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CX bike as all-year round commuter

FrannybobsFrannybobs Posts: 20
edited July 2014 in Cyclocross

My company is running the Cyclescheme again this year and I have decided I would like a cyclocross bike as a do-it-all commuter as my commute has some pretty awful cycle path surfaces, and even road surfaces - and I would like to use it on canal towpaths etc. Mudguard compatibility is a must and I'd like disc brakes for stopping assurance in the wet as that's one thing that scares me on the road bike when it's wet and I'm going downhill and I need to stop quickly! Oh and bar top levers are good for commuting as well as allow me to sit up more. I just don't like flat bar bikes as I do like drop bars and the flexibility to change hand position.

I am female and 5'3" - would that limit my choice?

I've done some research - ruled out the Planet X due to not being mudguard compatible

My favourites so far are a couple of Giant ones (my road bike is the female-specific Giant Avail 1, the equivalent of the male Defy) :

Giant Revolt 1
Giant TCX SLR 2
Giant Invite 1 (female version of the Revolt but no bar top levers and don't like the white particularly!)

Also seen the Pinnacle Arkose Three which is available at £900 (leave me some money for mudguards and change of tyres) and has mostly Shimano 105 groupset.

I do also like the Cannondale CAADX 6 Tiagra Disc - BUT seems to be only in stock everywhere for very tall people - nowhere has the small sizes.

The Focus Mares AX 5.0 came to my attention too, has a carbon fork and comes ready equipped with full mudguards and a front light - but not sure if it has the bar top levers.

Any advice (particularly bearing in mind I'm short and female (and not particularly light either!) would be gratefully received.



  • monkimarkmonkimark Posts: 737
    I have a CX bike for commuting and I never use the cross top levers, I actually took the front one off and it seemed to improve braking - I guess the additional stops etc add a bit of sponginess to the set-up.

    The back one is still on for the meantime, just because I didn't have a spare cable at the time and I use the barrel adjuster on the lever. Once I get time to replace the cables and add in an inline adjuster, the other lever will be going as well.

    Coming from a mountain bike background, I thought I'd need them but it's just not a natural position for your hands to be really.
  • FrannybobsFrannybobs Posts: 20
    Thanks Monkimark. I actually have bar top levers on my Giant Avail road bike at the moment and find them helpful because I can grip them tighter, due to having small hands I find it very difficult to get a proper tight grip on the brakes from the hoods, and I don't ride in the drops very often, unless I'm bombing it along!!
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    For commuting in urban areas I think the bar top brakes would be very useful. They're ideal for braking while staying high on the bike to allow you see what's happening around you at busy junctions etc. I used to have them on my Tricross and although I almost never used the tops for general riding I did use them and the bar top brakes when I was approaching or stopped at junctions in towns. I eventually removed them to make space on the bars for other things (clip-on extensions) but if i was going to use it for commuting I'd probably put them back on. They did seem to have a minor effect on the crispness of the main levers but not enough to be a problem.

    Incidentally the Specialised Tricross might be worth adding to your list of bikes to consider. It's not really a full-on CX bike in my opinion, more of a do anything mix of road-bike, CX and tourer. I used mine for all my riding for 3.5 years including 200km sportives, duathlons and adventure races. Mostly set up as a road bike with lighter wheels and either 25mm or 28mm road tyres. Mine was the 2009 version but I think the more recent versions are available with disc brakes.

    However, the Canyon Inflite AL would probably be top of my list for your purposes. You can buy this either in a cyclocross with off-road tyres or setup for winter training/commuting with good 28mm slicks and mudguards.
  • blu3catblu3cat Posts: 1,016
    What about a genesis, seem to fit the bill, although theymay be on the heavy(ish) side being steel. Am very intrigued by the Alfine one, super low maintenance although it'll probably accelerate like a supertanker.
    As for smaller hands, I think that you can reach adjust Tiagra as well as 105 now, so that may well help if you decide to get a bike without bar top levers

    And cx for the commute is the way forward!
    "Bed is for sleepy people.
    Let's get a kebab and go to a disco."

    FCN = 3 - 5
    Colnago World Cup 2
  • FrannybobsFrannybobs Posts: 20
    ai_1 wrote:

    However, the Canyon Inflite AL would probably be top of my list for your purposes. You can buy this either in a cyclocross with off-road tyres or setup for winter training/commuting with good 28mm slicks and mudguards.

    Thanks for the advice, sadly I can't get the Canyon on the work scheme - can't get it direct from that supplier and they don't have any stockists...
  • tgotbtgotb Posts: 4,714
    Kinesis Pro6. Identical geometry to the Planet X XLS, but with mudguard/rack attachment points and enough clearance to run proper CX knobblies under the mudguards.
    Pannier, 120rpm.
  • My riding buddy has a Genesis CDF with mudguards and top levers fitted. She loves the bike. Its a 50cm frame and she's 5 ft 4.
    2014 Genesis CDF
    2010 Boardman MTB Comp

    Gifted enough to extract twice the fat and calories from any food.....
  • Monty DogMonty Dog Posts: 20,614
    I would focus on getting the right size frame - try and find something around 48cm seat-tube c-c and 52cm toptube maximum. You want a little bit extra standover clearance offroad and not too much reach - you may have to think about a shortish 8cm stem too. I would say that a 50cm Genesis CdF is too big and wouldn't worry about bar-top levers - they're a waste of space and too narrow for when you want meaningful control.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • Have a look at Merida's cyclocross range, they do a 48cm frame.

    My Merida CX4 came with the handlebar brakes & IMO the Hayes CX5/Expert calipers are much better than the Avid BB7's I've had.

    I use mine all year round and don't have any complaints about it, I shall be keeping it for commuting as in my eyes is a perfect commuter for the money.

  • Paul 8vPaul 8v Posts: 5,458
    The Revolt is a fun bike, you can fit up to 50mm tyres if you want so it's more of a monster crosser and you can go mash some trails if you wanted to. Much less aggressive than a cross bike and a longer wheel base so less twitchy than a race orientated machine. I really liked the one I tried but it wasn't aggressive enough for racing, it's orientated more at the mountain biker making the jusmp to cross but if you put some road tyres on it would be more than capable.

    I've just gone for some Racing Ralph's on my everyday commuter as it is about 20% road and 80% off road. Towpaths and trails etc, something like that would be perfect for all but the muddiest of trails and still rolls ok
  • FrannybobsFrannybobs Posts: 20
    Thanks all for the advice, I've just had my voucher approved so back to the shopping...still can't find the Cannondale CAADX in anything less than 54 size so that's out the window. I'll let you know what I go with :)
  • Paul 8vPaul 8v Posts: 5,458
    Give it a few weeks and all the new cross bikes will be out so you might find a few more in your size
  • FrannybobsFrannybobs Posts: 20
    Finally ordered a bike...gone for a fast commuter probably more than a 'cross - it's women's specific which is good as all the men's 'cross bikes I tried were pretty much all too long for me in even the smallest sizes:

    Has TRP Hydraulic disc brakes with Shimano Sora groupset and will be out mid-late August - not long to wait! ... on-womens/

    Thanks again for all the help and advice
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