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Old 07-07-11, 09:55 PM   #1
kbnorth99
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Road bike or Cyclocross

I'm not sure if this is the proper section so forgive me if it's not. I'm just getting ready to buy a bike and I'm wondering what kind. I can't run any more so I'm going to ride for exercise and recreation. I don't plan to do any hard trails like I used to. I used to have a road bike (80's Bridgestone) and a mtn bike (91 Giant ATX). Now I plan to mainly ride the street but I still want to be able to ride dirt paths and simple trails. So I was thinking cyclocross. I want to be able to get some long rides in eventually (50+ miles). What do you guys think?
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Old 07-08-11, 06:45 AM   #2
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You sound a lot like me, I don't want to do the hard trails now since I am older. The easy trails and mainly road for me.

I am a big fan of the Specialized Crosstrail. I really like having front suspension and I love the tires, perfect for road or trail and I don't have to worry about getting flats like a road bike.
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Old 07-08-11, 01:36 PM   #3
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If part of your goal is to do 50+ miles, think...what kind of trails, simple or otherwise, go that far? Don't get me wrong, Cyclocross bikes are great, but if you are going for long miles, you may find the gearing of a cross bike a little lacking. However, the gearing is easily remedied, if you are willing to go through the trouble.

If you want to do trails/paths, keep the MTB for that purpose. Chances are, once you get into road biking and start enjoying the distances, you may use the trails less and less.

And as far as the claim that you don't have to worry about getting flats...I don't have any idea if there are facts to support that claim. There are other things to consider besides flats when getting a road bike vs a mountain bike.

Last edited by tagaproject6; 07-08-11 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 07-08-11, 01:47 PM   #4
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Taga I don't plan to ride trails that far. My distances will be on pavement but I don't want to give up that ability to ride simple trails as well. The MTB is long gone. I don't have the cash to have two bikes so I'm thinking that the cross will be a happy medium.
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Old 07-08-11, 01:59 PM   #5
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Taga I don't plan to ride trails that far. My distances will be on pavement but I don't want to give up that ability to ride simple trails as well. The MTB is long gone. I don't have the cash to have two bikes so I'm thinking that the cross will be a happy medium.
Happy Medium = guy who gets paid before the seance!

Cheezy jokes aside, my only input is that, as taga mentioned, the CX bikes are usually geared down, so much so that you'll likely miss having top end once you hit the road. If you want to do trails, I'd go with MTB and ride it on the road. Otherwise, get a roadie and skip trails. Getting specialty CX to mix/match means you lose advantages of both, IMO.
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Old 07-08-11, 04:13 PM   #6
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i exclusively ride a CX bike. it's my goto for all rides. on the roads (and the long haul, i.e., 100+ miles) it's fine. no, it's not for road racing. on the trail it's good, but if you do really technical stuff (and not just a well-maintained cedar bark trail) then the CX bike will not be as good as the MTB by a long shot. But if you do minor off road, and mostly road, and club rides, and want fenders, and don't want the discomfort of a road racing frame, then the CX bike is your dream.

re: gearing. on a CX bike it's fine for 99% of most riders. yes: you'll run out of top-gear on the downhill. but then again, why pedal on the downhill past 35mph (where my lowly top-gear spins out)? on the flip side, unlike the sad roadies who have to stand on their pedals to ride up a "steep" hill, a CX rider will actually have the low gears that are kind on your knees.

i ride multiple centuries each year on my CX bike, regularly tow my kid in a trailer up 10 grades, do light trail riding here in PNW, and commute to work. just remember: riding fast is about 5% bike and 95% motor (i.e., you). riding at *any* speed is all that matters.
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Old 07-10-11, 06:32 AM   #7
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^^^^^^^^^^^

+10000000

I have my Ridley X-Fire geared up to either a compact or standard--very easy to switch--running an 11x28 in the rear.

I just did this trip on it:



More pics, including Garmin 500 shots along the way:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?s...1&l=a7432b9fb9
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Old 07-11-11, 09:39 AM   #8
AltheCyclist
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re: gearing. on a CX bike it's fine for 99% of most riders. yes: you'll run out of top-gear on the downhill. but then again, why pedal on the downhill past 35mph (where my lowly top-gear spins out)?
Did you upgrade the chainring? Most CX bikes that I've seen have say, a 48 in the front, making it really hard to spin-out at 35mph.
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Old 07-12-11, 02:04 PM   #9
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Did you upgrade the chainring? Most CX bikes that I've seen have say, a 48 in the front, making it really hard to spin-out at 35mph.
Depends on how many rpms your legs will spin, i guess. I run a 42txRohloff (103g"@gear 14), which i normally only spin to between 34-38mph on the downhill (I guess I would count that as an "upgrade").

In comparison, a 48tx12@120rpm (107g") is roughly 38mph, which when going downhill is not a significant difference from 35mph in my non-racer world. I can spin faster, but what's the point here? (And IME, most recreational riders don't spin past about 100rpm, which would be ~32mph in this hypothetical ratio.)

The point is that the typical CX gear ratios are more than adequate for 99% of recreational riders. Even more so if you figure that the low gears in a CX drivetrain are doubly useful for relatively "new" riders.
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Old 07-13-11, 05:53 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by kbnorth99 View Post
I'm not sure if this is the proper section so forgive me if it's not. I'm just getting ready to buy a bike and I'm wondering what kind. I can't run any more so I'm going to ride for exercise and recreation. I don't plan to do any hard trails like I used to. I used to have a road bike (80's Bridgestone) and a mtn bike (91 Giant ATX). Now I plan to mainly ride the street but I still want to be able to ride dirt paths and simple trails. So I was thinking cyclocross. I want to be able to get some long rides in eventually (50+ miles). What do you guys think?
I think a cyclocross bike is perfect for what you need. I use mine for the same reason you want to use yours. They are very versatile bikes. I plan on a second set of wheels down the road to turn the bike into a more pure road bike and I'll keep the stock wheels for my trail rides. Most models also have crosstop brake levers which are really nice when approaching busy intersections.

I wouldn't worry about the top end gearing. I have a 36/46 on the front and 12-25 on the back so my top gear is 103 gear inches which is fine for most people. With my bike you could easily swap out the 12 for an 11 on the back and add almost 10 gear inches. You'll find quite a bit of variance in the gearing on these bikes.

Last edited by knobd; 07-13-11 at 06:23 AM.
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Old 07-13-11, 09:19 AM   #11
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I would say cyclocross, and if anything the transition to road is not that hard by just swapping thinner tires. If you go MTB or all road, then you are just stuck with it. You can go 26x1.90 with gatorskin tires on the MTB and still go both, although a little on the heavy side with the frame.
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Old 08-31-11, 11:35 PM   #12
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I would also vote for a cross bike. Unless you are racing competitively then a cross bike will be fine.

As for gearing there are a number of cross bikes that come with "road gearing". My Giant TCX Rabobank came with a 50/34 crank and a 12-25 cassette. I bought a 2nd set of wheels and also have a 12-27, but I could run an 11-28. With a 50/11 combo that's a higher top gear than a 53/12.

Having said that some road bikes will fit 28 mm tires and that should be enough for light trails.
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Old 09-19-11, 02:06 PM   #13
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I have been working to downsize to one bike. Cyclocross was the perfect in-between for me. It accommodates fenders for commuting in rainy weather. I put on a set of Forte Gotham tires (700x32) that roll well but can handle a little off road as well and are supposed to have good flat protection at a great price. It feels like the perfect compromise. My five mile commute takes the same amount of time and they are actually more comfortable to ride as they soak up vibrations better. I ended up buying the Windsor Cyclo from bikes direct. Since I can do all of my own wrenching, I didn't mind having to do that. I actually had bought a lower-end cross bike from my LBS but it got stolen when I loaned it to a friend and I couldn't afford the bike shop premium again- so I went with BD and bought a good lock. Good luck and let us know what you get.
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Old 12-14-11, 08:52 AM   #14
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Well I ended up going with the cross. I couldn't afford a name brand so I bought a Motobecane will pretty much all 105 components. Figured if the frame was garbage I had a good set of components that I could move to a different frame. But no need for that, I love it. Although it's only been off the pavement a couple times on trails that I could have taken a road bike if I had to, I am glad I got the cross.

Of course I'm shopping now for road wheelsets so that I can have one for cross and one for road. I ride pretty much only ride road but I do follow the wife onto a trail every once in a blue moon. I'd like to keep the stock wheelsets for cross and training and get a lighter set for longer rides.

I've put about 600 miles on it since June. I would like to have more but a back injury has gotten in the way. The bike rides smooth and the fit is comfortable. The build quality of the frame is fine. The welds are not quite as uniform as a more expensive frame but I don't see anything that would cause a structural issue. The parts that were pre-assembled were done so well, no issues. I did not take it to my LBS for assembly. Partly because I was out of money by the time I bought the bike and a bunch of basic gear but also because I just like to work on my own stuff when I can. It took me a bit to get things dialed in but I'm very happy.

My search for a saddle that fits me is under way. It came with with a cheap Velo which wasn't bad at all. I tried a couple of off brands that REI recommended (that was a waste of time) but then I got serious and started my own research. I'm currently trying a seat by SQ Labs. It's not common here but I found some threads about it on an international site. I think it's OK but I'm not sure. Last weekend was 3 rides for a total of 100 miles (20, 50, 30) and there was some pain involved. But it was the first time I'd put that many miles in in such a short time. Prior to that the longest I had done with that saddle was 40 miles. I'm going to give it a couple more weeks. I bought it used so I should be able to sell it for about what I paid. I think I'll try a Fizik next. One of the LBS's is a big proponent of that brand.

I had a set of recreational mtb pedals that use SPD cleats that I put on. I'm also looking to update those and get a slightly better pair of shoes.

So if anyone is facing the same decision I did... I'm very happy that I went with the cyclocross. Like Oneofpr posted earlier, it's easy to make it a road bike with a simple tire change. You only give up a pound or so in weight (if that). And if anyone is wondering if buying a Motobecane is a good idea, I can give them an enthusiastic endorsement.

Now it's back to training. I'm about to sign up for the Tour of the California Alp - Death Ride. Wish me luck and thanks everyone for the input.
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Old 12-14-11, 09:51 AM   #15
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Same for me, though I popped for a Tricross frame that I built to my specs; my second wheelset, that has become my primary wheelset, are Neuvations R series. http://www.neuvationcycling.com/wheels.html Most rec riders seem to buy the M series.

Saddle ended up being a Selle SMP, though you'll will want to demo before you commit.

I flipped back and forth between riding with a compact and triple, finally settled on the triple. I like the wide range in the middle ring for most hills.

CX is a decent 'one bike that can do it all' choice.
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