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Cyclocross or Road Bike ???

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Cyclocross or Road Bike ???

Old 01-07-06, 07:48 PM
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Cyclocross or Road Bike ???

Hello all,
My wife and I are new to cycling and we went looking for new bikes today. We went shopping at the LBS and were shown both road bikes and cross bikes. We started by looking at road bikes but after we told the salesman where we would be riding, he suggested the cyclocross style bikes and I'm not sure we really need them. The area we will be riding is a compact dirt fire road, around a local lake. It is mostly flat and smooth with no obstructions. I asked if we could put a more agressive tire on a road bike and acheive the same effect as a cyclocross bike. He said that he would not recommend using a carbon fibre fork in an off road application yet when I got home, I looked on the web and I see that meny manufacterers of cross bikes use carbon forks. What do you guys (and gals) think of that? Also, what are the major differences between cross bikes and true road bikes? I really liked the Cyclocross style bikes but the Trek 1000 I was looking at is much cheeper and when you are buying 2 bikes that is a big factor. Thanks in advance.
PS I was looking at Trek 1000's, Trek X01, and the Lemond Poprad any info good or bad on these bikes.
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Old 01-07-06, 08:04 PM
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From what I understand, Cyclocross bikes allow for wider tires as compared to road bikes... I would probably go with the cyclocross bike if you're going to ride on dirt... Nashbar has a nice cyclocross frame that has been mentioned on these forums before and for the money I think they are a pretty good deal... add some Shimano 105 components and I think you would end up with a pretty nice/inexpensive ride... (by the way, I plan on getting that set up one of these days)


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Old 01-07-06, 08:10 PM
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Yeah, I think the guy probably wants to sell you a 'cross bike.

I have a 'cross bike that I bought secondhand. I got a great deal on it, so I'm hard-pressed to say "I wish I'd spent the money on a road bike", because it works just fine on the road. But the thing is, I pretty much only ride on the road. Don't race cyclocross, etc. so I'm not really taking advantage of the design differences in a cyclocross frame.

Major differences are: the bottom bracket is generally higher on a cyclocross bike, for clearance. Also most cyclocross bikes are set up with cantilever brakes, rather than calipers. There are some other differences (search the forums; this topic seems to come up pretty regularly) but generally minor. Minor enough that I usually have to point out that mine is a cyclocross bike; most people think it's a regular road frame.

So, as for the tire thing: depending on the frame, you might be able to put thin knobbies on a regular road bike for light trail use. Some guys I know run "touring" tires, which have considerable tread compared to regular road tires. Not quite as aggressive as knobbies, but for hardpack fire roads, knobbies are not essential, especially for "mostly flat" riding.

I guess I'd say go for the road bike, based on what you've said here. Might want to check the clearance on any models you're interested, if you plan to put some fatter tires on there, make sure they won't rub but you'll probably be fine.

Good luck.
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Old 01-07-06, 09:07 PM
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IMHO, you'll get much more flexibility with a CX bike. It's FAR easier to adapt a 'cross bike for the road than vice versa.

I bought a cheap Bianchi "Axis" last fall and I've been riding it a TON over all kinds of terrain. Then throw a pair of road wheels on it, and it's surprisingly a great road bike.
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Old 01-07-06, 09:30 PM
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maybe try for a road bike with standard reach calipers?

Personally, I'd say 700x28 would be fine for that kinda thing.
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Old 01-07-06, 09:38 PM
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A very good bike that effectively bridges the gap between a cross and road bike the is new Specialized "Tricross" bike. It'll go anywhere and ride great on any surface. And, if you want to road race, well it gives up virtually nothing to the super stiff skinny tire aggressive racer type bikes. It's limited only by the engine.
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Old 01-08-06, 02:40 PM
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I would personally go with a cross bike. The reason for that is that I use to ride on dirt roads in Cave Creek. These were roads that went to plenty of houses so they were relatively smooth but there were some rough patches. From my experience, most dirt roads will vary from month to month on what kind of condition they are in, getting worse and worse untill they are graded again.

I originally tried riding these roads on my road bike with 25c tires I found it difficult in the heavy gravel areas. Cross tires would not fit on my bike, it wasn't because of the brake calipers, but because of the chain stays near the seat tube. This was even with just about the narrowist cross tires you will ever find.

If later you find yourself wanting to ride on the regular road more and more often all you will have to do is put on road tires and the cross bikes will be just fine. As far as the carbon fiber fork goes I would gues (and keep in mind that it is only a guess) that a fork made for a cross bike is made stronger than one made for a road bike where weight weeinies tend to rule.

Depending upon how much riding and what kind of riding you are planning on doing you may also want to consider hybrid bikes. They are basically the same thing as cross bikes but they have flat mtn bike style handlebars. The hybrids also tend to have lower componentry and you can get them cheaper. I have seen really nice Fuji hybrids at the high end going for $700 or $800. This is what I plan to get for my wife.
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Old 01-08-06, 03:50 PM
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I started riding a CX bike in September and it was mostly to have a second bike I run studs on when it freezes up. The differences in handling and feel are really interesting between a light road racing frame and CX frame but I road all the same routes I had been riding all summer on my road bike and there was negligeable difference in my average speed with the same wheel/tire set up. I think the biggest advantage for rough roads (which we have a lot of) is being able to run a 35c CX tire, its sort of like F1 cars-90% of your suspension is in the tire. However. . .true CX racing frames are NOT a plush ride, at least none that I've ridden.
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