Rachel asked in SportsCycling · 9 years ago

Turning a road bike into a cyclocross bike?

I have a decently nice ($1500 range) road bike, but now that winter is approaching, I'm thinking of doing some cyclocross races, just for fun. Do I need to buy a completely new bike specifically for cyclocross or can I put cyclocross tires on my road bike? Also, will a mountain bike work for cyclocross? I'm on a bit of a budget and would like to do this as cheaply as possible, as I'll never be overly competitive in cyclocross--it's just for fun during the winter. Thanks!

7 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Best Answer

    For cyclocross, you need to mount knobby 700 x 30 tires and have adequate clearance so that mud won't build up and lock your wheels. There are very few road bikes that can do this. Some races permit the use of mountain bikes, you would have to check with the organizers. Road bikes don't usually have low enough gearing for off road racing as well. A touring bike might well do well for cyclocross, or an old road bike with long reach brakes

  • I
    Lv 5
    9 years ago

    If you're just doing it for fun, your road bike should work adequately. What you need to do is change out the wheelset for something a little hardier, and put some cyclocross knobbies on your wheels (remember that they still have to fit in your frame, with a bit of clearance). Also a good idea is to exchange your dual- or single-pivot road brakes for some good, old-fashioned cantilever brakes; the cantis have a lot more clearance for mud and such. You may want to throw on a smaller crankset too.

    And finally, keep that bike clean; thoroughly wash it after every ride. Nothing breaks a bike faster than mud and grit riding around its frame and components.

    Pretty much the only difference between converted road bikes and dedicated CX bikes is the geometry; CX bikes have a bit more relaxed geometry, and a bit more clearance between the two sides of the fork and the two sides of the chain and seat stays.

  • lftr67
    Lv 4
    9 years ago

    Whether you can use your road bike in a cross race depends a lot on the course. If it's dry and grassy or hard packed you might get by. If there is sand, mud, or loose dirt you'll struggle. A cross bike is built differently to handle tight turning and various terrain. The fork and stays are wider to accommodate wide tires and the brakes are cantilever. This is to help avoid mud and muck clogging the works. Also, the bottom bracket is higher off the ground for better clearance and the cables are routed on top of the top tube for easier shoulder carrying during run ups and dismounts. Keep in mind you'll need MTB shoes too since most road shoes aren't built for running.

    With all that in mind, you might do better with a MTB. It will depend on the race but in my experience local races are usually very friendly to beginners and you won't be the only one on a MTB. Lots of people try out cross before plunging in and buying a new bike.

    Like triathlon and road racing, cross is a whole other genre and people that are crazy in to it will spend tons of money on equipment that is only for winter racing. Take a look at eBay and you might snap up a decent cross bike for not too much. This time of year, many people are doing the same thing though.

  • 3 years ago

    Knobby Tires For Road Bike

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 4 years ago

    Some cyclocross bikes (Trek) do have the eyes for panniers. Most cyclocross bikes that I have seen do not. You are always best off by using a bike for what it has been designed for. Your description says that a touring bike best fits the way you plan to use it. Ask your bike shop about tires, and then go to other bike shops and ask them, too. I've never had a bike shop recommend a tire that they didn't carry, so their advice will probably be somewhat slanted. To start, the classic touring bike in my area is the Trek 520. HTH

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    You can't use your road bike as a cyclocross bike. The frame and brakes are not designed with enough clearance. Buy a cyclocross bike or use a mountain bike that doesn't have disk brakes.

  • 9 years ago

    you should be fine overall, some things to think about

    -CX tires are generally wider and may not fit if the clearances for you fork/rear seatstays are too tight.

    -CX bikes generally use cantilever brakes since they don't clog up with mud as much. These require special braze ons to fit. If you leave side-pull brakes, your may have worse stopping power and get mud clogged in your wheels easier. You can swap your fork for a cross fork with the proper braze-ons as long as you add a cable hanger off the steerer. Alternatively you can install mini-V brakes to re-use your current road levers.

    other than that, I don't think there are really too many other difference between road and cross bikes.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.