Would a Cannondale Cyclocross Ultra be a good first road bike for a mt biker?
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  1. #1
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    Would a Cannondale Cyclocross Ultra be a good first road bike for a mt biker?

    Howdy everyone. I've been looking at road bikes for a few years now, but would always end up buying either another bike or parts, eating up my budget. Well, I've decided to go for it, and had my heart set on a Specialized steel frame and 105 kit, or a Fuji or Giant ready-made roadie.

    Then yesterday, I received an email from a guy I've ridden with, who's selling his '02 Cannondale Cyclocross Ultra. He's offering it at a good price, and it's awfully tempting. He's been using it only as a road bike, and says it works fine as one...and that's what I'd use it as.

    It's a little closer to mt. bike geometry, and is a little heavier duty...I figure that's better for me, coming from nothing but mt. bikes my whole life. I can slip up and do things I wouldn't with a pure roadie, and not get scared it'll break. Plus I think it might be more comfortable with what I'm used to. I can upgrade to a nice roadie in a few years, anyway.

    So, do you think I'll be happy? Will I care about the extra weight and slight loss of aerodynamics? Just looking for some feedback from anyone who's done what I'm thinking of doing. I like the fact I'll be saving some money and getting something a little different, but just not positive it's what I want. Thanks in advance!

    Brian

    PS: I'm going to make dang sure it's a good fit before I buy it. Any tips on what to look for?

  2. #2
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    For casual riding forget about aerodynamics no noticable difference between road and CX bike if properly set up i.e handlebar height etc.

    I just sold my CAAD 7 dura ace bike, as i only rode it a few times and replaced it with a C'dale cross bike (soon add a second one)
    Will replace the 48t with a 53 for road, wheels changed for road slicks and cassette for 12-23 and I will race it @ club level. you may notice whistling from front cantis when you hit 25+ MPH, but if you aint going that fast dont worry about it.
    Weight is not too much 2-3 lbs and some of that will come off when you switch tyres etc.

  3. #3
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    Agreed

    Quote Originally Posted by dreww
    For casual riding forget about aerodynamics no noticable difference between road and CX bike if properly set up i.e handlebar height etc.

    I have two bikes ... a 'cross bike and a hardtail mtb. I use the cross bike for just about everything and have raced it on the road a couple of times (plus lots of cross racing). The main mods between dirt and road are:

    Dirt:
    * Smaller big chainring -- something like a 48.
    * Wider rear cassette -- 12-27 is fine.
    * Knobbies -- I use Tufo tubular clinchers for racing and Michelins for everything else.

    Road:
    * 53 tooth big chainring -- make sure to leave a little extra front deraileur cable if you set up with the 48 first because you have to move the front der up to accept the 53.
    * Optional: narrow rear cassette -- I like a 12-25 just so I have to work a little harder on the steep hills.
    * Skinny slicks -- I like 23mm.

    Some people say to flip your stem when going from dirt to road. I tried this and immediately got knee pain. Remember, making big changes in geometry is asking for trouble.

    Are there any 'cross races in your area? If so, you should really consider trying out racing. I think it is really fun. It is more like mtb racing than road racing but you don't have NORBA imposing lots of crappy fees and rules.

  4. #4

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    My first road bike was a Trek X01 and I liked it a lot. I have done 9 triathlons on it and it worked great. The geometry makes for a more upright position, but the frame worked well. Great for biking around Chicago.

    I ordered a Colnago to use for road racing and triathlons, but I am going to keep it and turn it into a fixed gear this summer. It will make a great bike for bad weather training and I'm even going to use it for its intended purpose. Cyclocross. Imagine that.

  5. #5
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    CX bike

    I have ridden my Cannodnale Ultra CX bike for 5 years now and it is by far my favorite bike.

    I race MTB's often and also race and train on the road with a Dura Ace Caad 7 Cannondale. You are 100% right in your desire to go from MTB to Cannondale CX bike for a first road bike.

    Several questions- What size is you MTB?
    What size is the CX bike?
    How much is the CX bike and what is the condition?

    I have my CX bike set up identically to my road bike, including the handlebars and even the bar tape, with the excepiton of having my bars rolled up a bit more on my CX bike for off road use. My stem is down and yes, i ride it offroad. I have often set the bike up with flat bars and bar ends in the summer when I commute it to and from work. It works REALLY well when pulling a trailer or with a heavy back pack. It is also a great bike to take on a camping expadition for all of the same reasons.

    Luckily, my close riding friend (he has the same bike too !!!) and my wife both race 'cross and MTB with me so there are many times when we end up doing all of our local trails and many group MTB rides on our 'crossers, except that we ride to and from the rides rather than drive. Very versatile bikes to say the least.

    Becasue of your lack of road miles, you will prolly not feel very confortable off road at first on the 'crosser but you will certainly feel the smoothness and speed on the road. The BB is a bit higher than a true road bike, but that is a good thing IMO for a dirt rider crossing over. I have 700-35's on mine right now and they fit just fine and offer a nice, soft ride and great winter pot hole protection.

    If the bike is a good deal and it fits you, you should grab it. The Cannondale is a GREAT CX bike, the front suspension with lockout and the classic geometry all add up to make a great commuter, singletrack killer, club road rider and, oh yea, a great CX race bike...you MUST try a 'cross bike this fall after your MYB season. It is by far the most fun I have had on a bike.

    Good luck,
    -tom

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by skateparks
    I have ridden my Cannodnale Ultra CX bike for 5 years now and it is by far my favorite bike.

    I race MTB's often and also race and train on the road with a Dura Ace Caad 7 Cannondale. You are 100% right in your desire to go from MTB to Cannondale CX bike for a first road bike.

    Several questions- What size is you MTB?
    What size is the CX bike?
    How much is the CX bike and what is the condition?

    I have my CX bike set up identically to my road bike, including the handlebars and even the bar tape, with the excepiton of having my bars rolled up a bit more on my CX bike for off road use. My stem is down and yes, i ride it offroad. I have often set the bike up with flat bars and bar ends in the summer when I commute it to and from work. It works REALLY well when pulling a trailer or with a heavy back pack. It is also a great bike to take on a camping expadition for all of the same reasons.

    Luckily, my close riding friend (he has the same bike too !!!) and my wife both race 'cross and MTB with me so there are many times when we end up doing all of our local trails and many group MTB rides on our 'crossers, except that we ride to and from the rides rather than drive. Very versatile bikes to say the least.

    Becasue of your lack of road miles, you will prolly not feel very confortable off road at first on the 'crosser but you will certainly feel the smoothness and speed on the road. The BB is a bit higher than a true road bike, but that is a good thing IMO for a dirt rider crossing over. I have 700-35's on mine right now and they fit just fine and offer a nice, soft ride and great winter pot hole protection.

    If the bike is a good deal and it fits you, you should grab it. The Cannondale is a GREAT CX bike, the front suspension with lockout and the classic geometry all add up to make a great commuter, singletrack killer, club road rider and, oh yea, a great CX race bike...you MUST try a 'cross bike this fall after your MYB season. It is by far the most fun I have had on a bike.

    Good luck,
    -tom
    Tom,

    I ride a Specialized Hardrock in a 19" (48.3cm) size with a 120mm stem, and it seems to be about right. My old Mongoose SS convert is a 22" (56cm), and both have top tube lengths of 23" (58.4cm). They're both set up comparitively the same as a result of the top tube lengths and similar seat/stem setups, and are comfortable to me.

    The 'Cross bike is a 58 size, with a 60.7cm C-T (above sizes in C-T also) and a 59cm TT length. Those are similar to the Large size Giant OCR1 and 61cm Fuji Roubaix Pro I'm looking at also. I tested out the Giant, and seemed a little stretched out, but the 58cm Fuji I rode seemed cramped. So a shorter stem on the Giant would have been nice, and the C'dale's is shorter. The BB is only 1 cm taller on the Cross bike, too.

    The guy's selling the bike, a 2002, for $700, and he might go down a little more. So the price isn't bad at all. From pictures, it seems to be in good shape, but I haven't seen it in person yet...hopefully we can get together this weekend for a mt. ride and he'll bring it along. I'm going to ask him to put road tires on it if he has some. He also has another bar and stem, so I could mess around with those for the best fit.

    I'm not sure if I'll venture off road at all on the cross bike, I already have two mountain bikes for that. I'd also like to replace the 48t outer ring with a 52t or so on the Cannondale, to make it even closer to a road bike. I don't really have any desire to race, I only ride for fun. Which is why I think I might find the 'Cross bike to be a compromise. But that would be nice to have, when taking a single bike on a trip where I expect to ride both on and offroad.

    I'm looking forward to trying it out, I don't really know if I'll notice much of a difference between it and the road bikes I've tested. The geometry's more similar than I'd thought, and it's only 2 lbs. heavier. If I get the 52t big ring or so, voila, road bike. And $300+ in my pocket...for a crankset on the Mt bike and clothing and other bike crap, no doubt. ;)

  7. #7

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    Sounds like a good deal.

    I own 3 Ventanas and I love them. But my road bike is a Cannondale CAAD 5 and I love it as much as any of my V bikes. I used to wrench for a guy who raced the C-Dale CX, sweet bike. He had 2 of them and we'd take them trail riding in the woods after the races. They have a really nice ride not harsh at all.

    I used to be a pure mountain biker until I went to work at a bike shop. The Saturday morning river rides were just to tempting. But you need something that resembles a road bike to do that ride. A cross bike was the answer. I could road ride one of those and still keep my MTB identity. A big chainring and road tires were put into action and away I went. Great fun riding with large groups of riders on the road. It can get hairy but that's part of the fun.

    After a couple of months on the road I could see and feel the benefits. At that point I was hooked and had to have a pure road bike. Working at a Cannondale dealer does have it's pluses. It worked too! I could get another 3 or 4 miles before the peleton dropped me. So if you want that extra 3 or 4 miles pain go for the road bike. If not,...?

    Lots of knowledgeable suggestions in this forum.

  8. #8
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    Just a question... Have you tried leaving the 48t big ring on for road riding? I can't imagine too many situations where I'd need bigger than a 48x12. While you're at it, try 25 or 28 mm slick tires... it's a good thing.

    -Shannon

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by tube_ee
    Just a question... Have you tried leaving the 48t big ring on for road riding? I can't imagine too many situations where I'd need bigger than a 48x12. While you're at it, try 25 or 28 mm slick tires... it's a good thing.
    I spun out in the 48 enough on hills that I had to put on a bigger ring. I went to a 50 for a while but then I started to do a little road racing (on my cross bike!) and needed more gear inches in the sprints and that is when I finally put on the 53.

    I'm so used to 23mm slicks that I wouldn't know what to do with the plushness of a 25 or 28! Actually, I run 25mm Armadillos for winter riding. I don't switch to 23mm until the weather dries up.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gripped
    I'm so used to 23mm slicks that I wouldn't know what to do with the plushness of a 25 or 28! Actually, I run 25mm Armadillos for winter riding. I don't switch to 23mm until the weather dries up.
    There's a lot to like. Better ride, better cornering, more grip, better rim protection, lower rolling resistance for the same tire at the same pressure, fewer pich flats. The only downsides are a little more rotating weight, and a little hit in aerodynamics, but for many, even many racers, the upside outweighs the down.

    Try using a good 25ish mm tire in your club's training crits, you might like it. If you don't, you've got a spare pair of winter tires, so no great loss. I give this advice to everyone who asks for a tire recommendation. Nobody yet has come back for skinnier tires.

    --Shannon

  11. #11
    ex pro grad student
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    i used to race road and mountain...

    i still race mountain (24 hour racing with my buddies)...

    i got into cross 'cause i wanted to try something different and need a bike that i could get my road miles on as i was getting smoked on the fireroads...

    now i use my 'cross bike way more than my mtn bike... and even do a few road races with it. i would love to have a pure road bike, but you have to consider what you need it for...

    i love using the cross bike for road miles and also on the trails to keep me honest (rigid, rigid, rigid)...
    You won't eat our meat but you glue with our feet.

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