Cyclocross bike as road bike

As promised, I decided to share my impressions of how a cyclocross bicycle works instead of a road bike. I used two separate bikes about three months ago: MTB and “classic” road bike. But it’s history, there is now only one, cyclocross bike and I must fit it to my current activity. It’s time to few words after more than two thausand kilometers. Can cyclocross bike replace road bike?

Sometimes some people say that a CX bikes are slower, much slower. This can be truebecause these bikes are a bit heavier due to the sturdier frame, different geometry and the use of disc brakes. Large difference is also completely different tires, heavier inner tubes and stronger wheels. I changed wheels to universal, solid but relatively light (about 1.6 kg set) from polish company Daveo – they sell custom-made wheels based on, for example, DT Swiss rims. There will be time to review the wheels, in short word: it was great choice.

In addition, I replaced a crankset from standard CX (46 / 36T) to road bike compact (50 / 34T) and use road tires 700x28c – which is so wider than many people use (25c or 23c). Over the past two months I’ve done just over 2000 km, broke all my life records: both distance and speed on certain sections. Interestingly, this happened completely accidentally, without any intention, and simply on my several trips. According to Strava, I have also improved all of my personal records in the neighborhood segment. Do you need something more?

The disadvantage of this bike is that it is not aerodynamic as road bike. More space for wider tires, many changes in frame (bust be heavier and more solid for offroad trips) also increases air resistance. But can I feel that differences? In my opinion, no. Perhaps it would have been a significant difference if I was racing at a high level, but for an amateur it does not matter. Of course, the look is not so aggressive, but believe me, this bike has already caused some people to talk with me about bike… Becuase they didn’t know CX and were interested in.

In my opinion, on amateur usage, cyclocross bikes can be as fast as road bikes – let’s remember that it will powered by our legs, equipment is secondary. Other advantages: for my it was best option. One bike instead of two. First of all, this geometry is more suited to me and I have never felt so good after 100 or even 140 km. Second, the disc brakes. It may rain and I know that although it will squeak, at least braking force is appropriate. This also matters in the fast downhill and for our wallet: will have to replace brake disc, but I do not wear the rim and wheels costs much, much more .

Another important thing is comfort and convenience. This bike is more comfortable than the road, not only in terms of geometry, but also holes, vibrations and cube driving. Much depends on the tires, but after this time and after these kilometers I still think it is more comfortable. The bike is also more practical, because if necessary I can add many mud protectors models or even bicycle rack because frame has mounting holes for that.

What can I say … After the experience of last year’s, when I tried to use other cyclocross bike, Fuji Cross 1.5, I was afraid that it will be bad choice. But… that bike was much stiffer, new one is better and fear was unnecessary. Small tip: you need to remember to choose the right frame size and a little less stiffer construction. Once you do,  bike will be much more universal. How about offroad trips? I will write about this in future.

10 thoughts on “Cyclocross bike as road bike

  1. hi Lukasz,

    1st time reader of your blog here and stumbled across by coincidence. Very interesting so far.

    I made a similar experience when I switched from my road bike to a new gravel bike and agree with you.

    Do you think there is any benefit to go for even wider tyres than 28c? My new gravel bike can fit up to 40c or is 28c the optimum?

    1. Hello Thomas. I think it depends on your usage. I use Continental Grand Prix 4000S II 700x28c when I would like to make my bike road-similar. These tires are very fast, light and I can use higher pressure (90-105 PSI). But… these tires also not very comfortable on gravels, forest roads etc. I don’t have enough control on my bike. So I sometimes use 700x35c tires:

      – conti cyclocross speed (on dry roads)
      – conti cyclocross race (if I’m not sure conditions)

      Both are much slower than road tires… but it’s compromise :)

      1. hi Lukasz,

        Im talking about road only – for offroad I have tyres already.but thinking about a 2nd rim/tryre set if I ride together with my buddies.

        In an ealier blog you mentioned, that 28c is better than 25c/23c — maybe a 30c or 35c is even better- hence the question :-)

  2. I think no, wider will not better. Many studies about rolling resistance say, that 28c is something like golden mean. Of course you can try (for clarity: I didn’t try, only semi-slick 40c on old, cross bike), but I think it will hard to find good, light and slick 32c tires. Maybe schwalbe kojack 700x35C? Hm… it’s interesting and good to check in next year :)

  3. Loved your article! I’m actually in the process of upgrading my alloy road bike to a CX bike that can work as a road bike when I want to put long hours on the pavement. Maybe I missed it, but what bike do you have? Or what do you recommend?

    1. Hello Ian and thank you :)
      I use Planet X XLS (from 2014). I think is very, very good base for modifications. Can also recommend Merida cyclocross series.

  4. Hi Lukasz,

    Nice article. I’ve been searching around and most I see are people writing about changing a RB to CX. I am going to get a Fuji Tread 1.5D 2016 model. My main reason is because I really like the bike aesthetically and the components are decent.

    One thing though.. most CX I see comes with disc brakes these days. It increases the weight of the bike by a few kgs. Just wondering if the weight can be felt when moving from a RB to CX?

    The other bike I am aiming for is the Fuji Sportif 2.1. Comes with similar components but a tadbit lighter. Having that said I only ride on weekends with my friends on motorcycle lanes along the highway. There aren’t many dedicated paths here in Malaysia for bicycle riding and if there are, it’s mixed between good and bad road conditions. Hence why I am thinking a CX would be a better choice.

    Also I think I can alway do what you do and change the tires from 32 to 28 should I feel the need to have that extra speed.

    1. Hello Eric, thanks for your comment!
      I think, disc brakes weight is not a problem. My CX weight is about 8,2 kg (with M540 pedals) with road wheelset and tires. Very, very similar to nice road bike. Difference is in frame – road bikes have lighter frames, because CX must be more durable. I had a few occasions to find out this difference, races on MTB trails. Disc brakes benefits are important: good modulation, better on descents, work well in wet conditions.

      Also, gravel tyres can be very fast on road – take a look at Schwalbe G-One. It’s very fast on road, and also good on gravel and light terrain.

  5. Hi Łukasz Tkacz,

    I’m have a CAADX. I intend to buy 2nd wheelset for it. Maybe for amateur race, i’m thinking of Mavic Cosmic Disc.
    Does this road bike wheels compatible with cyclocross bike?

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