #8
    Scooby Snax
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    I allways figured it was the rider that made the bike fast, not the other way around.

  9. #9
    Senior Member larue's Avatar
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    I could be wrong but I think if you want a new steel cyclocross frame you are going to have to spend some money on something from a high-end and usually custom manufacturer like Independent Fabrication or a Vanilla. Most of the big name cyclocross I've seen have been aluminum.
    Leave your treadmill power trip behind.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by larue
    I could be wrong but I think if you want a new steel cyclocross frame you are going to have to spend some money on something from a high-end and usually custom manufacturer like Independent Fabrication or a Vanilla. Most of the big name cyclocross I've seen have been aluminum.
    Surly Crosscheck.

    Soma Doublecross.

  11. #11
    Lets Ride Trekke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mgwadz
    Thomas Frishnecht rode his 'cross bike at the Atlanta Olympics , or so the story goes.

    With road tires you will be just about as fast as you would on a road bike. ie indististinguishably.
    Even with 'cross gearing (like 48 x12 high gear), a normal pedaling cadence will allow you to go over 30mph.

    you can set up the bike to be essentially as aero as a road bike- the only difference i can see would be the added drag from cantilever brakes, but are we really going to worry about that? there are super light 'cross frames out (candium-Al, crabon) but you are looking for steel, so a fraction of a lb extra weigth shouldn't stress you.

    so, a 'cross bike makes a great road bike.

    Marc
    IMO the wider tires and heavier wheels would cause more rolling resistance.. Cantilever brakes or the whole aero thing is way over sold in my opinion.

    Bottom Line. With exactly the same effort a cross bike will not reach the same speeds as a good road bike. The physics just do not support it. Will it meet your stated needs. I believe so and have considered this myself.
    Phil

  12. #12
    Senior Member bhchdh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scooby Snax
    I allways figured it was the rider that made the bike fast, not the other way around.
    I agree. After all the money is spent, most of the performance is in the motor.
    http://www.lemondbikes.com/2005_bikes/poprad.shtml

  13. #13
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    Ritchey makes reasonably priced steel frames. http://ritcheylogic.com/frames.htm.

    Jay

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trekke
    IMO the wider tires and heavier wheels would cause more rolling resistance.. Cantilever brakes or the whole aero thing is way over sold in my opinion.

    Bottom Line. With exactly the same effort a cross bike will not reach the same speeds as a good road bike. The physics just do not support it. Will it meet your stated needs. I believe so and have considered this myself.

    Why must the wheels/tires be heavier? I use identical wheels on my road and cross bikes- Ultegra/Open pro (or sometimes tubular on my cross bike- ultefgra/reflex). If you aren't ride off road, then put on road tires, as thin and racy as you want.

    i've done fast group rides on my cross bikes, and I've got a friend who races his steel cross bike in local races. The difference in speed between a road bike and a cross bike with road tires is small. (at some level that little bit matters perhaps, but that wasn't the question of the original poster)

    -marc

  15. #15
    Senior Member Timo's Avatar
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    I see comments from people that make me doubt if they own a cycloscross bike themselves. I use one for daily commuting, solo road training group rides and cyclocross.

    First of all: cross bikes don't have different wheels compared to road bikes. Same hubs, rims and spokes.

    Second: the gears are no problem. One hardly pushes a gear bigger than 48 x 12 during regular group or solo rides because 48 x 12 equals a gear between 53 x 13 and 53 x 14.

    Third: why on earth would one not swap the cross tires to regular 23 mm road tires (or simply swap the wheel set) when taking the cross bike out for a road trip?

  16. #16
    Get the stick. darkmother's Avatar
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    I run light narrow road rims (420 gr rims +14/15/14 db spokes) on my cross bike, complete with light, fast road tires. They are exactly what I would run on a "road bike". My riding position is also road, essentially as low and as I can comfortably get. So asside from maybe a pound of extra frame and fork weight, how am I going slower? That extra pound is less than a half of one percent of the vehicle weight-like adding 35 lb to your car and claiming it slows you down-I'm just not buying it. Sure, my bike doesn't *LOOK* as fast as a road bike, but that's part of the appeal.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by tvphobic
    If cyclocross bikes were _just_ as fast as road bikes, you'd see 'cross geometry and clearances at USCF and UCI road races.
    Well, here's a couple from Paris-Roubaix... Almost like your average office park crit

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/photos/20...obile/L1000225

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/tech.php?...pinarellob4290

    Flecha didn't win the sprint on his Pinarello cross, but he took the early flyer into the 'drome and got third. Not too shabby...

  18. #18
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    So you can set up a cross to go like a roadie, but can you set up a roadie to go like a cross? If you really had to do it against better your better judgement, how would you go about doing it given the limitations of a roadie?

  19. #19
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    I wonder how road bikes behave on uneven roads full of holes?
    Does it mean that on that kind of roads you can't ride road bike?
    I am planning to buy cross bike with front suspension (50 mm RST and lock-out),
    with 700x35 tires (Panaraces Rolling Stone, semi slim), a gear 48x9.
    I think that road bikes are good only if you have good roads in your living area.
    I live in area where there are above mentioned roads so,
    altough I would like a road bike, I don't have a choice.

    I am interested, if I change tires to 700x28, do I get some
    better performance, more speed?

    Does anyone know something about Author bikes?
    Here is the link
    http://www.author.cz/cs/kola/katalog...112&cat_id=121
    (Click "Vise" for details)

    Regards,
    Branimir

  20. #20
    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    Branmir this is OT - you may want to ask this question in either road or recreational. We could answer the question if the bike was a cyclocross bike. So if you change your mind on what you're going to buy feel free to come back.

    Quote Originally Posted by traveller5
    I am planning to buy cross bike with front suspension (50 mm RST and lock-out),
    with 700x35 tires (Panaraces Rolling Stone, semi slim), a gear 48x9.

    Does anyone know something about Author bikes?
    Here is the link
    http://www.author.cz/cs/kola/katalog...112&cat_id=121
    (Click "Vise" for details)

    Regards,
    Branimir
    I can almost hear Timo et al ROTFL but oh well
    Last edited by markhr; 04-20-05 at 05:59 AM. Reason: afterthought
    shameless POWERCRANK plug
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  21. #21
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    Yes, excuse me. I'll move to road bike forum with this question

  22. #22
    Enamoured of bicycles Bizikleto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Contra Fixie
    [...]touring from CA to CO. Love the utility of cross bikes [...] hate lagging / getting dropped on the road. [...] can a cross bike with road slicks be for all practical purposes as fast as a comprable road bike? [...] reccomendations on a good, simple, inexpensive, geared steel cross bike with fairly aggressive geometry?
    First off, your post should be in the "Touring" section. That said, Surly CrossCheck is your babe if you can lay hands on one over there. They are made in steel, have a compromise nice geometry and accept anything between the slimmest tyre and 700x45c (personally, don't see point of anything beyond 40c in cyclocross bikes). The last trend in tourers is 26in-wheeled (like MTB) bikes, but for the kind of trip you plan to do, and considering the rest of use you'd give it, cyclocross bikes are just perfect. They are the best compromise in utility, speed and sturdiness. You won't lag or be dropped because of your bike if you are reasonably fit. If you clinch 25 mm to your cross bike, it'll ride like the blazes. In that setup in a 10-mile trip you'd gain half a second on a top-range, AL or carbon full roadie at full throttle. Full laden in your inter-state trip, you'd be just as fast as anyone else with your steel steed for sure---though not necessarily faster than others.

    Good trip.
    Doubt is usually the beginning of wisdom. Scott Peck.
    There is no bigger signal of ignorance than that of believing impossible the unexplainable. S. Bilard

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