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

CX bike for road

Old 10-14-10, 08:08 AM
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brianbeech
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CX bike for road

I currently ride a 2010 CAAD9 and really like it a lot. I do some MTBing and running and am now interested in trying CX. With all of these 'interests', I'm looking for a bike that I can double duty. In comes the CX bike question.

If I were to purchase a 2011 CAADX (provided I love CX), get some new wheels/tires/cassette, could I double purpose this bike as a weekend roadie by simply changing the wheelsets? I know the riding position would be a little more upright, but is there a serious reason why I shouldn't do this? I'm not interested in road racing and usually only do 30 - 50 miles on the weekends and a few rides during the week.

Thanks for any input and expertise.
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Old 10-14-10, 08:21 AM
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CX bike with road tires will be fine for road riding.

Not the perfect road bike (i.e. different gearing, bit heavier, more upright) but all those differences are pretty marginal.

I've seen guys come out on the Tuesday night Worlds and do just fine on CX bikes.
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Old 10-14-10, 08:27 AM
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I concur, the differences between a cross and road bike are a bit exaggerated.

However, keep in mind that a cross bike really isn't optimized for off-road riding. Dirt trails, gravel, rough pavement, no problem. Branches, logs and rocks, not so much.
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Old 10-14-10, 08:32 AM
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It works fine. I know several people that do it. Some will use the cross bike with cross tires for road rides that they don't find challenging.
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Old 10-14-10, 08:34 AM
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I guess it depends on how serious you want to get. Would I do a road race on a CX bike? Probably not. Train, commute, and just have fun on it? Definitely.

I just got a Focus Mares a couple of weeks ago and I have been riding it a good bit on the road. It's actually more comfortable than a lot of race-style road bikes, and the 35c tires provide some cush, but have a bit of rolling resistance compared to a traditional road slick. If I end up doing the majority of my rides on the road I will swap the tires to 28c. Overall I'm loving the bike so far, I would recommend it.

I will say too that my buddy has a tricked out Specialized Tricross with full Red and he has no problem keeping up with just about any roadie out there. Rider > bike.
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Old 10-14-10, 08:39 AM
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I can see myself someday moving from race bikes to cross bikes with road tires. The ergos look more reasonable as I'm getting older, and since I don't race, why not.
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Old 10-14-10, 09:12 AM
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I have been thinking about getting a CX for winter riding. The road bike would be used for dry days and the CX would be used for wet days.
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Old 10-14-10, 09:18 AM
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I road race my C-X bike on occassion. No problem. No handicap. I put my road wheels on with an 11-23 cassette. I put on a longer, lower stem, switch a spacer on the stack and the position is almost exactly the same as my real race bike. Weight is within a pound.

So yes, a C-X bike can truly do it as a real race bike.

In case anyone is wondering Ellsworth Roots FTMFW!!!!

-Z

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Old 10-14-10, 09:21 AM
  #9  
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There's a guy who comes out to a group ride with his Giant TC-X with slicks. He's way faster than me, so I'm assuming the bike isn't holding him back much.
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Old 10-14-10, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by RB1-luvr View Post
I can see myself someday moving from race bikes to cross bikes with road tires. The ergos look more reasonable as I'm getting older, and since I don't race, why not.
There are better alternatives for this, such as road bikes with more relaxed geometry and clearance for wider tires. Look into touring/randoneuring bikes.

Better fit if you're only going to be riding on the road.

I really don't like cantis.
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Old 10-14-10, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by crhilton View Post
It works fine. I know several people that do it. Some will use the cross bike with cross tires for road rides that they don't find challenging.
Lots of good advice in this thread. I've been using a CX bike with 700x28 Vittoria Rando Cross tires for more than a year; I just got a Cervelo, and I'm still riding the cross bike to commute, when it's rainy, and when I want to take hard dirt trails, or go down stairs. It's fun, and in the rain, I love the disc brakes.

There are some differences, and most of them have already been pointed out. Another is that cross bikes don't steer or handle as well as road bikes. It's not a huge difference, but I never felt comfortable descending at speed unless it was a straight shot down the hill.

Somebody once said that if you use a cross bike for road riding, it won't hold you back very much, but you'll think it will and want a road bike. In my case, I didn't know what I was missing until I took it into the shop for a repair, and test drove some carbon racers to kill time. There was no looking back after that.
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Old 10-14-10, 10:59 AM
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I started my roadie obsession on a CX bike. I had 23c tires on Soul 3.0SL and it did great. Granted, mine was very very entry level - Specialized Tricross Triple with Shimano 2300 - so when I moved to a road bike, the difference was quite substantial.

That said, I still love riding the Tricross with the 32c's back on, and I use that bike on my trainer. So it still gets a lot of use.

The biggest difference is the handling. The longer wheelbase on the CX is more stable and forgiving.
I tried to have the Tricross set up for road riding, but there comes a point where the geometry just won't allow a true road bike feel.

Some pics for comparison - you'll see that the wheelbase difference is quite significant:



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Old 10-14-10, 11:22 AM
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In most cases, a CX bike is fine on the road. Some of them have kinda weird geometries, though. My Surly, for example, has a fairly slack head tube angle, and the fork I'm running, a carbon Bianchi, has 50 mm of rake. Love the way it rides off-road, but unpleasant for road riding.
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Old 10-14-10, 12:01 PM
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My cross bike does just fine as a road bike with slicks on it, I sold my road bike after I got it. Ride with groups often with it, hell my ss/fg does fine as a road bike with the right gear on it and the ride is mainly flat terrain.
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Old 10-14-10, 12:12 PM
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A CX bike makes an ideal second bike for rain, winter, commuting, smooth off-road and light touring.

Given the huge versatility of the CX bike, I find I use it as often as my Ti road bike. I also enjoy having a willing-to-do-it-all bike in my stable.

Michael
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Old 10-14-10, 12:12 PM
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I commuted 8 miles on my cross bike today. First time with new road tires. It did just fine. I love the dual brakes and my bike is light.

On cross tires I run 700 x 30 or 32. My road tires are 700 x 25 Continentals.
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Old 10-14-10, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
A CX bike makes an ideal second bike for rain, winter, commuting, smooth off-road and light touring.

Given the huge versatility of the CX bike, I find I use it as often as my Ti road bike. I also enjoy having a willing-to-do-it-all bike in my stable.

Michael
Yes, this.

I have knobbies on mine now. I'll do some light double-track riding up in Tahoe and a few CX races. When it starts raining, I'll put slicks and fenders on it for commuting. Nice thing about using a CX for commuting is the ability to put fatter slicks on. Pure comfort.
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Old 10-14-10, 12:21 PM
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I got a Surly Crosscheck for this fall/winter's riding, and am really enjoying putting some base miles in on it. I take it on group rides, etc., with 700x32 tires. I'm probably a bit slower because of it, but it's probably good training. And it's gonna feel nice when I switch to my pure road bike after winter. Sort of like taking off ankle weights after running with them
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Old 10-14-10, 12:29 PM
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I run my Bianchi San Jose CX bike monstercross with 42c slicks. Road bikes can barely clear 30c sans fenders.

So you can have a bike with fat tires on it and roll on the road just as fast.
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Old 10-14-10, 01:23 PM
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CX should be great for road cycling. I started out road-riding by commuting with a CX (2004 Kona Jake the Snake), and even started B.R.A.G. 2005 with 700x35 cx tires. At the time this didn't seem strange to me to be riding a road tour with knobby cx tires, but now I laugh about that. Someone clued me in and I finished out the rest of the week on 23cm road tires and never looked back.

I put 12k on the JTS before finally getting a "real road bike" just last year and the difference to me was subtle, but definitely there is a difference. Now I'm happy to have a proper roadie and repurpose the JTS back into a really cool commuter ride (carbon disc fork + brake conversion and 700x32 touring tires). So there is a difference but if you really want dual-purpose, cx should be great.

Also, no need to swap out wheelsets for each purpose; swapping tires should be sufficient. Although if you have the spare wheelset lying around it is more convenient than changing tires all the time.

Also, it is really nice to have the CX bike for checking out new routes. I tried to ride through a new area of DC a month or two ago and was on the road bike. My route didn't work out and I found myself riding down a few gravelly and dirty roads wishing I was on the Kona.

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Old 10-14-10, 02:01 PM
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Many newer cx bikes have more roadish geometry. So by putting on road tires, it will ride similar to a road bike but not the same.

It used to be that CX bike have really high BBs but now a days the bb drop is close to the same as a road bike.

Other notable changes would be longer stays, canti brakes and .5-1 dgree slacker hta
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Old 10-14-10, 02:50 PM
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I'm taking the cross bike on vacation with me instead of dragging my 'good' Madone halfway across the country. It'll do fine for the training I want to get in.
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Old 10-14-10, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by nitropowered View Post
Other notable changes would be longer stays, canti brakes and .5-1 dgree slacker hta
The most annoying thing about my cross bike is that the brakes aren't very good and it doesn't turn in as easily to hard corners on fast descents. Other than that, it's just fine as a road bike.
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Old 10-14-10, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by umd View Post
The most annoying thing about my cross bike is that the brakes aren't very good and it doesn't turn in as easily to hard corners on fast descents. Other than that, it's just fine as a road bike.
Cool thing is that UCI has lifted the ban on disc brakes for cyclocross. So soon you'll see more high end CX bikes sporting discs, which solves one of your problems, and is a definite bonus for the CX commuter crowd :-)
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Old 10-14-10, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by umd View Post
The most annoying thing about my cross bike is that the brakes aren't very good and it doesn't turn in as easily to hard corners on fast descents. Other than that, it's just fine as a road bike.
Luckily I won't suffer from this issue - I don't think I can ever call what I do "fast" - even on a descent. And going as slow as I do, the brakes don't have to work as well.

Thanks for all the info guys - really glad to get some good feedback. With all the news I hear of bicyclists and pedestrians getting struck by cars along with having a family, I'm beginning to think that being on the road is a gamble I'd like to make less often. But, since I love it, I can't completely get away from it and will inevitably be drawn back at least twice a week.
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