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What kind of bike is best for me? Road? CX? Flat-bar road?

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What kind of bike is best for me? Road? CX? Flat-bar road?

Old 01-03-14, 08:56 PM
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4811Hybrid29er
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What kind of bike is best for me? Road? CX? Flat-bar road?

Right now I only have a hybrid (Marin Muirwoods 29er). I like doing long rides (up to about 200km) and going fast, but I also like going on single track, hopping curbs/steps, riding on grass/gravel, and everything in between. I'm going to be getting a mountain bike soon so the singletrack will no longer be an issue, I'll just use my mountain bike for that. However, I would also like to, at some point, get a higher end faster bike for urban riding. I'll keep my Muirwoods for winter riding and maybe short commutes, but I'd switch over to whatever new bike I get for longer rides. I basically want the fastest bike I can get while retaining stability and versatility. If it can't handle single track, that's fine. However, I do want to have enough stability to ride down grassy hills at 40mph, ride on gravel trails, hop curbs (up and down), ride on dirt, keep my balance if I hit a patch of loose gravel at 35mph, be able to swerve out of a car's path with half a second notice (I ride in busy downtown traffic often enoguh that being able to do this is necessary for me to ride safely), etc. Am I better off with a cyclocross bike or a road bike? 25c or 30c? Flat bars or drops? I've never ridden a bike with drops or anything narrower than 32 so I'm not sure how stable faster, more road-oriented bikes are in the situations I described.

Also, how much faster is a road bike than a cx bike if they're of equal quality and have the same wheels/tires? And will a cx frame be more resilient or should I just get a road frame and only concern myself with what type of handlebars and tires I want?

Thank you.
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Old 01-04-14, 06:42 AM
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A lot depends on the specific example of each bike but in general, the main advantage of a cross bike is capacity for fatter tires and somewhat slacker headtube and more rake and trail, which slows handling and helps in sketchy traction situations as the front end is less likely to wash out or push. Bigger tires provide a much plusher ride and work on softer terrain. They tend to be a few lb heavier and are usually set up for a bit more upright riding positions with higher bars and shorter reach than an road race bike. There are a lot of variables but a CX bike will usually be marginally slower on the road but can be a lot faster in places where you'd have to slow way down and be really careful on a road bike due to traction limitations and/or rough surface.

Flat bars? Flat are OK if you're happy with them, but road and CX racers use drop bars for a reason(s).
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Old 01-04-14, 03:40 PM
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Thank you. I think I'll make my decision based on whether or not I decide to get involved in CX racing. If I do go with a CX bike, but want to use it for both CX racing and road racing, and get two wheelsets, would 50T and 34T chainrings be the best compromise to work for both? Or should I have two sets of chainrings and switch between 46/36 and 50+/34 for each CX/road race?
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Old 01-04-14, 04:50 PM
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Sounds like you're describing a CX bike. This is how I used the various Specialized Tricross bikes I've had. You can set a CX bike up just like a road bike and that may be the best option. Change out the crankset for a regular road double and adjust the setup so it's more road bike oriented verses the more upright stance of a CX bike. I'd test ride them if you can because for me, I found I needed a size larger on the CX bike verses the same size road bike. I ride 54cm road bikes but a 54cm Tricross was very cramped. I ended up with a 56cm. I really liked the versatility of the Tricross and the ride was quite nice. I use to worry about it not being as fast as a traditional road bike, but I think all that was in my head. They can be made to be just as fast as a comparable road bike.
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Old 01-04-14, 08:14 PM
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Thanks. If I put a 50-34 crankset on a CX bike and maybe make some minor adjustments, would that be all I have to do to be able to race both CX and road on it, assuming I have two wheelsets? I'll definitely demo some first, but since I've never ridden a road racing bike or a CX bike I wouldn't know what to get after just a few minutes on some demo models.
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Old 01-04-14, 08:32 PM
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You could. Personally, I like the cross cranks. I don't care about going 50 mph so a 48/36 or 38 crank is more than enough for me. I think for cross racing though, a 50/34 might be a little too high and too low to be ideal. If you need a 34 then you should probably be carrying your bike. Then again, if you had a second wheelset, you could put something like a 11/23 cassette and the 50/34 might not be that bad for cross or road.
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Old 01-04-14, 08:57 PM
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In that case I might just get two sets of chain rings, I doubt it takes too long to switch them out. Even on my hybrid I usually ride in my highest gear (48/11) so I assume I'll want at least 50 for road riding. People call me a masher but I don't care, I prefer higher gears. But I guess I can just see how the 50-34 feels on CX and then decide if I also want 46-36. Or maybe I'll keep a 36 on all the time and switch between 46 and 50+ for CX vs road. I think all my questions are answered now but I'll check back in case anyone has anything to add. Thank you both for the suggestions.

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Old 01-04-14, 11:13 PM
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As long as the cranks are external bottom bracket, it's very simple to change out the cranks. Most of the time, you only need one simple tool and it maybe takes 5 minutes to switch cranks. You shouldn't need to modify the chain at all. Maybe go with a 50-36. I had that a Specialized Roubaix and it was fine. I didn't find many climbs I couldn't do with a 36 front and 27 rear cog. 36 front sprocket should be fine for cross.
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Old 01-05-14, 12:55 AM
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I take it you mean 50-36 for road and swap the 50 for a 46 when I do cross? Will a 50T fit on a cross bike without any modifications (aside from removing the 46)?
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Old 01-05-14, 08:05 AM
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Right. Gearing is changeable to adapt to different riding circumstances. You change the gearing on a CX bike to like that more common on road bikes, and vice versa.
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Old 01-05-14, 04:47 PM
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Okay, thanks, that's probably what I'll do then.
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Old 01-05-14, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by 4811Hybrid29er View Post
Okay, thanks, that's probably what I'll do then.
Yeah, changing out the big ring will be a piece of cake.
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Old 01-05-14, 09:53 PM
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Try different types of tires ..
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Old 01-05-14, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Try different types of tires ..
That's my plan. I'll have a CX wheelset with 32s or 33s and a road wheelset with 23s or 25s.
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