Is a cx bike a good commuter bike? I have some questions- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Is a cx bike a good commuter bike? I have some questions

    So I'm planning to step up my commuting, it will be about 60km/day in total. and while I have done similar on commuterized rigidized HT AM bike its neither fun, efficient, fast or comfortable.

    So I'm thinking about getting something faster and more suitable. I commute all year so it has to be able to take quite beefy tires in the winter for the studs.

    Is a cx bike a good choice? I'd like to get where I'm going a bit faster and a bit more comfortable and I want to save more energy while doing so.

    What would be a good size for a cx bike? I'm 5ft 10inch or close to it. No parts out of proportion. I have average bendability and elasticity in my back and body.

    I have been looking at the Salsa Vaya, Surly Disc trucker, Cotic Roadrat and Cotic "X".
    Those are steel and they all take discs which I want and they are reasonably priced. Can't afford carbon or ti and don't like alu.

    Is there anything more similar to this?

    A few years ago I tried a rather crappy road bike from the early 80ies and while it sucked at almost everything I was blown away by the power and speed I could get while in the drops. My plan is to run it in the drops as much as possible, or no hands at all when resting.

    I read a review about the cotic X and they said they got toe overlap, is this generally a big problem on cross bikes? Or those mentioned above? (since I assume they are not real cross bikes). I was out riding my 26er just now and while I can't hit my wheel even if I tried to I think I'm not that prone to this phenomenon, I just don't have my feet there when I turn. Should I be worried? I have size 40-41 french/euro feet.



    The roadrat has a long top tube at least. 59cm but is that too long for me if I want to run a dropbar?

    How important is sizing really? Could I go up one size above the "correct" one and just get a shorter stem or shorter reach bar and not notice anything else? BTW how the hell are road bikes sized anyway?? Seat tube? Top tube? Imaginary top tube?

    How "fast" is a cx bike compared to top of the line roadbike if you run the same wheels on there? I only really want it to be really fast going straight ahead. Or the way I see it; get me where I'm going with the least amount of effort

    Any other recommendations? I have been considering doing the lazy thing and just buying an off the shelf complete bike from one of the bigger brands like trek or spesh or whatever but I would probably not keep it for long then, they just don't appeal to me that much.

    Oh before I forget. Shifters/brakelevers, whats good here? Is this 100% personal preference? I want solid feel in the brake levers at least, that I know. Is there any difference going down the ladder of the gruppos?
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

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  2. #2
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    I'm a few inches taller than you and run a 56cm cross bike:
    - Monstercross Bicycle Build

    A 53-54 would probably be good for you:
    - Products Description – ORIGIN-8

    No toe overlap on mine. I find the frame sizing is close to a road bike, but the top tube ends up higher than a road bike for the same size frame. Probably due to a higher BB and the front fork being taller for the tire and mud clearance. So my 56cm CX frame top tube is about in the same place as my 24"(61cm) touring bike

    I find my cross bike is almost as fast as my road bike and that is with 40mm wide tires compared to 28mm. The road bike might be 1-2 MPH faster on good roads, but it is not too noticeable, plus you can keep up almost the same speed on pavement, gravel or dirt. On a recent ride, I merged into a group of roadies out on a morning ride and I kept up with that group with no problem, even though they were all on carbon bikes with 23mm clinchers or tubulars. I find on the cross bike, I don't have to worry about what is on the road in front of me, while on the road bike, you need to be very vigilant and try and avoid any debris, etc.

    I am loving the disc brakes and the RetroShift lever setup. I find I am shifting a lot more now that the shifter is right under my fingers when on the hoods and I keep the cadence right in the sweet spot a lot easier. I've never ridden a brifter setup, but this seems to be about as good. I like the visible gear indication of the shifter position.
    Last edited by 4Crawler; 08-03-2012 at 07:58 PM.

  3. #3
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    1. Cross bikes are where it at for commuting. Steel ones are nice because they typically have braze ones for fenders and racks, not to mention the comfort aspect.

    2. Sizing is the most important thing on the bike. a 59cm top tube on the Roadrat would be way too long for you. Dont do it unless you are gonna run flat bars.
    Im 5'11.5 inches and I ride 56s. I think you would be on a 54-56cm depending on geometry/preference. I think you should ride some and see what fits the best. Got any friends with cross bikes?

    3. Cross/road bikes are sized by their seat tube. Most road sizes are also close to the Effective top tube length(what really matters). For example, my 56cm dirty disco has a 561mm top tube.
    My old gary fisher presidio(****ing awesome bike) was a 55cm with a 565mm top tube.

    4. toe overlap. Not a problem on typical cross bikes except for in the super smaller sizes. At 5.10 you should be fine.

    5. Cross vs road. No difference for commuting speed. Road bikes are lower and typically aerodynamic. The lower BB makes it easier to draft at speed. The Aero tubes make it easier to maintain speeds of above 25mph or so. You probably wont be going fast enough on your commute to tell the difference.

    6. recommendations. You want a steel bike with disks? Lemond Poprad disk, salsa la cruz, vassago fisticuff, jamis bosanova, surley long haul trucker disk and others I cant remember. You will have to do research. its the most fun part.

    7. bike parts: brakes- doesnt really matter if you are just commuting. I love my BB7s because they are the best you can get. Groupset- anything for commuting. Look at Sram apex. 10 speed and pretty cheap. Works great. Shimano 105 works awesome too. You dont need campy super record for the commute!
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheepo5669 View Post
    1. Cross bikes are where it at for commuting. Steel ones are nice because they typically have braze ones for fenders and racks, not to mention the comfort aspect.
    This is what I am beginning to understand.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheepo5669 View Post
    2. Sizing is the most important thing on the bike. a 59cm top tube on the Roadrat would be way too long for you. Dont do it unless you are gonna run flat bars.
    Im 5'11.5 inches and I ride 56s. I think you would be on a 54-56cm depending on geometry/preference. I think you should ride some and see what fits the best. Got any friends with cross bikes?
    No, no friends with cross bikes or even road bikes for that matter. And to make matters worse most people I see commuting do it on 5inch fs bikes with 2.2s and similar so they might be the wrong crowd to ask.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheepo5669 View Post
    3. Cross/road bikes are sized by their seat tube. Most road sizes are also close to the Effective top tube length(what really matters). For example, my 56cm dirty disco has a 561mm top tube.
    My old gary fisher presidio(****ing awesome bike) was a 55cm with a 565mm top tube.
    Do they try to get seat tube and effective top tube the same with road/cx bikes or is it just a coincidence?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheepo5669 View Post
    4. toe overlap. Not a problem on typical cross bikes except for in the super smaller sizes. At 5.10 you should be fine.
    Good.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheepo5669 View Post
    5. Cross vs road. No difference for commuting speed. Road bikes are lower and typically aerodynamic. The lower BB makes it easier to draft at speed. The Aero tubes make it easier to maintain speeds of above 25mph or so. You probably wont be going fast enough on your commute to tell the difference.
    The goal is to get to work and actually be able to work afterwards, so I will probably not be going anywhere close to 25mph.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheepo5669 View Post
    6. recommendations. You want a steel bike with disks? Lemond Poprad disk, salsa la cruz, vassago fisticuff, jamis bosanova, surley long haul trucker disk and others I cant remember. You will have to do research. its the most fun part.
    Gonna check them all out. Any opinions on this one the Product of COTIC cycles : X steel cyclocross
    I has higher bb than both the surly and vaya and much larger mechanical trail.
    If I crunch the numbers with Bicycle Trail Calculator | yojimg.net I get a mech trail of 76mm compared to the vaya which has 61mm. And my current bike is 72.5 head tube angle and about 57 or 58mm trail. Will it be sluggish or just perfect for commuting?
    I read that 57-58 is considered neutral steering. I don't quite agree.

    Also is the cotic X considered long or short for its size or regular?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheepo5669 View Post
    7. bike parts: brakes- doesnt really matter if you are just commuting. I love my BB7s because they are the best you can get. Groupset- anything for commuting. Look at Sram apex. 10 speed and pretty cheap. Works great. Shimano 105 works awesome too. You dont need campy super record for the commute!
    I will probably run the bb7s too. I just set up a pair of xt v-brakes and now I remember why hydros are so nice. No cables. Cables are a pita but I guess its no way around it on a cx bike.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Specialized sucks ass.

  5. #5
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    Are you going to be wearing a backpack?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by limba View Post
    Are you going to be wearing a backpack?
    I will try to avoid it since it gets so sweaty. I will probably put a rack on it, or some kind of frame mounted bag to haul around locks and tools and maybe extra clothes.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Specialized sucks ass.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by car bone View Post
    Gonna check them all out. Any opinions on this one the Product of COTIC cycles : X steel cyclocross
    I has higher bb than both the surly and vaya and much larger mechanical trail.
    If I crunch the numbers with Bicycle Trail Calculator | yojimg.net I get a mech trail of 76mm compared to the vaya which has 61mm. And my current bike is 72.5 head tube angle and about 57 or 58mm trail. Will it be sluggish or just perfect for commuting?
    I read that 57-58 is considered neutral steering. I don't quite agree.

    Also is the cotic X considered long or short for its size or regular?

    That bike looks interesting. Really atypical for a CX bike. Compact Geo with the sloping top tube is monster cross-like. Thats an asthetical component that you will have to decide.

    Most cross bikes have around a 72.5* headtube. IMO thats the best compromise for road and off road. The cotic X seems to have a 71* headtube. it will make it a little more stable off road but sluggish on the road.

    IMO thats the kinda bike you need to try before you buy.
    Raised in a Chicken-Coop by Chickens

  8. #8
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    in my opinion, a steel CX bike is the best bike for commuting. You can't go wrong! You get the drops (if you want them), faster geometry, the ability for racks/fenders, and the ability to run tons of different tires. you can't go wrong. almost every commuter i see is riding something that is just stupid for commuting, but if it works for them, then that's all that matters. i truly feel that a cx bike is the best option for commuting though. i know i love mine.

  9. #9
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    I'm just a bit worried about a 71 hta and 76mm trail of the X! And to be honest I read a review about it (road.cc) and they didn't like it at all. Still there is the road rat fork which is 45mm rake and then I can get a salsa thats 10mm longer but 50mm rake and that would land me at about 70.5 degrees but 67mm trail. To be honest I was very close a few months ago to order up a custom that was 70-71 head angle and about 5-10mm longer mech trail than my current bike (57 mech trail) to keep it relaxed. And I was gonna run that with 700c and drop bar. But beefier tubeset than road. So basically I find somone had actually built this for me, cheap. And I'm hesitating? I pretty much have most of the stuff needed already for a 700c except bar, frame and fork, and I would need a hope v-twin hydro converter. But thats it. But I know how it works, I'll just go on a shopping spree and end up with lots of more useful things. but hey 9sp is going away! And **** dynasys and shadow derailleurs!

    Campy shifters looks nice. Are those good? I was thinking a alu version and a jtek. The shimanos looks like space ships wtf. And the SRAM is like 500% more expensive than it should, and I'm still not convinced by any of their gear even though I have been running it for 4 years now.

    Basically I'm trying to deciede between the vaya and cotic x, and there are reviews at road.cc of both. And the x got **** reviews, for example the high speed stability (actually all stability) is bad but the vaya is good even though this physically impossible compatatively considering the hta/wheelbase and trail number of both. Deosn't seem to be much more to choose from except the lht disc. I don't know why by british engineering appeals to me, we think alike and like the same things. Maybe I'm just ovethinking this as usual. But its gonna be my everyday commuter, so I want it to be the right one. I want know its the right one before I even try it.

    The commuter steel jamises looks good though, exotic steel and ****. Not that it matters at all since all steel has the same god damn stiffness regardless of strength and stiffness is mostly a function of the angles and the tube diameter in a frame to begin with. But yeah those are nice, but I'm not buying a whole damn bike to scrap everything except the fram/fork, thats just wrong.

    Ok so if anyone know any frame that I can buy frame only that is cx-ish, steel, takes about 700x42 tires, and discs just let me know, because I'm nearing the end of my decision process here. In less than a month everything has to be here.
    Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.

    Quote Originally Posted by iheartbicycles View Post
    Specialized sucks ass.

  10. #10
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    Campy is the best you can get. I woundnt commute on it unless I won the lottery first

    Why are you set on a slack geo cross bike for commuting? A steeper geo cross bike will handle better on asphalt. I would go right in the middle if I were you.

    That jamis isnt actually a cross bike, its designed for the commute. Itll take all sorts of racks and fenders.
    I had a Gary Fisher Presidio that I just sold. You would have loved it.
    The Lemond poprad is basically the same frame as the presidio except with a different brand. They switched brands when Fisher took over Lemond.
    They also make it with disks.



    That classic paneled paint just calls me.

    If you are patient, you can find all sorts of cross frames on ebay to build. Right now is the wrong time of the season for a deal though. You could save a ton of money if you waited until january for cross season to end.
    Raised in a Chicken-Coop by Chickens

  11. #11
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    I have a Bianchi Volpe which looks like a cross bike but from what I have read, doesn't have the geometry for racing. Since I bought it for commuting and road riding, I wasn't too concerned about the race-geo.

    It is a great commuter. The wheels are solid, it is fast, and the bike is a joy to ride.

    Definitely try out some steel frames for your commuter.
    Free people must travel the road to productive social relations at the speed of a bicycle.- Ivan Illich

  12. #12
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    I recently picked up a Surly Cross Check which is a loose version of a "cross bike." I'm sold on the steel frames for a fast and forgiving utility bike. The cyclo cross designation I find a little strange since some bikes that fall in to that category are designed just for racing and then others (like the Cross Check, Bianchi Volpe) seem to have a little more of a touring design in mind than racing...

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