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Cyclocross bike for trail riding--a few questions(23 posts)

Cyclocross bike for trail riding--a few questionsweatherx
Dec 8, 2003 5:35 PM
'cross virgin here looking for some answers:

-how good is CX bikes for trail riding with say 40c tires?
-how harsh will it be compared to a 26" rigid mountain bike with 2.1 tires? i'm a fairly experienced rigid singlespeeder but have always ridden steel on or off road.
-how much difference in handling is there between the aforementioned CX bike and MTB?
-do anyone use discs for CX their bikes?

the bike i have in mind is a surly crosscheck, dimension disc fork, single speed with front disc and rear v, salsa dro bar, salsa cross rims or mavic 520. it's going to be the bike i ride most of the time in most weather conditions (in grad school).

thanks in advance.
my experiecepauly
Dec 9, 2003 6:35 AM
I've ridden my CX bike a fair amount on singletrack, first with gears and the past year as a SS. I usually run 40-44cm tires.

On really rocky technical stuff, the CX bike sucks. A better rider than me may be able to handle it, but I never could get the hang of it.

On moderate singletrack, the CX is a lot of fun. It's like the jump from suspension to rigid MTB -- pick a good line and you'll be rewarded.

On non-technical trails... Well, the CX just flies. Best feeling in the world.

It took me a little while to get used to the drop bars off road. At first I rode the hoods because it felt more balanced, but I didn't like the control or braking. I've since learned to ride the drops and keep my weight back, and that works well. I haven't tried the auxiliary levers, but I don't think I'd like such a narrow grip.
i've got a fairly close set up.....scrublover
Dec 9, 2003 6:37 AM
but haven't taken it off road yet. no front disc, though. i set mine up so that my bar height is fairly close to what my mtb's are, when i'm riding on the hoods (fav spot on drops for me) i figured this would be better offroad; having it set so it's sorta' similar to what i'm used to riding off-road. gets your weight up/back a bit for descending. suppose it depends on what your trails are like though. i went for a nice wide 46cm bar, too. used to wide risers, figured wider drop bars would help, too.

fwiw, it's a crosscheck frame. love it! set up fixed/free right now. got it 44x18, but think i need to go to maybe a 42 or 40 to make it more trail worthy, so i can ride up more stuff.
my experience (more)pauly
Dec 9, 2003 6:42 AM
The Crosscheck is perfect for that kind of riding. Its a little heavy, but smooth and relaxed, and it fits 44mm tires.

I generally feel disks are overkill for a CX bike. You can lock wheels up pretty good with V's or good cantis in most conditions.

Have fun. A do-everything bike is a joy to own.
Love the CX bike on trail!Tony Montana
Dec 9, 2003 9:13 AM
A few years back I started seriously riding my cx bike off road. Now I only very rarely get out my FS rig as the cx bike is just too much fun. You'll want to run the widest/highest volume tire you can. I ran the Michelin sprints (30 mm) for a long time and really got beaten up on them. A tire like the WTB Mutanoraptor (44 mm) allows you to run lower tire pressure without pinch flatting. That's key to getting a decent ride. Also, I run a pretty steep stem so that (as one other poster mentioned) I can ride in the drops for technical sections. It'll take quite a bit of riding before you're comfortable, but once you get there you'll be hooked. With practice you can ride almost anything on a cx bike that you can ride on a MTB. I also run disks which are a necessity (IMHO) for serious trail riding. You can do without them, but there's really no down side other than a bit of added weight. Have fun!
Very Cool Bike! (nm)lanpope
Dec 9, 2003 8:24 PM
Love the CX bike on trail!snuz
Dec 12, 2003 2:37 PM
Is it the picture or is that an unusually steep angled stem. I'm think of doing that myself.
Love the CX bike on trail!Tony Montana
Dec 17, 2003 6:33 AM
I originally built the bike with a level stem, but as I began riding steeper and more technical trails I found that being more upright increased my capabilities. Works for me.
No MTB experience, but I love the CXStampertje
Dec 9, 2003 9:36 AM
I absolutely love my Surly off-road. Rock gardens, especially loose rocks, are a pain, but with a CX bike you always have an excuse to get off and run - anything else, short of loose sand or packed leaves, I can ride. She's surprisingly stable - to the point that on fast descents I've let her do most of the handling because I was afraid I'd f*** up if I tried to change anything. The drops feel different from straight bars but they feel comfortable and a little more secure, if anything.

I'm running Michelin Muds at the moment (Vittoria Master Cross in the pic) which is fine for local conditions (woods). No extreme trails here and I've never ridden any of the real MTB Mekka's in the US, but I did rent a rigid steel rockhopper and rode Montana de Oro and Morro Bay in SoCal - I wouldn't hesitate to tackle those on the Surly. I'd get wider tyres for that, though. (Sand!)
Excellent Pic!pitt83
Dec 10, 2003 5:51 AM
Everyone shows their bike nice and clean against a garage door or wall. That one is cool!
Thanks! The mud's holding it up :) (nm)Stampertje
Dec 11, 2003 5:13 AM
I love my Cross Check off road...slide13
Dec 9, 2003 11:16 AM
I took it off road for the first time about a month ago and it was a blast. Deffinetly different then a MTB but a lot of fun. I was running 30mm Ritchey's that time and it was a little harsh and I had trouble in the sandy sections of the trail. I've just gotten some WTB MutanoRaptor 44mm tires, but havn't taken them off road yet since we've recently had some snow. I expect it to be even better with the much wider tires. I'm used to riding in drops from my road bike, but riding them off road was something new. Took a while to get used to them, and I think it will take a good number of rides before I'm fully comforable. It's a lot of fun though.

I bought the bike as a do-it-all. I couldn't afford a mtn and a road bike, even working at a shop. I had a nice road bike but I missed the woods so I decided to sell it and build my Cross Check. I built the frame and fork up with Salsa Bell Lap drop bars, stem and Delgado rims laced to Chris King hubs. I'm running a cross crank up front (38/48) and a 11-32 XT cassette with 105 frnt and XTR rear ders. I'm thinking of trying it out as a single speed soon though.

Nicest thing about it is that I can have it with the 44mm Mutano Raptors for off road, and then switch out to my 28mm Michelins for on the road. Works pretty well at both and I'm loving it.
Different, and better IMHOseamus
Dec 9, 2003 2:13 PM
I've been riding my cross bikes on mountain bike rides, with buddies on mtb's, and no problems. It definitely, absolutely takes more skill, but I think it really depends on the trails you're talking's not as smooth and fast on really rough stuff, and handling is more sensitive, responsive and sketchy, but that's part of the fun, I think. And, on the flats, rollers and climbs, you can crush people.

I agree with everyone's 40c tire comments on principle, but my bikes (Waterford, Rock Lobster) were designed for 38's, but I've never had a problem. I don't have one yet, but suspension posts are also nice. And yeah, discs are probably overkill unless you ride in mud, constantly.

See you out there!
one more thing...seamus
Dec 9, 2003 2:16 PM
I sold my Blur to get another cross bike!

For me, it's the only way to go.
What about gearing?snwbdrhoon
Dec 9, 2003 3:57 PM
I use my cross bike for road, trail and racing? Depending on the season.

What are people using for trail gearing?

What about gearing?D_man
Dec 10, 2003 4:55 AM
I run a 48-38 up front and an 32-11 XT in the rear. I started w/ an Ultegra cassette, and that was just too much for trails.
re: What about gearing?snwbdrhoon
Dec 10, 2003 6:00 AM
Cool. I run a 48-38 up front with a 13-26 (8spd) in the back. I was wondering if I should up it a bit. And are you running a longcage derailleur I assume?
re: What about gearing?seamus
Dec 10, 2003 10:21 AM
I run the same stuff I race on, 39/48 up front and a 12-26 in back with no problems on the trails around Santa Cruz. Sometimes I wouldn't mind a little lower gearing, but it keeps me strong!
re: What about gearing?D_man
Dec 10, 2003 10:49 AM
Yep--when I swapped out the 11-27 I had in the back for an 11-32, I had to go to a longcage XT derailleur. On certain climbs I even wish I had gone with a 11-34 in the back, but on most occasions, 11-32 is fine. I don't race by CX bike, and use it almost exclusively for trails and the occasional road ride.

On the tires issue, I went from 30mm Michelin sprints, to 38mm Ritchy Mt. Cross. It made a world of difference as the rough patches in the trail are not quite as bone jarring now.
Cross-checks are sweet for trailsbyker
Dec 10, 2003 12:33 PM
I'v got mine but up with a ridgid steel fork, delgado cross rims laced to XT hubs, and ultegra all around. It is definatly a sweet ride on the back roads and can take some serious abuse on the trails. I'v done drops a foot or two tall on it and its still fine. If you get a nice rise stem you can easily ride the drops the whole time.
What about gearing?Tony Montana
Dec 11, 2003 7:37 AM
The trails around here are pretty steep so I run an Ultegra triple (w/stock rings) and an XT 11/34. It works nicely.
thanks allweatherx
Dec 10, 2003 2:04 PM
looks like it's not a bad idea after all.

the reason for disc front is that i hate using v brakes in mud because it eats both rim and pad. it's more of an all-weather concern.

btw, does anyone use left front setup for cross? i want to keep the brakes consistent with my other bike.
Nope. I still use standard lever set-up...AJS
Dec 10, 2003 8:37 PM
...I guess I'm just too used to the right side being the front brake on road bikes.