Buying a bike is a big decision — not only because bikes are expensive, but because you're probably going to be spending a lot of time with your chosen ride.
In an effort to cut through all of the noise, here are five solid reasons why your next n+1 should be a cyclo-cross bike.
Not so long ago, people thought cyclo-cross bikes were just for hardened racers who wanted to maintain elite fitness through the winter. But cyclo-cross bikes are also for things that don't necessarily revolve around sandpits, start lines and stairs.
With a set of knobbly tyres, you are ready to hit trails, gravel, icy roads, or just about anything else. Throw a set of slicks on and you'll blend in just fine on a roadie group ride without feeling too slow, thanks to their race-focused geometry. Not got a disc wheelset? Our Terra-X frameset is also V-brake compatible.
Winter is unpredictable. From rain to snow-packed roads, gravel dumped by gritter trucks and black ice, it is a lot to tackle on roadie tyres. Cyclo-cross bikes, with their longer wheelbase, offer added stability in low traction situations. The shorter top tube puts you in a better position if things get a bit squirrely, and the bike will be more agile on twisting trails compared with adventure and gravel bikes, which have a long wheelbase and long top tube.
If you decide to opt for a slightly wider road tyre rather than full-on CX knobbles, the extra clearance the frameset provides allows snow, ice, leaves and general grime to clear the frame.
Plenty of fun
Cyclo-cross started in the 1900s when professional riders in France wanted to find a way to stay fit in the winter without the slog of riding on the road for hours. They would race each other from one town to another via any permitted route, and soon a new sport was born.
Mountain bikes may be more capable on steeper terrain and purpose-built trails, but they aren't always as accessible if you want to get out and ride. Take a mountain bike to flatter bridleways, and the ride is noticeably tamer and slower. Switch to a cyclo-cross set up and it'll feel like gangbusters on 33c. The same goes for pot-holed, unmade roads that feel terrifying on your road bike, but it's no sweat for a cyclo-cross build. Whizzing in and out of fields and through trails, lightly brushing trees with your shoulder is what it's all about. There must be a reason why, over a century later, people are still taking part.
Leave the pavement and the traffic, slide through a few corners, fishtail in the mud, and skid to a stop on gravel — all this tearing around will teach you not to panic when the bike doesn't behave as you expect. It will help you develop the skills needed on- and off-road, as well as how to position your body to gain more traction on climbs, improve your braking reactions, and ride more efficiently.
Cyclo-cross racing is the fastest growing segment of cycle sport and for good reason: it's also the most fun!
The races last about an hour, and like criteriums, are based on a time limit rather than a set distance. But unlike criteriums, a wide mix of riders take to the course at the same time and typically spread out. There is no fighting for position in a bunch and it doesn't matter if you are a lap slower than the leader because everyone is allowed to complete the race at their pace. What's more, the atmosphere doesn't feel like a race, it feels like a community event.
Designed for fun: the Condor Terra-X