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Old 01-11-09, 02:50 PM   #1
babarn00
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cyclocross touring

I am planning a self contained cross country trip starting in late march and am trying to get different perspectives on the type of bike I should be purchasing.
I am debating between 1) the standard touring bikes (loading them up with panniers) and 2) taking advice from a bike store associate and getting a cyclo cross bike that I could keep light and tow a BOB trailer behind it. This second option gives me a more versatile bike for when I am done.
Does this sounds like a reasonable plan? I have not read anything bad about the trailers yet, so if anyone has a experience I should know about, please let me know.
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Old 01-11-09, 03:37 PM   #2
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What kind of versatility do you want? If you're looking for a general duty bike for after your tour, a touring bike and a cyclocross bike are both good choices. If you want, you can take some of the racks off your touring bike after the tour and then use the bike for almost everything except racing.

My personal preference is to have the gear on my bike when I'm touring, but some around here are fond of trailers instead. It's up to you which system you prefer.
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Old 01-11-09, 04:50 PM   #3
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Yep, you can definitely go for the cross bike, if that's what you prefer.

People have, and still do, tour extensively on cross bikes, even with panniers. Most cross bikes are made for general use, although some (usually the more expensive ones) are specialized for cyclocross racing. You can even use panniers on them, as long as you don't have enormous feet.

The main thing to watch out for is that the gearing is low enough. Most LBS's will swap out parts like that at no cost, as long as you specify what you want when you buy it.
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Old 01-12-09, 04:28 PM   #4
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Though I agree with the npg up there that touring bikes themselves are pretty versatile, I myself found myself at the point you are at and chose the cyclocross path. I had a lingering interest in actually racing cyclocross at some point so that made up my mind (for the record, I did follow that interest and have raced the last 4 'cross season ... love it!). There are several good steel cyclocross bikes that make for pretty comfortable touring rigs. I have the Soma Double Cross (http://www.somafab.com/frames.html), which I love, but Surly also makes a Cross Check (http://www.surlybikes.com/crosscheck.html) that gets good reviews. I am sure there are others. A steel cross bike is not ideal for racing, but I have a lot of fun on mine and I don't fare to poorly in my Cat 3 races. If you are not racing on your 'cross bike they still are good all around bikes and will serve you well in almost any capacity. Quick note about fit: I ended up giving myself more stand over than I would normally mostly because I was thinking about racing. If I had it to do again I would probably go one size bigger. The trouble with fitting your bike in this situation is that for cyclcross racing the traditional recomendation is a healthy 1 to 2 inches of standover. Touring is just the opposite, usually you are supposed to get the biggest bike you can standover at all. So, be mindful of that and think about what you are going to be doing with the bike and you should be all set.

Regarding panniers vs. trailers that is a personal taste question. For my part, I use panniers in back and a large handlebar bag up front. I pack light and the bike handles it like a champ. In this formation I have toured self-contained for up to a month.

Good luck and enjoy!

Last edited by Belgian Cobbles; 01-12-09 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 02-06-09, 12:56 AM   #5
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Just want to add that a cross bike usually has a higher bottom bracket hence a higher center of gravity. Not ideal if your bike is loaded with gear. The advantages of a touring frame are it's lower bottom bracket and longer wheelbase making the bike more stable when loaded.

If your going to be pulling a trailer, getting a cross bike would be a good choice. Cross bikes have a shorter wheelbase which makes the handling more agile; a good thing when your darting in and out of traffic. Also, most cross frames are designed to accept wider tires which makes the ride less harsh and the higher bottom bracket gives better clearance in snow and mud.
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Old 02-06-09, 01:11 AM   #6
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If you look around online, you'll see plenty of people have toured on 'cross bikes -- Bianchi Volpe, Surly Crosscheck, Specialized Tricross, etc.

Seems to me from shopping around that the category "cross bikes" covers a pretty wide territory.

Some considerations to think about:

- Length of chainstays. Some cross bikes are closer to 16 inches, some a bit over 17 inches. If you have big feet and big panniers and are worried about your heels hitting your panniers you should check this out.

- Getting low enough gearing. Some 'cross bikes have triples, some have doubles.

- Carbon fork vs. steel fork; ease of mounting panniers up front.
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Old 02-06-09, 08:14 AM   #7
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you spoke of using a bob trailer - check out
extrawheel.com

wonderful trailer... I highly recommend it.
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Old 02-06-09, 11:06 AM   #8
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I like to use my modified instep kids trailer. I ride a cyclocross bike because I like to be able to ride around some at the end of the day or on days off. This gets harder when you are tied to a bike that is holding all your gear. I do find riding with a trailer harder than riding with racks and panniers, however.
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Old 02-06-09, 11:41 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belgian Cobbles View Post
I have the Soma Double Cross which I love
My Double Cross is my favorite bike as well. Given its faster wheels and the light duty rack generally mounted on it, I'm hesitant to carry more than 25 lbs. in rear panniers the back plus another 10-ish in a handlebar bag. That's enough to get me by for an overnight trip to a B&B or condo and it's a kick in the pants to ride. I think I'll be riding it to my 30 year high school reunion 50 miles from here and see if there's anybody else who hasn't put on more than 15 lbs. since then.

I also own a Jamis Aurora touring bike which is a little nimbler and lighter duty than a Surly LHT or Trek 520. With faster wheels and lighter duty rack it really wouldn't be giving up more than a 1/4 mph to the Soma and could actually be pushed for cyclocross duty. Given the way it's currently set up I figure I'd trust it with up to 50 lbs. on the back and another 25 lbs. up front but would never push it past 40/20. 60 lbs. is enough gear to carry me through a week long backpacking trip.
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Old 02-06-09, 06:31 PM   #10
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I have toured and am planning a longer tour this summer on my cross bike. I plan on picking up a touring front fork and running a full rack set up. the bike handles quite well with heavy rear panniers.
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Old 02-06-09, 11:37 PM   #11
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There are a number of cyclocross bikes out there with carbon forks with low rider rack mounts. The Tricross comes to mind. I have a Tricross and a Trek 520 and for short tours, I'd use the Tricross, but for a cross country tour or anything longer than a week or two, I'd take the 520. Many people have done many month tours on cyclocross bikes though. Whichever one is more comfortable.
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