I am writing this post as a way of saying goodbye to my own cyclo-cross bike – a beautiful Specialized Tricross, which I just sold. As always when I have to sell a bike, I am having a mourning period. But I am happy to have sold it to a nice guy called John, who appreciated its beauty. And as he is the same height as me but a lot lighter, I know he is going to ride my bike like a rocket. Have fun, John! Thinking of someone else appreciating my ex-bikes makes parting with them less sad.
Here is a slideshow of this beautiful cyclo-cross bike, my Specialized Tricross. I took the first picture (on the gravel) just before I sold it. My goodbye photo!
Anyway, I got to thinking that it would be a good idea to write about the unique features of cyclo-cross bikes (the Tricross being Specialized’s take on cyclo-cross bikes – you can read a review of the Specialized Tricross here).
So, what is a cyclo-cross bike? Well, a cyclo-cross bike is like a hybrid between a road bike and a mountain bike. Cyclo-cross bikes were designed for races that require cyclists to bike over pavement, wooded trails, grass, steep hills, and various obstacles – such as rivers, which are notoriously hard to cycle across! When encountering obstacles such as rivers, cyclists need to quickly dismount and then carry the bike across the river. (This is called portage.)
Cyclo-cross bikes have wider, knobby tires, and lower gearing. Cables are often routed on the upper side of the top tube, so that cyclists can carry the bike on their shoulders. This also protects the cables from dirt splashing up from the ground. With the Tricross, Specialized went one better by routing the cables through the tubing. Also, with the Specialized Tricross, the bottom of the cross bar is flat so that you can carry it on your shoulders without any discomfort.
I confess I never once ran across a river with my Tricross. No, not even once! However, I did carry it up steps a lot, and the flat bar was great for that. I loved my cyclo-cross bike because it rode like a dream on and off the road. Obviously, cyclo-cross bikes are designed for all terrains. They have a stronger frame than the average road bike, and an enhanced ability to soak up the bumps (in the case of the Specialized Tricross, carbon forks help with this). This makes cyclo-cross bikes great for the potholes and rough roads often found on urban commuting routes. Compared to regular road bikes, cyclo-cross bikes have a more relaxed riding position, and so are more comfortable to ride on your commute.
Of course, you can also use them for what they are actually designed for – on and off-road cycling. A cyclo-cross bike is great for single track.
Consider a cyclo-cross bike if you want just one bike that can do just about anything (downhill mountain biking excepted). I loved this comment I found on a bike forum, so I thought I would close by quoting it:
“There’s an old saying among gun enthusiasts/shooters. `Beware of the man with just one gun. He probably knows how to use it.’ I think the same thing could apply to bikes. A bike like the Specialized Tricross is a great all-around bike, and if a person could only own one bike (oh the humanity!) for everything, the Tricross would be a great choice. Not only would you adapt, you might just be a better rider.” (Cyclust, RoadBikeReview member)
You can read more about different kinds of bikes in this post on How to Choose the Right Type of Bike.
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