what is the difference in handling between a cross vs. road bike
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  1. #1
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    what is the difference in handling between a cross vs. road bike

    Hi. I'm new to the whole road thing. I'm a mountain biker, and i don't plan on racing road. But I was looking at getting a road bike for training. I don't have a ton of money so I've had a few friends suggest getting a cross bike (as i've expressed some interest in trying cross someday). They say it's the best of both worlds, because i can buy a cross bike and a pair of slicks and use it for training to get some long road rides in, and I can race cross,and only need to buy one bike.

    I know the real difference is wider forks and rear for wider tires and mud clearance, and slacker head and seat tube angles. But what does that translate to as far as the feel of the bike on the road?

    Basically I can only afford to spend around $1500 (Canadian) can stretch to $1600. And I can get a Cannondale Caad9 5 for a road bike at the price or I can also get a good deal on a Giant TCX 1 for slightly cheaper. The TCX 1 has Rival vs the 105 on the caad9 which makes the Giant seem like a really good deal. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Formosan Cyclocross
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    This has all been covered ad nauseum, but I understand RBR Search is not the most accurate search tool.

    The difference may or may not be much depending upon the bike, the geometry and the componentry. The only thing I really notice with mine is the feeling of the higher BB on curvy descents. Some bikes people use for CX are simply road bikes that can take fatter tires and cantilever brakes. Many CX bikes have relaxed geometries, similar to distance/sportive/comfort/touring bikes while many, but not all dedicated road bike designs put the rider down a little more aero. A CX bike should probably not have skinny carbon stays... and stuff like that.

  3. #3
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    thank you.

    Sorry for repeating the question.

  4. #4
    Formosan Cyclocross
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    No problem. I often get the cold shoulder from asking old questions that are new to me. The search function sucks.

  5. #5
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    Some makers don't change the BB drop at all between their road bikes and cross bikes. Cross bikes tend to have a longer wheelbase and longer trail, leading to slightly more stable handling.

    If you are considering cross racing but not considering road racing, it's really a no-brainer. There are plenty of light and snappy cross bikes out there that make great road bikes for all but the most discerning roadie. Brake setup will never be as hassle-free as for short-reach road calipers, but there are plenty of options for canti posts. A bit of fiddling is the price you pay for tire clearance.

  6. #6
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    For what it is worth, I really like Rocky Mountain Bicycles. I have a xc race mountain bike by them and love it (Element 70). I have also ridden the Solo Team road bike and liked it. I am really impressed with the Solo CXR Team cross bike. It should be in your price range and has a nice build with Sram Rival drivetrain and lots of nice bits from Ritchey, Sram, Fulcrum and Kore. It has built in barrel adjusters for those Kore brakes that would make it easy for you to switch wheels/tires. Well built/thought out bike in my opinion.

    Also, I usualy like the idea of buying something that is either produced by or owned by a company that is geographicaly close to me. In my case, the Rocky Mountain Element was "hand made in Canada" and since I couldn't afford a Yeti I went with them.

    Cross bikes rule on the road, the worse the pavement the faster you go compared to your friends on pure road bikes.

  7. #7
    Hucken The Fard Up !
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dajianshan
    No problem. I often get the cold shoulder from asking old questions that are new to me. The search function sucks.
    It actually sucks, but in fact we have 3 search tools to use.

    The google custom search on the top is the one that works better and get also bike reviews in the results.

    The advanced search also work well when you put the right keywords.

    What do we need, ( and this is not a criticism to the mods, because I understand the forum has a lot of traffic ) is to have a Cyclocross specify mod who can fusion all threads that refer to the same reapeted basic questions and pin them up on top.

    Some sort of FAQ or Wiki would also help, a skiing forum I am a member of, has it and the users can enrich the most common subjects too.
    Quote Originally Posted by zank
    They're just bikes. Ride 'em in the rain, salt, snow and crap to fully appreciate them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Kelly
    The thing about the cold is that you can never tell how cold it is from looking out a kitchen window. You have to dress up, get out training and when you come back, you then know how cold it is.

  8. #8
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    Agree with the above. Since you might race cross, a cross bike is a no-brainer. It may (or may not ) be more stable than a road-racing bike. But, it's probably still quicker handling than a touring bike or recreational road bike. Just depends on the frame.

    As for getting into cross racing - DO IT! You'll have the bike, you already race off-road. I can't think of a reason not to. Also, cross races tend to be more family/spectator friendly than mtn races because the course is a short circuit and the races are short relative to a XC race. Plus, beer, frites, and waffles - what's not to love?

    Edit - I've also seen people road race on cross bikes. No reason not to, other than a possible weight and aero disadvantage (which will be total lost in the "noise" in the lower racing categories).

  9. #9
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    So I modified my Jake the Snake

    Chain: Shimano 105 288g Modified: KMC X10SL 228g
    Pedal: Shimano M505 Clipless 415g/pair Modified: Shimano PD-A600 285g/pair
    Tires: Continental Speed King Cross 700x35C 540g Modified: Contintal Ultra Gator Skin 622-23 220g
    Innertube: Q-tubes 700-35 144g Modified: Continental Race 28 Light 76g
    Saddle: WTB Rocket V Comp 256g Modified: fi'zi:k, Arione 225g
    Seatpost: KONA RD Modified: PRO VIBE 195g
    Seat clamp: Kona Clamp 25g Modified: BBB 19g
    Cantilever Cyclocross Brake: Kore Race 129g Modified: Avid, Shorty 6 cantilever 157g

    EXTRA :
    *Sigma Sport Rox9 Computer
    * Bottle cage BBB-(Speed Cage) 42g
    *Lezyne Road Drive pump 90g

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebluesky
    So I modified my Jake the Snake

    Chain: Shimano 105 288g Modified: KMC X10SL 228g
    Pedal: Shimano M505 Clipless 415g/pair Modified: Shimano PD-A600 285g/pair
    Tires: Continental Speed King Cross 700x35C 540g Modified: Contintal Ultra Gator Skin 622-23 220g
    Innertube: Q-tubes 700-35 144g Modified: Continental Race 28 Light 76g
    Saddle: WTB Rocket V Comp 256g Modified: fi'zi:k, Arione 225g
    Seatpost: KONA RD Modified: PRO VIBE 195g
    Seat clamp: Kona Clamp 25g Modified: BBB 19g
    Cantilever Cyclocross Brake: Kore Race 129g Modified: Avid, Shorty 6 – cantilever 157g

    EXTRA :
    *Sigma Sport Rox9 Computer
    * Bottle cage BBB-(Speed Cage) 42g
    *Lezyne Road Drive pump 90g
    How many times can you post the same exact thing? Seriously! Join the discussion, ask questions, make comments, but enough with your list of mods. I'm sure you are excited, but I really don't need to read this 5 times in threads that it is only loosely relates to.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by krisdrum
    How many times can you post the same exact thing? Seriously! Join the discussion, ask questions, make comments, but enough with your list of mods. I'm sure you are excited, but I really don't need to read this 5 times in threads that it is only loosely relates to.

    Seems like shoulda gone custom from the get go....prolly cheaper than modifying the whole bike.

    Re; OP, cross bikes do better on road than road bikes on trails.

  12. #12
    blame me for missed rides
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    Quote Originally Posted by krisdrum
    How many times can you post the same exact thing? Seriously! Join the discussion, ask questions, make comments, but enough with your list of mods. I'm sure you are excited, but I really don't need to read this 5 times in threads that it is only loosely relates to.
    4 times, apparently. check his post history.

  13. #13
    Hucken The Fard Up !
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    Quote Originally Posted by weather
    4 times, apparently. check his post history.
    I bet he bought the parts from PBK
    Quote Originally Posted by zank
    They're just bikes. Ride 'em in the rain, salt, snow and crap to fully appreciate them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean Kelly
    The thing about the cold is that you can never tell how cold it is from looking out a kitchen window. You have to dress up, get out training and when you come back, you then know how cold it is.

  14. #14
    cth
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    For me, the biggest "feel" difference between my cross bike (with a pair of 23mm tires) and my road bike is the brakes. Cantilevers just aren't as powerful as road calipers...but as long as you're careful (and confident) on technical decents it probably won't matter. Just don't overcook the corners!

  15. #15
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    Few frame styles reflect the philosophy of the designer more than a cross frame. As noted above, some feel like road bikes with more tire clearance and some feel like mountain bikes with skinny treads. To get to the heart of your question though, I would say you wouldn't be giving up a whole lot in terms of handling or feel if you put road tires on just about any cross bike. Sure, you might not want to race a crit on some of them, but that doesn't sound like anything you expect to do anyway. And even if you did, you wouldn't know the difference anyway. I say get the cross bike so that you can race cross if you want. Throw a set of road tires on for the rest of the year, train on it, and enjoy riding your mountain bike all year long. Even better, have two sets of wheels so that you can throw the cross tires back on and ride it on your trails during the summer. Nothing like making an old singletrack feel like new again by riding your cross bike on it.

  16. #16
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by thebluesky
    So I modified my Jake the Snake

    Chain: Shimano 105 288g Modified: KMC X10SL 228g
    Pedal: Shimano M505 Clipless 415g/pair Modified: Shimano PD-A600 285g/pair
    Tires: Continental Speed King Cross 700x35C 540g Modified: Contintal Ultra Gator Skin 622-23 220g
    Innertube: Q-tubes 700-35 144g Modified: Continental Race 28 Light 76g
    Saddle: WTB Rocket V Comp 256g Modified: fi'zi:k, Arione 225g
    Seatpost: KONA RD Modified: PRO VIBE 195g
    Seat clamp: Kona Clamp 25g Modified: BBB 19g
    Cantilever Cyclocross Brake: Kore Race 129g Modified: Avid, Shorty 6 cantilever 157g

    EXTRA :
    *Sigma Sport Rox9 Computer
    * Bottle cage BBB-(Speed Cage) 42g
    *Lezyne Road Drive pump 90g
    OK, so you're on a limited budget and what I couldn't resist re-posting for the n-th time above is a pretty good reason to just buy the road bike. You've got a mountain bike to play in the dirt, so get a road bike to play on the pavement and you're set. I had a cross bike that I tried to make into a road bike before realizing that if you plan to ride on the road with it, why get a cross bike?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by zank
    Few frame styles reflect the philosophy of the designer more than a cross frame. As noted above, some feel like road bikes with more tire clearance and some feel like mountain bikes with skinny treads. To get to the heart of your question though, I would say you wouldn't be giving up a whole lot in terms of handling or feel if you put road tires on just about any cross bike. Sure, you might not want to race a crit on some of them, but that doesn't sound like anything you expect to do anyway. And even if you did, you wouldn't know the difference anyway. I say get the cross bike so that you can race cross if you want. Throw a set of road tires on for the rest of the year, train on it, and enjoy riding your mountain bike all year long. Even better, have two sets of wheels so that you can throw the cross tires back on and ride it on your trails during the summer. Nothing like making an old singletrack feel like new again by riding your cross bike on it.
    Thanks for the advice everyone. I ended up buying a Giant TCX 1 cyclocross bike (SRAM Rival build), and also bought a pair of 700x25 vittoria rubino pro tires, which the LBS recommended as a good training tire for the road. I have it set up with the road tires now. I'm really happy with it. The only thing i hate is the stupid squealing shorty 6 cantilever brakes.

  18. #18
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by dana109
    Thanks for the advice everyone. I ended up buying a Giant TCX 1 cyclocross bike (SRAM Rival build), and also bought a pair of 700x25 vittoria rubino pro tires, which the LBS recommended as a good training tire for the road. I have it set up with the road tires now. I'm really happy with it. The only thing i hate is the stupid squealing shorty 6 cantilever brakes.
    That was my biggest (and only) dislike of my cross bike -- the crappy canti lever brakes. I could never get those things adjusted right. There must be some trick I'm not aware of. I think they just don't work well with STI type brake levers. I ended up swapping them for V-brakes with a travel agent. It worked better, but not as good as road bike brakes. Maybe someone here has a suggestion for better brakes. Not that expensive of a change to do. Enjoy the bike.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmf
    That was my biggest (and only) dislike of my cross bike -- the crappy canti lever brakes. I could never get those things adjusted right. There must be some trick I'm not aware of. I think they just don't work well with STI type brake levers. I ended up swapping them for V-brakes with a travel agent. It worked better, but not as good as road bike brakes. Maybe someone here has a suggestion for better brakes. Not that expensive of a change to do. Enjoy the bike.
    Lennard Zinn claims that front brake squeal is caused by the flexing of the fork steerer tube in between the brakes and the cable hanger. He recommends using a fork-crown-mounted cable hanger or V-brakes.

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