Ever since I purchased a cyclocross bike I’ve been getting a lot of questions from friends & family about cyclocross bikes but the one that keeps coming up is, can you ride a cyclocross bike on the road?
A cyclocross bike can definitely be used on the road, there isn’t a significant difference between cyclocross & a road bike. The main difference being the geometry of the bike. The tires, gear ratios, & pedals can be easily changed on the bike if needed. So the most significant difference is the geometry of the bike.
Let’s take a look at what to expect when riding a cyclocross bike on the road, cyclocross bikes & road bikes key differences, as well as Pros & cons to riding a cyclocross bike on the road.
Riding A Cyclocross Bike On The Road
Cyclocross bikes are extremely versatile and can be ridden both on & off-road. Before ridding a cyclocross on the road there are a few things to note.
First of all Cyclocross bikes come with wider tires (around 30-35mm) with tread patterns which are ideal for off-road purposes to keep traction and turn effectively. Although for road riding it’s recommended to have an extra wheelset & slick tires for better on-road performance. Adding an extra wheelset is ideal & swapping the wheelsets for different disciplines is quick and easy and will allow you to ride optimally in those different conditions. Cyclocross bikes also have a wider tire clearance in order to handle mud and other off-road obstacles.
Secondly, Cyclocross bikes are positioned more upright & this is for added control on rougher terrain as well as the lack of need for aerodynamics since speed isn’t the primary focus for riding off-road. This riding position is ideal if you are thinking of using the bike for commuting due to its relaxed position. Whereas if your thinking of using the bike for racing purposes the geometry of the bike will not work in your favor.
Cyclocross bikes also have fewer gear ratios compared to road bikes although this is not a big issue you might want a larger gear ratio to maintain road speeds if you decide to be competitive.
As for the brakes cyclocross used to have cantilever brakes although now this is no longer the case almost all new cyclocross bikes come with disc brakes which are ideal for greater stopping power, modulation, as well as mud clearance.
Cyclocross bikes Key features:
- Larger tires (around 32-35 mm) with different tread patterns
- Frame designed with a wide top tube for easy lifting
- Cables are routed along with the top tub, or occasionally inside the tubes to protect cables from mud & off-road obstacles
- Bottom bracket higher of the ground for more clearance over obstacles
- Short top tube for a more upright position
Key Differences Between Cyclocross & Road Bikes
Cyclocross was originally invented for road riders to improve their technique as well as their winter fitness. So it’s not unusual that there will be a few differences. Let’s take a look at the main differences:
Now that we established that cyclocross bike can definitely be ridden on the road lets look at what you can expect.
Bike Frame Design
Cyclocross was originally invented for road riders to improve their technique & winter fitness. So it’s not unusual that there will be some differences. Let’s take a look at the main differences:
Tire Clearance: A cyclocross bike’s tires should be able to handle mud so for this reason, they feature increased tire clearance on the front & rear to fit in wider tires typically 30–35 mm.
Geometry: Cyclocross bikes typically have short frames and a taller bottom bracket keeping you at a more upright position.
As for the material of the bike cyclocross bikes, frames can be made of carbon fiber, aluminum, titanium, steel but carbon fiber is definitely the right choice for you if you want your bike to be more versatile keeping the bike lightweight as well as providing quality shock absorption.
Cyclocross tires are typically thicker & wider than road bike tires the average cyclocross tire is usually anywhere from 32-35 mm whereas road bike tires are typically 23-28. Cyclocross tires also come with different tread patterns to handle different terrain whereas road bike tires are typically smooth. Cyclocross tires are built for grip & traction for stability in rough terrain.
If you plan to use your cyclocross bike for off and on-road riding it will be a good idea to get extra road bike tires to use when road biking.
Cyclocross bikes have lower gear ratios compared to road bikes, this isn’t a deal-breaker unless you’re going to be racing. Cyclocross bikes typically come with 46/36 chainrings & paired with an 11-32 cassette. Most cyclocross bikes come with a single chainring as well as wide cassettes around 11-36.
Pros & Cons of Using a Cyclocross Bike Over a Road bike
Let’s take a look at some Pros of using a cyclocross bike over a typical road bike:
- Perfect all-rounder bike which can be ridden for most riding disciplines
- Cyclocross bike’s geometry allows for an upright position which is ideal for long rides in terms of comfort making cyclocross a good choice for a commuting
- Angled steering tube allows for more stability in rough terrain.
- cyclocross bikes are designed with durability in mind in order to handle off-road obstacles.
Simply put, one of cyclocross bike’s biggest advantages over other bikes is its versatility which makes it the perfect all-rounder bike. where road bikes are made for pavement & mountain bikes are made for off-road uneven surfaces. A cyclocross bike is versatile both on and off-road.
Let’s take a look at some Cons of using a cyclocross bike over a typical road bike:
- Heavier than a road bike
- Upright position is less aerodynamic
- Fewer gear ratios than a road bike
- Wider wheels with tread patterns (Although extra wheelset can be added slick tires for road & wide tires with tread for off-road)
Cyclocross bikes are extremely versatile and were designed to race on & off roads. Cyclocross bikes were created with durability in mind and are intended to withstand rough circumstances, although the result of this is the bike is slightly heavier than an average road bike. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it does affect speed which shouldn’t be a problem unless you were intending on using it for racing purposes. The handling of cyclocross bikes are more stable compared to road bikes this is to keep traction on slippery muddy conditions.
Cyclocross bikes are the best all-rounder bike it can be used in almost any riding discipline. Cyclocross bikes are designed to be durable & effective in muddy conditions.