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Cyclocross Newbie

dazz_ni45dazz_ni45 Posts: 461
edited October 2019 in Cyclocross
Completely new to the world of cyclocross and picked up a 2019 Vitus Energie CR at the weekend.

Hoping to use it as a bit of an all-rounder for exploring local lanes, winter bike with mudguards and hopefully a few local cyclocross "b"/support races.

What pedals are commonly used in cyclocross races? Are flats and MTB shoes a no no or should I be looking at SPD's and compatible shoes and if so is there any recommendations that won't break the bank and I will realistically only be doing a few races.

Only change I intend on making to the bike is to change the cassette from the supplied 11-32 to an 11-42.

The tyres it is supplied with are WTB Cross Boss 700 x 35c. Would these be adequate for cross races?

Any other tips would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Posts

  • I'm in the same boat as you. I did a CX training course with Helen Wyman lately which was a huge help. If you are in the UK see if you can get to one she is hosting. Her husband Stef is there on the day and he knows tyres inside out so you can pick his brains on that.

    She uses the egg beater pedals as its easier to get the foot back in compared to the SPD pedals. I use Shimano M520 SPDs which are fine but it can cause a small bit of stress when you are trying to clip in and get going again. Thats all budget dependent on what you buy but a lot of the people on the course the day I did it had them. You can use flats for practicing wheelies, bunny hops etc but if its muddy you will probably lose grip and slip off the pedal.

    The tyres should be ok as they're designed for cross. I'm going with the Baby Limus as an all rounder to keep my costs down but knowing the pressure to have the tyres at is probably as important as they tyres you have.

    I've entered my first race so in two weeks I will have had my censored handed to me and will hopefully know a lot more about where to work on skills, fitness and gear wise.
  • marykamaryka Posts: 735
    SPDs for me (2 bolt, not to be confused with SPD-SL road pedals). Theys are pretty bombproof but tend to clog up in sticky mud. I think other people use Eggbeaters but apparently they suffer bearing issues so I haven't been convinced to try them yet.

    Don't use any version of SPDs that come with a cage around them though, just bog standard double-sided SPDs. Basic MTB shoes are good enough, but get ones that can fit 2 studs for steep or muddy conditions when you need extra traction running uphill. Remove studs for general riding...
  • The WTB will be fine for early in the season when it’s dry but if it gets a bit muddy they may well clog up quite easily. As for pedals, everyone has their favourites, mine are Time ATAC pedals, good clearance like egg beaters but a bigger platform in case you miss your initial clip in. For your first race just show up and give it a go. Cyclocross has a great atmosphere and comraderie.
  • tgotbtgotb Posts: 4,714
    At least 90% of the field will have SPDs, so (like Grifo treads) they'll never be a bad choice.
    - Time allegedly clear a bit better than SPD, but (apart from Sheep and I) pretty much no-one has them, and the brass cleats wear out a bit more quickly than steel SPD cleats
    - Eggbeaters appear to be the only clip-in pedals that work well in sticky snow, but allegedly have longevity issues
    - When you arrive in the pit in a good position but with a broken bike and no spare, if you can find a mate who'll lend you theirs it'll almost certainly be SPD (but it'll be too big and you won't be able to figure out the shifters anyway).

    The clip-in technique for Time and SPD is very subtly different (not sure about Eggbeaters), so don't use one on your commuting bike and a different one for CX as it'll make your clip-ins a bit less smooth than they could be. For the same reason, don't change mid-season if you can help it. Having a different system (Look, Speedplay etc) on your road bike isn't a problem because they're sufficiently different that your muscle memory doesn't get confused.
    Pannier, 120rpm.
  • othelloothello Posts: 574
    I thought I was the only one running Time ATAC pedals, but it seems not! :D

    Its definitely a preference thing, and to begin with I wouldn't over analyse it. If you have years of SPD muscle memory then stick with them, and accept they won't clear that well in mud. Time and Eggbeaters do clear better but you've got to learn them.
    Blogging about junior road bikes http://junior-road-bikes.tumblr.com
  • Thanks everyone for the comments and advice so far.

    The Shimano PD M540 seem to be a sensibly priced choice and I will probably match them with a pair of Shimano MTB shoes and I use Shimano road shoes and they fit me well as I have a wider foot
  • Be sure to get shoes that take toe studs, you’ll need them later in the season
  • tgotbtgotb Posts: 4,714
    Be sure to get shoes that take toe studs, you’ll need them later in the season
    And beware of shoes that look like they take studs but don't; I bought a pair online, a while ago, that had the "studs" moulded into the sole, but in a different colour!
    Pannier, 120rpm.
  • asprillaasprilla Posts: 8,440
    I used to use eggbeaters but I found them terrible for my knees. I think it was the lack of platform coupled with the fact I have a shim on my right cleat would mean my feet could move around too much. Switched to Ritchey SPDs and I have no pain at all.

    Unless you are planning on troubling the front end of the race I wouldn't worry too much about pedals. Same for tyres; get the grippiest ones you can. If it's dry it means you'll be a little more slower than the folk who may well lap you anyway, but it in the wet it means you are less likely to face plant.

    Last time I raced (on a TGOTB designed course) I picked fast dry tyres and as we waited on the grid we had torrential rain. I fell off twice on that particular day.
    Mud - Genesis Vapour CCX
    Race - Fuji Norcom Straight
    Sun - Cervelo R3
    Winter / Commute - Dolan ADX
  • Ah, Ritchey SPDs, my first ever pair, loved those pedals.
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 10,963
    Be sure to get shoes that take toe studs, you’ll need them later in the season

    I'm fairly ambivalent on toe studs. I've had them fitted sometimes and found they've made no difference. IME, there's a very small window on ground conditions where they might be useful. Once the surface is properly soft and muddy then even studs are going to slip..
  • I tend not to use them if there's any likelihood of needing to dismount on concrete, for steps and things but have definitely found them useful on occasions
  • tgotbtgotb Posts: 4,714
    asprilla wrote:
    Last time I raced (on a TGOTB designed course) I picked fast dry tyres and as we waited on the grid we had torrential rain. I fell off twice on that particular day.
    :lol::lol::lol:

    You were in very good company; I enjoyed that race almost as much as I would have done if I'd been riding!

    We're running the race on 22nd September this year, in the hope of drier conditions. Although the rain made for a great day's racing, the local midweek dog walkers were less impressed...
    Pannier, 120rpm.
  • tgotbtgotb Posts: 4,714
    Imposter wrote:
    I'm fairly ambivalent on toe studs. I've had them fitted sometimes and found they've made no difference. IME, there's a very small window on ground conditions where they might be useful. Once the surface is properly soft and muddy then even studs are going to slip..
    Most of the time they're a nice-to have, but when you need them you really need them; I've seen slippery banks that people with studs could run straight up while those without looked like they were playing snakes and ladders.

    For those racing in the SE, the Leeds Castle course would be tricky without studs if it's wet, as would the National Trophy course at Crawley. Conversely the 3 Peaks - which includes a long climb on stone steps - would be a nightmare with studs.

    If you have the luxury of taking a spare set of shoes to races, it's not a bad idea to have one set with studs and one without.
    Pannier, 120rpm.
  • asprillaasprilla Posts: 8,440
    tgotb wrote:
    asprilla wrote:
    Last time I raced (on a TGOTB designed course) I picked fast dry tyres and as we waited on the grid we had torrential rain. I fell off twice on that particular day.
    :lol::lol::lol:

    You were in very good company; I enjoyed that race almost as much as I would have done if I'd been riding!

    We're running the race on 22nd September this year, in the hope of drier conditions. Although the rain made for a great day's racing, the local midweek dog walkers were less impressed...

    Noooooooooooo! That clashes with my last triathlon of the season.

    I haven't actually seen the calendar for this season.

    Edit: Just looked and I can fit them both in on the day. Phew.
    Mud - Genesis Vapour CCX
    Race - Fuji Norcom Straight
    Sun - Cervelo R3
    Winter / Commute - Dolan ADX
  • If damp, muddy grass then yes to removable studs and rugged soles if you are feeling flush. But I take other points above and if loads of hard surfaces or super dry/dusty conditions then not needed. Smoothish-soled cheapish commuter/leisure SPD shoes can be comedy gold on muddy run ups but that is part of the fun so ride what you got to start with.
  • andypandyp Posts: 8,146
    tgotb wrote:

    For those racing in the SE, the Leeds Castle course would be tricky without studs if it's wet, as would the National Trophy course at Crawley. Conversely the 3 Peaks - which includes a long climb on stone steps - would be a nightmare with studs.
    In certain conditions, the Leeds Castle course is best tackled wearing a pair of crampons.

    Herne Hill, Frylands and that park in Brighton near the race course are other SE courses where studs can make a difference.
  • A little question for someone who's pretty much a newbie in this field: should there be any precautions to take regarding cyclocross on the Mediteranean coast? Apart from, of course, wearing a hat, bringing lots of water and suncream.
    Because I live in a city right now, but my wife and I were planning to buy one of these houses in Greece where I could ride my bike in the countryside, and I don't want to fall in some tourist trap!
  • imposter2.0imposter2.0 Posts: 10,963
    A little question for someone who's pretty much a newbie in this field: should there be any precautions to take regarding cyclocross on the Mediteranean coast? Apart from, of course, wearing a hat, bringing lots of water and suncream.
    Because I live in a city right now, but my wife and I were planning to buy one of these houses in Greece where I could ride my bike in the countryside, and I don't want to fall in some tourist trap!

    Presumably, you'd be better falling off in 'some tourist trap' (which would presumably be full of tourists) than you would be in some remote, deserted area..?
  • step83step83 Posts: 3,791
    With the cleats on SPD, you want the SH56 version, silver not black as they are multi release/engage so you can stamp in more easily.
  • Chris JamesChris James Posts: 1,040
    Never heard that before. I've raced cheapo M520s and standard cleats for years. the main issue is getting sticks / gravel / mud / sand jammed in to the pedal / cleat interface.

    A sharp kick on the crank arms tends to clear it.
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