I am thinking about buying a cylocross bike for some touring in Northern Minnesota. I will be using a BOB trailer, and figured that the cylocross bike will give me the most versatility for side trips (off-road) and future uses (road bike, commuter….ect). Are there any important modifications that I should consider for touring on a cyclocross bike? Will the body position on a cyclocross bike be adequate for long distance hauling? The bikes I’ve been looking at are the Bianchi “Volpe”, and the Kona “Jake the Snake”. Any info is appreciated. Thanks.
Cyclocross bikes can be appropriate for tours, especially when you can find a cro-mo frame like the Volpe. Clearance for racks and panniers is almost always an issue, but you'll be fine with a BOB. You may find that the cyclocross posture is a little too agressive for day-after-day touring, but that's easily fixed with a riser or two.
I would stay away from the Jake the Snake, though. It's a much more aggressive ride than you'll want on a tour. Also, the carbon seatstays and fork are inappropriate for long-distance touring. There's a reason no touring bike is made with CF.
Actually, though, if you are planning on doing light off-road, you may find that a true touring bike like the Trek 520 or Fuji Touring would be a better choice. Because those bikes are built to take a heavier load, they are more suited to the shocks than even cyclocross bikes (though cross bikes tend to be a little lighter). If you were planning on jumping stumps, you'd get a mountain bike.
If you want to make this a multiple-use vehicle, dedicated touring bikes are the most versatile vehicle you can find. You should put fenders on either way, but who knows if you'll want racks at some point in the future, especially as a commuter? And you will never find a bicycle that is more comfortable to ride than a good tourer.
I have an 05 JTS that I use for touring, but not full on self supported touring. The 05 didn't have any carbon bits. That said, its been a great ride, but I've made some modfications:
New cranks (triple)
New bottom bracket
New levers (I went Campy)
New wheels (sturdier is better)
If you're adding that up in your head you will see that you are better off financially going with a touring specific bike. Don't get me wrong, I love my bike, but I paid a lot of money getting it to be "just right." I think I could have had "just right" for a lot less if I'd started with a different base.
I got a CX bike because it was a HUUUUUUGE deal, and I really want to get into cyclocross racing a little down the road. I find cross bikes to be more 'sexy', so that was a significant portion of my decision. When it comes down to it, you can tour on any bike, but dedicated touring bikes are obviously the best choice. I have had to work around a few issues on my cross bike, but you will almost certianly have to change:
cassette (to mountain/touring)
rear derailleur (to long cage)
chainrings (to smaller) or crank (to triple)
front derailleur (to triple)
tires (to touring)
you will probably need to jack up the handlebars (new stem), and you may have trouble with rack clearance meaning that you'll have to fork out for an expensive rack (like the tubus logo). You mayw ant to swap out for a less racy saddle but thats all personal preference. Make sure it has mounts for rack and fenders as well. Lowrider mounts are a big plus.
This is the route that I have gone though and I am happy, albeit a little poorer. If I didn't get a sweet deal on my CX bike my next choice would be the Surly LHT.