Monster CC - how capable?
I have never ridden a mountain bike, but I have ridden a cheap hybrid on single track and it has been somewhat survivable and ok experience. How much improvement I can expect with a Cross-Check with higher BB; wider, knobbier tires; maybe those "cross levers" and such.
Is that almost like a 90's MTB and not-so-bad to ride on single track, or just something people like mess around with for a while, but mainly ride their squishy and shiny bikes?
I would be keeping this also as road oriented bike, so occasional switch of tires or so, various experimenting and finding my thing. If that works well in practice...
edit: Neither have I ridden anything with drop-bars, but I'm quite fond of the idea.
edit2: And on pretty tame XC terrain, can this be even better than a XC mountain bike?
Last edited by Turbo Priest; 04-21-2013 at 10:12 AM.
I think it would be pretty close to your hybrid experience. It really depends on how big the tire was. The CC fit up to about a 1.8" tire, and there's a few knobbies in that range, but it won't be as a good as any mountain bike with real mountain bike tires (rigid or not).
For me, riding a cross bike off road is a fun change of pace, a challenge, but not how I regularly want to mountain bike.
It has smooth 40C tires. I've also ran them pretty high pressure (I think), but not sure. Kept lower pressure on icy roads during winter, where I could notice improvement in grip.
How you describe CC vs MTB on trails? Is it the tires that make the most obvious difference, or geometry? Understanding the physics of different tires on different surfaces is hardest for me, especially having limited experience in different ones. Been just ghettoing it up with what ever is available.
Have this romanticized idea of using cross bike as a more bling ghetto MTB. The hybird is just falling apart, the pedal strike ground constantly if even little badly timed pedaling and the geometry forced me to hang my ass far at the rear on decents. Not to mention the lack of grip on climbs and corners and feet coming off going over roots and rocks (no bike shoes). Now my rear wheel is so out of true, that the brake is useless, but hasn't stopped me yet.
I haven't ridden a CX bike in a long time and never as a mountain bike, but I have a good story.
Originally Posted by Turbo Priest
My buddy and I raced pretty heavily in college and we were competing for the overall title at a local race series. It was a smooth track with a handful of technical sections and I was doing well aboard a rigid, single speed Karate Monkey. My friend, a strong and very skilled technical rider, decided to race one weekend on his CX bike, a beautiful carbon rig weighing in at 19lbs. He put the biggest tires he could on it and showed up to the race.
...I lapped him on the 3rd of 5 laps. We were usually seconds apart from one another. He looked miserable on that bike. The skinny tires beat him up and the dropped position was killing him. Needless to say, he never brought his knife to the gunfight again.
Typically monstercross bikes are 29er mountain bikes with a pair of dirt drops. This means big tires (1.8" is not big) and upright positioning in the drops (ie. descending in your drops won't suck). Personally I think the bikes look silly and, while they may have a niche, I can't imagine wanting to ride one on my local trails.
If you want a road and a mountain bike, but only have room for one bike I'd suggest you do what I did, get two sets of tires for a Karate Monkey (or a Troll/Ogre). With a pair of bar ends and a flat bar I used my Karate Monkey as a road bike for over two years before I finally purchased a real road bike. In all that time it was still a capable mountain bike and I was able to keep up with the local club rides on the road as well. I also got really fast at changing tires.
From what I've seen I think you'd be miserable trying to ride a CX bike as a mountain bike, but converting a mountain bike to a road bike is a much easier and enjoyable process. It'll also cost about the same. Also, a mountain bike can make a decent 'cross bike if you ever feel like racing it.
Now that puts things into perspective... I didn't expect that CX bike would be that powerless against a rigid MTB. I thought it's just being a lot more challenging bike handling wise and somewhat slower. The wider tires must help a lot. Today I rode on a bit wet field. The bike slowed down quite a bit, but it was ok. Do regular MTB tires roll a lot faster there or is that fatbike territory? I'm trying to picture the flotation capability of MTB tire.
It seems like I have to look into an actual MTB. I always head to the woods and like to jump things and ride stairs and take shortcuts in the urban areas. Have that mountain biker gene. I don't absolutely have to have only one bike, but would be budget friendlier. Any sense in getting something like Cross-Check and Karate Monkey, or should I look into getting a more capable MTB to pair with Cross-Check? My "road bike" would need to handle touring and year around commuting and some dirt anyway. The original idea was to do that with Cross-Check + fit it occasionally with fatter tires for off-road use.
I will go testing different MTB's in couple weeks, because there's going to be this event. Maybe there will be a revelation.
Definitely check out the event, I think you'll have quite the awakening when you try out an actual mountain bike.
Originally Posted by Turbo Priest
Riding in a wet field; for some reason I am imagining you riding on a damp soccer field, which isn't really an ideal place to be riding. Mountain bike tires will certainly float more on that type of surface, but that just comes down to surface area of the tires. I think you should be more focused on geometry of the frame than on the tires attached to it.
On the trail a CX bike isn't going to be as nimble as a mountain bike, the positioning is more forward and aggressive, and the steering is going to be twitchy and kind of scary when you get into anything steep. The long reach of the top tube will make it difficult to get behind the saddle and steering from the hoods (top of the brakes) or the drops isn't easy when approaching rocky ledges and roots.
As for your riding style, you can certainly jump curbs, ride stairs, and hit drops with a CX (or a road bike), but it isn't comfortable and I wouldn't recommend it for someone who is newer to the sport. You'll go through parts quickly, as you've discovered on your hybrid. The larger tires, more relaxed geometry, and overall design of a mountain bike will make this type of riding a lot more fun.
FYI, I have toured and commuted year round on my Karate Monkey for the last 9 years. You'd be amazed at how fast a mountain bike can go when you put high pressure road slicks on it.
Good luck with the search. From the sound of it I would point you towards a Surly Ogre or a Salsa Mariachi or FarGo (has the drop bar thing going on). Those aren't the only options out there of course, many other manufacturers make hardtail mountain bikes that can handle a rack and fenders for touring. You are in the Surly forum though and those suggestions reflect that.
The Cross Check can handle anything you listed. On singletrack, especially choppy stuff, it will be slower than a suspended mountain bike unless you are fearless and tough. Small jumps are fine, stairs are fine. If you are gapping staircases while on the hoods, the handlebars will slip in the stem on landings and you may lose your grip. If you are riding for your own entertainment it is great fun to test the limits of yourself and the bike. If you think you are going to keep up with racer boys on the trail, you will be disapointed.
I ride my CC on singletrack pretty frequently and I really enjoy it. It is, however, a very different experience than riding even a rigid MTB with upright handlebars. The CC is fast on relatively smooth, flowing sections, but much slower on technical sections and descents. if you are looking for the experience most people are having on your local trails, a monstercross type setup would probably not be a good idea.
Interestingly, last summer, i put upright handlebars on my CC to try out for a little bit, and it felt like a very different bike on singletrack. That would probably be a little closer to the 90's MTB comparison people sometimes make to the CC.
So, unless you specifically want to ride singletrack in that way, you'd probably want to go for a more standard type of MTB. From what you wrote, i agree with someone above who mentioned the surly ogre since it seems to handle commuting, touring and off road all well.
I too ride my XCheck in the dirt frequently (almost more than on road, these days) and I have to say that if you've not ridden a CX bike off road, then it's hard to believe how well they can actually do it.
to the OP: decide what you will be doing MOST of...will you be hitting the trails and doing jumps and going down stairs? or will you be commuting with occasionally doing those things? IMO, a Xcheck can handle all those things, but as mentioned, it's different than a "normal" mountain bike. but mostly, it's that the riding styles are different. you can be just as fast on a CX bike as a MTB on certain trails. I'm faster on one of my local trails when I'm on my CX vs my MTB. it's the same with DH bikes and XC bikes...certain trails will cater more towards one, and in THAT case, it's a better choice.
I do know a few guys who rip all the trails in my area on CX bikes and do it faster than most. a XCheck is a great "do-all" bike. get you some good 700x40+ tires and go have fun!
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