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Road Bike vs Cyclocross Bike, Much Difference Between The 2?

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Road Bike vs Cyclocross Bike, Much Difference Between The 2?

Old 10-15-11, 04:28 PM
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Road Bike vs Cyclocross Bike, Much Difference Between The 2?

Pardon my ignorance/stupidity here, watched 9 ball Diaries, the bikes they ride in the movie, are pretty cool. I was wondering just how different the bikes are, compared to a road racing bike? Price/durability/etc? Also, are these OK(long term) for road use? Please keep in mind, I'm 6'6 & 235, if cyclocross bikes are built sturdier/stronger than road race bikes, wouldn't it be more beneficial for me to buy one of those instead of going w/a road bike(due to my size)? maybe someone here owns both and can tell me their opinions on it?

Thanks for any info gang.
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Old 10-15-11, 05:25 PM
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The single, most important, difference between a Cyclocross bike and a road bike is the brakes. Road bikes use caliper brakes and Cyclocross bikes use cantilever brakes. The use of cantilever brakes, combined with detail changes to the frame, allow for large tires as large as 700x42 in some models.

Disc brakes are also seen on Cyclocross bikes, this is a trend that will continue.

Cyclocross is a form of racing that takes competitors across grass, dirt, sand and gravel. The terrain requires treaded tires in the 700x30 to 700x35 sizes.

I started road cycling with a cyclocross bike. I fitted 700x28 road bike tires, strong 32 spoke handmade wheels and wide range gearing. The bike is stronger than many road bikes. Many road bikes are limited to 700x23 tires. This is an important limit for larger cyclists. Once my weight dropped to 210, I added a road bike.

You will find large sized Cyclocross bike from Gunnar: https://gunnarbikes.com/site/bikes/cross-hairs/

The Surly Cross Check comes in a size 62: https://surlybikes.com/bikes/cross_check
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Old 10-15-11, 05:33 PM
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I am no expert but my CX rides pretty much as well as my road bikes in most ways. The fit was dialed in to match my road bike so my positioning is pretty much the same. The CX rides a little cushier with the fat low pressure 700 x 30 tires. I think if I take the time to swap on some lighter wheels with my normal road tires I won't see much difference. The gearing on the CX is different but I have not decided what to do about that. My normal road climbing bike is a compact double with a 12-27 10 speed cassette. I don't have the same gear ratios with the CX bike so don't know how well I can climb with it.

Weight wise there is about a 3 1/2 lb difference between the CX and my lightest CF road bike. But between the CX and my two road bikes its only around a 1 1/2 lb difference. A lot of the weight difference is probably in the wheels/tire setup.

On the road there is a speed difference. On my mainly flat main route I see around 2 mph less for my average on the CX bike running the low pressure fat tires. Here again, I think if I put a set of my light wheels with my normal 700 x 25C the difference would not be much at all.
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Old 10-15-11, 06:43 PM
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So, if I were to buy a cyclocross, and use the bigger rims on it, it should be fine, as far as riding it on the road everyday? I saw how it looked, looked the same as a road bike, just bigger tires. That shouldn't pose a problem though, right? Might eventually get a road bike too, once im down to say 220-225.
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Old 10-15-11, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by LemondFanForeve View Post
So, if I were to buy a cyclocross, and use the bigger rims on it, it should be fine, as far as riding it on the road everyday? I saw how it looked, looked the same as a road bike, just bigger tires. That shouldn't pose a problem though, right? Might eventually get a road bike too, once im down to say 220-225.
Yes, just change to road tires and enjoy.
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Old 10-15-11, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
Yes, just change to road tires and enjoy.
Cool......thanks for the info...Might just do that. Do most of the major bike makers have/make cyclocross bikes?
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Old 10-15-11, 06:55 PM
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absolutely get a crosser instead.
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Old 10-15-11, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by adriano View Post
absolutely get a crosser instead.
Thanks...leaning towards doing that. Then., down the road, getting a road bike too.
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Old 10-15-11, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by LemondFanForeve View Post
Cool......thanks for the info...Might just do that. Do most of the major bike makers have/make cyclocross bikes?
Yes, Cyclocross is a niche, but a growing one. Almost every major bike company has one or two models. Often one model is an all-around sports bike and another is a race oriented model for off-road Cyclocross events. The all-around models might be better for road work.

Be sure to find a large enough frame that fits. I'm 6'0 and use a size 60 frame with a 60cm length virtual top tube. Find something as large as 61cm or larger.
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Old 10-16-11, 12:32 AM
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Remember though, that cantilever brakes are not as good, performance-wise, as the caliper brakes on road bikes. The only reason cantis are still found on cyclocross bikes is b/cos of mud build-up and clearance that would make caliper brakes non-effective and less efficient.

A good compromise if you are gonna go the cyclocross route for your road bike, is to find one with disc brakes.
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Old 10-16-11, 12:38 AM
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discs are great. long reach brakes arent the end of the world either.
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Old 10-16-11, 02:14 AM
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big guys can ride a road bike without any problems...many road bikes have room for bigger tires. road bikes handle better than cross bikes...cx bikes are meant to be raced in the dirt. sure there are lots of cx bikes out there but don't count on it riding like a nice road bike. just because someone puts a canti brakes on it doesn't make it a cross bike. and its not just about the tires and brakes. its not a big deal when you're riding solo, but if you ride with other roadies, and you want to keep up, get a road bike.
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Old 10-16-11, 07:41 AM
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Disc’s have advantages when the rim is wet or dirty. Disc’s also add weight and cost. I don't see disc brakes being needed on Southern California.

Cantilever brakes are more difficult to properly install than most other brake systems, but once set-up, function well.

Overall, caliper brakes are better than cantilever brakes, easier to set-up with very good performance. However, short reach caliper brakes on road bikes limit tire size to 700x25 with less than 4mm of safety margin between the tire and the brake.

Very few road bikes feature long reach caliper brakes. Long reach caliper brakes can take a 700x28 tire with about 5mm of safety margin.

This road bike bike features long reach caliper brakes: https://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebik...durasport.html However, even the largest size might be too small for the OP.
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Old 10-16-11, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by fogrider View Post
big guys can ride a road bike without any problems...many road bikes have room for bigger tires. road bikes handle better than cross bikes...cx bikes are meant to be raced in the dirt. sure there are lots of cx bikes out there but don't count on it riding like a nice road bike. just because someone puts a canti brakes on it doesn't make it a cross bike. and its not just about the tires and brakes. its not a big deal when you're riding solo, but if you ride with other roadies, and you want to keep up, get a road bike.
Can't say that this is really accurate from my experience. A lot of factors figure in to how much of a difference there is. The first "shake out" ride on my Kona Jake the Snake had me pacing with a roadie for over 7 miles early in the ride. He was working his butt off to drop me and I just hung out about 10 yards back. I even closed on all the rolling hills since I am used to attacking them hard. I have no doubt I could have kept up with this biker on any long ride with the CX bike even though it was shod with low pressure knobby tires. Fact is I could have passed and dropped this particular rider if I wanted to. Riders fitness obviously comes into play, as usual the "engine" makes the biggest difference.

I also find the Kona to be more comfortable than my CF road bike on the rough chip seal roads I ride.Strange when you consider the Kona is an aluminum framed bike. Attribute that to the softer/wider tires and probably the steel fork. On high speed tight turns (which for me means at around 20-22 mph) I can lean the CX bike as much as I need and feel no handling difference while on the ride. But I will admit that it may actually turn in a bit slower. I say this because taking out the CF road bike after 3 days on the CX bike I noticed that I cut my first two tight corners a bit short. I attributed that to faster turn in of the road bike.

I will admit that the braking of the CX bike leaves a bit to be desired and this may cause issues on group rides where everyone is really pushing it. Of course I ride solo and have not even bothered to try tuning up my Shorty 4 brakes on the Kona as they do just fine for my workouts. But in other circumstances they may be a problem. I am contemplating a climbing ride today where I normally see descents over 50 mph. I want to try the CX bike on this but am a bit concerned about how well the brakes will work for me at high speeds. Hate to have a problem at these speeds especially since this road sees a lot of vehicular traffic.

I will agree that a heavy person can ride a road bike with no problem. I started riding in the spring of 2010 at 238 lbs on a road bike. And it was the road bike riding that has not gotten me to the 160-165 lb range and kept me there. Either bike will work just fine weight wise if properly set up.
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Old 10-16-11, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by jamesdak View Post
Can't say that this is really accurate from my experience. A lot of factors figure in to how much of a difference there is. The first "shake out" ride on my Kona Jake the Snake had me pacing with a roadie for over 7 miles early in the ride. He was working his butt off to drop me and I just hung out about 10 yards back. I even closed on all the rolling hills since I am used to attacking them hard. I have no doubt I could have kept up with this biker on any long ride with the CX bike even though it was shod with low pressure knobby tires. Fact is I could have passed and dropped this particular rider if I wanted to. Riders fitness obviously comes into play, as usual the "engine" makes the biggest difference.

I also find the Kona to be more comfortable than my CF road bike on the rough chip seal roads I ride.Strange when you consider the Kona is an aluminum framed bike. Attribute that to the softer/wider tires and probably the steel fork. On high speed tight turns (which for me means at around 20-22 mph) I can lean the CX bike as much as I need and feel no handling difference while on the ride. But I will admit that it may actually turn in a bit slower. I say this because taking out the CF road bike after 3 days on the CX bike I noticed that I cut my first two tight corners a bit short. I attributed that to faster turn in of the road bike.

I will admit that the braking of the CX bike leaves a bit to be desired and this may cause issues on group rides where everyone is really pushing it. Of course I ride solo and have not even bothered to try tuning up my Shorty 4 brakes on the Kona as they do just fine for my workouts. But in other circumstances they may be a problem. I am contemplating a climbing ride today where I normally see descents over 50 mph. I want to try the CX bike on this but am a bit concerned about how well the brakes will work for me at high speeds. Hate to have a problem at these speeds especially since this road sees a lot of vehicular traffic.

I will agree that a heavy person can ride a road bike with no problem. I started riding in the spring of 2010 at 238 lbs on a road bike. And it was the road bike riding that has not gotten me to the 160-165 lb range and kept me there. Either bike will work just fine weight wise if properly set up.
Thanks for the info guys.......was wondering, you guys say that a road bike would be fine for "big guys"? If I were to buy a road bike, and maybe swap out the tires for the bigger ones mentioned above(maybe the wider ones) would that still be ok, would the ride/feel change dramatically? I dont want to look like a dork out there riding, but, i also dont want to buy something that's going to fall apart/crack b/c of my size. i wish more of the bike manufactures, would keep the bigger/taller guys in mind, when making their bikes.
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Old 10-16-11, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by LemondFanForeve View Post
Thanks for the info guys.......was wondering, you guys say that a road bike would be fine for "big guys"? If I were to buy a road bike, and maybe swap out the tires for the bigger ones mentioned above(maybe the wider ones) would that still be ok, would the ride/feel change dramatically? I dont want to look like a dork out there riding, but, i also dont want to buy something that's going to fall apart/crack b/c of my size. i wish more of the bike manufactures, would keep the bigger/taller guys in mind, when making their bikes.
The weakest item on a bike for bigger riders is the wheelset. Most wheels sold with bikes are machine made from mediocre components. Lighter riders are well within the limits of these wheels, but heavier riders often are not. Upgrading to stronger wheels can be done for $300. Hand made 32 spoke wheels with good rims and hubs will hold up well. I like Velocity rims with Shimano hubs.

Cyclocross bikes use many of the same components as road bikes. Cyclocross frames are often a little stronger than road bike frames. Road bike frames are capable of accepting a 240 lbs rider, in most cases.

One advantage of buying a road bike is that finding larger sizes will be easier. You will need to use 700x23 to 700x25 tires and keep then well inflated, but you should expect few or no problems.
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Last edited by Barrettscv; 10-17-11 at 05:54 AM.
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Old 10-16-11, 08:47 PM
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+1

The bike frame normally won't be the problem, the wheels will. A cheap and easy fix is a good set of 32 spoke wheels and 700x25 tires should serve you quite well with a road bike if you want to go that route. Have you thought about trying a used bike first. That will give you time to see how things go, what kind of riding you wind up doing, and ultimately what you really want in a bike. I wish I had bought used first myself.
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