Our Guide to Buying: Cyclocross Bikes

What is a Cyclocross bike?

In a nutshell

Cyclocross is the name for a type of race ridden on a modified road bike. Cyclocross racing takes place off-road across grass, mud, woodland and sand. Races feature barriers and during an event, competitors will have to get off their bikes and carry them around obstacles.

Cyclocross is a popular discipline of bike racing, and lots of bicycle manufacturers have cyclocross bikes in their range. Because of their toughness and capability across different surfaces, cyclocross bikes are also ideal for commuting, so take a look through this buying guide to help you choose your new cyclocross bike!

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Features of a Cyclocross Bike

What is a Cyclocross Bike?

The best way to describe a cyclocross bike is to think of it as a road bike that’s been cross-pollinated with a mountain bike. However, the best cyclocross bikes aren’t just road bikes fitted with knobbly tyres. They may have started out like that, but today they’re more focused machines.

What special features do Cyclocross Bikes Have?

To prevent mud from jamming wheels, which is a big issue in CX racing, cyclocross bikes have lots of wheel clearance. Their bottom brackets are also higher than what you’d find on a normal road bike, which keeps the pedals away from obstacles on the ground. Wheels and tyres are designed to be tough as nails. Hubs will be well-sealed against grime and water and wheels will have strong three-cross spoke patterns with as many as 32 spokes.

Cyclocross bikes have traditionally come fitted with cantilever brakes or mountain bike-style V-brakes. Both cope well in all weathers and have plenty of clearance for muddy conditions. Disc brakes are becoming more common; they're less susceptible to getting clogged up with mud and offer improved performance in adverse weather.

Types of Cyclocross Bike

Cyclocross Bikes for Commuting vs Racing

Cyclocross bikes like the Genesis Croix De Fer are a popular choice for commuting because having fatter, semi-slick tyres means they can easily cope with gravel roads, towpaths, and even trails, yet their speed on tarmac isn't as compromised as a mountain bike's. Compared to road race bikes, cyclocross bikes tend to be a little shorter in their reach.

That makes for better manoeuvrability through twisty off-road courses but for commuting it means you've got a more upright position to give you a better view of traffic when riding along busy streets. Many cyclocross bikes have mounts for racks and mudguards which is enough to make them accomplished commuters and versatile enough for touring duties

What bike should I get for CX racing?

At the other end of the scale, cyclocross race bikes like the Fuji Altamira CX will be short on rack space. They’ll be more expensive too and built to be super lightweight, which is what you want when you have to carry a bike in a race.

The best cyclocross bike for you will be one that meets your needs, whether that’s racing or commuting in winter. If you’ve got questions about what will be right for you, pop into one of our stores to get detailed, helpful advice.