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.

But are they really "Cyclocross" bikes?

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Old 03-19-06, 06:44 PM
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jpearl
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I still haven't decided if this is a rant or just a calm observation.

Lately the cyclocross bike has become "en vogue". For road and even MTB racers, the CX bike is a must have for off-season training and racing, and has always been a high-performance machine. CX bikes were race bikes for race situations. Yet, with thier stronger than road bike, lighter than MTB characteristics, many people found CX bikes fun to ride in general, and there's nothing wrong with that. Some people race CX, some people train with CX, some people fumble around with CX, and some people create a quasi-CX in thier joyrides and commutes.

Now here's where the open discussion comes in: Lately we hear from a lot of people inquiring about CX bikes, but only or mostly for needs other than CX, namely touring, commuting, and general recreation. While there is nothing wrong with this, I am wondering if this new market segment is altering and compromising how large manufacturers design thier CX bikes. For example, while some bikes like the Bianchi Cross Concept and the Ridley CrossBow are pure race machines, lesser-priced CX bikes are now stocked with touring braze-ons, triple chainrings, lax geometry, weak components like Shimano Tiagra, and non-CX cable routing.

So the questions are as such: Do you feel that lesser CX bikes ($1500 and under) are in danger of progressively becoming the SUVs of the bike world? How do you feel about the designs of these bikes, the riders they target, and how it affects the popularity of CX, whether it be for the better or the worse?
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Old 03-19-06, 07:22 PM
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if those "lesser" cx bikes are becoming the SUVs, so what? people that take cross seriously will know what to look for in their bike, and will buy accordingly. it's up to the manufacturers to design and give them something to buy.

the riders they target, much like the "racer" type, are looking for that kind of bike. there's no reason someone should ride a full on road-race bike on their commute to work, and i personally feel MTBs are too slow to commute on. why not get the best of both worlds?

and for what it's worth, if these "watered-down" cx bikes make cyclocross more popular, that's fine with me. added popularity brings along with it more attention from product managers at our favorite bike manufacturers who'll eventually start giving us more goodies to pick from.

of course, it also means there'll be more people at the starting line every weekend that'll probably beat the chamois off me, and that i'm not cool with. it's a sacrifice i'm willing to make, though.
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Old 03-19-06, 07:25 PM
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The analogy with SUVs works in a way...a vehicle theoretically capable of serious off road driving, but actually used for mundane street driving. However, at least these quasi-cross bikes aren't gas-guzzling, sightline blocking, self-imploding behemoths.

With the bikes, I don't see a problem. The borrowing of a cyclocross design for non-cyclocross purposes doesn't interfere in any way with people who want to do cyclocross. If these lower end CX bikes gets more people riding more, because they have a sturdy, versatile bike, that's great, and the true cyclocross bikes are still there for people who want them.
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Old 03-19-06, 07:51 PM
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One of the points I was trying to explore here is whether or not this could be affecting serious cyclocrossers with limited budgets, those who do not have the luxury to purchase something exotic like an Empella Bonfire frame and build it up, that progressively find themselves choosing frome bikes that could be lighter and more CX-specific.

Granted there are "SUV" style bikes, and Bianchi in particular has addressed this nicely with the Volpe, which has a cult-like following. Surly has also done the same. I remember when the Hybrid bike first evolved back in the early 90s as the industry started to explore a market segment that existed somewhere in limbo between road bikes and mountain bikes. Now I'm wondering if the industry will see a need to develop a more general-style bike based on cyclocross bikes to answer the needs of people who want a high-performance style bike for commuting, touring, light off-road riding while still being able to provide sub-$1500 fully-stocked race-specific CX bikes.
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Old 03-19-06, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by jpearl
So the questions are as such: Do you feel that lesser CX bikes ($1500 and under) are in danger of progressively becoming the SUVs of the bike world? How do you feel about the designs of these bikes, the riders they target, and how it affects the popularity of CX, whether it be for the better or the worse?
Nah. Cyclocross bikes are the Subaru Impreza of the bike world...fast on pavement or dirt with just a tire change. Wal-Mart mountain bikes are the SUVs of the bike world....heavy, slow, poor handling, unsafe, and generally operated on the road despite their intended purpose.

I think inexpensive 'cross bikes are a great idea. No matter what you spend on a bike the drivetrain is still gonna run like crap when I gets all clogged up with that mud/ice/snow/grass mixture that those of us in the northeast all love so much.
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Old 03-19-06, 10:20 PM
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The more the merrier. Whenever more people become interested in a particular bike that will equake more abundance in parts and innovation. Come on everyone join in on the trend and ride a cyclocross, because it happening now; it's faster on fire roads and more reliable on todays street surfaces.
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Old 03-19-06, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by jpearl
One of the points I was trying to explore here is whether or not this could be affecting serious cyclocrossers with limited budgets, those who do not have the luxury to purchase something exotic like an Empella Bonfire frame and build it up, that progressively find themselves choosing frome bikes that could be lighter and more CX-specific.
I don't think that'll be a problem, at least not for awhile yet. There are still lower priced frames that are still very race specific, even if they are polluted by threaded fender mount and bottle cage holes. The Redline Conquest is a good example. It's as good a race bike as you could expect at that price, and I'll argue that if you ride one and get beat, it wasn't the bike. The "amenities" don't add more than an ounce or two and don't hurt function at all.

Yeah, I've got no use for a triple on a "cross" bike and mine's a single ring, but it won't hurt anything that such bikes exist. Apparently, humans are weaker than they were ten, twenty, fifty years ago and need more and smaller gears to ride a bike.

Ron
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Old 03-20-06, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by xlntRider79
Nah. Cyclocross bikes are the Subaru Impreza of the bike world...fast on pavement or dirt with just a tire change. Wal-Mart mountain bikes are the SUVs of the bike world....heavy, slow, poor handling, unsafe, and generally operated on the road despite their intended purpose.

I think inexpensive 'cross bikes are a great idea. No matter what you spend on a bike the drivetrain is still gonna run like crap when I gets all clogged up with that mud/ice/snow/grass mixture that those of us in the northeast all love so much.
Ahh, another car -geek! SUV comparison is bad - The SUVs of the bike world are Mt Bikes.... I know lots of them that never see any dirt. CX bikes though - are the equivalent of rally cars: cheap ones are like Subaru Foresters, mid level are WRX.... etc. You get the point. Have you been to a big-box store recently and seen the awful "Mt bikes" they sell??
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Old 03-20-06, 07:38 AM
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I thought city kids riding DH rides on the streeet could equate to the SUV...lol.
I was looking at the Steel Lemond Cross myself, was thinking I could switch out the rings and chain for more road intensive purposes (charity rides 100k+) AND be able to take to the trails when I wanted with just a tire or a wheel switch. I loved the dual braking, and the 'v' brakes made me feel much safer than road brakes when riding in the rain. What's the geometry like compared to full on roadie? I'm 40 this year and the back isn't what it used to be, so I'm looking for a slighty more laid back geometry than full race, but occasionally these legs wanna go fast.

I think the cross segment hasn't been explored enough. Remember being kids and riding road bikes through the forest and the parks? Hell we used to jump them too. The more the merrier I say, come one come all. Those 40lbs monster MTB's are evil, my poor kid.
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Old 03-20-06, 08:46 AM
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one can buy a pretty race-worthy machine for $1500 or less. the fuji, jts, felt, redline, and even the poprad (even though i'm not a fan) are all less than $1500. if you pick up one up used, throw on a tubular wheelset and some light brakes/pedals/etc. you could have are pretty darn light (sub 20 lbs) race bike. the nice thing about that price-point is that you can have 2 (one race bike and one for the pit) for less than the price of one tricked-out IF/moots/seven/ridley/empella/stevens/colnago/serotta/alan. if you go to races you'd see tons of these "cheaper" bikes. even the pros ride 'em (trebon, wickes -- jts, mccormack -- felt, gully -- redline ti, turner -- poprad).

if you are racing cx and you are at the point where your $1500 bike has become the sole limiting factor in your performance, then, i suppose, you could complain. but to be in that (rare) situation you'd have to be in top physical form, have your cx-specific skills totally dialed, and your training/diet/rest absolutely perfect -- and be either winning or finishing top-10 every race. there are so many other factors in cross besides the bike...do one race and you will see what i mean. there's lots of ppl going really fast on cheap bikes.
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Old 03-20-06, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by jpearl
One of the points I was trying to explore here is whether or not this could be affecting serious cyclocrossers with limited budgets, those who do not have the luxury to purchase something exotic like an Empella Bonfire frame and build it up, that progressively find themselves choosing frome bikes that could be lighter and more CX-specific.

Granted there are "SUV" style bikes, and Bianchi in particular has addressed this nicely with the Volpe, which has a cult-like following. Surly has also done the same. I remember when the Hybrid bike first evolved back in the early 90s as the industry started to explore a market segment that existed somewhere in limbo between road bikes and mountain bikes. Now I'm wondering if the industry will see a need to develop a more general-style bike based on cyclocross bikes to answer the needs of people who want a high-performance style bike for commuting, touring, light off-road riding while still being able to provide sub-$1500 fully-stocked race-specific CX bikes.
I think the more CX bikes the manufacturers come out with, the merrier! Case in point, the new Specialized Tricross Comp: i bought it for $1500, the part spec is nothing to sneer at (well, maybe the tires), I can use it for commuting, fun rides, touring, and if I really want to destroy myself, a real CX race. It was definitely built to race, but it's relaxed enough to ride all day, and if I swap out tires (the feature that sold me), I can do some singletracking without driving to the trailhead!
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Old 03-20-06, 10:06 AM
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how's the gearing on the road with road tires?
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Old 03-20-06, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by TRaffic Jammer
how's the gearing on the road with road tires?
My Tricross has 34/48 up front. I've only gotten a couple of rides in, but with the CX tires on, gearing seems fine. Of course, it's early in the season, I'm out of shape, wearing too much clothing.

If I switch to road tires later this spring, and in better shape, I would HOPE that the gearing will be a bit low. I'm using compact double for the first time (from a triple), and I like to spin at higher revs, so YMMV

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Old 03-20-06, 12:14 PM
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There is a gap in the market for general purpose, medium touring bikes which these CX-tourer are trying to fill.
Touring bikes seem to have become heavier duty expedition bikes, too sluggish for everyday fun riding. The classic english tourer was good enough unladen to use for commuting and club rides yet strong enough to ride off-road or pack for a 3 week tour.
CX is quite a different beast, without any compromise towards loadcarrying or daily practicality.
Vivre la difference.
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Old 03-20-06, 01:02 PM
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Speaking as a confirmed member of the Clydesdale class, I've been looking for a cross-style bike to use as a high-speed commuter for quite a while now. I like go-fast geometry and bike weights, but want the option to add features like MTB-sized hubs, 28mm wide tires (or wider), and fenders. I'd also like to explore disc brakes to improve all-weather (and all traffic) stopping power, though this is not a cross-specific feature (actually it's against the rules of most cross). But at a price point where you take whatever the manufacturers give you, these Cx-lite bikes are a pretty good deal.

Having mounts for racks and fenders also allows me to use one heavy-duty road frame for rail-trail touring as well.
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Old 03-20-06, 02:17 PM
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check the Lemond cross with the straight carbon fork and disks.....niiiice

http://www.lemondbikes.com/2006_bikes/poprad_disc.shtml
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Old 03-20-06, 02:21 PM
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I'm considering a cross simply to commute and tour on. Leave the grand steed in the stable for those a55 hauling group rides and events.
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Old 03-20-06, 02:32 PM
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hmmm the more I read the more it sounds like the CX can be a jack-of-all-trades
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Old 03-20-06, 02:57 PM
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I use my CX bike to take my butt to work Monday-Friday, to the break to play on some sick waves on Saturday AND to STOMP yuppies on thier 4,000 plus rigs on Sunday races. It's all in a weeks work.
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Old 03-20-06, 03:05 PM
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Do you mess with your rings at all for the road ragin'?
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Old 03-20-06, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by TRaffic Jammer
how's the gearing on the road with road tires?
What I did was buy 2 sets of wheels for my cross bike. One has a MTB cog set at the back, 12-28 and 35c knobbies, the other is 12-21 with 25c slick. With a compact double crank I can ride any of the local mountain trails with the off road wheels, then swap wheels and do club rides with the roadies.

I love my CX bike, it is just way too much fun. Riding it in the dirt is a blast-I hardly ever ride my MTB any more. On the road with slick tires it IS a road bike, just less fashionable. With good road tires, I don't feel like I am giving up any performance to a dedicated road bike.
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Old 03-20-06, 04:40 PM
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hey darkmorther fancy meetin' you here....
you don't feel small in the crank ring ever?
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Old 03-20-06, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by xlntRider79
I think inexpensive 'cross bikes are a great idea. No matter what you spend on a bike the drivetrain is still gonna run like crap when I gets all clogged up with that mud/ice/snow/grass mixture that those of us in the northeast all love so much.
Well said!
Kinda looking forward to some of that "mud/ice/snow/grass mixture" once again!
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Old 03-21-06, 01:42 AM
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Actually, I would be THRILLED if more "cyclocross" bikes were set up for real world use rather than racing. But I'm one of THEM - my cyclocross bike is not for racing, it's for exploring fire roads, doing road rides, and touring. What's wrong with that? I applaud Bianchi for making the Volpe and the Axis much more versatile by having a triple chainring and rack eyelets. Think about it - road bikes have now become wimpy and useless except for a very narrow range of activities. You can't even put reasonably fat tires on them anymore. Touring bikes are usually too heavy and sluggish and aren't much fun when they aren't fully loaded. But cyclocross bikes can do almost anything. It might be unintended, but it's true.
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Old 03-21-06, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by jpearl
... CX bikes were race bikes for race situations...

... Lately we hear from a lot of people inquiring about CX bikes, but only or mostly for needs other than CX ... While there is nothing wrong with this, I am wondering if this new market segment is altering and compromising how large manufacturers design thier CX bikes...
i don't race my MTB or any of my road bikes. all of them are essentially just for fun.

i think what you are seeing is akin to the growth of the MTB market. first, there was the balloon-tyre clunker. that spawned the first "true" mountain bikes - and racing. from racing and exploding consumer interest came DH bikes, trials bikes, free ride bikes, full-rigid, full-suspension, hardtail, XC bikes, dirt jump bikes, urban bikes, 24" wheel, 26" wheel, 29" wheel, you name it. some are single speed, some are single chainring, and some have way too many gears. i don't think that the new market compromised designs at all. they changed, yes. but mostly for the better and more choice.

i don't think the entry-level CX race bike is going to go away as long as there is demand for it. there are just going to be a lot more options that aren't traditional race bikes.
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