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  1. #1
    unrooted
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    Any Benefit to CX bike vs 29er?

    Rode my first race this weekend, the course we rode had zero pavement, short straight-aways and a lot of sand. I was able to ride 99% of the course except one steep sandy hill and a forced barrier section.

    I have an aluminum 29er frame hanging in my garage that I think could be built into a 25 lb race bike for a lot less than an equivalent level cx bike. To do it cheap though I would need to use a flat bar since I would be using a set of mtb disc brakes (no brake posts for cantis).

    For the type of courses around me I'm not sure if there is any benefit to a cx bike. What do you think? If I had to guess I would be a midpack cat 3 rider that can't run for sh*t.

  2. #2
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    You can use drop bars(like Cowbells, Woodchippers, Bell Laps) if you use the long pull levers like cane creeks or Tektros. I did on my Karate Monkey.

    I used my KM for a while, sure it is steel and darn heavy, plus it was a size too big(so basically, I am talking out of my ass) but I sold it to buy my CX bike and it was the right decision. Both were steel but the CX geo and fit works better. Right tool, right job. Now that doesn't say that I still wouldn't be equally as crappy had I stuck with my KM. I doubt my placing at this point would change. But I enjoy the race a lot more and the bike is easier to heft over barriers & up stairs.
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  3. #3
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    If you already had a 29er i would say to just ride that, but if you're starting from nothing but a frame i would just buy a CX bike. I don't know if it's just my area but they go pretty cheaply around here--i probably overpaid for mine and it was $700 (used) and weighs in at about 20lbs for an XL.

    To get a mountain bike down into those weights for $700 would be almost impossible. The gearing is very different, too.
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  4. #4
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    Just be prepared for a lot of heckling. Spectators will not hold back on the heckles if you're on a mountain bike and getting dropped on the loose/techy sections.

    There's a chance the 29er will be a little slack/long for tight corners and have a low bottom bracket when mounted up with 33mm tires but you'll still be able to get around and have fun.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by unrooted View Post
    Rode my first race this weekend, the course we rode had zero pavement, short straight-aways and a lot of sand. I was able to ride 99% of the course except one steep sandy hill and a forced barrier section.

    I have an aluminum 29er frame hanging in my garage that I think could be built into a 25 lb race bike for a lot less than an equivalent level cx bike. To do it cheap though I would need to use a flat bar since I would be using a set of mtb disc brakes (no brake posts for cantis).

    For the type of courses around me I'm not sure if there is any benefit to a cx bike. What do you think? If I had to guess I would be a midpack cat 3 rider that can't run for sh*t.
    So the CX bike would be lighter, accelerate better out of the turns, and be easier to shoulder. I think you'd see some benefit, but since it sounds like you're just getting into it, convert what you have.
    If you're really into it you'd be able to find/build a used CX bike cheaper in the off-season. In the meantime test ride demos that show up at races. See what features you prefer (disc vs canti).

  6. #6
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    What did you ride on for your race?

    I have a 'cross bike; I can't say it improved my times vs. a 26" hardtail. It's true that they feel more "right" on a 'cross course, but if you buy another bike, do it because you wanted an excuse, not because you think it will make you faster.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevland View Post
    So the CX bike would be lighter, accelerate better out of the turns, and be easier to shoulder. I think you'd see some benefit, but since it sounds like you're just getting into it, convert what you have.
    If you're really into it you'd be able to find/build a used CX bike cheaper in the off-season. In the meantime test ride demos that show up at races. See what features you prefer (disc vs canti).
    +1

    I also use my cx bike on road (if you do not have a road bike, another excuse to buy a cx bike)

  8. #8
    unrooted
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    I think I'll just build up the "old frame"

    It is an aluminum hardtail 29er. I have an extra set of wheels, which are a bit heavy, but if my wife isn't riding the same day I should be able to use her stans crest/hope wheels.

    If I upgrade my mountain bike the way I want to It will cost me around $600, then maybe another $200 put into the "cross" bike and I would have 2 really sweet rides. If I were to buy a cx bike it would be around that much and my mountain bike wouldn't be upgraded!

    During the cx race I had my current mountain bike-transition Transam 29-set up with my wife's wheels, a 1x9-42, 11-34, 560mm carbon bar, 90mm stem and my reverb. The bike weighed 27.8 lbs.

    If I buy an Exotic carbon fork, and set the old frame up with a 1x9 38, 11-32 and I have my wife's wheels on it should be around 23 lbs, which is light for a mountain bike!

  9. #9
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    We've got a sandy course coming up on Sunday, I'll be on my 29er with 2.1 tires, I hope to be able to ride all the sand and not have to slog through it. This course also has a bit more elevation change than the standard cx course so the mtb should be a good fit. Last year when we were at this same course, I was following my son on his 24" wheel mtb, we were headed through a sand section going to grid (I was on my old 26er mtb with 1.9s), he just rode right over not even noticing, while I bogged down with my skinnier tires. I did well on that course last year, one of my better finishes. Slogging through the soft sand really sucks the energy out of me, after 4 or 5 laps I should be feeling the benefit of riding over the sand, even though my hardtail 29er is about 25 pounds. The mtb worked well last year on the downhills, I was able to pass in a couple of downhill spots where the cx guys were being tentative and I could just bomb through. The more the course starts to resemble an mtb course, the more you should consider riding the mtb. The guy who won on that course in my group last year had a rigid carbon 29er mtb with flat bars and fairly fat tires (2.2s?), he told me it weighed about 19 pounds.

    You're going to get heckled no matter what, I think of heckling as getting a cow-bell rung at me. Racing (car, bike, etc) has an overwhelming history of racers using the equipment that they think is best suited to the course and is allowable within the rules (The Unfair Advantage' by Mark Donahue is a good read if you are into race cars). Don't ever feel bad about riding a mountain bike in a cx race.

  10. #10
    unrooted
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    Well I just got an email that the next race is in 2 weeks, the course will likely be much muddier and maybe some snow.

    I don't want to drop the $$$$ on converting my old frame just yet (need to drop $$$$$$$$$$$$ into retirement for Taxes).

    What tires should I get for a muddy course with a stretch of road riding?

    My current options are:
    2.1 Small block 8
    2.1 Maxxis Ignitor
    2.4 Maxxis Ardent
    2.3 Spec. Purgatory

    I'm thinking I should find at least one 1.9 tire to run on the back, any suggestions???

    I'm also going to get a seatpost shim to run a 27.2 on my 30.9 bike. The dropper wasn't useful in this race!!!

    Any advice on gearing? I ran a 44t in the front and 11-34 rear and found it to be good on the last sandy-slow and twisty course. I was able to ride all but one hill (one of which I only rode 1 time out of 6 laps).

  11. #11
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    Mud is tricky to plan for, if it's soft & bottomless run a fatter tire to stay on top, but if it's 1-2" of sticky over a hard base you'd want a skinny tire to cut through with less drag, imo. I often don't get it right.
    I don't have much experience with those tires, I've never used one but I've read that seatpost shims don't work very well.

    I run a 38x11-32 on my cx bike, and that is just right most of the time, but my 29er has a more standard 3x11-32 (with a 32 in the middle). For mtb races I use the 32 most of the time, I can't imagine having to shift to the big ring for cx. In my experience most cyclocross courses are pretty slow, without the longer smooth descents where you need bigger gears. I'd run a smaller front ring and just take a recovery if you run out of gears on a descent.

  12. #12
    unrooted
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    Jim, do you think I should stick to a mtb tire in the 1.9-2.1 range or go down to a 35c cx tire?

    I'm wondering if I should have a really wide front and really narrow rear??? My biggest worry is that I'll have so much mud that my bike weighs a ton! I haven't heard if the course has any road, but I do know that it is right off of a highway (but I doubt they have permission to have a race there!).

    The last course was really flat and sandy (30-40' hills at most) and the 44, 11-34 worked really well. I was thinking a 38 in front might be good. The f-ring I used was one I had laying around and with a deraileur as a chain guide I had zero issues. If I get a 38 I'll buy a race face 38t narrow wide and still use the derailleur. I don't really want to buy a new cassette just yet, I like having such a wide gap in gearing anyways.

    I'll try to get the seatpost shim right away to see if it works before the race. I really don't want to have to buy another seatpost since I have a great one sitting in my old frame!

  13. #13
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    I own a heavy cx bike and carbon hardtail 29er. I commute on the hardtail sometimes, and recently swapped it to 35mm cyclocross tires-- WAY faster than the racing ralphs i had on it previously. Throw some cx tires on your 29er ht and race cyclocross!

  14. #14
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    get the right tool for the job, a Cx bike.

    Buy a used one, use it for the season, and if you don't like it, sell if for what you bought it for.

    If you do like it, then you are way ahead of the game.

    No comparison of a Cx to a 29er unless you are paying major $ for the MTB.

    Bone stock, my $1500 Cx bike is 19 pounds, my $2600 29er is 26 pounds.
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  15. #15
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    Yeah, weight matters with all the accelerations in CX, but that doesn't mean that a CX bike is inevitably going to be lighter than a HT 29er. My 29er ht is full of carbon (including wheels) and with cx tires on it is easily hovering around 20lbs if not less,and now i've got a 1x10 on it. My CX bike is full of steel and alloy wheels and probably hovers around 23lbs.

    So if you've got some budget to play with, rather than buy a cheap cx bike, maybe bling out/lighten up your hardtail?

  16. #16
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    Can you go for a ride in the area that you'll be racing?, that would give you a better idea of what the dirt/mud might be like. If I didn't know what the dirt was going to be like, I think I'd run a smaller tire. For a course I don't know, I just bring my cx bike, the mtb is only for one course this year.
    Last spring in our local mtb series some guys were riding cx bikes, since it was more of a cx type course. -- The more it looks like road or hard smooth paths the more you want a cx bike, the more it looks like a mtb course the more you want an mtb, if it's in between you can ride either. Midpack 3 is still quite fast. Especially since you're new, riding a bike you're comfortable riding in traffic would be good.

  17. #17
    unrooted
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    I'm new to CX, but I've been mountain biking for almost 20 years. I raced a bit in High School & early 20's, mid pack sport class, when that was a thing!

    I found pics of the course on one of the guys that runs it's blog:Scott's Eastside Blog: Benton Crossing Cross
    The last 4 pics here are also the same area:Scott's Eastside Blog: Cyclocross Season!

    It snowed yesterday in that area (near Mammoth), but if it doesn't snow again before next weekend it will likely be really good dirt. I have never ridden my bike in this location, and not sure if i'll be able to before hand cause this weekend I'm heading south of town to do some mountain biking with my wife.

    I think my wife will be riding the cx race this time. My bike is going to be HEAVY with stans flow ex wheels on it!

  18. #18
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    For mud and snow, a chunky tread is nice, regardless of tire width.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rfxc View Post
    Yeah, weight matters with all the accelerations in CX, but that doesn't mean that a CX bike is inevitably going to be lighter than a HT 29er. My 29er ht is full of carbon (including wheels) and with cx tires on it is easily hovering around 20lbs if not less,and now i've got a 1x10 on it. My CX bike is full of steel and alloy wheels and probably hovers around 23lbs.

    So if you've got some budget to play with, rather than buy a cheap cx bike, maybe bling out/lighten up your hardtail?
    I interpreted the OP's post to be that he is on a budget since he's talking about using parts he already has.

    Pretty sure a carbon HT like yours isn't in the cards.

    You can pick up a good used CX bike for under $1000, and like i said, sell it down the road for close to what you paid for it (obviously depending on how good a deal you find).
    Mike
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by unrooted View Post
    I think I'll just build up the "old frame"

    It is an aluminum hardtail 29er. I have an extra set of wheels, which are a bit heavy, but if my wife isn't riding the same day I should be able to use her stans crest/hope wheels.

    If I upgrade my mountain bike the way I want to It will cost me around $600, then maybe another $200 put into the "cross" bike and I would have 2 really sweet rides. If I were to buy a cx bike it would be around that much and my mountain bike wouldn't be upgraded!

    During the cx race I had my current mountain bike-transition Transam 29-set up with my wife's wheels, a 1x9-42, 11-34, 560mm carbon bar, 90mm stem and my reverb. The bike weighed 27.8 lbs.

    If I buy an Exotic carbon fork, and set the old frame up with a 1x9 38, 11-32 and I have my wife's wheels on it should be around 23 lbs, which is light for a mountain bike!
    Run what you got for now. pick up a set of the Tektro 520's or if you want gears get a set of Retroshift modded 520's for something like $100. Ask around your riding community to see if anyone has a drop bar they aren't using.

    As you said you are mid pack and aren't gunning for podiums. And you are on a budget so just get out and ride.

  21. #21
    I Tried Them ALL... Moderator
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    My 2001 Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra is built up at under 21 pounds, with 46-36t cyclocross gearing and tires(shown with 700c x 25 road tires). The thing is a flat-bar ROCKET:



    Wheelset: Velocity Blunt SL/American Classic Disc Lite 29er x 25mm
    Bars: Cannondale Fire flat 620mm x 25.4mm
    Stem: Cannondale 1.5 x 115mm
    Fork: Cannondale Ultra Fatty Headshok DL 70mm
    Seatpost: Cannondale Competition 27.2mm x 400mm
    Shifters: SRAM X0 Grip Shift 9-speed
    Rear Derailleur: SRAM X0 Grilon Composite long-cage
    Chain: SRAM PC-1091R 10-speed
    Cassette: Shimano XTR CS-M960 11-34 9-speed
    Crankset: FSA Energy Cyclocross 46-36t 10-speed
    Front Derailleur: FSA Energy double 10-speed
    Pedals: Crank Brothers Candy 4ti
    Saddle: Fizik Gobi XM
    Tires: Kenda Small Block 8 Cyclocross 700c x 1.5
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  22. #22
    unrooted
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    For now I ended up buying a carbon fork & a CC 40 headset to put on my old frame, and I'll use parts from my current bike. Hopefully come dec-january I'll be able to do everything I would like to do to both bikes so that I have 2 decent bikes.

    What I would like to do with the cx 29er is to put a drop bar on, but that means I need to also get a set of shifters and BB7 brakes. I'll probably just stick to the flat and put the money into my MTB.

    Still don't know if I should waste money on tires. I'll hold off now and see how the next race goes. I should be spending my time training for rock climbing, but addictions...

  23. #23
    I Tried Them ALL... Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by unrooted View Post
    What I would like to do with the cx 29er is to put a drop bar on, but that means I need to also get a set of shifters and BB7 brakes. I'll probably just stick to the flat and put the money into my MTB.
    Flat bar works pretty good. Reverse the stem and you'll get plenty of climbing leverage. Ignore the elitist, CX hecklers....
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  24. #24
    I should be out riding
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    I would go with Ignitors out of those choices. I've seen others with SB8s pack up really bad in mud. I think Ignitors would fare best of these options.

    Quote Originally Posted by unrooted View Post
    Well I just got an email that the next race is in 2 weeks, the course will likely be much muddier and maybe some snow.

    I don't want to drop the $$$$ on converting my old frame just yet (need to drop $$$$$$$$$$$$ into retirement for Taxes).

    What tires should I get for a muddy course with a stretch of road riding?

    My current options are:
    2.1 Small block 8
    2.1 Maxxis Ignitor
    2.4 Maxxis Ardent
    2.3 Spec. Purgatory

    I'm thinking I should find at least one 1.9 tire to run on the back, any suggestions???

    I'm also going to get a seatpost shim to run a 27.2 on my 30.9 bike. The dropper wasn't useful in this race!!!

    Any advice on gearing? I ran a 44t in the front and 11-34 rear and found it to be good on the last sandy-slow and twisty course. I was able to ride all but one hill (one of which I only rode 1 time out of 6 laps).

  25. #25
    unrooted
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    I just ordered a Panaracer Cinder X from Ebay in a 700x35. Not sure what I'll run, guess I'll try to go up and look at the course sometime next week after work.

    I'm thinking if its dry I'll do sb8 in the rear and cinder x up front, if its muddy cinder x in the rear and ignitor up front.

    My wife is using her wheels cause she wants to try the race out, so that leaves me with 2 heavy options for wheels-flow ex or heavier wtb trail29 laserdisc... how wide a rim can I use the cx tire on???

    My plan, if I get everything before next weekend, is to use my old aluminum 29 frame, and put the parts off my current ride onto it, this will save me at least 2 lbs in frame weight! I bought this fork:MKM 35 Rigid Carbon MTB Fork and a canecreek 40 headset, so theres another 2 lbs, this puts me down to around 24 lbs which should be good enough for now.

    I'll keep a lookout for a set of disc specific 9mm wheels that are light and cheap. Maybe next year I'll put a set of bb7's, drop bar and ultegra shifters on, that would be around $3-$500, which means I spent a total of $700 on a bike that should be just as good as a cheap cx bike, imho, while putting me around 21 lbs if I stick to 1x9.

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