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  1. #1
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    Cyclocross bikes in XC races

    hi guys

    I have not seen this in my part of the woods but i reckon this could start to pick up in time esp in races where the terrain is generally flatter and more gentle.

    What do you guys think? I have not actually ridden a cyclocross bike before but i do road rides pretty often and cant help but think this could start to pick up in the way the 29ner race hard tail has.

    Im sure there will be some raised eyebrows and gaping mouths if a cyclocross bike does a podium finish on an XC race!

  2. #2
    Dirty South Underdog
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    Some races have rules against them.
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  3. #3
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    Which means they are actually faster? So far i read the rules in my nearby races and it just says bikes with wheels max size 29 inches

  4. #4
    AZ
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    If they were superior dont you think the majority of racers would be on them ?

  5. #5
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    forget formal rules, its just morally wrong

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by usuckpoo
    Which means they are actually faster? So far i read the rules in my nearby races and it just says bikes with wheels max size 29 inches
    On a smooth (no roots/rocks), dry course, yes, it would likely be faster.
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  7. #7
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    They're only faster if there are no rocks, no roots, no super steep climbs, no technical stuff... not much fun for mountain biking.

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ.MTNS
    If they were superior dont you think the majority of racers would be on them ?

    Good point. but theres always a herd biasedness in everyone. It took a while for 29ners to catch on too. I recognize they wont shine everywhere and arent everyone's cup of tea either. But it was an objective question of whether these things are fast enough in specific conditions for people to use them in certain races - very similar to how xc racers ride hardtails in certain races and short travel fs bikes in others.

  9. #9
    AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by usuckpoo
    Good point. but theres always a herd biasedness in everyone. It took a while for 29ners to catch on too. I recognize they wont shine everywhere and arent everyone's cup of tea either. But it was an objective question of whether these things are fast enough in specific conditions for people to use them in certain races - very similar to how xc racers ride hardtails in certain races and short travel fs bikes in others.

    I am sure that there may be a certain race corse that favors a cx bike , And if the rules dont preclude it from competing that it would be the weapon of choise . Dont hold your breath waiting for the perfect storm though .

  10. #10
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    Faster on a smooth flat section... maybe. Faster through fast technical single track... prob not. Overall, handling on a mtb will be much superior than a CC bike.

    so my guess...not.
    ~every end is a new beginning...

  11. #11
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    I've seen many of them on race courses that are hardpack and quick, although most racers prefer the mountain bike if its a MTB race since the conditions are more treacherous. That being said, I also see lots of hardcore mofos on fully rigid mountain bikes with or without 29" wheels.

    Most races it doesnt seem to matter but races like Sea Otter classic may not care for it. I haven't read the rules yet.

  12. #12
    LMN
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    You can race Cross Bikes if you want to at a MTB race.

    I don't know why you would want to. I have never been on a MTB course where a cross bike would be anywhere near competitive.

    Remember it is cross that has rules against using MTBs not the other way around.

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    Good point that.

    "Remember it is cross that has rules against using MTBs not the other way around."

    I've not ridden one before, so just wondering how riding these on trails actually feel like.

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    I cannot...

    think of a single XC race course in my memory where a cross bike would have a speed advantage over a MTB. One of my riding partners sometimes takes his cross bikes out on the easier trails around here with me, these are pretty easy trails, but he still loses ground fast on anything even slightly downhill. Even on the flats and climbs, the cross bike is slower unless the surface is totally smooth hardpack; a few roots and rocks really bounce a cross bike around pretty badly.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Gerous
    They're only faster if there are no rocks, no roots, no super steep climbs, no technical stuff... not much fun for mountain biking.
    Yes, any course like would not get many entries. Who wants to ride a course like that?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    You can race Cross Bikes if you want to at a MTB race.

    I don't know why you would want to. I have never been on a MTB course where a cross bike would be anywhere near competitive.

    Remember it is cross that has rules against using MTBs not the other way around.
    every MTB race I've entered hasn't allowed cross bikes. Well they've allowed them, but they would not be eligible for awards. Maybe it's because where I am on the east coast the trails aren't too difficult, but take it fwiw.

  17. #17
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    MTB are allowed in CX races as long as you remove the bar-ends. That's just a general rule for all road/cx mass start races (any forward-reaching extensions of the handlebars are not allowed).
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  18. #18
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    If nothing else it would add some demolition derby spectator appeal on a course like Mont Sainte Anne. That can be a big enough challenge on a MTB, especially with a bit of precip on the trails.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Cyclocross bikes in XC races-2009_0726new0128.jpg  

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  19. #19
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    I've seen CX bikes at our mountain bike races. Everyone has covered it above, they are fast on smooth terrain and a burden on rough terrain. Given that a proper mountain bike race should have some ugly in it, the CX bike is usually not the best tool for the job. But as far as I know there are no rules excluding CX bikes at MTB races.
    I got stuck behind a guy on a CX bike entering a singletrack section at our first race of '09. I totally caught up to him and got stuck behind him until I could find a good place to pass. After that singletrack section came a longish stretch of relatively smooth double track. CX guy eventually caught up, came around, and dropped me in that section.... Not saying it was just the bike but it was definitely where his bike was most well suited.
    A US national CX coach lives here in Helena, MT. He does the occasional mountain bike race and many times on a cross bike. He would always get flat tires and also have some crashes. Our top local roadies and CX guys also hit the singletrack all the time on their CX bikes for fun.

  20. #20
    Weird Eh
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    I`ve seen CX bikes in both the Chequamegon ( WI) and the Ore to Shore( MI) both are 40+ mile non techenical mtb races.

  21. #21
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    Yep, you'll see them in the point to point midwest races. But those are really non technical (as mentioned). Also some short track races I've seen them used. 34mm Dugast Rhinos at 20 psi have a surprising amount of grip!

  22. #22
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    From what I have observed, more often than not, XC race + CX bike = DNF due to flatting.

    I've done the Liberty! Bicycles Off Road Squeezer on a CX bike. The course is a mix of singletrack, doubletrack, and pavement. Basically, on any stretch of trail that was smooth, it was hammer time, and the CX bike was faster. Any time the trail got rough at all, I really had to tone it back, and wait for things to smooth out again before I could put some real power down. I had to run insanely high tire pressure to prevent flatting on rocky sections. My hands were killing me at the end of the race from the vibrations.

    When all was said and done, I was a little slower on the CX bike. It was fun, but I probably would not do it again.


    I've also done a local Wednesday night race (L!B 8x12) on my CX bike. The course is almost entirely smooth singletrack. On that day, I did not race at 100%, I just followed my buddy around and heckled him the whole race - leading to his best finish of the year. The lighter weight was great on the climbs, and since it is only a 35 min race, it was not too painful.


    So, there are some courses that may make a CX bike an option (not usually the best one) but, trying to race a CX bike in the provincial XC series would just be a horrible idea.
    When under pressure, your level of performance will sink to your level of preparation.

  23. #23
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    If you're a race organizer and cyclo bikes start taking the podium, redesign your course. In the NM series they are mostly allowed though prohibited on at least one of the hill climbs (no drop bars).

  24. #24
    LMN
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    You should be able to race any type of bike you want in a MTB race, as long as it is safe.


    Only roadies restrict equipment. If a cross bike is the fastest bike on a course then you should be allowed to race it. As I said though I am yet to be on a MTB course where a cross bike is faster.

    Generally I find my MTB is superior on:
    - climbs
    - descents
    - and rough flats.

    The cross bike is superior on:
    -flat corners
    -smooth flats.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrea138
    MTB are allowed in CX races as long as you remove the bar-ends.
    Maybe in your local series, but not in UCI points races.

  26. #26
    bi-winning
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    Quote Originally Posted by strader
    Maybe in your local series, but not in UCI points races.
    Sure, but if you are chasing UCI points in a cross race, you would not want to be on a MTB anyway.
    When under pressure, your level of performance will sink to your level of preparation.

  27. #27
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    I have been in xc races in Alberta, where there is a guy who does compete on a cycle cross bike. I couldn't believe it at first, but he was aloud to race and ended up finishing at the top...CRAZY

  28. #28
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    Haven't some Pro Short Track races been won on crossbikes???
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  29. #29
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    I recall a discussion with a high level comissaire, in which he described a general guidline for course design that says that a "proper" course for any specific discipline is one in which the bike designed for that discipline will be the quickest. In other words, if you can race a CX faster on a mountain bike it generally means the CX course is too technical or rough, and conversely if you can race an XC course faster on a CX bike it means the course isn't technical enough.

    That doesn't mean you can't put on a very fun race mixing and matching equipment as with some of the huge mass start off-road events, but for "proper" courses in the spirit of that discipline, it actually sounds like a very sensible guideline.

    Anecdotally, I recall in my previous place of residence a friend of mine who was a very smooth, top tier XC and CX racer in the 30-39 Expert category with many races wins under his belt. He decided to try his luck with his 'cross bike in a provincial series event after doing a couple of practice laps in the week prior. Course was generally buffed, but under race conditions his front tire still managed to find a way to take a heavy hit on a root in the first 10 minutes. Pinch flated his tubluar. Game over.

  30. #30
    No. Just No.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 23mjm
    Haven't some Pro Short Track races been won on crossbikes???
    Even on a road bike with road slicks. It was generally acknowledged afterwards that the course wasn't worthy of the event. The racer who won it actually said he was doing so to prove a point, which is that organizers need to put some creativity into designing good courses. That was several years ago.

    Also not to be taken as a general condition of all XC events. There are many events and regions where the technical standard of the courses has always been high throughout the years.

  31. #31
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    tires and gearing tend to be a weak point of a cross bike. You often get eaten alive on bimpy rocky downhills because you have to go slow to save the tires. I've wond my share of MTB races on cross bikes and also DNF'd, rolled tires, broken equipment, etc. Cross bikes can be very good on a smoother course without a lot of rocks

  32. #32
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    i've seen several at local races in Norcal (Sea Otter area)....running CX rigs monstercross style....

    they do well in the hardpack/buff/ST local to the area......and don't flat much......
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by LMN
    I don't know why you would want to. I have never been on a MTB course where a cross bike would be anywhere near competitive.
    Short track.. I was 2nd (by less than a second) at 2008 US Nationals 30+ STXC, Johnny Bold won it on a CX bike (he just won yesterdays 45-49 CX Nats.. dude is obviously fast!).

    The straightaways are where a CX bike can really take off, MTB tires just don't like to spin up as fast.. plus the full rigid is more effective when you stand outa the corners. Someday I might build up a set of MTB wheels with 700cc rims and CX tubbies, they could be real fast on some courses.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by perryr
    . Someday I might build up a set of MTB wheels with 700cc rims and CX tubbies, they could be real fast on some courses.
    Step it up to the 45-47mm Dugast Rhinos and you'll smile constantly Works well with for the Swisspower boys.

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by briscoelab
    Step it up to the 45-47mm Dugast Rhinos and you'll smile constantly Works well with for the Swisspower boys.
    OK, I use 26"MTB wheels. Would I use a 700cc Rim with the 45mm Dugast? Or do Swisspower guys use 26"? I don't really like skinny 26" on the MTB because it lowers the bike. I was thinking 700cc rims with the CX tires?

  36. #36
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    The way the Xterra World Championships are now, I wouldn't be surprised if racers start competing on CX bikes (if allowed). I actually hope they do, and podium. It might send a message to the organizers.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by perryr
    OK, I use 26"MTB wheels. Would I use a 700cc Rim with the 45mm Dugast? Or do Swisspower guys use 26"? I don't really like skinny 26" on the MTB because it lowers the bike. I was thinking 700cc rims with the CX tires?
    Swisspower (and a LOT of WC men) are riding on 26" tubulars. 47mm tubulars aren't that skinny, you'd likely be surprised at how big they are. If a 700c wheel with a 45mm tire fits on your frame and fork really just depends on what you're running. Some will clear it, some won't. a 45mm is like a 1.8.

  38. #38
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    I have seen CX bikes at XC races. Even on flat, fast, glass smooth trails it is inferior if there is the least little bit of technical involved. For the case I am thinking of the course had a total elevation gain of maybe 10 feet and had maybe 10 roots that most riders bunny hopped even on an MTB but any time the CX bike had to make a semi tight turn it was just slow. It was slow entering because it couldn't slow down fast enough and it couldn't cary the same speed through the turns without overshooting. Granted the CX bike was awesome on the straights but completely sucked everywhere else.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by paulbu
    I have seen CX bikes at XC races. Even on flat, fast, glass smooth trails it is inferior if there is the least little bit of technical involved. For the case I am thinking of the course had a total elevation gain of maybe 10 feet and had maybe 10 roots that most riders bunny hopped even on an MTB but any time the CX bike had to make a semi tight turn it was just slow. It was slow entering because it couldn't slow down fast enough and it couldn't cary the same speed through the turns without overshooting. Granted the CX bike was awesome on the straights but completely sucked everywhere else.

    Hummmm sounds like someone who has never ridden a CX bike!!!!!
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  40. #40
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    I had a few cx bikes enter a very flat, pretty smooth and not vert tech MTB race, one guy even entered on a road bike. Not sure how they did, since they never passed me, I finished 9th or 10th. The course would have been prefect on a hard tail, many guys switch to hard tails for that race. I raced my SC SL, since that is the only bike I got.

  41. #41
    Ride it 'til it breaks
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    There's a XC race series near Sacramento CA that I did in the fall. It allows CX bikes, but gives them their own class. That sounds like a good compromise to me.

  42. #42
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    NorCal High School Mountain Bike Racing

    starts its season with the least technical course in its series, the CCCX Course near Ft. Ord. It is smooth, swoopy, a little mushy/sandy in places. In 2006, I think a cross bike won or did very well in a JV race. They were banned thereafter. Aside from the fact that it is a Mountain Bike Racing League the ease of the course is not to allow a particular machine to excel but to provide a gradual ramp-up to more difficult courses later in the season. Being the first race of the season it makes and easier introduction for returning and brand new riders.

    I will be interested to see how 29'ers do this year.

  43. #43
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    If they can handle the race course, then it's not an XC race.

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