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Cyclocross is pretty much dead now, eh?

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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 : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Cyclocross is pretty much dead now, eh?

Old 07-12-23, 03:07 PM
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Cyclocross is pretty much dead now, eh?

Except for proper racing, I never see or hear about them any more. Gravel bikes seem to have totally replaced them in the non-racing world.

I bought a Specialized CX bike back in the day, before gravel bikes were A Thing. I liked the provision for rack & fenders. I never really found it comfortable. I wish they had gravel bikes back then.

Now, I find myself wanting a gravel bike, but can't really justify it, when I have the Domane AL3 Disc (which will take up to 35 mm tires) and the Verve 3, which has 45 mm hybrid tires, rack and fender. I do wish the Verve had drop bars; then it would be perfect.
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Old 07-12-23, 07:36 PM
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There's still some cyclocross racing around, but I do think it's fading in popularity.

I could never really get into it. I have no interest in hurtling around a muddy grass field (usually in the winter cold) for an hour, having to carry my bike and run for parts of it. Not for me. 😂

Cyclocross bikes tend to have less mounts, less clearance, high top tubes, and racy geo, which doesn't always make for a good gravel bike.
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Old 07-13-23, 04:43 AM
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Originally Posted by tempocyclist
Cyclocross bikes tend to have less mounts, less clearance, high top tubes, and racy geo, which doesn't always make for a good gravel bike.
True.

They are not setup well for endurance/self-supported long gravel events or touring.

And I don't know if this is true for all CX bikes - but my TCX is rigid and unforgiving, no "compliance" to speak of. It's designed to put power down, not for comfort.

But, if I could only have one bike that would do it all - road, gravel, singletrack... it would be a CX bike.
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Old 07-13-23, 05:36 AM
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Races seem to be seeing a bit of a surge around here, partly gravel riders realizing they can show up with their bikes and compete and they don't have that much of a disadvantage if any. Just the bikes seeing a decline but then if you're Domane AL3 can take 35c tires it can handle 33c cross and you're good to race cross, which is how the genre started. I'd actually looked at a Domane AL3 for my kid for just this reason, discarded the idea due to the weight vs price and the need for upgrades to make it more kid friendly. But as more road bikes come equipped with disc which doesn't need to worry about mud and the whole wider is better for tires continues it'll eliminate the need for cross specific bikes. Just toss the right tires on the road bike and go; unless some git decides they need to change cross standards to 40c tires, but really for 1 hr of cardio stress testing you don't need the all day comfort of wider tires.
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Old 07-13-23, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
True.

They are not setup well for endurance/self-supported long gravel events or touring.

And I don't know if this is true for all CX bikes - but my TCX is rigid and unforgiving, no "compliance" to speak of. It's designed to put power down, not for comfort.

But, if I could only have one bike that would do it all - road, gravel, singletrack... it would be a CX bike.
Just curious, why CX instead of gravel for your "one bike to rule them all"? Because CX would be better on road?

I'm thinking I'd have a gravel bike with two sets of wheels: one set with narrower road tires and maybe a fender set and racks and one with maybe 45 mm gravel tires.
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Old 07-13-23, 11:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Smaug1
Just curious, why CX instead of gravel for your "one bike to rule them all"? Because CX would be better on road?

I'm thinking I'd have a gravel bike with two sets of wheels: one set with narrower road tires and maybe a fender set and racks and one with maybe 45 mm gravel tires.
I like race type geometry on the road, just personal choice. And I'm 85% road, 15% gravel/singletrack, so I prefer the CX bike's road feel.

I don't think you can go wrong either way... the gravel bike will work just fine on both surfaces, I just prefer the CX bike.
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Old 07-13-23, 03:57 PM
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A couple of points on this.

Some of this is semantics. Cyclocross is a race discipline, not a style of riding or type of terrain. You can race cyclocross on a cyclocross bike, but you can also race it on a gravel bike or a mountain bike, or even a road bike if you can jam wider tires in there. No one just goes out and "rides cyclocross" though, unless you're specifically training for a CX race. Any type of off road riding on a drop bar bike that isn't occurring on a race course (or training for said race) would generally be referred to as "gravel riding" now.

A "cyclocross bike" was traditionally focused on the discipline of cyclocross racing. These were high bottom bracket designs with aggressively steep geometry and stiff frames, coupled with narrow range gearing - all good things to be railing tight race corners for an hour, but maybe not so great for all-day gravel rides/races or bikepacking. Prior to "gravel bikes" being a thing, many people used cyclocross bikes to ride gravel roads and trails and compete in big gravel races. Manufacturers recognized that most people buying bikes weren't racing at all, and started making bikes that had more creature comforts, more slack geometry, wider tires, wider ranges of gearing, etc. These got marketed as "gravel bikes", even though lots of people were still racing CX on them.

I say all this to note that the absence of pure Cyclocross bikes on the market doesn't seem to correlate with the popularity (or lack thereof) of Cyclocross racing. CX racing has always been a niche sport in the US and remains popular in specific corners still. Gravel races usually happen during the spring and summer, whereas CX racing typically is in the fall and early winter. Almost everyone I know who races gravel also races CX and vice versa. They also do this on the same bike, which brings me to my final point:

What is "dead" is sales of traditional CX race-focused bikes. This makes sense - Unless you're an elite level CX racer or really adhering to the N+1 rule, a bike that is narrowly focused on CX racing is probably not a very popular choice. Most people want wider tires, wider gear ranges and bikes that are also comfortable for longer rides. I don't know that many people who have a separate bike for CX racing and another one for gravel riding/racing. It's usually dual purpose, and since most people I know are racing CX for fun, not for UCI points, they choose a bike that works well for gravel riding/racing, even if that means some minor compromises for CX racing.
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Old 07-13-23, 09:10 PM
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I agree I think of CX as a discipline, and CX bikes as bikes designed for that discipline. CX racing still exists but I do think gravel events are more popular (maybe seasonality has something to do with this).

But CX bikes were the original "gravel" bikes (whereas vintage road bikes were the original all-road/adventure road bikes), and by "gravel" I mean fire roads connected by tarmac roads.

I have had 4 "gravel" bikes over the past 12 years and all were marketed as CX bikes. The one bike that stood out as noticeably different from the others was the Ridley which had a shorter top tube and higher bottom bracket compared to the other CX bikes (American brands, closer to road geometry). I didn't like the Ridley's geometry for long extended climbs. I think a road-ish geo frame with the ability to run 40mm tires is what I consider to be a prototypical gravel bike; the more burly or adventure-focused modern gravel bikes may be too close to what my 26er hardtail does.
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Old 07-13-23, 09:26 PM
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I bought a cross bike (Jamis Nova Pro) because it handled 35+mm tires which I needed to get from my house to any pavement, and I wanted it to be similar to a road bike. I actually re-configured it because the normal cyclocross gearing was not functional for what I needed. When I was looking at options at that time, most cyclocross framesets that I saw did not have fenders in mind. Touring bikes did, but not cyclocross. I managed to make mine work. Did the same for my wife with a Cannondale CAADX frameset. Non technical trails, gravel roads and paths, rough pavement.

The main deficiencies were (1) the typical cyclocross gearing, fairly narrow cassette with a very specific crank (??46-36?? or something like that) (2 and 3) a high bottom bracket and close to horizontal top tube designed for shoulder carrying (spacious front triangle) both causing a high standover for a given size. The standover issue wasn't a problem for me, but it was for my wife. The XXS size (if it could be found) fit her well except for "uncomfortable" standover when dismounting. In contrast, it's very easy to find an XXS range in a "gravel bike" and "road bike" that fits her the same except an inch or two lower top tube caused by a lower BB and a more slanting TT.

Yeah, it was in place of what is now known as a gravel bike. The genre came to be because of exactly what I did using a cross bike which really didn't suit the function, but was close. Now you can easily find a great bike for that sort of riding.

Last edited by Camilo; 07-13-23 at 10:06 PM.
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Old 07-13-23, 09:39 PM
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All of my bikes are "slash" bikes. Hardtail is trail/utility/bikepacker. Rando bike is rando/sport/commuter/light tourer. Fixed gear is commuter/beer bike/utility/100k pops. The CX bike struggles. No front fender mounts nixes commuter. Higher gearing nixes touring, rando, or climby sport rides. Now that I'm probably over CX, it doesn't deserve a slot in the garage. In reality, probably never did. I "raced" my belt-drive internal-hub commuter in my first ever CX race, and the CX bike didn't improve my standings lol.

I think purpose built CX bikes are just too purpose-specific, for such a niche sport.
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Old 07-14-23, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Camilo
I bought a cross bike (Jamis Nova Pro) because it handled 35+mm tires which I needed to get from my house to any pavement, and I wanted it to be similar to a road bike. I actually re-configured it because the normal cyclocross gearing was not functional for what I needed. When I was looking at options at that time, most cyclocross framesets that I saw did not have fenders in mind. Touring bikes did, but not cyclocross. I managed to make mine work. Did the same for my wife with a Cannondale CAADX frameset. Non technical trails, gravel roads and paths, rough pavement.

The main deficiencies were (1) the typical cyclocross gearing, fairly narrow cassette with a very specific crank (??46-36?? or something like that) (2 and 3) a high bottom bracket and close to horizontal top tube designed for shoulder carrying (spacious front triangle) both causing a high standover for a given size. The standover issue wasn't a problem for me, but it was for my wife. The XXS size (if it could be found) fit her well except for "uncomfortable" standover when dismounting. In contrast, it's very easy to find an XXS range in a "gravel bike" and "road bike" that fits her the same except an inch or two lower top tube caused by a lower BB and a more slanting TT.

Yeah, it was in place of what is now known as a gravel bike. The genre came to be because of exactly what I did using a cross bike which really didn't suit the function, but was close. Now you can easily find a great bike for that sort of riding.
I have an older CAADX (the last year they offered canti brakes - around 2015) and can confirm that the standover is quite high relative to the frame size. I was surprised when I bought my SuperX at how much lower everything was. Even matching the fit between them, when I have the two bikes side-by-side the CAADX is several inches higher - the SuperX is more slack and a tiny bit longer as well. SuperX seems to have been one of those bikes that was trending in the gravel direction before "gravel bikes" really existed, though it still excels at CX racing, so much that I don't really see an advantage to the higher BB design.
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Old 07-14-23, 12:11 PM
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About 10-15 years ago, I seriously thought about buying a "cross" bike. At the time, it would have been a good way to get lots more tire clearance in a road-ish bike. But the geometry of most was a turn-off: high bottom brackets and short head tubes relative to the top tubes. So I always passed.

It seems to me that for recreational unpaved riding (the raison d'etre for this subforum), gravel bikes simply do the job much better. So it's natural for "cross" bikes to fade away.

P.S. Basically what @Camilo said.
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Old 07-14-23, 12:20 PM
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I have two cyclocross bikes. My Ridley is a grass crit bike. It's a focused racer. Not good for anything else, except maybe a fast jam on a smooth dirt rail trail. My older canti CruX has a longer wheelbase, and fitted with 38c tires, more comfortable bars, and more gearing than stock, has made a decent gravel bike. I use it as a pit bike on race days too.

Cross racing is fairly popular here in New England. I like it a lot. It's the only racing I can do that is similar to the road racing I did when younger, and I don't have to worry about getting pulled. I can finish laps down on the leaders and still get a placing. It's a great place for intensity training. I place near-to or last and don't mind. It's still fun.

Lastly, I have not seen the field sizes decreasing since 2015 when I started.
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Old 07-14-23, 02:30 PM
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I never understood cyclocross bikes, particularly at the end of the era when they still made them. Sure, the pros were irrationally limited to very small tires, but pros don't buy bikes. And as the move to gravel bikes has shown, racers can use bikes that work for gravel with larger tires.

I think cyclocross racing is still doing okay as a sport. I'm not sure how you would define cyclocross outside of racing though.

There is a cyclocross racing forum here, but I assume it's pretty dead
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Old 07-14-23, 02:35 PM
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I picked up an 80s Pinarello cross bike a while bike. I haven't gotten around to building it up but I see it more as a road bike than a gravel bike. It can take 32c-35c tires and that's about it.
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Old 07-16-23, 11:18 PM
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We have a big XC org/series in the greater Sacramento area in the fall into the holiday season. It has historically gotten pretty big turn-outs and it's a great crew that organizes it. I'd say about 25-30% are on proper 'cross bikes, with the majority of people on gravel bikes now. All the local area shops that would bring in small stash of 'cross bikes for late summer, all moved them to custom/special-order type requests.
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Old 07-17-23, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
I never understood cyclocross bikes, particularly at the end of the era when they still made them. Sure, the pros were irrationally limited to very small tires, but pros don't buy bikes. And as the move to gravel bikes has shown, racers can use bikes that work for gravel with larger tires.

I think cyclocross racing is still doing okay as a sport. I'm not sure how you would define cyclocross outside of racing though.

There is a cyclocross racing forum here, but I assume it's pretty dead
Also worth noting that unless you are in a UCI sanctioned event, you can run tires wider than the UCI limit of 33mm. USAC has no limit except at Nationals.

I don't know why anyone would buy a CX bike that is limited to 33mm tire size.
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Old 07-20-23, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
I like race type geometry on the road, just personal choice. And I'm 85% road, 15% gravel/singletrack, so I prefer the CX bike's road feel.

I don't think you can go wrong either way... the gravel bike will work just fine on both surfaces, I just prefer the CX bike.
Originally Posted by Smaug1
Just curious, why CX instead of gravel for your "one bike to rule them all"? Because CX would be better on road?

I'm thinking I'd have a gravel bike with two sets of wheels: one set with narrower road tires and maybe a fender set and racks and one with maybe 45 mm gravel tires.
+1 to Jughed said.
Gross Generalization, but in general a CX bike is more like a fast road race bike, while Gravel tends to be more endurance.

I chose CX because I want the agility for road, urban, gravel, I accelerates and climbs like a crit bike - something that no conservative gravel bike really does. But if you want a position that is comfortable for all day, stability with a lot of weight hanging off the bike, or stability on fast sweeping downhills - its not the choice. It is quite capable at doing a crit with road race bikes.
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Old 07-20-23, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Jughed
True.

They are not setup well for endurance/self-supported long gravel events or touring.

And I don't know if this is true for all CX bikes - but my TCX is rigid and unforgiving, no "compliance" to speak of. It's designed to put power down, not for comfort.

But, if I could only have one bike that would do it all - road, gravel, singletrack... it would be a CX bike.
Yeah, they used to be all stiff and unforgiving. These days they have a lot of gravel friendly features (compliant ride, sized for large tires). Shoot, when I first got my CX bike I kept getting off to check the tire pressure as it felt so soft. Being able to comfortably do 20mph on washboard was something stiff old school CX bikes could never do.
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Old 07-21-23, 06:24 AM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
Also worth noting that unless you are in a UCI sanctioned event, you can run tires wider than the UCI limit of 33mm. USAC has no limit except at Nationals.

I don't know why anyone would buy a CX bike that is limited to 33mm tire size.
Many are not - I run 38's and can easily go wider. The TCX will take 45's with room to spare.
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Old 07-23-23, 08:04 AM
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Cyclocross isn’t dead at all, but it has indeed retreated back into a niche as gravel bikes have taken over the function that brought cyclocross bikes into the mainstream. It would be like saying trials is dead - no, you can’t get a trials bike from every mainstream manufacturer, or even from most. But you can still get a trials bike and competitions still happen. Cyclocross definitely is less obscure than trials, it’s not that hard to find a cyclocross bike. And the bikes themselves are mostly a little bit closer to modern gravel bikes, being on average a bit longer, lower and slacker. The new Specialized Crux is even sold as a gravel bike now, though it’s really still very suitable for cyclocross. There are still some cross bikes out there with super short wheelbases and high bottom brackets, but most of what’s being sold by the North American brands at least is very usable for gravel.
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Old 07-24-23, 11:01 AM
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I realize there's a few different topics being conflated in this thread, but purely in terms of racing I fully disagree that cyclocross is "dead" and/or has been killed off by gravel racing.

I am on a large race team in the Chicago area. We have athletes that participate in racing across most of USAC's disciplines. In order of popularity, I'd rank them as:

#1: Crits
#2: Cyclocross
#3: Gravel
#4: MTB
#5: Track
#6: Time trials

Gravel racing is popular on my team. We had a few teammates participate in Unbound and a few other big national races this year, but on a local level we just don't have that many gravel races. Most of the gravel races around here are 3+hrs from the city so this requires an overnight stay. Gravel races are also long distances/lots of climbing, and require a lot more advanced planning/training to compete in.

Compare that to our local cyclocross series - which is 7-8 races between mid September and early December. All venues are hour or so from the city. The longest races are 45-50 minutes, and therefore don't require huge training efforts to prepare for (depending on how serious you want to take it). The format is also conducive with hanging out and spectating after you've raced so there's more of a party/social atmosphere and it's fun for friends/family to come watch someone race. This is way more popular than gravel events. We see anywhere from 400-700 registrations each weekend for CX.

It's also worth adding that most people I know who are racing gravel (mainly in the spring) are also racing CX (in the fall). Many of them also race crits during the summer - and race Zwift during the winter.

I don't think this thread is really about the actual racing though, and more about the marketing of off-road drop-bar bikes, which is definitely being "gravelized". There are lots of folks racing CX on gravel bikes these days (which is totally fine, by the way).
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Old 07-31-23, 10:32 AM
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We have a great CX scene here in the Metro Vancouver area, all run by dedicated volunteers some of which work in the bike industry. I raced CX 2016-2019 and loved it. Super fun and unless you're choosing to race masters or the more elite heats the 'competition' is mixed with equal parts support and buffoonery.
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