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Convince me(20 posts)

Convince meCaptain Kona
Mar 17, 2003 10:09 AM

Right now I ride a mountain bike. My riding is varied...road, gravel and non-technical hardpack dirt trails. I am seriously considering buying a cross.

Convince me!

I'd like to know (from people in the know) the good, the bad and the ugly regarding cyclo-cross.

Just a note, I am not a racer. I would be using this rig as an all-round bike. I feel that it would definitely perform better in many of the conditions I ride in.

I'd love to hear your input. Thanks.
pain and sufferingweiwentg
Mar 17, 2003 10:28 AM
wait, that only applies to racers.
cross bikes are much faster than MTBs on ideal terrain! you'll fly on the fire roads! you can probably keep up with the MTBs on the non-technical stuff! you can swap tires and ride the road with the roadies!
crossers are lighter than MTBs, sometimes significantly so (Rock Shox SIDs can weigh around 2.5lbs, True Temper Alpha Qs can weigh less than 1lb, for starters). getting one of the production cross bikes by Kona, Redline, Soma, Surly, etc is not an expensive deal at all (it will be an expensive deal if you start getting the good stuff).
fun fun funbad_bad_leroy
Mar 17, 2003 11:31 AM
Hiya Captain,
I've ridden my Cannondale cross bike for just about everything in the year I've had it. It's a great commuter. I keep up with my tri-racing friends on training rides. And on less-gnarly trails it's fast, rolls over obstacles well, and can climb great - like what Fisher is claiming 'bout his 29'ers. It also makes boring singletrack much more interesting. But be warned from a guy who also does 'dedicated' mountain riding - without front suspension, at speed you can get tossed around pretty good by tiny things you'd never 'usually' worry about. I would also say that disks are a good idea if you're doing a lot of trails - definitely go stock if you could find 'em. I wish I had them, but they're still expensive and rare for cross bikes.
re: Convince meflyweight
Mar 17, 2003 4:04 PM
Given the terrain you're riding, here are the following:

The Good:
1) Faster. Make that much faster. On the roads the difference will be night and day. This means less effort wasted getting to the trailhead.
2) Makes you a better rider. Any dumba$$ can plow over tree roots on a MTB - even without full suspension. Trying that on a cross bike will probably earn you an express ticket to the nearest emergency room. You have to ride smart on a cross bike. You can't just turn off the brain and plow along.
3) More exciting. Flying down a fireroad at 20mph on a MTB is no biggie. On a cross bike things get much more exciting.
4) Loads of fun to be had by blasting past MTB riders on full-suspension bikes as they plod along. They'll say they can beat you on the downhill which is probably true but you'll put so much time into them going up the hill that they will never catch up to you.

The Bad:
1) Your MTB will probably gather dust.
2) You have to stay focused. Cross bikes are not very tolerant of mistakes.
3) Learning curve. If you're of the generation that never learned to ride a off-road without suspension you're going to have to unlearn a lot of things.

The Ugly:
None really. Just heed the above advice.

As for bikes, since you're not racing look for a frame that will take larger tires such as 35-38mm models. The Soma and Surly models are great places to start as they have plenty of clearance, don't cost a fortune, and can take a pounding.
re: Convince me Strange looks....atpjunkie
Mar 17, 2003 5:59 PM
from the MTBers and roadies you PASS!!!!
as the last post said you need to unlearn things, you have to pick clean lines, the 'basic' trails on your MTB suddenly are more challenging. and you have to rely on technique rather than your rig.
I agree, my MTB sees more garage time than ever.
last but not least
cxers are the nicest bunch a freaks you'll ever know.
re: Convince mekiwisimon
Mar 18, 2003 9:18 AM
have ridden road and mtb professionally but now i don"t race
and my cross still lets me dabble in both.
my off road skills have regressed to the good old days of non-suspended bikes making me more aware of the bike and myself
It still lets me sprint for finish lines and the best thing is the thumbs up you get from all other bike riders who wish they could ride an anywhere bike like yours.
sell your mtb and invest in a top line bike that you"ll be happy to ride for years, I did and don't regret it.
My CX is my fave bikeStevieP
Mar 18, 2003 11:45 AM
I bought a Ridley Crossbow a month ago & kitted it out with full Ultegra.

Like you I don't race but I like to keep very fit. I just love riding bikes - road, CX or MTB.

At this time of year in the UK the trails are extremely slippery so I tend to ride on the road for ease of maintenance. I don't find mud riding fun. Sorry.

The problem with the road is traffic so I wanted something
that I could ride on the road and take off road if I felt like it. Something to add a a bit more variety to my riding and training. Out came the credit card & the Ridley was mine.

It is a blast to ride. Fast on the climbs (but tougher than a MTB on the steep stuff beacuse of the higher gearing - go 38x27 minimum). You can ride pretty much anything on a cross bike. It may not be as fast as a MTB on the tricky stuff but it is great for building trail skills and gives you a great sense of achievement.

Besides, there is something weird about riding a skinny tyred bike with drops off road!

One of the best things is that you can take it in the mud and it still stays clean. The skinny tyres just shed the mud & dont chuck it all over your bike. This is important if you keep your bikes in the house like I do.

I have five bikes - Colnago, LeMond, Cougar, Klein Palomino Race and my Ridley. My Ridley is not my best bike but it is my favourite because it lets me go where I want and it is fast. I am really glad I bought it.

Everyone should have 4 bikes IMHO. A top end MTB and top end road bike, a road bike with mudguards to keep you training through the winter and a CX bike.

My CX is my fave biketoomanybikes
Mar 18, 2003 12:08 PM
I have had a CX bike for a year now and it has become my favourite.

My MTB and my custom built roadie spend a lot of time in the garage now and my CX bike gets ridden a lot. I built another set of wheels for it and keep 25's on those.

Now I have a set of wheels with the Campo cross 28's and a set of wheels with 25's (Michelin right now) and I swap them as I figure out what I want to do today.

Mine is a Rocky Mountain with a frame I really like, wasn't sure I would, but the more miles I get on it the more I do. I will replace some components as they come due (will go to Campy because I like them) but the bike is great, it is fun and has put the enjoyment back into rif=ding for me.
4 bikes IMHOatpjunkie
Mar 18, 2003 2:04 PM
only 4? sniff, sniff. Have 2 cx bikes (I race and a spare is nice to have, plus use one to commute), 1 Fully MTB for play time, 2 roadies and a Hardtail MTB (in pieces, old race bike, but probably will sit that way as who needs it with the cxers). is this excessive?
right now my time is spent mostly between the road and cx but my MTB still gets some use.
Mar 18, 2003 4:15 PM
But you do need to get a tandem! Well, 2 acutally, 1 road tandem and 1 mountain tandem.

Of course, I did put some cross tires on my road tandem once and took it out on some fire roads. Kinda like a cross bike I 'spose. Now, if the wife and I could only perfect the flying synchronized tandem cross dismount!

Still saving for a custom off-road tandem. Now, that is going to be excessive ($$$$)
Mar 18, 2003 5:52 PM
true I am tandem less. I'll have to get one someday. I'll go cross tandem, light offroad but road like. Thanx for another dent in my bank account.
Your bank account......TWD
Mar 19, 2003 9:56 AM
.........will be finished off if you get a tandem, becasue then you need to find a good stoker and put a ring on her finger!

Having a wife that rides has many benefits though.

I got a bunch of parts in the mail the other day and the only thing she said was "did you get anything for me?"
I envy you--The Walrus
Mar 19, 2003 11:46 AM
she sounds like a keeper!
I envy you--atpjunkie
Mar 19, 2003 1:21 PM
mine rides as well. ring is coming, I told her she could have that or the green Pinarello she's been eyeing.
She was happy enough with her present bike, so rings on the way. Hope to get her into cx, she loves watching and is a good bottle passer, gotta get her on the speed clean.
Mar 21, 2003 9:22 AM
Congrats on the pending engagement!

As much time as cycling takes, I can't imagine being married to somebody that doesn't like to ride. The only time she gets mad at me for riding is when she can't go too.

By the way, what Pinarello is she considering? I've been contemplating the Galileo (don't have the cash for the Prince ya know) but am a little gun shy because of the integrated headset and only a 2 year warranty.
Mar 21, 2003 3:19 PM
Green Prince 2001 (was a salute to Zabels TdF green jersey. I like the Operas myself in Fassa. This is the Pinarello you want. I rode both and the Opera actually climbed better, and steel and carbon....can you say SMOOVE. This is a supreme long ride bike.
The Prince maybe better in a sprint but those tall and skinny chainstays are going to negate the carbon seatstays. Plus agree on the whole headset issue. Buy the Opera. I would but my Molteni Orange Merckx Team Alu won't allow it.
Thanx on the congrats!atpjunkie
Mar 21, 2003 7:22 PM
I gotta stock up now , daughter due about the time Lance takes his 5th TdF. My part buying days are numbered! :)
re: Convince meGlowBoy
Mar 19, 2003 12:39 PM
A lot of good advice above. Here's my version ...

First, a 'cross bike is generally several pounds lighter than a mountain bike. You will be glad for that on climbs.

You'll also be pleasantly surprised how well the larger wheels do on technical terrain at lower speeds. You just roll right over stuff that a 26" wheel pushes up against, compresses the tire and/or suspension, and then rolls over. Far less energy is wasted (and IMO this is why 29" mountain bikes are the future). Also, the bigger wheels seem to add a lot of gyroscopic stability - this is at least partly why my 'crosser has an uncanny ability to stay upright and keep going after taking hits that would knock me flat if I'd been on my mountain bike.

Handling is way different in several ways. First, the steeper head angle (about 73 vs. 71 degrees) of a crosser means a much livelier feel to the handling than a mountain bike. To some it may even feel "twitchier," and at least for me it is much harder to stick to my chosen line, resulting in a lot more wandering around on the trail. Not usually a problem except on highly technical terrain, of course.

On the other hand, a 'crosser absolutely RAILS through curves, due to the lower BB and lower body position. The difference is like a Subaru rally car vs. a Jeep. In one you're hunkering down as you blast through the curve, in the other you're floating above it and trying to push the bike around the corner with your hips. On tight, twisty singletrack that isn't too rough, a 'crosser is the most delightful bike imaginable.

The ride is way different. It's not just due to lack of suspension as someone mentioned above - my mountain bike has no suspension but it takes big hits FAR better than the 'cross bike. I've experimented with running a 45c tire up front on my 'crosser, and finally went back to a skinnier tire because no matter what I do with tires it's never going to be a mountain bike. Which is OK ... different tools, different jobs. On really fast, rough terrain I get beat up and bounced around WAY more than I do on my (non-suspension) mountain bike, to the point that in those situations I have to go slower on the CX bike than on the MTB. But for fire-road cruising and lightly technical singletrack, a 'crosser rides just fine (especially if it's steel) and has a huge speed advantage over a mountain bike.

Finally, the handlebars. Personally, I really like drop bars for the kind of riding that 'crossers are good for. On faster or rougher patches I get down in the drops ... in that position the bars are extremely compliant and absorb a lot of shock, it's an extremely stable position where your hands can't slip off, and you have easy access to full braking power there. The one real disadvantage is that very steep off-road descents are awkward on a 'crosser because the stable position hands-wise (in the drops) puts your body in the wrong position for that kind of terrain. Again, not a mountain bike.

So, bottom line ... it sounds like for the kind of terrain you're talking about, a cyclocross bike might be a great solution. Just remember it's not a mountain bike and may not do quite as well on the rough stuff - but is probably still rideable even then!

- Dan
great summary! (nm)laffeaux
Mar 19, 2003 2:17 PM
Thanks allCaptain Kona
Mar 20, 2003 5:57 PM
Thanks everyone for your input.

You've said everything that I wanted to hear!

Time to start looking for a bike....and asking for a raise at work.