Cyclocross bike advice sought by an MTBer

dhobiwallah Posts: 272
edited October 2012 in Road beginners
OK, just bit the bullet and am the proud owner of a shiny 2009 Focus Mares...

Couple of questions:

Gearing: A few of the reviews have slated the gearing (Compact double I believe, 34/50 up front and a table I found online suggests its a 12-27 up back). I took it out on a short loop I normally do on my MTB, expecting to be back and showered by the time I normally get home :oops:
OK that turned out to be really optimistic - I was standing in the saddle in the lowest gear for more of my ride than usual (OK my lowest gear is normally 22/34 not 34/27 but I only use the granny ring at one point on the whole ride normally!) and off and walking up a few hills I'd clear on my 5lb heavier MTB.

I assumed that it was the 'road orientated' gearing I had seen in the reviews to blame. But having googled a bit it seems cyclocross favours a 38/48 (possibly 36/46) up front. Now maybe cyclocross courses aren't as steep as the hills on my loop, but that still seems to lose you both lower and upper end gearing - why is that an advantage? It looks like my current spread gives the best of both worlds (I still ran out of gears on the tarmac down the hill to home - but that isn't a huge issue)

Drop bars: Where do you put your hands offroad? On the top with the interupter brake levers is far too narrow for control; on the drops is just wrong weight distribution wise; and the hoods don't give much confidence in braking :oops:

And finally - any advice on setting up the mini-v's ? I know they aren't very popular on the cross circuit - and I've probably found out why already. Clearance is v tight compared to regular v's on an MTB so riding through gloop gets noisy pretty quickly. And with the 1.35 racing ralphs on I had to undo the front cable to remove the wheel (as in the allen bolt - not just unclipping the 'noodle')_- makes the QR's a bit pointless for a puncture repair!

The one bonus is that my boringly tame xc loop suddenly seems like a rock infested death pit as I gingerly take my skinny tyres through it completely paranoid about denting the rims on bits I hadn't even noticed were rocky before :lol:


  • Proper cyclo-x bike gearing will be aimed at riding cyclo-x races (suprise) and the lowest gears won't get you up the steepest of climbs unless you're very good/fit as in a cross race such steep obsticals are overcome by dismounting and carrying the bike.

    You'll get used to where to place your hands on the bars the more you ride. You may feel more confident with the braking situation by fitting additional top bar levers.

    TBH my crosser has given my off road rides a massive grin factor far more so than my MTB.
    Tail end Charlie

    The above post may contain traces of sarcasm or/and bullsh*t.
  • petemadoc
    petemadoc Posts: 2,331
    Welcome to the weird world of cyclocross.

    I have the same bike and I find the compact chainset suits me well. I can spin the low gears in grassy races and I make use of the 50 big ring for commuting and winter riding.

    The gears will always be higher than any mountain bike, you'll get used to it. As for descending, just hang on as best you can. I swapped out my mini v's for canti's , makes life much easier.
  • pilot_pete
    pilot_pete Posts: 2,120
    I've just bought one of these what a great bike! Very versatile, no problem getting up all the hills I do (including 1:4) with 36/28 lowest gear. And the SRAM cassette has an 11 top speed, coupled with the 46 big ring give the same top gear as a compact with 50:12.

    I chain ganged on it on Saturday and got comments like 'bloody hell, you did we'll keeping up on rise tyres', they are 36mm with knobbly bits! The ride on road it just super comfy compared to 23mm road tyres on my Pinarello....

    The disk brakes stop you on a sixpence, cable operated for simplicity is what wanted and the BB5s do just that. BB7 adjustment would be better, but maybe that's an upgrade when these are knackered.

    All in all very pleased.

    Oh, and by the way, if you need lower gears its quicker to carry it up the hill whilst running! :lol:

  • I suppose I was surprised to find the gearing criticized as it seems more versatile than the alternative. (I know the criticism was based on the fact that this seemed to be a pure racer as it has no mudguard mounts). 'True' cyclocross gearing would give a much narrower spread of gears with closer spaced front cogs - I'm not sure I see the point, you may as well go 1x10 as I'm sure many do; I was expecting the problem to be that my bike wasn't geared low enough - not that the gearing went higher and lower (but given I'm basically going to be using it as a road bike with occasional offroad and at least 1 cycloross race at muddy hell on the 27th, I'm glad it does).

    I hadn't really thought about the fact that in a race a short sprint and carry would be quicker than spinning a lower gear - makes sense, but I was planning to do local singletrack on it - and I don't really want to spend too much time on foot when I have bikes that will take me up while mounted (and down faster). I was expecting to fly up the hills a bit quicker than I am (I do on tarmac - that does make a huge difference, but the more techy climbs don't seem any faster), and the downs are currently much slower; probably in part to my not trusting the robustness of the bike rather than its actual capability (I'll happily smash through plenty of stuff on an MTB while just maintaining the line - on the cyclocross machine I'm practically tiptoeing at the moment).

    Don't really want to fork out on more brakes since I've already spent too much on the bike (and have road tyres and crud guards on order). Is there a knack to setting mini v's so the wheel will come out? I'm guessing there must be as the back one unhooks; just not the front (although you still have to force the tyres past the pads). Does fine tuning with the barrel adjuster on the interrupter levers make any difference?