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Road bike worth it or stick to Cx as all-in-one?

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.

Road bike worth it or stick to Cx as all-in-one?

Old 08-26-12, 03:39 PM
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Road bike worth it or stick to Cx as all-in-one?

I would appreciate input from anyone who rides cross and has a road bike...

I race cross and also use it for road riding. I have two sets of wheels / tires and also upgraded the crank to be more road specific (34/48) since that's where I do a lot of my riding.

I've been thinking of just getting a road bike - nothing fancy - maybe a lower-end carbon one from neuvation or Bikes direct. My question is - would I notice a big difference in handling and performance on the road? The only major differences I see between the road geometry vs the cross bike are slightly shorter wheelbase / chainstay and a slightly steeper head tube angle, and a little lighter bike. My cx bike is a 57mm top tube and weighs in at 20.5 lbs - which isn't. Ad for a cx bike that size. The road bikes with the builds I'm looking at would be 17-18 lbs.

Is getting a road bike worth it or should I just save the money or put some of it to some sweet cx upgrades?
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Old 08-26-12, 07:57 PM
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Well you won't notice the 2 pound difference at all. You have two sets of wheels, put a set of 23 or 25mm slicks on one and just ride the cx bike. I have a brand new roadie and a beater cross bike, they both go down the road where I point them as far as handling, but the cross bike gets pointed at gravel roads and mountain bike trails as well as the pavement. Not to mention the slop and the bogs. I would recommend a cross bike to someone looking for an all around bike anymore, whereas I used to be stuck on roadies.
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Old 08-27-12, 07:09 AM
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I just bought a cross bike the wife, Raleigh RX. She likes it better than a road bike. Personally, cross bikes seem more versatile than a true road bike. Good luck on whatever you choose.
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Old 08-27-12, 08:02 AM
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If you are riding with a very fast group, and the other riders are using $$$$ road bikes, having a road bike can mean the difference between being dropped or not.

A carbon road bike with lightweight wheels and a more aero riding position will accelerate faster and hold higher speeds more easily.

The actual overall difference in speed on my usual route with a road bike is about 2% or about 0.35 mph in contrast with my Carbon CX bike.
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Old 08-27-12, 09:55 AM
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I used a CX bike for road riding for years. Last winter I bought a "true" road bike (a 2000 LeMond Nevada City). I did notice a difference in handling -- the LeMond will hug a turn in ways that the CX bikes don't. The braking is also much less of a headache, in that it just works without a lot of adjustments. On the other hand, it's no faster and the handling is more a matter of feel than actual limitations on the CX bike. I imagine that in a road race I'd come across times when I needed that extra precision in handling, but for general riding I don't.
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Old 08-27-12, 11:55 AM
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N+1 is always the best short answer for "should I pick up another bike"?

I ride both my CX and my road bike regularly. If I wanted only one bike in the stable, the CX would be it (but not the one I currently have, it's too aggressive). That being said, when I'm out for a road ride, the road bike is ALWAYS my bike of choice. It handles that much better and is less fatiguing than the CX when covering the same distance on [good] pavement. Depending on how I'm feeling on a given day, I could make the argument that the CX is slightly more comfortable, but it is NEVER as effiecient. Even with road tires. The comfort argument is a weak one though, as a properly fitted road bike can be as comfortable as you want it to.

How you plan to ride it probably makes a difference too. It's when you are really pushing it that the difference in ride between the CX and road bike becomes more apparent. When I'm on either bike, I try to be into it, otherwise I feel like I'm wasting my time. I don't use either bike for leisure rides very often. I have a SS for that.

I'm a proponent of using the right tool for the job. I dont' see the point in loading the stable up with multiple bikes that are good for several things, but great for none. You say you race on your CX. Is it set up as a race bike, or is it a commuter that you race on? If it's really a race bike, get a relaxed geometry road/touring bike with accomodations for racks and fenders, and always ride the CX as though you are racing. If the CX is already your all around bike, get as aggressive a road bike as you can stand to ride and ride it aggressively....you will notice a difference.
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Old 08-27-12, 12:33 PM
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You can put thinner slick tread tires on and cruise along just fine..

but yea N+1, maybe a carbon-fiber cross bike and set up the one you have now
as the road/ commuter

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Old 08-27-12, 05:04 PM
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The only thing anyone can tell you with certainty is that you will have better braking with the road bike if it has good quality brakes.
We can also tell you that the road bike has a good chance of being a couple pounds lighter.

Everything else depends on the particulars of the bikes. There is a large range of materials and geometries used in both road and 'cross bikes, and they often overlap. Does your current 'cross bike have the traditional high bottom bracket or does it follow the more modern trend of lower bottom brackets like a road bike? How about the road bike you are considering? Sprinter's bike? Light touring bike?

Perhaps a good starting place is to compare the geometry and materials of your current bike with the bike you are considering. They may be very different, but they also may be very similar.

Just don't buy any bike without riding it first.
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Old 08-27-12, 07:46 PM
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My redline carbon CX bike is plenty road worthy.. with 48/38 and 11-25 cassette, the only place id be getting dropped (in michigan) would be in an all out sprint with a long leadout (30+mph) or some of the longer hills. 48/11 at 100rpm is 30mph. This is assuming that the other riders aren't just plain stronger than me (more often the case).

The redline is every bit as 'fast' as my fuji SST and with avid shorty ultimates, plenty of brake available.

If you aren't road racing, you will be fine. If i didn't race CX and Road, i would just have the CX bike like i did before i got into road racing
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Old 08-27-12, 08:29 PM
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If you want a road bike, get one

I ride a 2010 Kona Jake as an all-around bike, which is basically roads for me. I like it a lot. Last fall I bought a 2011 BMC Streetracer because it was on clearance for a great price. I didn't need it, but I wanted it. They're both aluminum frames. The BMC feels different than the Jake. It seems more responsive, and it is lighter (they're also set up differently). I think the differences are mostly about feel though. The BMC is probably a little faster, on average, than the Jake, but it isn't enough to really matter to me.

I like riding them both.
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Old 08-28-12, 06:08 AM
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Very good feedback and I thank everyone for their input. By way of reference, I ride a Van Dessel Holeshot (same geo as their Gin and Trombones if you know the brand) and is a more road-like style cross bike (lower BB, 74 degree seat tube angle, 4 cm handle bar drop, road cassette, etc).

I'm leaning with just keeping my Cx rig and doing a few more upgrades. The road bike would be sweet - but I spent a lot of time and money getting the Van Dessel tricked out with upgraded components that fit me to a T. Maybe I'll continue to use this as my All-in-one and then upgrade to a higher end Cx bike someday, or else just buy a steel beater cx bike that I can ride harder on MTB trails and use this one for strictly roads and racing.

In any case, this has been an enlightening post so thanks again.
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Old 08-28-12, 01:45 PM
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From 2003 through 2008 my only bike was a Fuji Cross. I never raced CX on it, but I did switch wheels and tires around from 700x23 for the road, fat 700x35 slicks for crushed gravel/dirt tow paths and trails, 700x32 or 34 CX tires for hitting some mountain bike trails.

Getting a real road bike in 2008 was a great decision for me (nothing fancy, just an aluminum frame with 105/ultegra for under a grand). As mentioned above, the braking was the biggest difference. The better you can brake (both control and total stopping power) the faster you can go. But the other thing was that I could set up the fit on the road bike for just riding on the road with the bars lower and a bit more stretched out from the saddle. That let me set up the CX bike for riding off road (and I have now done a few races) which turns out to be perfectly suitable for commuting and easy trail rides with friends.

So assuming you have the budget and will put both bikes to good use I say you should get the road bike to go along with the CX bike.

Oh yeah, N+1 is always the answer.
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Old 09-04-12, 04:23 AM
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Hey I thought I'd pass on something I found interesting. I was discussing this debate with some guys at the LBS. Turns out - there's a guy there who races crits on his carbon CX bike and has even won some races. He said the only thing he did was put on skinny tires and a road crank - but uses the Cantilever brakes and everything esle that came with the CX bike. He said that modern American CX bike geometry is so similar to a road bike - he hardly notices the difference. He was specifically referring to the bottom bracket drop, which is much lower than the Euro CX bikes. Also, a high-end Carbon CX bike is stronger, stiffer and more compliant that a road bike counterpart (according to him) and he said he likes having a slightly longer wheelbase for stability. I guess it comes down to personal preference. For me - I think it's only one bike in the sable - so it will have to be CX with a road Crank - and when that frame reaches it's useful life (in about a year or two) time to replace it with another - can't wait for that :-)
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