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Best Cyclocross Bike for £500 - £700

JRF455BJRF455B Posts: 4
edited September 2008 in Road beginners
I got back into cycling at the start of the year after a lot of years off, going out each Saturday on my old Giant Boulder. As my fitness has increased, I am going further faster and now reached the point where I cannot get any more speed out of the bike and things are starting to break on the bike – I do not tend to mountain bike, but go for tracks / cycle ways with roads in between.

I have decided to buy a cyclocross bike for between £500 and £700. After lots of hours spent on the internet I have come up with the following short list –

Genesis Vapour (£699) - http://www.genesisbikes.co.uk/index.php ... _bike=TRUE

Specialized Tricross (£699) - http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkMode ... 08Tricross

Focus Mares Cross (£629) - http://www.focusbikesuk.com/focuscycloc ... _cross.php

Kona Jake (£650) - http://www.konabikes.co.uk/2008/jake/jake.php

And I thought about not going for drop bars at one point and was up for the Ridgeback Flight X3 - http://www.focusbikesuk.com/focuscycloc ... _cross.php

I have come down in favour of the Genesis Vapour, puncture wows aside with the Continental SpeedKing tyres! I think this bike has the slightly better spec, all be it much to the same level as the Specialised, which has a triple chainset, but I am not that bothered for that as I do not see me using all bar the middle and top if I had the triple set. As I said, I want to have flexibility of roads and less than perfect tracks, hence going for this bike type and would be doing 40ish miles an outing and maybe a 15 mile each way commute to the office every now and again.

I struggle to find feedback on the Vapour, so here is your opportunity all you Vapour owners. Comments on the other options also welcome.

Posts

  • Don't know about any of the others, but I don't regret buying my TriCross. However, the frame is extremely stiff, and riding on unmade roads is quite uncomfortable. But it doesn't seem to hurt the bike, only me :)
  • lamchoplamchop Posts: 36
    Are all cyclcross frames really stiff?
  • lamchop wrote:
    Are all cyclcross frames really stiff?

    Dunno, but that's been my experience. Cyclocross is basically sprint racing in the mud. Long-term rider comfort is not a significant issue when an event typically lasts 30 minutes and you'll be carrying the bike a fair amount of that time. Rapid handling is very much an issue, so frames tend to have a geometry that emphasizes the stiffness rather than mellowing it.
  • jpembrokejpembroke Posts: 2,569
    30 minutes? Fair amount of carrying? Blimey, which series to race in? Ours last an hour and we're lucky to get a single plank and a ditch and jump over.

    No, cross bikes are not the most comfortable of bikes. I train on mine but when I do the same circuits on my MTB I feel a lot less battered after.
    I'm only concerned with looking concerned
  • DavidBelcherDavidBelcher Posts: 2,684
    jpembroke wrote:
    No, cross bikes are not the most comfortable of bikes. I train on mine but when I do the same circuits on my MTB I feel a lot less battered after.

    Really? Mine's a comfortable machine, almost in the same league my the road bike, though the beefy tyres make riding on tarmac a bit of a slog. Can't say I've noticed any excessive stiffness (though it does have an ovalised down tube to keep the flex down), whilst the Sintema carbon fork makes things a little easier at the front end. Mind you, it is steel - maybe alloy ones are a bit harsher? As for the comment about 30-minute races with lots of carrying, I'd like to know, as a veteran of umpteen 1hr.-ish events spent mostly on the bike, where that poster was competing too!

    David
    "It is not enough merely to win; others must lose." - Gore Vidal
  • jpembrokejpembroke Posts: 2,569
    Probably didn't explain myself very well there. I was comparing the relative comforts of my cross bike with my hardtail MTB over rough terrain. My cross bike is certainly comfortable on road (perhaps more so than my road bike), and on hardpack trails and grass, but once things get rough one does get shaken up a bit. Mind you, perhaps I take it on to terrain that it's not really suited to.
    I'm only concerned with looking concerned
  • Yeah, OK, I was exaggerating about the time. But one hour still isn't four hours, or six hours, or whatever.

    But it isn't proper cyclocross if you're not carrying your bike, is it? That's the iconic image of 'cross, no? Some mud-splattered geezer with his bike on his shoulder ;)
  • DavidBelcherDavidBelcher Posts: 2,684
    Yeah, OK, I was exaggerating about the time. But one hour still isn't four hours, or six hours, or whatever.

    But it isn't proper cyclocross if you're not carrying your bike, is it? That's the iconic image of 'cross, no? Some mud-splattered geezer with his bike on his shoulder ;)

    In a really tough race, 1 hour often seems like 4 or 6 hours! :(
    As for the iconic image, it's the 'mud-splattered' bit that's important! Finish a race as clean as a whistle and either (a) you haven't really been trying or (b) there's something funny going on with the weather. :wink:

    David
    "It is not enough merely to win; others must lose." - Gore Vidal
  • jpembrokejpembroke Posts: 2,569

    In a really tough race, 1 hour often seems like 4 or 6 hours! :(

    David

    You got that right
    I'm only concerned with looking concerned
  • acorn_useracorn_user Posts: 1,137
    As for the iconic image, it's the 'mud-splattered' bit that's important! Finish a race as clean as a whistle and either (a) you haven't really been trying or (b) there's something funny going on with the weather. :wink:

    David

    B for me. Virginia autumns and winters are often quite dry. Races sometimes get cancelled if it is wet, because the council doesn't want us ripping up their turf. Our races (which have separate A, B, C, Masters, Juniors and Womens categories) last between 30 minutes and one hour, depending on the category. Do races in the UK not offer categories?!

    Cross bikes don't have to be miserably stiff. I have an older Raleigh 853 that is just fantastic.
  • DavidBelcherDavidBelcher Posts: 2,684
    acorn_user wrote:
    Our races (which have separate A, B, C, Masters, Juniors and Womens categories) last between 30 minutes and one hour, depending on the category. Do races in the UK not offer categories?!

    Cross bikes don't have to be miserably stiff. I have an older Raleigh 853 that is just fantastic.

    Good machines those 853 Raleighs, from what I've heard; nearly bought one S/H about 4 years ago but ended up with a Fort (which I still have) instead.
    UK races tend to be shorter for the younger riders, as kids of all ages can enter, and the length of race increases with age. Sometimes the women, juniors and veterans race with the seniors in the main 1-hour event, but in other instances they race together for about 45 mins (I think) in their own contest - a lot depends on the region where the events are held and how that particular 'cross league does things. The youngest riders always tend to have their races first, so that as the ground gets more churned up, so the level of expertise of the riders goes up, allowing them to cope better with the conditions (at least that's the theory).

    David
    "It is not enough merely to win; others must lose." - Gore Vidal
  • madturkeymadturkey Posts: 58
    And there was me thinking that the flattened top tube of my Tricross is to help me carry it up the stairs :D
  • Can I ask why you discount the Focus from your choice? As from what I've read this is about as highly-specced a bike as you can get for that price.

    Im in a similar position to JRF but am possibly looking at spending up to £850. For this price the other main options seem to be:

    Focus Cross Expert
    Kona Jake The Snake
    Felt F1X

    Im looking for something thats mainly road at the weekends, but I've a bit of a rough commute during the week. Does anyone have any strong opinions on the best option? Right now I have to say Im leaning to the Focus, with the specialised in second spot, but I have to say Im pretty clueless about all this....
  • jpembrokejpembroke Posts: 2,569
    The Focus bike are highly race-specific. The main issue with them is the lack of mounts for bottle cages, racks, and guards. Not a problem if you want a 'cross bike just for 1 hour 'cross races but not much good for someone who wants and all rounder.
    I'm only concerned with looking concerned
  • Well, in the nick of time I saw the light and bought a Connondale Synapse Tiagra Triple and it is fab - http://gb.cannondale.com/bikes/08/ce/model-8RAS2T.html
    Passed guy on a Kona on the way to work today like he was going backwards :-).
    Reason I changed my mind - I really just want to go faster and if I want a blast off road every now and again, I get out my old mountain bike until I sign up for next years bike to work allowance and buy a Ridgeback Flight X3 - http://www.ridgeback.co.uk/index.php?bi ... _bike=TRUE

    Happy days - the Canondale is fab and all the great user reviews are spot on.
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