Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) 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.

Looking for a CX bike that handles all

Old 12-24-15, 05:22 PM
  #1  
Dave_linux
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Looking for a CX bike that handles all

Hi Guys,

I sold my 29" mtb and planning to get rid of my roadbike also.
Because I was thinking of buying me a Cyclocross bike that can handle all the fun I had with the 2 other bikes.
The 110mm travel was not needed where I rolled with the 29". And the outer blade (50t) on my roadbike is hardly used (riding a triple).

So first question is: Is it a good idea? My wife thinks it is. More space in the garage
Second question: What to look for?
My thinking is buying a mid-class aluminum bike with minimum Shimano 105 group on it.
On those bikes, the wheels are 90% cheep.
Use the original wheelset with some Gp4000 road tires and buy me a extra wheelset for offroad (CX).

I'm not really on a budget but I like to keep my expenses low.
And the choices are rather limited here, in Belgium.
Brands: Ridley, Stevens, Colnago, Giant, Koga, Zannata, Scott, Kona...

Looking through some reviews (on an other site) I bumped into Merida.
Because of owning one and being happy with it, I thought why not.
Well, why not?

It's this bike: CYCLO CROSS 500 - Road & Fitness - Merida Bikes International

Alu frame, Carbon fork (almost same geometry as my road bike)
105 group except for the crankset and the diskbrakes.
Discbrakes are TRP Spire.
Oh, and it has got a thru axle in the front wheel.
Except for the blue color and the handlebar brakelevers, I think it's fine for its price.

Anyone tips on this bike, geometry and setup?
Or should I go for a secondhand, more expensive brand, carbonfibre bike?
I deff not in for canti's. I had it before and that was a reason I ditched cx for a long time
So disc's or at least mini v-brakes is a must.
And what about the extra wheelset, cx purpose?
DT-Swiss Spline R23. Affordable but any good?

Purpose off the cxbike is really simple.
Take me from A to B with as much fun as possible.
Tarmac, cobblestone, gravel, forest... might not be a problem.
Coloror looks of the bike, I don't really care. As long it's not pink or white.
The weight of the bike is less important for me. It would be better to shave some pound of myself instead euros out of my wallet.


Thanks already.

Last edited by Dave_linux; 12-24-15 at 05:26 PM.
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Old 12-24-15, 05:54 PM
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Looks Like A CX Race bike , no provision for Mudguards ..so you OK with wearing a face full and a stripe up the back side?


Merida, like Giant are Huge, and make dozens of other brands for export from TW+ their Own..

But like any bike other than the frame and fork (& integrated headset ) every thing else can be swapped for some piece you like better.

Centerlock Hubs will make fitting and removing discs Easy, Its a Shimano Patent , DT (& others) pays the licence Fee.

Gluing up Tubs for CX racing you may want cheaper wheels so you have several spares. Its Up to You..

DT is a Swiss Company .. do they make shoddy products in Switzerland?

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Old 12-24-15, 07:20 PM
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My first cyclocross bike I bought was in 2001, a Trek XO1. It was my go to bike and I continued riding it more than my strictly road bike. Then I got a Trek Pilot carbon and liked it cause I was able to fit 32's on it. Then a Surly CrossCheck. Now I am riding a Gunnar Crosshairs and cannot be more pleased. Cyclocross bikes are great. You will not regret it but you need to keep a MTB for true single track.
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Old 12-24-15, 07:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave_linux View Post
Purpose off the cxbike is really simple.
Take me from A to B with as much fun as possible.
Tarmac, cobblestone, gravel, forest... might not be a problem.
I have been thinking about putting lighter wheels and compact 50/34 road cranks on a 2015 Cannondale CAADX 105.
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Old 12-24-15, 07:40 PM
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I think you need to make sure you realize what a 29'er can handle that a CX bike cannot. CX is a much broader range of ideal situations, but I would say on a real trail...
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Old 12-24-15, 07:50 PM
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I was going to use my 29er on the rods until I rode with my buddies on thier road bikes
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Old 12-25-15, 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Looks Like A CX Race bike , no provision for Mudguards ..so you OK with wearing a face full and a stripe up the back side?
Oh, it has got mudguard mounts, but they are hidden very good. I saw them only the real bike, not on the picture.

IcySmooth52: The main reason I sold my 29" is that I didn't used it where it was build for.
Just rolling on tarmac, gravel and sand (yellow colored, don't know the name) and like the conditions now; mud.
The 29" (Trek Superfly) screamed for more but my back doesn't like that.
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Old 12-25-15, 09:07 AM
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I guess it depends on what your looking for. Race quality frames, my preference, are generally lighter and of better quality materials than base models...you get what you pay for.
105 or better components work better, smoother and with fewer break downs than cheaper groups. Good quality wheels are worth their cost...lighter, roll better, etc.

If you ride in gunky conditions, fenders are worth their weight expense...I ride a base model Redline with full fenders for my wet, gunky roads and conditions bike...I've had it for years and it works great. I've raced on Redline frames for several decades and prefer them as they are a bit less costly than others, most important they offer small frames for my 5'4" height where many makers don't.

Do your homework...frame, wheel set, components, accessories, etc...if it is the only bike you will be riding starting from the frame down buy the best quality you can afford...the smaller bits and pieces you can always buy later but generally once you shell out all that money for the frame, or bike itself, you don't have much to spend on upgrades later.

Keep us informed on what you do and good luck...
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Old 12-25-15, 09:09 AM
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A lot of people have urban 29ers that roll fast on tarmac, gravel & hardpack.

I also have a flat bar gravel road/adventure bike that I like for light and fast all-around riding.
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Old 12-25-15, 10:09 AM
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Do you really want a serious CX racing bike or would a gravel/adventure road bike fit the bill for you?
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Old 12-26-15, 04:10 AM
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Originally Posted by GovernorSilver View Post
Do you really want a serious CX racing bike or would a gravel/adventure road bike fit the bill for you?
Well, there is what I'm trying to find out.
I thought that a gravel/adventure bike is more of a roadbike with wider clearance for bigger tires. Which will result in a smooth and more comfort ride at higher speeds and less technical roads (offroads).
Where the angles and position of a CX bike makes it possible to flick the bike around sharp corners (like in a singletrack part of a ride) riding less high speed.

I'm afraid that a real gravelgrinder would spoil the fun at our local mtbtracks.
It's the place where Sven Nijs (and other cx riders) goes for training.
An mtb, like my 29" is suitable for those tracks but they are way to much overkill, my opinion.

On the other hand, I do like riding for +150km, and if that might be an comfortable ride, that would be even better.
Maybe I shouldn't sell the roadbike and just get me a CX specific bike.

Last edited by Dave_linux; 12-26-15 at 06:13 AM.
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Old 12-26-15, 06:47 AM
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Since your in Belgium I'm not sure how hard it is to find Salsa bikes? I think something like a Fargo would be more of like a do it all type of bike and would be more of something that could fill the void of a 29er but still be road friendly? It's just when you have that big of a void to fill then you get something that's jack of all trades but master of none.
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Old 12-26-15, 06:50 AM
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Just to set reasonable expectations, I really don't think there is a CX bike that "handles it all." I have a couple road bikes, a CX bike, and a couple mountain bikes. I love my CX bike for mixing road work and gravel trails, but can't imagine riding it on serious dirt trails or dealing with serious mud. If I had to cut back to two bikes, it would be the CX and the MTB. If I had to get by with a single bike, I'd keep the CX bike, but I'd give up trail riding. A CX bikes does a lot better on the road mission than it does on the hard-core dirt mission.

- Mark

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Old 12-26-15, 09:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave_linux View Post
Oh, it has got mudguard mounts, but they are hidden very good. I saw them only the real bike, not on the picture.

IcySmooth52: The main reason I sold my 29" is that I didn't used it where it was build for.
Just rolling on tarmac, gravel and sand (yellow colored, don't know the name) and like the conditions now; mud.
The 29" (Trek Superfly) screamed for more but my back doesn't like that.
You got it right then! That Merida looks more gravel grinder style to me than cyclocross. I'd recommend more cyclocross racer style if you want something to do the road as much as the dirt, because they're far 'snappier' in handling than the new gravel grinder styles. More fun. But if you have a back that doesn't like such ratios of reach:stack (positioning on frame), the gravel grinder is probably better because it's slightly more lax on geometry for endurance.
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Old 12-26-15, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by IcySmooth52 View Post
You got it right then! That Merida looks more gravel grinder style to me than cyclocross.
It was the similarity to my Merida roadbike geometry that made me lean toward the Merida cross 500.
But that doesn't mean I'm not looking for something else. Problem here is that just a handful shops do have such a bike in stock. And most of the time they are to large for me.
And then we are talking about the brands: Ridley, Cannondale, Merida, Kona.
I looked into Felt (V and F series) but can't find any store who has it in stock in a size that might fit.

Geo cross 500 size 52


Geo Lampre size 52


I know the materials are not top at all but I think they will do.
Mech disckbrakes could be upgraded to Hydraulics just fine.

Only downside would be tire clearance.
I guess it will be limited to 35C.
On the other hand, I rolled on 23C tires and changed to 28C (conti GP 4000s). What a diff in comfort and nearly no loss in speed due rolling resistance.
So I guess changing to a 35C is an even bigger change. Or am I wrong?

Building a bike from frame up would be an option but that would eat my budget.
So i prefer a mid priced bike what could be upgraded if the parts needed to and when the price is right.

@ MarkJenn:
I realize that I would have to give in a bit on offroading. MTB tracks with lots of roots (not sure it's correct written - roots of trees) or big jumps or drops and rocks in it, they will have to be skipped or I will have to pay the price.
But they were skipped already quite some time.
Nearly going to the age of 40, having a not so good lowerback and playing ice hockey as main sports, I skip the risks of getting injured by bike quite easy.
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Old 12-26-15, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave_linux View Post
I know the materials are not top at all but I think they will do.
Mech disckbrakes could be upgraded to Hydraulics just fine.

Only downside would be tire clearance.
I guess it will be limited to 35C.
On the other hand, I rolled on 23C tires and changed to 28C (conti GP 4000s). What a diff in comfort and nearly no loss in speed due rolling resistance.
So I guess changing to a 35C is an even bigger change. Or am I wrong?
Upgrading to hydraulic is a BIG investment and $$$. If you'll want hydraulic eventually, get a bike that comes with it. You'll need way more than brakes to get a system that works unless the adaptors are used, and those are nothing in comparison to full hydraulic.

As for tire size, bigger than 28c isn't a change in comfort. It's a change in where you're planning on going. (Tread). A 700 tire bigger than 35c is going to be a mud tire 90% of the time. 32c is probably what you'll be looking at mostly, because I bet you want a speed center with knobs on the edge. I can't think of any tires with a tread pattern like that that're larger than 34c.
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Old 12-26-15, 12:43 PM
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Okey, misunderstood by me then.
I thought that a higher number stood equal to more air inside.
Which would result in more tire touching the surface you're riding, if the pressure inside the tire is optimal.
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Old 12-26-15, 01:13 PM
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Sounds like your choice is tougher than mine was. I went with an adventure road bike because it's highly unlikely I'd ever pursue CX racing as a serious sport. I just wanted an all-day rider that would allow me to wander onto gravel, grass, etc. without worrying about skinny road tires slipping or being easily punctured.
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Old 12-26-15, 05:38 PM
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I wouldn't call it tough. I just like input from other people who have experience.
So afterwards, I could make a more specific choice.
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Old 12-26-15, 11:16 PM
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My main bike this last year has been a steel Charge Filter frame that I built up with mostly Campagnolo bits and wheels. Very much an "all around" CX/gravel/bad road/commuter type of a frame. The geometry has been great for everything you'd expect such a bike to do. Though I haven't done any real racing on it and find the front triangle a bit tight for fast shouldering. Not a problem for me and I suspect not for you either. It has fender and rack eyes and takes normal parts. Mine has rim brake posts, but I know they make a disk version. It's all Tange Prestige tubing and the weight is good for a steel frame.

I have two wheelsets, the offroad set with cross tires and one with street tires. With the cross tires I can have fun on woodland trails, just have to be careful and slow around worn trails with a lot of roots. On grass, fire roads and smooth trails I can hang with or beat the mountain bikers within my fitness limits. My home trails used to be home to Tinker Juarez before our lousy climate chased him away. Good, not too technical cross country stuff.

Charge Bikes is a pretty nutty company and they seem to change models and specs a lot but could be worth a look since they're in your neighborhood.

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Old 12-27-15, 07:04 AM
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I tested a Surly Crosscheck just as a cyclocross/recreation bike and I must admit that the bike drove pretty well.
But, and this is rather subjective, I prefer a modern looking bike. I'm not into that vintage look.

About the steel frame, they can be quite light. I had a Tange Prestige Ultimate 26" mtb frame.
Superlight but so easy to dent. The dent eventually made the downtube cracked just near the bottombracket

But to get back to the point a wanted to go.
-I need to look fore a bike that has a larger wheelbase and less steep head angle.
-A Lower bottombracket drop, which I didn't feel different before, might give some more comfort.

What about stack - reach? Could I use those figures to determ the bike frame?
I've only got them from my roadbike which was fitted my a fitcentre.
Extra pair of wheels, 29r mtb would fit to, right?
What would a wider rim do with the smaller CX minder tires? Anyone rolling like this?
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Old 12-27-15, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by wvridgerider View Post
My first cyclocross bike I bought was in 2001, a Trek XO1. It was my go to bike and I continued riding it more than my strictly road bike. Then I got a Trek Pilot carbon and liked it cause I was able to fit 32's on it. Then a Surly CrossCheck. Now I am riding a Gunnar Crosshairs and cannot be more pleased. Cyclocross bikes are great. You will not regret it but you need to keep a MTB for true single track.
Originally Posted by IcySmooth52 View Post
I think you need to make sure you realize what a 29'er can handle that a CX bike cannot. CX is a much broader range of ideal situations, but I would say on a real trail...
Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
Just to set reasonable expectations, I really don't think there is a CX bike that "handles it all." I have a couple road bikes, a CX bike, and a couple mountain bikes. I love my CX bike for mixing road work and gravel trails, but can't imagine riding it on serious dirt trails or dealing with serious mud. If I had to cut back to two bikes, it would be the CX and the MTB. If I had to get by with a single bike, I'd keep the CX bike, but I'd give up trail riding. A CX bikes does a lot better on the road mission than it does on the hard-core dirt mission.

- Mark
^^The above are excellent points.

I am primarily (75-80%) a mountain biker. When I bought my CX bike I thought I would be taking it to many of the trails I love to ride on my MTB. I quickly realized that wasn't going to happen without damaging wheels and tires or hike-a-biking often.

Now if the OP is planning on doing some cyclocross racing, then the hike-a-bike part is good training.

I am never going to get rid of my MTB so my intentions only changed slightly. I ride the CX bike on single track trails that aren't too rocky/rooty and I use it as my road bike. It is fun to mix up the trail riding between a MTB and a drop bar CX bike. I also like that for the time being I have a "roadish" bike, so I don't have to do pavement rides/races on my MTB.

So to conclude the point: I love my CX bike. For me it is a road bike that "handles almost it all."

If you, Dave_linux, are curious my CX bike is a Focus Mares AX 105. It appears that the bike the OP is looking at is very similar in specs.
Focus - Bikes: 2016: Mares Ax Disc 105
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Old 12-27-15, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by curtiseddie View Post
^^The above are excellent points.
So to conclude the point: I love my CX bike. For me it is a road bike that "handles almost it all."

If you, Dave_linux, are curious my CX bike is a Focus Mares AX 105. It appears that the bike the OP is looking at is very similar in specs.
Focus - Bikes: 2016: Mares Ax Disc 105
Maybe I should change my title to "Looking for a CX bike that handles almost it all".
I guess what you described what you do with your Focus is what I have planned to do with my upcoming CX Bike.

It should be, if possible, "the" roadbike that could go over the unpaved without to much problems.
But I would like to keep going through the local single tracks. As mentioned before, I skipped the over rooted parts and bypassed the section with serious drops and rocks in it.
They were fun 'till 10 years ago but I don't need that trill anymore.

The Focus came across my mind, especially because of the cable actuated Hydraulic brakes.
Size S would fit me perfect, I guess, by the looks on paper.
Only downside is availability

Front and rear true axle was also one of the reasons I would go for the Focus.
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Old 12-27-15, 12:26 PM
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Euro Rail connections will get you to where more Bikes are Sold..
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Old 12-27-15, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Euro Rail connections will get you to where more Bikes are Sold..
So true, but I rather keep it in a 150km radius

I might find a bargain on a CX 2013. Sram Rival Hydr.
But it's Shimano that I'm used to. How does the Sram's do? Similar with 105 from Shimano?
I've got rather small hands, no problems for the more bulky shifters?

@curtiseddie:
Any points that I might inspect before buying a secondhand Mares CX?

thanks in advance.

Last edited by Dave_linux; 12-27-15 at 02:23 PM.
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