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Cyclocross Bike as Winter Bike/Commuter

Beardy10Beardy10 Posts: 115
edited November 2008 in Workshop
As the title says I've been thinking about getting a Cyclo Cross bike as a Winter Bike/Commuter. It appeals to me because it should be able to take the abuse of commuting in London during the winter and also I like the idea of the superiors stopping power of the V brakes.

I would be interested to know what people think and also what Cyclo Cross bikes feel like on the road assuming they are shod with some road orientated tyres.


  • 16simon16simon Posts: 154
    Having had both a Kinesis Crosslight Pro4 and Racelight TK until recently, I'd say that the Racelight TK was a better winter bike. For one thing, the Crosslight didn't have bottle cage bosses or mudguard eyes (although cheaper cross frames will have these). The other thing was the brakes... cantis (most crossers will have these, not V-brakes) are fiddly to set up and don't work so well with STI levers, at least compared to dual pivot brakes. Some cross frames have a very grabby braking action from the front brake that makes the fork twang back and forward under hard braking, I previously had a Spesh Tricross that did this and it was very unnerving.

    But if you are in fact beardy, like your name implies, shouldn't you be riding a touring bike? Or maybe a recumbent...
  • passoutpassout Posts: 4,425
    I'd get a ribble winter trainer for about £400 instead and only buy a cross bike if you want to do cross.
    'Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible' Marcel Proust.
  • PirahnaPirahna Posts: 1,315
    I use a cross bike as a winter/wet weather/multi surface/commuter etc. Basically a do everything bike.

    No bottle bosses or mudguard eyes on mine mean a camel back and race blades but otherwise it's fine. With knobbly tyres it's surprisingly good off road and copes as well as a mountain bike on my local off road bits.

    There is lots written about cross brakes, particularly the fronts, where severe fork judder is commonplace. Basically, unless you intend racing then stay away from the traditional brakes like Frogglegs or similar, even then I'm convinced. You can run V Brakes but need a travel agent to get the correct lever pull. I run Cane Creek cantil with XT pads and get a decent brake. Not as good as a dual pivot but not far off.

    If you like the idea then get one, but unless you're going to do some mixed surface riding with it, it won't be any better than a normal road bike.
  • Mister WMister W Posts: 791
    Mini V-brakes are designed to work with road levers. They have shorter arms so don't need the levers to pull as much cable.
  • Or you go for a flat bar and 'v' brake levers....The tricross at £750 is good, bottle/cage/guard mounts, room for fat road tyres. I'd go for the singlespeed, as they have the same mounts, but are more robust having no gears to mess up. And I'd go for flat bars and deore levers.....
    jedster wrote:
    Just off to contemplate my own mortality and inevitable descent into decrepedness.
    FCN 3 or 4 on road depending on clothing
    FCN 8 off road because I'm too old to go racing around.
  • Matty1235Matty1235 Posts: 125

    I have just purchased a Focus Cross expert for commuting, its down country lanes 16 miles each way, i did it on my road bike during the summer, the cross bike is slighty harder work, which in my opinion is good in the winter but nearly as fast. The brakes are fine, needed tightening but i like an immediate bite, there not as instant as Dura Ace on my road bike but still do the job. Its all personal preference but If you like the race bike position I'd highly recomend one. I will re-iterate my commute is on single lane farm roads, if its just city roads maybe a road bike with wider tyres would be better.

    Hope that helps a bit.
  • mclarentmclarent Posts: 784
    I have a v cheap (2nd hand) specialized globe elite hybrid for my commute, but did consider a cross. Things that put me off? I'm in London, so don't really need the full country/off-road capability of a crossie despite the crappy roads. Hybrid balanced dealing with the censored London roads, but comes with thinner tyres (so theoretically quicker. If you don't stop for lights.)

    I also didn't want to spend a load of money on a bike, then have to mod it, only for some f***** to nick it. I only paid £140 for my hybrid, despite it being in pretty good nick (no pun intended :wink:). Also, there are many more 2nd hand hybrids and road bikes on offer than crossies, especially on gumtree, which makes them cheaper!

    Anyway, given how long I spent writing the above, I don't think I've convinced myself yet(!)
    "And the Lord said unto Cain, 'where is Abel thy brother?' And he said, 'I know not: I dropped him on the climb up to the motorway bridge'."
    - eccolafilosofiadelpedale
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    There are a few 'cross bikes available now with disc brakes - ideal for winter as they work in all conditions, are more powerful, you get no fork judder and you don't wear out the rims. Many cross frames also come with bottle cage mounts these days. IMO, cross bikes make ideal winter trainer / commuters - they have enough clearance to accept a 32mm tyre like a Schwalbe Marathon and you'll not have to worry about punctures either.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • jpembrokejpembroke Posts: 2,569
    You can't run v-brakes on a 'cross bike unless:

    a) you have flat bars - not a bad idea for commuter but defeats the object. May as well get a MTB.
    b) you install travel agents - major faff
    c) you use mini-vs - you have to run them really close to the rim and can't disconnect to change a tube

    Basically, you'll be running cantis e.g. low profile (Tektro Oryx, Avid Shorty) or wide profile (Empella Frogglegs, Tektro CR520)

    I concur with the above poster: get a Ribble Winter bike instead. Don't get seduced by current fashion - only by a 'cross bike if you want to race 'cross.
    I'm only concerned with looking concerned
  • Steve ISteve I Posts: 428
    I've used a Kona Jake as a winter/mudguard bike for the past 2 years now. I had a Ribble winter bike, but sold it as It had a fairly harsh ride, and could only take a 23mm tyre in the rear when guards were fitted.

    The Jake is fitted with 28mm Gatorskins and 45mm guards. It gives a nice sure footed ride, but does feel a bit heavy and less sprightly compared to a true road bike. It's fine for winter though and would definitely be better than a road bike for commuting IMO. The brakes do stop the bike, but are not as nice to use as dual pivots, nor quite as powerful. I can easily keep up on a club run against road bikes, I don't find it much slower than my road bike.

    I'd say get a cross bike if you want to fit bigger tyres with mudguards, or plan to do a bit of touring, or even race cross. Otherwise buy a road bike as others have suggested.
  • GEPCGEPC Posts: 123
    I have a cross bike (on one ticross) which I use mainly or commuitng but the other factor that made be buy it was that I wanted to be able to ride off road as well.

    Essentially I think you should consider a cross bike if A. you want to race cyclocross. B. you can only have one bike and you want something thats prety handy off and on road. Personlly I fell into the latter option but as I get fitter I may give a cross race a go as well.

    If you are just wanting a sturdy london commuter commuter that is always going to be on the road then I would stick to any number of road bike options. These day's the brakes work fine and not surprisingly they are the best option on the road.

    A cross bike on the road will always be a bit of a compromise (and one which works well for me) but if its purely for road use then why bother compromising, just get a road bike.
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