How does a cross bike frame handle on long road rides?

Apr 5, 2010
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I've never been on a cross bike, but I'm thinking of putting together a new (to me) bike for long rides on rough roads in variable (often wet) conditions. The thing is, there are a lot of steep descents involved.

My main question is this: does the higher clearance of the bottom bracket make the bike less stable at high speeds down hill? I guess I'm assuming that higher ground clearance means a higher rider position, but maybe that's offset by the more relaxed geometry of the bike?

I really don't know, that's why I'm asking, even if it's a dumb question.

Any other feed back is appreciated.

This would be my dream bike for what I'm thinking of (but maybe with disc brakes):

http://moots.com/our-bike/cross/psychlo-x/overview/

Thanks!

EDIT: In general, what kind of differences could I expect between the ride of a cross bike and that of a compact geometry framed road bike (assuming same frame materials)?
 
bc_hills said:
I've never been on a cross bike, but I'm thinking of putting together a new (to me) bike for long rides on rough roads in variable (often wet) conditions. The thing is, there are a lot of steep descents involved.

My main question is this: does the higher clearance of the bottom bracket make the bike less stable at high speeds down hill? I guess I'm assuming that higher ground clearance means a higher rider position, but maybe that's offset by the more relaxed geometry of the bike?

I really don't know, that's why I'm asking, even if it's a dumb question.

Any other feed back is appreciated.

This would be my dream bike for what I'm thinking of (but maybe with disc brakes):

http://moots.com/our-bike/cross/psychlo-x/overview/

Thanks!
'Cross bikes are plenty stable. Especially if you run a somewhat shorter stem, somewhat higher than a typical road position.

A modern cross bike is pretty lively. I think the handling is similar enough to a road bike.
Make sure the frameset has fender mounts if your rides are wet!
 
Mar 10, 2009
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It's possible from your description of the type of rides you will be doing that a cross bike would be a Jekyll and Hyde ride for you. The long wheel base and increased clearances of a cross frame give a stable ride capable of taking wet grave type roads well within it's stride. Most likely, the longer wheelbase will not be too disadvantageous on the climbs. On straight road descents, the long wheelbase will also give you predictable handling with fewer instances of 'speed wobble'. Where a cross frame will give up performance and handling to a road frame is on high speed technical descents. The typically slacker head angle makes tight radius turns harder work than your road frame. 'Normal' canti's found on cross forks can also give you problems with brake shudder which is definitely to be avoided on high speed descents. There are options - the TRP CX9 is a v-type brake designed to work with road-length cable pull. I've never ridden a disc-equipped cross bike so have no idea whether this would potentially solve the braking issue.

Oh, and you're not alone with having a Psychlo X as a dream ride. You might try this as an alternative too :cool:
 
Oct 18, 2009
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bc_hills said:
I've never been on a cross bike, but I'm thinking of putting together a new (to me) bike for long rides on rough roads in variable (often wet) conditions. The thing is, there are a lot of steep descents involved.

My main question is this: does the higher clearance of the bottom bracket make the bike less stable at high speeds down hill? I guess I'm assuming that higher ground clearance means a higher rider position, but maybe that's offset by the more relaxed geometry of the bike?

I really don't know, that's why I'm asking, even if it's a dumb question.

Any other feed back is appreciated.

This would be my dream bike for what I'm thinking of (but maybe with disc brakes):

http://moots.com/our-bike/cross/psychlo-x/overview/

Thanks!

EDIT: In general, what kind of differences could I expect between the ride of a cross bike and that of a compact geometry framed road bike (assuming same frame materials)?
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What a great thread. I think this bike is going to keep talking to me in my sleep until I buy it. Did a search for a CX recently and could only come up with really ugly cannondales, bianchis and scotts. This bike throws them all out of the water, but I imagine its pricy:confused: aswell?
As for your concerns about riding position, how far are you going to ride on this cyclocross bike anyway .. 100, 160kms? Have you ever had back problems riding a well set up mountain bike over that distance ( which must have an even higher bottom bracket)? I used to ride a top flight chromoly road frame ( with a campag record group!) down single tracks on my way home from school! I found the chance of snagging your plate on a rock just makes your riding much more agile and focused on bunnyhoppiing and swinging the back end around obstacles. But what am I saying ? I dont really know if cross bikes have worse handling than road bikes:(
 
Aug 13, 2009
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A cross bike will be super comfortable for long rides, especially that Moots. No, it is not going to descend as well but are you racing it? I have a similar set up that I keep at a friends house to use when I travel. I notice if I shift the weight forward on the descent it works better.

That Moots is an amazing bike.
 
Aug 9, 2010
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Yes, that Moots would be a terrific ride...you would not find much better! Just for fun, you could also check out a Ridley..even their 'entry level' is a blast.
cheers
 
Oct 18, 2009
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Race Radio said:
A cross bike will be super comfortable for long rides, especially that Moots. No, it is not going to descend as well but are you racing it? I have a similar set up that I keep at a friends house to use when I travel. I notice if I shift the weight forward on the descent it works better.

That Moots is an amazing bike.
How much does it cost?? Theres no mention of a price on their website?
 
Mar 19, 2009
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Cross frames are freaking great for big miles of adventure! You gain so much more in terms of where you can go, and lose so little in performance on the road compared to a pure road bike. Equipped with 25 or 28mm tires I basically roll everything from paved to dirt roads, big mountain passes, up, down (and fast), all kinds of rough stuff, wet, dry. I've got a pair of those new Clément LAS 33mm wide, with these I roll all of the above plus singletrack and fire roads. Before I moved to Denver at the beginning of this year I was doing hundred mile gravel road races in Minnesota, five a year all on a 2 speed Cross Check.

The one hook about riding CX as a main rig is the versatility, which basically doubles or triples the routes you can take. Get that MOOTS!!!
 
May 20, 2010
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I reckon cx bikes are the ultimate for longer distances and rough roads. The longest in both duration and distance I've ever ridden (10hrs/250kms fixed) was on my trusty Coconino. The ability to run bigger, more comfortable tires is an advantage as RdV says.
Many of the newer frames use geometry that is closer to a sportive style road bike than a trad cx bike, and accordingly handle quite well. I recently won a vets road race on mine. Oddly enough, I can corner on the descents much more confidently on the Coconino than on my Ridley Damocles.
 
May 20, 2010
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Apr 5, 2010
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Thanks for all the replies!
Looks unanimous on the feeling that a cyclocross set up is the way to go.
 
Apr 5, 2010
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icebreaker said:
I

That Moots is a great bike.
I was holding the Moots up as an ideal, but it's not in the budget.

It looks like the Moots has got a kind of "sub-compact" geometry going on, which I like. The straighter the top tube the better looking the bike, as far as I'm concerned. I've never liked those massively slanted top tubes.
 
Aug 13, 2009
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TexPat said:
That is perhaps the bike I covet most in function and form--though I'd eliminate the S&S couplers. The Hampsten is a very intelligent design.
Or maybe the Ritchey Cross built a few years back, but in titanium? With Chorus?
Richey has a Ti, cross, Breakaway. I travel a ton so the S&S on a Ti Bike is key

http://www.ritcheylogic.com/dyn_category.php?k=365048

Andy's bike is cool. Going to be in Tuscany for a week later this year, would love to ride the strada bianca with it
 
Mar 10, 2009
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bc_hills said:
I was holding the Moots up as an ideal, but it's not in the budget.

It looks like the Moots has got a kind of "sub-compact" geometry going on, which I like. The straighter the top tube the better looking the bike, as far as I'm concerned. I've never liked those massively slanted top tubes.
If the Moots is budget busting then take a look at the Hampsten Strada Bianca. The Columbus Spirit PegoRichie steel blend is the pinnacle of butted steel tubing. The frame is a happy compromise between a standard road frame and a cross frame. Relaxed angles and plenty of clearance and using 57mm dual pivot brakes. It's likely one of these will be my next bike. Oh, and it's good enough for Andy Hampsten in it's Ti incarnation. :D
 
May 20, 2010
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icebreaker said:
I have a Cross bike that was built by Doug Curtiss in Washington State.
Doug built my 29er. This brings up a very good point that hasn't yet been made; there are lots of good, light, and steel options from custom builders that will cost significantly less. A frame tailor made is the best choice in my experience.
Moots still does that, right?
 
Aug 13, 2009
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icebreaker said:
Yes, Moots still do it but there prices are way up there.

Nice, reasonably priced steel options in the made to measure arena, with reasonable delivery times - I would say: Rock Lobster, De Salvo or Landshark. Closer to home for the OP he could look at De Kerf or Naked ( both based in BC) or True North in Guelph.

All good choices. Right now he has the advantage though of the Cdn dollar being higher than the US so he has some shopping power.

For an out of the box, ready to go, pretty hard to beat that Ritchey Break-away though.
A good buddy of mine just got a Ti, Couple De Salvo..... absolutely beautiful

One challenge with the Ritchey is it actually is not Arline approved. They bag is 64 inches and the limit is 62. If you have a good Ti builder that is close by I think it is always the best option. No shipping when things break .
 
May 20, 2010
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icebreaker said:
That is why my travel bikes are S&S. Chris De Kerf who I mentioned in the previous post is from Richmond, BC and does both Ti and S&S, so pretty close to the OP.
Close proximity to the source is very good, and Chris builds remarkable frames (I've had two!).
 
Apr 5, 2010
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RDV4ROUBAIX said:
Cross frames are freaking great for big miles of adventure! You gain so much more in terms of where you can go, and lose so little in performance on the road compared to a pure road bike. Equipped with 25 or 28mm tires I basically roll everything from paved to dirt roads, big mountain passes, up, down (and fast), all kinds of rough stuff, wet, dry. I've got a pair of those new Clément LAS 33mm wide, with these I roll all of the above plus singletrack and fire roads. Before I moved to Denver at the beginning of this year I was doing hundred mile gravel road races in Minnesota, five a year all on a 2 speed Cross Check.

The one hook about riding CX as a main rig is the versatility, which basically doubles or triples the routes you can take. Get that MOOTS!!!
Hey RDV4, is there any reason to be concerned about canti brakes on those long and fast descents? I've heard it mentioned that brake shudder can be in issue (even in this thread it came up).

It doesn't sound like it should be an issue. I've got friends that do huge bike tours fully loaded with panniers and whatever and they do steep descents all the time with canti brakes and I've never heard it mentioned that there might be anything sketchy about it.
 
bc_hills said:
Hey RDV4, is there any reason to be concerned about canti brakes on those long and fast descents? I've heard it mentioned that brake shudder can be in issue (even in this thread it came up).

It doesn't sound like it should be an issue. I've got friends that do huge bike tours fully loaded with panniers and whatever and they do steep descents all the time with canti brakes and I've never heard it mentioned that there might be anything sketchy about it.
Not RDV4, but if shudder is an issue, then there are two solutions.

1. the cable housing ends at a cable stop mounted to the/a hole in the middle of the fork crown. Be sure the high-priced fork that goes with the high-priced frame has that hole in the crown.

2. Compact or otherwise v-brakes and the doo-hickey that makes brifters into linear pull levers.

I like the v-brakes anyway because the brake isn't hanging out, ready to poke me in the heat of battle. That's why the compact cantilevers found a market long, long ago in the cantilever days of mountain biking.
V-brakes and compact cantilevers fly against current fashion of using brakes that look like mafacs.
 
LugHugger said:
If the Moots is budget busting then take a look at the Hampsten Strada Bianca. The Columbus Spirit PegoRichie steel blend is the pinnacle of butted steel tubing. The frame is a happy compromise between a standard road frame and a cross frame. Relaxed angles and plenty of clearance and using 57mm dual pivot brakes. It's likely one of these will be my next bike. Oh, and it's good enough for Andy Hampsten in it's Ti incarnation. :D
+1 There is LOADS of fun factor built into this bike. If I were to do anything in the bike biz, a frame like the Strada Bianca would be the general idea. Too many people buy race-like frames (giant, any OEM) thinking it will be more fun. Not so much.

I don't get the desire to have the break-away feature if the OP is doing limited traveling. He might get dinged at the airport for 'oversize' but for one trip, it's kind of a moot point.
 

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