Cyclocross is a rather specific bike, primarily designed for dirt and off-road riding. In many ways this type of bike is similar to road bikes, but the design of the frame and its strength, powerful braking, excellent tire clearance make this vehicle in its own unique way. Let’s take a closer look at all the features of the cyclocross bike, what kind of bikes they are, their rating, pros and cons.
Cyclocross as a sport
Cyclocross or another name cyclocross – is a sport where cyclists pass on their bikes the route with technical obstacles length of 3.5 km. It is important not only to masterfully handle the bike, but also to overcome ditches, hills, low artificial walls and other obstacles with their bike on the shoulder or in the hand.
What is a cyclocross bike
Given that such an event like cyclocross held in the fall, winter and spring, its participants have a special requirement: you need a vehicle that can feel confident in the mud and snow. Just for such purposes and there are cyclocross bikes – in some ways a hybrid of mountain bikes and road bikes, improved for off-road riding, viscous mud, as well as sand, grass, tree roots and to overcome obstacles.
Cyclocross bike takes the best from MTBs and road bikes to be more passable and manageable.
Among the advantages of the braking system of cyclocross bikes are:
- The presence of additional brake handles mounted on top of the handlebars, making the bike more comfortable to handle in difficult sections of the race;
- rotary brakes distinguish this type of bikes from mountain bikes;
- cable/hydraulic disc brakes increase braking efficiency that road bikes don’t have.
The cantilever, used in cyclocross bikes as a rim component, protects the brakes from dirt.
The double chain on the front of Cyclocross bikes has a smaller gear, which increases stability when riding on dirt, snow, grass. Plus, according to most bike manufacturers, having these chains reduces the risk of mechanical problems.
Tires and rims
Cyclocross bikes’ tires have deep tread and are larger than those of the same road bikes (28″ versus 26″). Such features improve traction, increase cushioning, and prevent tire damage. Many manufacturers install tubeless or tubular tires on CC bikes, which are less likely to wear out and are more stable.
The wheels on cyclocross bikes are similar in appearance to those for mountain bikes. Additional strength and durability is achieved by an increased number of spokes.
The frame for a cyclocross bike is adapted for low speeds and for ease of carrying the bike on the shoulder of the owner. Cross frame has long bottom feathers (road cyclists they are shorter), the angle of inclination of the handlebar is 70 ° in contrast to the 73 ° frame on the road models. There is no top tube drop, many cyclocross bikes don’t have sloping frames. All these parameters improve the bike handling at low speeds.
Characteristic differences in cyclocross bikes
Cyclocross bikes are versatile. In addition to the already listed differences from road bikes and MTB, you can name a few more:
- due to the adapted frame, the fit is less aggressive than on a road bike, which allows you to not only ride in a relaxed position, but also work out obstacles and bumps on the track;
- At low speeds, more precise handling. When overcoming obstacles in the form of roots, grass or pits, high speed is not needed, but excellent maneuverability makes it possible to easily overcome bumps and finish faster in the competition;
- additional brake levers are excellent on a difficult track and when changing the position of the hands on the handlebars. True, not all cyclocross bike models can boast this;
- Transmission and brake cables are laid out so that they do not interfere with the cyclist carrying the bike on the shoulder or in the hand and reduce the risk of knocking the switch or move the cables in the wrong position.
Another feature of this bike is its weight. Since it’s designed for off-road riding and alternately dragging it over an obstacle zone, a 7.5-10 kilogram cyclocross bike is more attractive than a 13-14 kilogram mountain bike.
Pros and cons of cyclocross bikes
Of the advantages of these bikes can be noted:
- weight – if you have to drag the bike on yourself, the lighter it is, the better for the cyclist;
- the functionality and capabilities of cyclocross bikes are great on average dirt, mud, grass, sand, etc.
- these bikes are one of the best options not only for sport competition, but also when riding on uneven highways, dirt roads with sand and mud, on forest trails and country roads.
Disadvantages of cyclocross bike models:
- skidding at high speeds;
- low dynamics on highways, city streets and any flat pavement.
Advice on how to choose a cyclocross bike
A few more parameters that distinguish cyclocross bikes from mountain bikes, road bikes and speed models will help you to stop your choice of cyclocross bike:
- Price. Speed bikes, especially big-name brands, can cost as much as $10,000 because of the most expensive part used in their assembly: the fork with shock absorber. Cyclocross bikes don’t have it in their assembly, so the cost of such a vehicle is much lower.
- Versatility. Cyclocross, as well as more high-speed models of bicycles on passability are about the same due to the tires with wide tread. But the first win due to their design: their tires can be replaced by others with a smaller diameter, which makes it possible to easily ride not only off-road, but also on the city and highway.
- Weight – a lot has already been said about this parameter, but it will not be superfluous to repeat. For the cyclist on the race track more difficult than crossing difficult terrain can only be dragging a heavy two-wheeled “friend”. If the minimum weight of the speed bike – at least 8.5-10 pounds, then the quality cyclocross – 7-7.5 kilograms.
Rating of the best bikes for cyclocross
Below you will find the best models of cyclocross bicycles, not only by the criteria of versatility, quality of components and speed characteristics, but also by external appeal to true cyclists and cycling enthusiasts.
Specialized CruX Elite is, so to say, a bike without flaws: it is completely made of carbon (wheels including), disc brakes, lightweight frame. Aggressive geometry allows to ride freely both on straight narrow streets and to make sharp turns. Thanks to the excellent transmission, gear shifting is easy. On the bike you will find neat cables, protected from damage by an inner gasket. For the convenience of carrying the bike, it has convenient “handles”. Riding such a bike is a pleasure.
The Canyon Inflite CF SLX is a fairly lightweight bike designed for cyclocross – it weighs about 7,600 grams. This model even won a design award – all thanks to the unusual looking curved frame. This curve allows you to comfortably carry the bike on your shoulder. Another benefit: the cables run inside the frame, and the perfectly sealed inlets and outlets keep dirt out. Handling is improved with a wider handlebar than a road bike and a shorter handlebar stem. Carbon wheels, modern transmission – all this makes the model extremely attractive.
Surly Cross Check – simple and yet reliable, quality bike model that can be upgraded to your liking. For cycling you can attach a bike rack in the front or rear. By installing a long chain and replacing the gears with traction ratios, you get a great bike for mountain rides. The bike feels great when riding on dirt, as well as on dirt roads, not afraid of a little rain and downpour. Well, the bright lettuce color adds to the attractiveness of the model.
TCX SLR 1 – a universal cyclocross bike, able to quickly ride on asphalt, sand, dirt and grass. Lightweight aluminum frame, composite hub and 12mm rear and front axles – all this allows you to control the bike smoothly and confidently on any terrain. Integrated flat-brake disc brakes with through-axles offer the raider better modulation, allowing you to calculate how much downforce to apply. The Giant WheelSystem gives you the option of tubeless tires, which makes for a smoother ride and reduces rolling resistance.
Ribble CGR AL Shimano 105 is a universal model, suitable for gravel and road riding, as well as for cyclocross. Aluminum frame, hydraulic disc brakes. This is an inexpensive bike, almost not inferior in performance to its expensive competitors – all thanks to the Shimano 105 transmission. True, it has a disadvantage: a considerable weight for a cyclocross bike – 9.8 kg.
Cyclocross bikes are multifunctional, reliable when riding off-road, convenient for everyday rides. It is not necessary to participate in a cycling race to enjoy riding such a bike. However, if you are engaged in triathlon, where aerodynamics is at the forefront, or participate in competitions on the highway, you should choose a different model of bike.