Cyclo-cross bike Vs MTB

herb71 Posts: 253
edited January 2019 in Cyclocross
Did my first ever cyclo-cross race at Misterton yesterday. Wow, that was hard, but I really enjoyed it. Really well organised and very friendly. This won't be my last race, definitely want to do a lot more next season.

I did the race on my old 26 inch wheel, hardtail with the front suspension locked out. I was towards the back, not quite dead last, but certainly (lots of) room for improvement, mostly with the rider.

Obviously N+1 means I have to buy a new bike and my question is, how much quicker can I expect to find a dedicated cyclocross bike compared to my old hardtail? Or am I deluding myself that the bike will make much of a difference?


  • trek_dan
    trek_dan Posts: 1,366
    Fitness more important but it'll certainly be faster most of the time, especially on fast course and early season when its dry.
  • The best CX courses should always favour a cross bike, not so technical that you need suspension and enough straights that thinner tires are faster. At a certain point though rider fitness comes into it. There are some very fast mtbers that race CX but in general you tend to find mtbs further down the field and not an advantage (except for using their extra wide bars to block passes in narrow sections of track). :wink:
    Get a CX bike and join us for real :D Misterton was a great example of a great CX course, a mtb was not an advantage on any part of it.
  • Agree with cyclingsheep that if a MTB is running competitive with a cross bike you've got a bit of a rubbish course on your hands. It's always the rider at the end of the day but there is quite a difference racing on a cross bike IME. There's a lot of variety in CX courses, which is part of the appeal, but you almost always get a lot of turns between the tape and a cross bike will boss a MTB here. Getting skilled through the turns is a big part of CX - I ain't mastered it yet but it's clear the fast riders are very smooth and can carry great speed in this department.

    Obv a cross bike will be way easier on the dismounts / remounts and shouldering - this feels like the essence of cross in some ways although a lot of courses will be very light on this. I race the NW courses and there's generally v little running unless the weather has swamped a course. Technique through the turns is significantly more valuable.

    I'd also rate the CX bike as being way more capable in pure mud as far as racing goes. 33 tyre at low pressure, light rigid frame is just the optimised tool for the job, they cut through and grip, can scale some really tough muddy pitches that you'd never get up on a MTB - had a couple of battles on very heavy courses with guys on mountain bikes with them running half way round the course and me riding as they couldn't get rolling. Big tyres suck in mud [I have a B+ MTB and it's a grip monster on mixed terrain, but for pure mud it can be a bit of a heartstopper when it swaps ends].

    A MTB is good on courses with harder surfaces and less turning, dry conditions, plus any sustained descents are generally good news for railing down. Some courses have real mudbath descents and if you can't establish a line (e.g. the entrypoint is on a turn, say) they can start to ask some questions on the cross bike, guys going on their backsides left and right. A MTB will always make easier work of these situations plus be more forgiving of mistakes.
  • As covered by all of the above. I've seen fast MTB'ers challenge for the podium, particularly in the vets, but those bikes are typically full carbon, carbon forks, 29er wheels etc.
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  • herb71
    herb71 Posts: 253
    Interesting comments. Thanks. Interesting what you say about grip. I had the idea that my big fat MTB tyres would offer more grip, but I did struggle to hold a line and to get traction. The blocks on the tyres also filled with mud and started spinning.

    Looking forward to doing a few more races next season.