New Bike: Road vs. Cyclocross

Discussion in 'Beginners Forum' started by DirtRoadRunner, Aug 30, 2009.

  1. DirtRoadRunner

    DirtRoadRunner New Member

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    I'm in the market for my first "real" bike.

    A little bit about me: I live in St. Louis, which has a wide variety of cycling options. There are rocky mountain biking trails on the edges of the city, lots of streets with bike lanes, paved trails dedicated to cyclists only, and one end of the 200-mile Katy trail (a rail-to-trail with a packed limestone gravel surface). I'd like to use the bike as a new hobby and way to explore the area, and won't use it for commuting, only recreational riding. I haven't rode much in years, besides a few rides on a borrowed mountain bike, which I found much too slow on roads for my tastes.

    I was originally tempted to just go buy a road bike (probably a Trek 1.2 or 1.5, but I'd be open to other options), however I'm worried that a road bike will be too fragile for the Katy Trail and some of the broken pavement in St. Louis. Road bikes aren't recommended on the Katy Trail, which is why I'm currently leaning towards a cyclocross bike (such as the Kona Jake the Snake, which looks like it has good components and great reviews).

    The reservation I have with a cyclocross bike is about giving up speed and long-distance ridability on paved trails. Eventually, I'd like to get up to 50+ mile rides in a day...would a cyclocross get uncomfortable over long distances compared to a dedicated road bike? How about the "speed" factor...would people on road bikes be wizzing by me on paved trails on a cyclocross (assuming we were both in similar shape, of course). I would not be against buying an alternative set of wheels and tires for use on pavement if I bought a cyclocross bike.

    Budget wise, I'd like to spend $1500 or less. Preferably more like $900, but the Kona and Trek 1.5 are both above that.

    Thanks for any help!
     
  2. mtndoc

    mtndoc New Member

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    I ride a Specialized crosstrail, mostly asphalt, bike is good on the road and fair off road. Cost $700 I like the bike has front lockable shocks. I ride the bike 20-30 miles regularly, and no problems comfortwise, good luck.
    DrB
     

  3. Burr

    Burr Cranking Old Guy

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    Sounds like you need a Mountain type bike because you didn't say much about paved roads.

    When I only had one bike I got three sets of wheels and tires then I could ride anyplace.

    That's something to think about. even two sets!
     
  4. DirtRoadRunner

    DirtRoadRunner New Member

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    I'll probably ride it on pavement 75% of the time, albeit pavement that may be broken in some places or have rail crossings. The other 24% will be hard-packed flat gravel (the Katy Trail), and the remaining 1% will be a very occasional single-track.

    I'm not really interested in hopping over rocks and stumps, I want a bike that is fast and fun enough for long rides on pavement, and long rides on the all-gravel Katy Trail (an old railroad grade).
     
  5. bantam700

    bantam700 New Member

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    I have a cross bike and I rde it exclusively on pavement, I have no trouble keeping up with most everyone I ride with and have done century rides on it with no troubles. The only time gearing might slow you down is going down big hills (keep in mind I have hit 50 mph on mine) and in sprints should you get into racing.

    A road bike would not fare so well on the katy trail, the thin and smooth tire would not get any traction on that surface.
     
  6. Burr

    Burr Cranking Old Guy

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    Then """I Think""" you need to go with a mountain bike and may two or three sets of tires and wheels.

    Just my thoughts.
     
  7. Burr

    Burr Cranking Old Guy

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    I set up my city mountain bike with a 50 big ring then the stock middle and small rings.

    Rear is stock!

    Hated to feel/hear it bumping the wheel at high speed.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2009
  8. mtndoc

    mtndoc New Member

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    One of the advantages of the crosstrail type bike is the larger diameter tires, they perform better on the road, but will handle everything you describe.

    DrB
     
  9. Skidmark

    Skidmark Cycling for life

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    Great thread. Being new to bikes I am also shopping for similar riding conditions. My local bike store has the Specialized Cross Trail that looks great. I am riding a Diamondback Edgewood hibrid now but have my order in for that Specialized with the disc breaks for my birthday!
     
  10. tomk

    tomk Member

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    I'm in a similar situation with the combination of road, paved trail, etc available to me here in the Rochester, NY area - often on the same ride. I'm currently riding an older KHS Mtn bike that is great for 12 - 15 miles at reasonable speeds of 15 - 18 mph but I want to start joining some of the local group rides which are longer and faster and also some upcoming charity rides which are 30 - 100 miles. So I started thinking entry level road and was looking in that direction.

    But this week I had the opportunity to visit the Trek factory store in Wisconsin and the sales guy there suggested I look into a cross - so I test rode the XO 1 and really liked it. The combination of road geometry and beefier fork / wheels / tires seems like a perfect fit. It will do the longer rides and handle the heavier stuff if I need it to. Plus - I have a short inseam for my height (6'-0' with a 30" inseam) so I was finding a good fit on a road bike (off the rack anyway) tricky but that a 54cm XC seems to fit me perfectly.

    Anyway - back home in ROC none of the LBS had the Trek XO 1 but I did find a 2009 Redline Conquest Pro. I took it for a quick ride and bonded with it instantly. It's a bit more than I want to spend but the shop is clearing out the '09 models so it is an exceptional buy....less than the Trek but with SRAM Rival.

    That's my thought process - I'm going with a Cross for the versatility and ruggedness which will work for me really well. Just have to have a conversation with my wife about increasing the bike fund!
     
  11. Skidmark

    Skidmark Cycling for life

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    Excellent ideas. Thats what it takes to get on the right bike I think.

    I have looked mostly at the Specialized bikes because that is what the LHS sells mostly. They do great service are are awesome people. I dont plan to purchase until December so I am taking the time to research here and each visit to the shop they let me ride one. There seems to be a pretty good range in the cross bikes and you have choices depending on how much rough or off hard surface riding you do. Some of the cross bikes are basicly road bikes with upright ride style and they are awesome fast. Because I do cross a lot of roads with curbs, ride on walks, grass, some hard packed gravel, ride where some corners are blind, cars leaving drives, etc. I am looking hard at a Specialized Globe Sport Disc and Specialized Globe Vienna 3, BUT I love the speed and agility of the Specialized Sirrus Sport.
     
  12. jeepster93

    jeepster93 New Member

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    Cyclocross bikes are a bit more than a road bike with treaded tires...

    My cross bike has center pull brakes instead of the side pulls found on road bikes.
    Mine also has fender mounts front and rear.
    Also has a lower gear ratio. Mine has a 46/34 front chainring combo instead of 50/39 found on most road bikes.
    My cross has 28c tires instead of 23c tires. The 28c tires run a lot less pressure in them(65-90psi), I run 75.
    The cables are routed as to allow the bike to be "portaged"(carried) without interference from the cables. It has a flat spot on underside of the top tube for shouldering the bike.
    My bike has an extra set of brake levers in the flat part of the handlebars.
     
  13. Burr

    Burr Cranking Old Guy

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    Good research Tomk.
    You'll enjoy that bike for a long time.
    How about a bike for your wife?