Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational)
Reload this Page >

Cyclocross on the road and road bikes on gravel

Notices
Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Cyclocross on the road and road bikes on gravel

Old 04-10-15, 07:02 AM
  #1  
Inpd
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 1,825
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 399 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Cyclocross on the road and road bikes on gravel

Hi Guys,

How do Cyclocross bikes perform on the road (assuming slicks are on) and how would a road bike perform on the gravel?

Many lower end road bikes already have 28 (sometimes 30) tires on them and the frames are a bit more clunky so is there really much of a difference to a cyclocross bike apart from the brakes (double pivot vs cantilever)?
Inpd is offline  
Old 04-10-15, 07:18 AM
  #2  
bikemig 
Senior Member
 
bikemig's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Middle Earth (aka IA)
Posts: 16,278

Bikes: A bunch of old bikes and a few new ones

Mentioned: 134 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4109 Post(s)
Liked 402 Times in 310 Posts
Cross bikes with slicks are fine on the road. I tend to ride my cross bike on the road more than my road bike because I like being able to take off on gravel when I feel like it. Road bikes can be fine on gravel but a lot depends on what you are talking about when it comes to gravel; there are some surfaces where a fatter tire helps a lot. I don't run tubular tires anymore but they perform pretty well on gravel roads esp. after you let a little air out.
bikemig is online now  
Old 04-10-15, 07:21 AM
  #3  
Blue Belly
Senior Member
 
Blue Belly's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Vermont
Posts: 1,200

Bikes: Pinarello Montello, Merckx MX Leader, Merckx Corsa Extra, Pinarello Prologo, Tredici Magia Nera, Tredici Cross

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
I ride my road bike when i can. I'm a road cyclist. Cross bike is for muddy days, 32mm knobby tires & more upright geometry. You could use a cross for road but, i would't necessarily rely on road for anything more that hard smooth dirt(with decently stout wheels).
Blue Belly is offline  
Old 04-10-15, 11:21 AM
  #4  
DirtRoadRunner
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Show-Me State
Posts: 397
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
FWIW, my CAAD9 (with 25c Gatorskins) is horrible on gravel. I can make it down smooth hardpack fine, but many of the roads around here have rocks 2x as wide as my tire, so I have to go < 10 mph to avoid hitting one and wrecking or trashing my bike. It isn't fun riding a stiff, aggressive bike so slow. I'll use it to ride short (~1 mile) sections of gravel I need to connect between paved roads, but that is about it. I also have Speedplay pedals on that bike, and the cleats are notoriously difficult to use after they get filled with mud or dirt, so putting a foot down on gravel/dirt might mean I can't clip back in (though you could always get around that by running MTB pedals - like I have on my gravel bike).

A cross bike with 2 sets of wheels is definitely more versatile than a road bike only, but I think a cross bike still leave something to be desired on the road. I always advocate 2 bikes - one for gravel/rough road riding, and one for flying down tarmac. Unless, you really aren't concerned with having a fast road bike, in which case a more versatile bike with two sets of wheels is completely sufficient.

Last edited by DirtRoadRunner; 04-10-15 at 11:26 AM.
DirtRoadRunner is offline  
Old 04-10-15, 01:01 PM
  #5  
Kopsis
Senior Member
 
Kopsis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: St. Pete, Florida
Posts: 1,258
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 83 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Cyclocross bikes perform just fine on the road. "On paper" they're slower, but you have to be a very strong rider for the differences to actually matter.

During the off season (summer) I frequently take my CX bike with 28 slicks on road rides (since I don't like to leave it sit idle for too long). On my mostly flat routes, I get basically the same times as I do with my "pure" road bike. This summer I'll be using my CX bike exclusively when I'm on travel for three months. I'll miss the road bike a little, but it certainly won't put a damper on any of my riding.
Kopsis is offline  
Old 04-10-15, 02:30 PM
  #6  
Caliper
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Michigan
Posts: 941

Bikes: Many

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 354 Post(s)
Liked 31 Times in 25 Posts
A lot depends on what your gravel roads are like. Around here it's more like hardpacked dirt with spots of gravel. I've ridden 28mm slick tires no problem. 23's would require some extra attention to riding light in the saddle over potholed sections but otherwise should be no problem. Now, if you had freshly graveled roads with a thick layer of good size rocks, tires in the 40-50mm area may be preferred.
Caliper is offline  
Old 04-10-15, 02:49 PM
  #7  
nocluejimbo
Member
 
nocluejimbo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Kansas City
Posts: 47

Bikes: All-City Nature Boy, Space Horse

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Places like Kansas has a lot of large rocks and loose sand, so you are going to want some fat tires. I use 40s. Being able to stay on top of stuff helps to prevent getting bogged down.

Last edited by nocluejimbo; 04-10-15 at 03:06 PM.
nocluejimbo is offline  
Old 04-10-15, 03:12 PM
  #8  
Number400
Senior Member
 
Number400's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: South Central PA
Posts: 973

Bikes: Cannondale Slate 105 and T2 tandem, 2008 Scott Addict R4, Raleigh SC drop bar tandem

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 22 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I ride my Raleigh RX 1.0 on the road a lot. The cyclocross tires that came on it wore very quickly and I had flat after flat when I would take them back off road and into the gravel. I have since put 25mm Conti training tubulars on that cyclocross bike and use it mostly for rain and all winter. I have caught and ridden with strong riders on it and other than the canties whistling in the wind, it is pretty fast. 36/46 gearing tops out quickly but only if you want to pedal down hills. The wheels I took off of it went on an old steel GT frame and now I use that bike on the gravel with 28mm tires.

Oh, and I like the CX bike on the road so much that I upgraded it to 10sp and added rival shifters. It's a pretty fun bike. I have only one remaining true road bike that gets used rarely and should last me a long, long time and especially so if I don't ride it on gravel.

Last edited by Number400; 04-10-15 at 03:23 PM.
Number400 is offline  
Old 04-17-15, 11:51 PM
  #9  
BigC_82
Senior Member
 
BigC_82's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: East Central Illinois
Posts: 327

Bikes: 2003 Raleigh M40, 2015 Raleigh RX 2.0, 2017 Kinesis Tripster A/T

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 25 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I bought my RX 2.0 for the option of road/gravel mix riding. I did make switch to put on 700x35 clement X'plor USH 60 tpi tires for its mixed riding conditions.
BigC_82 is offline  
Old 04-18-15, 12:03 AM
  #10  
LesterOfPuppets
cowboy, steel horse, etc
 
LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Valley of the Sun.
Posts: 33,247

Bikes: everywhere

Mentioned: 56 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4394 Post(s)
Liked 249 Times in 171 Posts
Lemond Buenos Aires road bike = hella fun on the gravels!



LesterOfPuppets is online now  
Old 04-18-15, 11:02 AM
  #11  
knobster
.
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Hillsboro, Oregon
Posts: 3,981

Bikes: Specialized Roubaix Comp, Soma ES

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I think it depends on what you mean by road bike. Road bike and race bike can be quite different bikes. My Soma ES is a road bike, but not a race bike. It has never seen smaller than size 32 tires. Take a race bike and probably the largest tire you can fit on it is 25. The race bike wouldn't be fun on gravel, but my Soma road bike is quite fun on gravel. I tend to ride my Moots cyclocross more than the Soma and a majority of the rides are on pavement. It rides great and actually is a bit faster than the Soma. Probably geometry and the fact it's a few pounds lighter.
__________________
Demented internet tail wagging imbicile.
knobster is offline  
Old 04-18-15, 06:54 PM
  #12  
chriskmurray
Senior Member
 
chriskmurray's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Colorado Springs
Posts: 1,134

Bikes: Borealis Echo, Ground Up Designs Ti Cross bike, Xtracycle, GT mod trials bike, pixie race machine

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The winner of this Trans Am Bike Race | June 6, 2015 in Astoria, Oregon, which is basically a self supported RAAM was on a cross bike on slicks so I would say they are pretty capable!
chriskmurray is offline  
Old 04-20-15, 01:50 PM
  #13  
Tim_Iowa
Senior Member
 
Tim_Iowa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Cedar Rapids, IA
Posts: 1,646

Bikes: 1997 Rivendell Road Standard 650b conversion (tourer), 1988 Schwinn Project KOM-10 (gravel/tour), 2013 Foundry Auger disc (CX/gravel), 2016 Cannondale Fat CAAD 2 (MTB/winter), 2011 Cannondale Flash 29er Lefty (trail MTB)

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 166 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
As Caliper and nocluejimbo pointed out, gravel riding definitely depends on the surface. I also add that it depends on your weight.

For example: the gravel around here (Iowa) is rough crushed limestone, about .5 to 1 inch. The roads are plowed in the winter and fresh gravel is laid in the summer, so it's loose in spots.

I'm 225#, and I prefer a 38 mm tire or wider to float on top of it (60 mm Super Motos are fantastic). I can't ride a 32 mm or narrower without cutting through. In contrast, my skinny 160# friend does just fine on 32 mm cyclocross tires. I don't think anyone could ride a 28 mm or narrower tire on our gravel.

Regarding brake differences: Cantilever brakes have the best fender clearance (important if you want to run fenders). V-brakes are easy to set up, but may limit clearance (especially mini v-brakes, popular on cross bikes). Caliper brakes are easy to set up and definitely limit fender clearance. Long reach caliper brakes exist (>55 mm reach), but their stopping power isn't as good as v-brakes or cantilevers. Discs are another option, depending on the frame.

So, if you're skinny and talking about hard-packed fine gravel (like many multi use paths) than you could be fine with a cross bike or even a road frame that fits 28 mm tires. If you're big and the gravel is loose, than consider a more relaxed cross frame (like a surly cross check), touring bike, rigid 29er, adventure bike, etc., with clearance for wider tires.

FYI, wide tires don't have to be slow if you buy ones with lightweight casing and minimal tread.
Tim_Iowa is offline  
Old 05-05-15, 03:39 AM
  #14  
macca33
Senior Member
 
macca33's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: West Gippy, Australia
Posts: 607

Bikes: 2017 Ridley Noah SL - Candy Apple DA9000, 2011 CAAD10 Berzerker Ult6800, 2013 FOCUS Mares CX Ult6800

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 26 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
A CX bike goes well enough on the tarmac - I ride mine on roads often, with 35mm Conti CX Speed tyres and the ride is quick enough, in fact, not a whole lot lower than on my road bikes.

I have used my road bike on gravel, but neither it, nor I was happy about it.

cheers
macca33 is offline  
Old 05-06-15, 02:10 PM
  #15  
tFUnK
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 2,452

Bikes: GT Forte Ti, GT GTR Carbon Sport, BMC RaceMachine, Guru Photon, Bianchi San Jose, Trek Portland, Xootr Swift

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 36 Post(s)
Liked 6 Times in 5 Posts
Tricross Sport Triple with 28-38 mm tires on the road = doable, but not as enjoyable as my road bike. Feels sluggish, heavy, and less responsive, but speed-wise, not too different.
GT Forte Ti with 23 mm tires on hard/loose pack dirt trails = doable, especially on climbs, just have to keep spinning on a low gear and maintain body posture to maintain traction. On descents, not fun. Poor traction, hands go numb from riding the brakes the whole way down. You can try to pick a clean line but sometimes you can't get there due to lack of traction.
tFUnK is offline  
Old 05-06-15, 02:15 PM
  #16  
MileHighMark
Old. Slow. Happy.
 
MileHighMark's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Boulder County, CO
Posts: 1,797
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
My go-fast/er bike is a steel Black Mountain shod with 32mm Compass tires (essentially slicks). Handles dirt/gravel roads fine as long as I drop the tire pressure and don't try to do anything (too) stupid. My gravel bike is a steel Salsa Vaya that's equipped with 38mm Compass tires, and it's only marginally slower than my Black Mountain due to the former's lower high gear (38/11 vs 50/11).

Sometimes the best rides take place on the wrong bikes.
MileHighMark is offline  
Old 05-06-15, 03:20 PM
  #17  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,369

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 188 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6964 Post(s)
Liked 296 Times in 236 Posts
They started Racing the Tour De France in 1903, over un paved Gravel roads ..
fietsbob is offline  
Old 05-06-15, 03:27 PM
  #18  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,369

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 188 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6964 Post(s)
Liked 296 Times in 236 Posts
Originally Posted by chriskmurray View Post
The winner of this Trans Am Bike Race | June 6, 2015 in Astoria, Oregon, which is basically a self supported RAAM was on a cross bike on slicks so I would say they are pretty capable!

Its May 2015,.. June .. Thats Next Month... how did you predict the winner already?

It will be a hard place to find a room.. 'the Goonies' Movie's 30th anniversary is that same weekend..

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-06-15 at 03:33 PM.
fietsbob is offline  
Old 05-06-15, 08:27 PM
  #19  
chriskmurray
Senior Member
 
chriskmurray's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Colorado Springs
Posts: 1,134

Bikes: Borealis Echo, Ground Up Designs Ti Cross bike, Xtracycle, GT mod trials bike, pixie race machine

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Its May 2015,.. June .. Thats Next Month... how did you predict the winner already?

It will be a hard place to find a room.. 'the Goonies' Movie's 30th anniversary is that same weekend..
They already have made a movie about the Trans Am that happened last year!

Inspired to Ride ? A cycling film by Mike Dion
chriskmurray is offline  
Old 05-07-15, 07:55 AM
  #20  
fietsbob 
coprolite
 
fietsbob's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: NW,Oregon Coast
Posts: 41,369

Bikes: 8

Mentioned: 188 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6964 Post(s)
Liked 296 Times in 236 Posts
OK, about 2014 not 2015.
fietsbob is offline  
Old 05-07-15, 11:53 AM
  #21  
snow_echo_NY
Senior Member
 
snow_echo_NY's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 855

Bikes: Surly Crosscheck, Yuba Mundo cargo, Specialized Dolce Triple (stolen 5/8/15)

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 28 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
interesting question!
snow_echo_NY is offline  
Old 05-08-15, 05:38 AM
  #22  
fastk9dad
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Location: Location:
Posts: 135

Bikes: Specialized Tricross, Cannondale CAAD10

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 14 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
My Specialized Tricross is my only bike right now and I primarily ride it on the road. I have a pair of Vuelta Corsa Lites with 28mm Conti 4 Seasons I use for the road and also dropped the cantis in favor of some TRP mini-v brakes.
fastk9dad is offline  
Old 05-08-15, 05:07 PM
  #23  
FrozenK
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,036
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 174 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
After buying a cross bike (Major Jake, canti brakes) I sold my road bike. The cross bike does fine on the road with road tires -cross tires wear out too fast on asphalt. I've done 200k randonee rides and 80 mile gravel road rides on the cross bike, never felt it was slow. The only drawback of my Major Jake is that it only has mounts for one bottle cage. If I were to road race, then I'd consider buying a road bike.

As for road bikes on gravel road, it will depend on both the gravel road and the road bike. A racing bike on rough gravel won't fare well. A touring/endurance road bike on a smooth dirt road will be fine.
FrozenK is offline  
Old 06-18-16, 12:12 PM
  #24  
ramones71 
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 47

Bikes: 1980 Raleigh Competition G.S., 1987 Schwinn Tempo, 1987 Schwinn Voyageur, 1982 Raleigh Superbe, 1983 Specialized Sequoia, 2002 Lemond Buenos Aires, 1998 Marin Eldridge Grade

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 5 Posts
Just came across this old thread. Sweet ride! I have an 02 Buenos Aires and I would like to set it up the same way. Can you tell me what tires and brakes you are running? I have ultegra brakes and assume that I will need to swap then out. Thanks!
ramones71 is offline  
Old 06-20-16, 08:33 AM
  #25  
msu2001la
Senior Member
 
msu2001la's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Midwest
Posts: 489
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 108 Post(s)
Liked 21 Times in 17 Posts
Old thread, but I agree with @FrozenK above about cross bikes on the road.

I bought a 'cross bike for racing a few years ago and have since sold my road bike. I run 25's on my cross bike for road and the bike works great. The main difference between my 'cross and road bikes is the frame geometry and gearing. The cross bike is a bit longer/taller and has a more upright position, so a little less aero and the handling isn't quite as snappy. It also has a 46/36t crank, whereas a true road bike would have a 50 or 53t big ring, so the cross bike top speed is more limited. I live in a flat area and don't race crits, so this is a non-issue for me. (A 46x12 gear at 100rpm cadence is theoretically good for 30mph)

Both bikes weigh nearly the same and had identical components. For racing, or very fast group riding, a road bike is going to be superior. For recreational type riding, the differences are negligible. When it came time to cull the herd a bit, it was a no-brainer for me to just use my cross bike for year round riding. Sell the road bike and get a nice set of carbon wheels for the 'cross...
msu2001la is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.