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Cyclocross for Commuting

shaunqshaunq Posts: 9
edited August 2013 in Commuting chat
Hi everyone, bit of a newbie here! I've spent the past few weeks researching the best bike for my commute to work and still don't seem to know very much! As theres only about a week or so left on my cycle2work scheme I thought I'd ask and see if there is anyone here who could help!

My commute is 6 miles, with it being almost an even split between country lanes, bridlepaths and canal paths. I've always ridden a mountain bike but like the idea of doing some longer rides on the weekends (on the same sort of roads) and was recommended cyclocross bikes. This does appeal to me, though having never ridden a bike in this position I'm hoping it won't take too much getting used to! Because of this I think it would be better for me to have a more relaxed riding geometry. I very much doubt I will ever use it competitively, so bare this in mind with any recommendations, I'd say my preference is comfort and stability (though obviously the faster the better).

I narrowed it down to 5 bikes, all of which have disc brakes...

1) Genesis Croix de Fer - Slightly over budget, but apparently a very versatile bike. I read it was quite heavy for that price, but the 2014 model has just been released at Evans which seems to have addressed some of this, though I'm guessing it will still be a little on the heavy side (the 2013 model may also come down in price).

2) Specialized Tricross Sport Disc - Again, quite versatile, but my research suggests you are paying a premium for the brand and so the components are not particularly good value. However, as it is aimed more at commuters, might suit my needs regarding riding position...

3) Ridley X-Bow - I researched cyclocross a few years ago and these were the number one bike at the time it seemed. My LBS stocks them, so this is an option. Very light, but potentially too racey?

4) Pinnacle Arkose 3 - Not heard too much about this. I've heard its similar to the Tricross (aimed at commuters) but with better components.

5) Whyte Charing Cross - Not heard too much about this either, but are stocked at lots of my LBS.

I'm open to suggestions outside this, but I thought it might be helpful to narrow down my options for you guys, as I appreciate anyone taking the time to help me out.

Thanks,
Shaun

Posts

  • tgotbtgotb Posts: 4,714
    Given you don't anticipate doing any racing, I'd make sure it has decent mudguard and rack mounts (which I'd guess rules out at least the Ridley). Check all the mounting points; for instance my Voodoo has bosses on the dropouts, but no straightforward way of attaching the mudguard at the top of the fork or behind the bottom bracket.

    Disc brakes definitely worth having for that sort of ride, mostly because you're not going to be wearing out your rims when they're covered in crud. Looks like you've already figured that.

    Beyond that, try as many as you can, and see which you like the fit of...
    Pannier, 120rpm.
  • jds_1981jds_1981 Posts: 1,858
    Yes, you seem very well organised already :D
    Only thing I'd add is that I recently used my CX bike with 'comuting' tyres (sammy slick) in heavy rain on Tuesday and it was a pretty wet experience. Seem to be the most efficient tyres at flicking up a constant heavy stream of road water that I've ever run. Nobblies or slicks might be better.
    Saying that, depending on how much you like excitement you will probably be able to run thinnish slicks for your journey. The sammy slicks I run are fine for a similar journey, but I go through some muddy/rooty single track for the first leg and they handle it well enough.
    FCN 9 || FCN 5
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,718
    I chip in: I have commuted on my Cross Croix de Fer for nearly 4 years now. Disc brakes are great, I have never felt the need for mudguards... just yesterday we went for 90 miles with a friend... It rained for about 4 hours and we got equally wet, even if he had a rather rattling set of mudguards. The bikes were equally filthy too. So yes, they might save your trousers from the odd splash in a puddle, but when it rains solid mudguards don't make any difference and they are just hideous, with their rattling. So, if you find the bike you like and it doesn't have the clearance for guards, my message is: you can live a happy life without
  • bails87bails87 Posts: 13,317
    And to counter that....

    My mudguards (SKS Bluemels) don't rattle at all.

    I ride past a lot of farms. I don't mind getting wet with (clean) rainwater, but don't like being splattered with animal poo. I also don't like drinking from a bottle that's covered in animal poo sludge!

    Have you considered the Boardman CX?
    MTB/CX

    "As I said last time, it won't happen again."
  • edhornbyedhornby Posts: 1,780
    shoes are much drier when you have mudguards, the front guard protects against the spray onto the shoe so you have better chance of having drier shoes for the next day/ride home
    "I get paid to make other people suffer on my wheel, how good is that"
    --Jens Voight
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    Pah - FWIW I'll chip in too ... :)

    I bought a Tricross for commuting at the beginning of the year - because the roads I ride get muddy and that quickly clogs up the roadbike with crud mudguards on.

    I do use mudguards in the wet because although you do get wet, the guards to protect the bike from some of the dirt that's being thrown up from the road - especially where it's muddy.

    I run with the standard tyre for wet/winter/track riding or 23mm slicks for dry/road riding - I've now got two wheelsets so I can swap between the two quickly.

    Only niggle with the Tricross is that they've replaced the forks (mines a 2011 model) and the one that was pictured had eyelets for mudguards on the forks - the replacement forks don't ... so I had to cobble together a fixing.
    There is the view that you pay more for a Specialized - but then when I had a problem with the front wheel - they swapped the wheel under warranty with no issue (bearings were dry). Perhaps other manufacturers are like this too - but it's piece of mind for me - plus I already had Specialized bikes so knew what to expect.
  • andyrrandyrr Posts: 1,534
    One to consider is the Jamis range of CX bikes that Evans stock.
    I've the bottom of the range Nova Sport : only 8 speed transmission but it runs a road compact instead of the fairly common CX-biased chainring sizes (50/34 in place of 48/34). Space for full mudguards, came with Tekro Lyra calipers which get a poor rep but in about 6 months / 100+ mile week commuting they've worked fine - I've changed the pads to cheap organic compound ones.
    I looked at the Ridley before hand - very nice looking bike, better spec but IIRC there's no mudguard fitment and for me a set of good full guards - and I've added an extension to the tail of teh front and the front of the rear guard where it fits the chainstay bridge - they are a must for year-round commuting.
    1 of the few glaring drawbacks of the Jamis is it's inability to take a 'guard on the rear as it is sold - that's due to the fitment (strangely IMHO since it is very much a commuting/road bike in the CX style) with CX tyres at 32mm sizing. A 28mm road tyre allowed SKS guards to be fitted without hassle.
    Checking the Evans site now I see they do not list the Jamis Sport, the lowest price model is the Race which gets quite a few upgrades such as carbon fork, 10 speed Shimano transmission BB7 brakes etc so it's well spec'd.
  • shaunqshaunq Posts: 9
    Thanks for all the responses.

    The options for mudguards would be preferable, but I'm the sort of person who would never get round to fitting them so having them isn't essential for me.

    I had considered the Boardman CX, but unfortunately Halfords are not a part of my C2W scheme, so without the tax savings or ability to spread the cost over 12 months it rules that one out by default.

    Regarding testing each bike, my concern would be that having not ridden a drop handle bike, it might feel unusual at first, and unstable. With each test my confidence would grow and I would be attributing the stability to the bike rather than me getting used to the position... If I was testing mountain bikes I'd know exactly what I was looking for, but for the CX bikes I really have no clue or experience to compare the bikes. Thats why I've tried to do as much research as possible, then I can take a leap of faith and just get on with it!

    I have to say the Croix de Fer was my preferred option, but was unsure on how much the weight penalty would bother me. The Tricross was my second as it seems to be popular and if anything went wrong then issues would be easy to fix. Unfortunately in this thread there seems to be one rider of each of those two, so not really nearer to my decision!

    Any one else care to chip in?
  • I have the previous model Arkose 2 and it's well specced and a good commuter bike with clearance for mudguards and racks etc. However, it is a bit heavy and a little dull to ride so it is well worth trying a few of the others if possible.

    Conversely, the other one that may be worth looking it is a Planet X Kaffenback which is online only/two shops in the North.

    The straighter the line, the faster I go!
  • bails87 wrote:
    And to counter that....

    My mudguards (SKS Bluemels) don't rattle at all.

    I ride past a lot of farms. I don't mind getting wet with (clean) rainwater, but don't like being splattered with animal poo. I also don't like drinking from a bottle that's covered in animal poo sludge!

    Have you considered the Boardman CX?

    I also have guards on my Boardman CX (SKS Chromos) and I think it makes a big difference in keeping the road grime of me and the bike. The grit and mud ruins clothes and drivetrains. Also much nicer for riding companions.
  • yeah just a quick point about mudguards - no they dont stop you from getting wet but yes, they stop you from getting dirty water/mud/animal censored over you and the bike.

    Bikes that take full 'proper' mudguards are best - they cover you the most and stay in position. The 'clip on' type I use on my current bike (used both crud road racer and sks raceblades) tend to need a lot of adjusting - go over a pothole and all of a sudden you get loads of tyre rub - it's a real, real pain sometimes!! :)

    And the shop will fit mudguards for you if you want, so dont worry about that.

    And whenever I get stuck behind someone without mudguards in the rain I want to punch them in the face with a chainsaw ;)
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,718

    And whenever I get stuck behind someone without mudguards in the rain I want to punch them in the face with a chainsaw ;)

    I suggest an anger management course... in fact I find those individuals and clubs that want to impose certain riding equipment as obligatory best avoided :wink:
  • porlyworlyporlyworly Posts: 439
    Just to throw a spanner in the works you should really consider going second hand - you can pick up a really nice tricross (which will be more than capable for your commute) on the likes of ebay or gumtree for around £300.

    That said the Croix de fer is a fantastic bike, can't comment on whether or not it's good value for money but I know a couple of guys in my cycling club ride them on club rides - they really are "do it all" bikes.

    Kona Jake and Kinesis Crosslight also very nice crossbikes just to muddy the water even further :)
    First love - Genesis Equilibrium 20
    Dirty - Forme Calver CX Sport
    Quickie - Scott CR1 SL HMX
    Notable ex's - Kinesis Crosslight, Specialized Tricross
  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 23,488 Lives Here
    Tried the Pinnacle and a Croix de Fer and whilst the Pinnacle had a similar spec and was cheaper and lighter it felt dead to ride. The Croix de Fer felt much nicer, and felt faster. Though I wasn't timing either ride. You won't be sorry if you buy a Croix de Fer, you may be sorry if you buy the Pinnacle. Didn't go for the Specialized as they are two a penny and don't seem like very good value for money.
    I bought a Kinesis Crosslight Pro6 and love it to bits. But I put it together myself as I wanted BB7s and I got Ugo (of the Croix de Fer) to build me some better wheels. Croix de Fer was a very close second.
  • I've got the Whyte Charing Cross for commuting and touring. I really like it but there are some downsides. Fitting mudguards was a pain. I got the SKS Chromoplastic ones, but couldn't fit the rear one as the bottom of the mudguard needs to fit to a bar between the two chainstays that the Charing Cross doesn't have. The bolt didn't fit through the forks at the front either, but I gave up and use a crud catcher downtube one at the front and either the rack or when that is not on a crud catcher at the rear too. I may try to bodge the crudcatcher to the rack before my tour in September.
    I also upgraded the rear BB5 brake to a BB7 as it never seemed to have enough power, although to be fair that could just have been down to my lack of knowledge about how to set it up most efficiently.
    On the plus side I do enjoy riding it and it is probably my favourite bike (up against a Giant Trance 3 and Giant SCR2)
  • cjcpcjcp Posts: 13,345
    I've got the Kinesis Crosslight. Bloomin' lovely.

    But...

    I'm not a fan of canti brakes, especially in the wet. I'm commuting on it this week, but mostly because it's dry.

    I'd get a disc brake CX bike if I wanted to use it as a year round commuter.
    FCN 2-4.

    "What happens when the hammer goes down, kids?"
    "It stays down, Daddy."
    "Exactly."
  • cjcpcjcp Posts: 13,345
    cjcp wrote:
    I've got the Kinesis Crosslight. Bloomin' lovely.

    But...

    I'm not a fan of canti brakes, especially in the wet. I'm commuting on it this week, but mostly because it's dry.

    I'd get a disc brake CX bike if I wanted to use it as a year round commuter.

    On days like today, for example.

    Braking/stopping is usually a combination of using the brake levers, standing on your pedals to increase air resistance, deep prayer and crying.
    FCN 2-4.

    "What happens when the hammer goes down, kids?"
    "It stays down, Daddy."
    "Exactly."
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    cjcp wrote:
    cjcp wrote:
    I've got the Kinesis Crosslight. Bloomin' lovely.

    But...

    I'm not a fan of canti brakes, especially in the wet. I'm commuting on it this week, but mostly because it's dry.

    I'd get a disc brake CX bike if I wanted to use it as a year round commuter.

    On days like today, for example.

    Braking/stopping is usually a combination of using the brake levers, standing on your pedals to increase air resistance, deep prayer and crying.
    Better sort your brakes out then - I have little problem stopping with mine - not as good as the road bike ... but it's nowhere near prayer time!
  • RossMuRossMu Posts: 59
    One other option - the Genesis Day One. I believe it's a range down from the Croix de Fer, but in my experience it's a lovely bike. Also has Alfine Hub gears which save some maintenance time & effort.
  • bunterbunter Posts: 327
    Kinesis Crosslight Pro6 here, with 28mm Conti 4 seasons. Absolutely love it. Handles well even when loaded up with panniers, looks good, no trouble with the Lyra disk brakes. I'm not really convinced that I'm much faster on my road bike. I am getting quite a few PRs on strava and some respectable rankings on climbs even lugging my laptop and clothes etc.

    Really didn't get on with the Charge Filter Apex that I had before.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,718
    And here is my croix de Fer...
    viewtopic.php?f=40044&t=12897852&hilit=croix+de+fer

    Since this, I have taken off the UT chainset and put an old Dura Ace 7410 square taper, for that Shimergo feel
  • gbsahne001gbsahne001 Posts: 1,962
    Kinesis Crosslight 5, flat bar (now) with BB7 front disc, V rear brake and full mudguards, handbuilt wheels 105 & XT hubs with Archetype rims

    5wkmkp.jpg
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,718
    gbsahne wrote:
    Kinesis Crosslight 5, flat bar (now) with BB7 front disc, V rear brake and full mudguards, handbuilt wheels 105 & XT hubs with Archetype rims

    5wkmkp.jpg
    How do you find the XT hubs?
  • rubertoerubertoe Posts: 3,993
    gbsahne wrote:
    Kinesis Crosslight 5, flat bar (now) with BB7 front disc, V rear brake and full mudguards, handbuilt wheels 105 & XT hubs with Archetype rims

    How do you find the XT hubs?

    I use XT hubs, mavic CXP22 rims (keep the costs down), not the alex rims/r505's in my sig.

    They are pretty good, although I did have a free hub failure.
    "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got."

    PX Kaffenback 2 = Work Horse
    B-Twin Alur 700 = Sundays and Hills
  • notsobluenotsoblue Posts: 5,838
    RossMu wrote:
    One other option - the Genesis Day One. I believe it's a range down from the Croix de Fer, but in my experience it's a lovely bike. Also has Alfine Hub gears which save some maintenance time & effort.
    I've got one of these, and I love it. But its my "Cycling to pub/shops/anywhere that requires normal clothes" bike. Its really comfortable to ride, and very sturdy, I can use it as a cargo bike with two big panniers on it. But its pretty heavy (525 steel and an alfine hub are the main cause of this). While its fun to ride I see it more as a utility than sport bike. I don't think I'd actually like to do cyclocross with it.

    If you're looking for something a bit more swift then a Croix De Fer might be a bit better, I understand the steel frame is a bit lighter.

    Generally though, I'm not sure why someone would want a Cyclocross bike for commuting, unless

    a) their commute involved off-road sections
    2) they were planning to carry lots of heavy with them in a pannier
    iii) they had to regularly portage their bike over obstacles :P
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,718
    notsoblue wrote:

    If you're looking for something a bit more swift then a Croix De Fer might be a bit better, I understand the steel frame is a bit lighter.

    Not really... it is a heavy beast too
  • gbsahne001gbsahne001 Posts: 1,962
    How do you find the XT hubs?

    I've not had any issues with the XT hubs both wheels are a great improvement on the RS500 & factory built 105 front that they replaced. I've had to take this bike out of commission for a little while though, as I've needed the rear wheel for the road bike owing to a spoke failure and a rim whose wear indicators have long since faded.

    Shortage of funds for the month means that I won't get it back on the road until after my holiday in 2 weeks.
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