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  1. #1
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    should a newb buy a cyclocross bike?

    Someone mentioned in an earlier post, "If you want a heavy commuter that can take trails, get a fb roadie or a cyclocross". I've been seriously considering a cyclocross bike. The Motobecane Fantom Cross CX looks mighty appealing. I want a bike that will grow with me.... right now I'm mostly interested in paved trails, but I would like to try out less groomed trails and light mountain biking with the same bike. Heck, I might even want to try clyclocroos one day when my fitness is good enough for it. Also, I like that that particular model is set up for front and rear racks and other accessories. I know nothing of specs and I'm assuming I should attempt a fit at a LBS. But just in case anyone has any advice regarding size, I am 5'8, 185 lbs (looking to lose some lbs), female, with a 31 inch inseam.The only thing that really makes me nervous about buying that particular model is that it is more expensive than I had planned on (reviews i have read suggest I will wanna buy a new seat and update some specs too)... and I have never had a drop down bar (my previous bikes have always been upright flat bar style). Any feedback would be appreciated!

  2. #2
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    If I could only have one bike (gods forbid) it would be a cross bike. They are so versatile. Racing, road, gravel grinders, mild single track, commuting etc.The geometry is a bit more relaxed and upright than a typical road bike, so don't fret the drop bars. I use mine for cross racing and winter commuting and riding. The extra clearance allows for a bigger tire and fenders. Be careful with that darn cross racing though, it is such a friendly and fun atmosphere, it becomes addicting really quickly.

  3. #3
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    that's good to know that they are a little more relaxed than a road bike... sounds like it shouldn't be a hard transition

  4. #4
    TXTony
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    I would for sure go to a shop and see what size you would need...one could guess by your height and inseam but that would be a guess and there is a lot that goes into getting a bike fit the way you want...stem length..stem rise and such..everyone seems to have their own preferences on how their bike fits them..plus if you know for sure what size you ride you may feel more comfortable ordering a bike over the net..as far as a cross bike goes I must agree if I had to give up all my bikes but one I would be hard pressed to let my cross bike go..as stated they are so versatile and honestly just down right fun to ride..since getting a cross bike I seldom ever ride my road bike anymore when I do ride the road..I always grab my cross bike in case I find a gravel road or path I want to go down and explore..

    As far as drop bars go..you will get used to them in a few rides no biggie..not something that should be a deal breaker if you get a cross bike..I have never had issues using the drop bars off road and like everything else when you change things or try something new just takes a little time on it.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by TXTony View Post
    ..I always grab my cross bike in case I find a gravel road or path I want to go down and explore..
    I can see myself doing the same thing

  6. #6
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    I like my cross bike and just last weekend rebuilt my old touring bike with a cross riding in mind with some spare wheels and tires (build links below). One thing you can add to the drop bars that is a big improvement is a set of cross brake levers up on the flats. Really helps having brakes up on top for long descents and just for easy riding where you are not in the drops or on the hoods. I have flat bars on my touring bike and drops on the cross bike and I think the drops are more comfortable for long rides but the flat bar is OK for shorter rides.

  7. #7
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    Zemasrose,
    If you buy cyclocross designed drop bars, they will make your transition from Flat bar to Drop bar much smoother. Cyclocross specific drop bars typically have a much more shallow drop, and much shorter reach to the hoods. It really helps the bike handle more like a mountain bike than a strech limo road bike.
    Hammerheadbikes.com

  8. #8
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    Fun question. It seems you have a good idea of what kind of riding you want to do (half the battle) and already received some good advice which I'd like to expand upon.

    Fit is clearly the most important consideration when choosing a bike. It's the difference between having a fun, two-wheeled adventure or a miserable, torturefest. I also agree that buying from a local shop staffed with knowledgeable individuals would be a worthwhile investment.

    The Fantom Cross, however, seems to have many of the features you should be looking for: nice components, wider tires and top-mounted cross levers.
    Motobecane Fantom Cross CX

    However, you'll want to get a bike with smaller "compact" handlebars, as suggested above. The ones featured on the Fantom appear to be full sized with a drop of 5"-6" from the top.
    should a newb buy a cyclocross bike?-1cx3red_3q.jpg

    Here's a sampling of various shapes. You may want to get a bike equipped with a bar similar the FSA Omega Compact which has a comfy, flat top with a shallow drop.
    should a newb buy a cyclocross bike?-hb-comparo.jpg

    If I was looking for one, do-everything bike, I'd also look at the Trek Crossrip, Specialized Tricross, Salsa Vaya and Surly Cross Check. And I'd pop into my local Performance Bike and REI to see what they have, as well. Most of these bikes have a "relatively" upright riding position, i.e. their head tube are 5"-6" tall, and when riding on the tops, should not feel all that different from your past bikes ... just make sure you know where the brakes are! The more bikes you try, the better you'll be able to decide on the right one for you.

    Questions?
    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  9. #9
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    Good pics JoeinChi!
    Hammerheadbikes.com

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRealKTrain View Post
    Good pics JoeinChi!
    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  11. #11
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    what do you think of the Blue Norcross Sp? Joeinchi? It's on the Nashbar site.

  12. #12
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    The Blue Norcross is a serious cx bike. Smokin' deal from Nashbar, too!

    It has a couple features which stand out: Tapered head tube, BB30 bottom bracket and the same carbon fork used in their top of the line model. Long story short, those features make it a stronger, more durable bike and certainly not common to all bikes in that price range.

    No real shortcuts on the components, either: American Classic Victory wheelset, Avid Shorty 4 brakes, SRAM Apex drivetrain, etc. The Hutchinson tires are tubeless-ready (nice!) and the crankset comes with 48 and 34-tooth chainrings which are perfect for a cx bike.

    The ONLY issue to be aware of is standover height. That's the measurement taken from the floor to the top tube at the midpoint between saddle tip and steerer. For a size medium, the SO is 80.1cm or 31.5". That might be a tight fit but typical for most cx bikes--they're taller for better ground clearance--but that doesn't necessarily mean you should go with a smaller bike.

    With cleats, the medium might be the right size. What you need to pin down, though, is the right top tube length for your body, the horizontal measurement between the seatpost and steerer. The specs on the Norcross SP suggest that they use typical road bike geometry--not stretched out nor upright cruiser--but you need to get on a road bike to see what will work.

    should a newb buy a cyclocross bike?-yb-ncsp-sizing.gif

    Here's one of the better videos I've seen on bike fitting. The woman is on a race bike with short head tube, so she's a bit lower than a cx rider but it should give you an idea of how you want to position yourself while looking for a good fit. Take note of her reach to the hoods and angles at the shoulders and elbows. And let me know if you have more questions.

    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeinchi View Post

    With cleats, the medium might be the right size. What you need to pin down, though, is the right top tube length for your body, the horizontal measurement between the seatpost and steerer. The specs on the Norcross SP suggest that they use typical road bike geometry--not stretched out nor upright cruiser--but you need to get on a road bike to see what will work.
    Very helpful post Joe.

    I've been eyeballing the Norcross SP, but I haven't even been on a road bike in many years. Is there any correlation between top tube length on a mountain bike and this particular cyclocross bike. Right now, I have an effective length of 598 mm with an 80 mm stem. I did test ride a Fuji and the the 545 mm length seemed OK, so I have been leaning to the size MD Norcross. But my confidence level is not high, whereas I know my mountain bike setup is spot on for me.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by wjabboud View Post
    Very helpful post Joe.


    Quote Originally Posted by wjabboud View Post
    Is there any correlation between top tube length on a mountain bike and this particular cyclocross bike.
    Yes, you'll be in the ballpark but there are a number of variables to keep in mind. For me, the difference in Effective Top Tube + Stem Length between my road and mtb is 25mm. The road bike has a shorter measurement, however, your hands go beyond the handlebar clamp on a road bike, so going shorter by an inch or inch and a half effectively moves the drops/hoods closer.

    While many of the components of newer road and mtb's have similar geometry, you should definitely double check any unusual parts and factor significant variations into your calculations. Here are some items to look at:

    Stem rise angle (7-10 deg is typical for road/cx bikes)
    Stem length (the Blue stem appears to be approx. 100mm?)
    Handlebar sweep (my mtb bar has a gentle sweep, road bars are straight)
    Seatpost offset
    Saddle fore/aft position

    Quote Originally Posted by wjabboud View Post
    ... I have been leaning to the size MD Norcross. But my confidence level is not high, whereas I know my mountain bike setup is spot on for me.
    If you haven't been on a road bike in some time, that's not surprising. Whether you're on the hoods or in the drops, it's hard to know if the fit is right.

    IME, the big difference starts with back arch. On my mtb, with wide grip, I lean forward about 45 degree and ride with my back fairly straight. On a road bike, however, I'm more comfortable with a rounded back. Not a hunch, just a gentle crouch which allows me to get my knees higher as I get more aero.

    Essentially, my road bike position is what I use during hard, seated climbs on my mtb ... head down, rounded back, elbows in, more power. Of course, I'm not exerting myself to the same extent but a rounded back on a road bike allows your legs to move freely through the entire pedal stroke.

    Once you find a comfortable "aero" position, the rest falls into place, i.e. hands, reach, drop, saddle tilt (I'm at +4 deg), fore/aft, etc. But trying to transplant your mtb posture to a road bike tends to lead to a less than satisfying experience. Just imagine trying to do that hard climb with a straight back--your body instinctively knows to curl up to get the most out of your legs and glutes.

    $0.02
    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeinchi View Post
    The Blue Norcross is a serious cx bike. Smokin' deal from Nashbar, too!

    It has a couple features which stand out: Tapered head tube, BB30 bottom bracket and the same carbon fork used in their top of the line model. Long story short, those features make it a stronger, more durable bike and certainly not common to all bikes in that price range.

    No real shortcuts on the components, either: American Classic Victory wheelset, Avid Shorty 4 brakes, SRAM Apex drivetrain, etc. The Hutchinson tires are tubeless-ready (nice!) and the crankset comes with 48 and 34-tooth chainrings which are perfect for a cx bike.

    The ONLY issue to be aware of is standover height. That's the measurement taken from the floor to the top tube at the midpoint between saddle tip and steerer. For a size medium, the SO is 80.1cm or 31.5". That might be a tight fit but typical for most cx bikes--they're taller for better ground clearance--but that doesn't necessarily mean you should go with a smaller bike.

    With cleats, the medium might be the right size. What you need to pin down, though, is the right top tube length for your body, the horizontal measurement between the seatpost and steerer. The specs on the Norcross SP suggest that they use typical road bike geometry--not stretched out nor upright cruiser--but you need to get on a road bike to see what will work.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here's one of the better videos I've seen on bike fitting. The woman is on a race bike with short head tube, so she's a bit lower than a cx rider but it should give you an idea of how you want to position yourself while looking for a good fit. Take note of her reach to the hoods and angles at the shoulders and elbows. And let me know if you have more questions.

    great info! thank you! I think Im going to go ahead with the blue. and advice on pedals? Im note racing or anything, but your advice has been stellar so far, so thank you!

  16. #16
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    You're welcome.

    For pedals, I don't think you can go wrong with the basic Shimano MTB model, PD-M520. Easy to use, sturdy design, inexpensive and adjustable, i.e. you can set the tension loose when starting out to ensure easy exit.

    One upgrade worth considering is the Shimano SH-56 multi-directional cleat. The pedals will come with a pair of standard SPD cleats, SH-52, which allow you to detach with an inward or outward twist while the SH-56 also allows you to pull straight out in case of emergency (or you forget you're clicked in).

    If you don't already have a pair, make sure your shoes are SPD-compatible--most brands of off-road cycling shoes are. SPD-SL pedals/cleats/shoes are the roadie versions.

    Congrats on the big decision to with the Blue. Very cool bike!
    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  17. #17
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    The only thing a cross bike isn't great for is really rough terrain (no suspension) and steep, technical descents (drop bars aren't great for this)...That doesn't stop me doing them, I just slow down and pick my lines carefully. My mates ride FS 29ers and when they drop me on the descents I know that I can always catch them on the flats and uphill sections. They're great all rounders, you just have to be aware of their limitations.

    Positioning - The only difference I have between my flat bar and drop bar set up is that I have my stem height about 30mm higher for the drops, the reach is exactly the same.

  18. #18
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    Thats great to know Hogdog! Im feeling better and better about my choice to go with a cyclocross bike the more I learn about them Seems to be EXACTLY what I was looking for!

  19. #19
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    I bought the Norcross SP, as the Nashbar price was too hard to pass up. At 5'9" with a 32" inseam (I think,) the Medium seems to fit pretty well. It is taller than my Medium GT road bike, which is to be expected. The bike is awesome, super fast, handles beautifully. My only complaint is the Blue saddle, which is about as uncomfortable is it gets. I'm using Crank Brothers Eggbeaters, which I have on all of my bikes. I put a Vittoria Randonneur tire on the rear and will put something else cheap on the front for commuting.

    I think I have more fun riding this bike than my other three combined.

  20. #20
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    woot woot! I put my order in today! I cant wait for it to get here!

  21. #21
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    You'll need to do some very minor wrenching. The front brake is not installed, and the indexing needed to be adjusted (both expected.) That saddle... youch.

    Also, the tires are so nice that you'll probably want to swap them out with something cheaper for general use and commuting.

  22. #22
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    Golden, you can mail that saddle my way! I love that thing!
    Hammerheadbikes.com

  23. #23
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    Let me see if I can find a suitable box around. It isn't much use to me, unless I feel like re-shaping my butt.

  24. #24
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    Yesterday I received my Blue Norcross SP from Nashbar.

    should a newb buy a cyclocross bike?-imag0106.jpg

    It weighs about 19 lbs w/o pedals. Since my only available pedals were vintage Shimano 737s add about 1.25 lbs for now.

    After cleaning my wife's drool stains from the keyboard, I also ordered her the EX version (it was not available in my size). Yes, it is carbon. Yes, she insisted. No, she could not be talked into the SP, which was available in her size.

    should a newb buy a cyclocross bike?-imag0103.jpg

    The EX weighs about 18 lbs w/o pedals. As for the comfort of the Blue Saddle--she studied it for about 3 seconds and demanded her old Terry, complete with flames, from her old hard tail. I'm going to give mine a chance.

    should a newb buy a cyclocross bike?-imag0104.jpg

    I'd really like to thank everybody for their comments on this thread and the other one that zemasrose started. Between riding the Fuji and Charge Filter at Performance and the information here, my wife and I were able to pick out some bikes that fit pretty well.

  25. #25
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    OoOoOOoo! thanks for the pix Wjabboud! I really am impressed with this site and its members. I had no idea i would get so much help I really appreciate it! Im still awaiting my blue cross sp! Im so excited!

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