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What is a cyclocross bike and how to choose yours.
Cyclocross bikes are something between a road bike and a mountain bike and are designed specifically to the sport ‘cyclocross’ and are used predominantly in winter multi-lap racing.
The key main features of the Cyclocross bike are:
Drop handlebars, much like a road bike, also set up with hydraulic disc brakes, slacker geometry, wider tyres and sometimes, by choice, a single ring set up on the front with a larger gear ratio cassette.
These aspects help the bike perform and handle better in muddy rough off-road uncertain conditions.
Wider tyres help with the grip so you get more traction when riding in slippery conditions. Most cyclocross bikes are set up with wider rims and are tubeless ready meaning you can run lower pressures to gain more grip, especially for those off camber sections and tight twisty chicanes.
The wider bars help in giving you more control over the bike when it is sliding around in the winter conditions.
The hydraulic disc brakes help with a stiffer more active control with minimal force. Rim brakes can tend to be a little weak when in bad wet gritty conditions.
The single ring set up has developed with larger ratio cassette over the years which have enable this set up to be possible. It helps simplify the gear changes, eliminates front mech failures during racing in muddy conditions and is slightly lighter too.
The geometry on a cyclocross bike is much more relaxed and offers a more mtb upright position to help with the handling and harsh vibrations off road.
The bottom bracket is also higher off the ground to allow for rising over planks, steps and other log obstacles.
There are many people that also choose a cyclocross bike for winter riding and commuting as they are quite versatile to ride on and off road, down canal towpaths and also gravel tracks and rough country lanes that you wouldn’t want to take a nice carbon road bike down.
When choosing your cyclocross bike, decide how much you want to spend first. Like all other bikes on the market, different frames, components and setups affect how the bike rides.