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.

What to look for?

Old 11-13-14, 12:54 PM
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What to look for?

Hi Guys,
I am looking for my first cx bike. I'll share a little info...
I used to do triathlons and trained with high level roadies (quite a while back). I mountain bike a fair amount.
I'm in decent shape, but not at all in race shape. I live in Lake Tahoe, where the dirt is degraded granite, often sandy, and the roads will be getting snowy/icy.
I would like to get into cx riding for fitness and fun, longer rides, and hopefully add some racing in as events, not hugely serious. I have a moderate budget, hoping for a closeout. Not much in the way of bike shops anywhere near here with cx stuff...
A shop in Reno carries Focus, and has access to closeouts right now.
What shall I look for in a bike, also considering that I am in the mountains with a lot of vertical climbing?

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Old 11-13-14, 01:36 PM
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CX race bikes dont have triple cranks, but retrofitting one at the Bike shop Can Be done,.

Its not a substitute for a Mountain Bike .. you have to get off, on foot and go around stuff you could Plough thru on an MTB.

talk to the Shop staff, .. where you live.
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Old 11-13-14, 01:46 PM
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tahoe23, I ride the trails in Burton Creek SP all the time on my SSCX. I can't fly through technical stuff like you could with suspension, and I have to shoulder the bike on steep climbs, but pretty much everything else is doable.

Focus makes a nice bike. Just make sure you get a bike that fits.
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Old 11-13-14, 02:21 PM
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Since racing is not your primary purpose you might want to swap out the cassette for a 12-30 (if it does not have one) assuming you buy a CX bike with "normal" CX crankset of 36-46. The 36x30 will give you almost the same gear inches as a 34-28 which should get you up some rather steep climbs if you are in reasonable shape. For general riding a big ring of 46 really is not that limiting. When I bought mine I chose to buy one with canti brakes but only so that I had 100% compatibility with my road bike. Disc brakes are better if you have a choice. I'll echo what #caloso said about fit.
Sir Mark, Knight of Sufferlandria
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Old 11-13-14, 03:35 PM
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Thanks guys.
I will chat with the shop. Unfortunately, they are over an hour away.
I do need to consider the gearing, which I'm unfamiliar with. I won't go real technical, but I will do some longer climbs for fitness (fun).
Given that I'm 5'10", would anyone suggest 56cm or 58cm?
I may not be able to ride anything before I get it. Through reading other posts, it sounds as though going with aluminum is probably acceptable, relative to comfort, given that the bigger tires compensate for a more rigid ride than carbon fiber?
Thanks again.
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Old 11-13-14, 09:15 PM
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I ride about 80/20 pavement and fire roads in the San Gabriels and Whittier hills. I'm running a 34/46 11-32 and that's low enough to get up anything that the geometry of a CX bike and the tire width will allow. 34T inner rings are easy to find, cheap and easy to change out.

I am changing out the gearing in the next couple of weeks to a 34/48 12-32 to get better spacing at the cadences and speeds I can now run on the pavement while retaining the bottom end.

Also, make sure you can fit wider than race legal tires. There's a huge difference on fire roads between a 32mm and a 42mm as far as what you can handle without resorting to walking.

Last edited by TGT1; 11-14-14 at 10:02 PM.
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Old 11-14-14, 09:28 PM
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Thanks TGT1.
I actually went to Whittier College, many years ago, and wandered those same hills.
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