Road riding can be a bit tricky in winter. You’ll be pleased to know that cyclocross bikes make a great commuter!
Cyclocross bikes have become a popular means of commuting. They are safe, fast, and, of course, fun. These bikes are a bit expensive but totally worth the investment. They can be true all-rounders with slight adjustments. Use them as a commuter bike for weekdays and a race bike to the road on weekends.
Characteristics of Cyclocross Bikes
Road and Weather Conditions
Cyclocross bikes combine the general characteristics of a road bike with the sturdiness of a mountain bike, making them perfect for a daily grind. You can fit wider tires in these bikes because of the large cutout frame, making them perfect for both on-road and off-road commuting.
They allow a smooth ride on roads and still get you through rough terrains, including grass, pavement, woodland trails, mud, and even sand.
These are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions without compromising on performance. So, whether it’s raining or snowing, a cyclocross bike would be a good companion all year round!
Cyclocross bikes generally have larger and fatter tires measuring 33 mm wide to ensure grip. The higher volume provides increased traction, cushioning, as well as puncture resistance. They are often tubular, but tubeless tires are becoming common for their obvious advantages, including weight-saving and rolling speed. These are also easier to set up and can run low pressures to provide greater shock absorption.
Cyclocross tires are more textured than road bike tires. They feature a graded surface with a tread pattern, just like a mountain bike, to add grip and mud-shedding capability. While the psi of tires depends on the rider’s choice, trail details, and tire size, it usually ranges from 15 to 30 psi.
Mud is inevitable in cyclocross races, so there is a good chance of mud build-ups in the space between the tires and frames. Cyclocross bikes have cables to reduce friction and make the shifting more solid. They can be routed along the top of the top tube or even internally within other tubes.
This placement keeps them safe from being contaminated by mud and water. Also, carrying the bike frame becomes convenient and comfortable.
The larger tires of a cyclocross bike necessitate a different braking system than road bikes since they tend to encounter the most challenging conditions of all bike brakes, considering rough trails, mud, sand, and large loads.
Previously, these bikes were fitted with cantilever rim brakes or V-brake for mud clearance. However, their tendency to clog up and reduce effectiveness in wet and muddy situations remains an issue. Now, disc brakes have taken over the industry for their consistent performance in all weather conditions.
Most new cyclocross bikes are equipped with either cable or hydraulic disc brakes. The power and modulation of hydraulic systems are far superior. These are low-maintenance and provide quicker braking. However, they are a bit expensive and do add some weight to the bike.
Similar to road bikes, cyclocross bikes also have drop handlebars. They offer three handle positions, including in the drop, on the top, and on the hood, so you can choose the perfect grip according to the type of terrain you’re riding.
Ride on the top while cruising, grab the hoods for climbing or get in the drops on descents. Drop handlebars are way more comfortable than flat handles, which allow only a single-hand position.
How to Carry Stuff on a Cyclocross Bike?
Since there is no mounting point on cyclocross bikes for a rear rack, the only possible way to carry stuff on this bike is with a backpack. Get a backpack that offers good weight distribution on your back without putting too much stress on your arms.
Tooling Up a Cyclocross Bike
If you don’t want to carry a backpack, you can also consider adding a removable seat or handlebar bag to your cyclocross bike. These are all about convenience and offer quick access to things you may need like your smartphone, map, or even a snack while riding.
There are other options available for larger loads, like bike tool kits. Installing a top tube frame bag is a good idea for stashing snacks and personal accessories on long-distance tours. Similarly, a rack or pannier bag is also a handy addition to the bike. These are sturdy and spacious.
Other CX Bike Accessories for Travel
While the UCI rule book doesn’t allow drinking anything during a race, a general rider can install a bottle cage on the bike to fit a water bottle. Similarly, installing a mudguard mount will keep you and your bike largely dry on wet roads. They cover most of the front and large wheels, thereby offering protection from spray generated by wheels.
Cyclocross bikes are perfect for both on-road and off-road commuting. With a great mix of road speed and off-road capabilities, this bike is a highly versatile machine. They can also be used for winter training, cycle-touring, and off-road adventures while tackling obstacles like steps, low barriers, and steep banks.
Cyclocross bikes aren’t just designed for cyclocross races, but they are equally suitable for daily commuting. They are fast, comfortable, and durable, thanks to their relaxed geometry and high-quality construction.
Cyclocross bikes are built to endure extreme weather conditions, making them great commuters in winters due to additional stability. Make sure to accessorize the bike with mudguards, disc brakes, and wider and puncture-resistant tires, so you have a faithful companion in adverse conditions.
A helmet is a must for safety purposes. They protect your head and are available in different sizes, fits, styles, colors, coverage, and ventilation. While the choice of helmet is personal, try to get one that adds safety and improves your style game.
Winter brings terrible weather with it. Therefore, a waterproof jacket is essential for unexpected rainy showers and downpours. Most waterproof jackets are also breathable, thereby allowing you to ride without getting hot. The fit is also an essential factor to consider while getting a jacket for a comfortable riding experience.
Similarly, it’s better to get vibrant colors and reflective jackets as they significantly increase visibility in darkness and on a cloudy day.
Reliable eyewear provides protection from UV rays and debris on the road. Go for durable sunglasses that are also stylish and comfortable. They must fit the size and shape of your face so that you can wear them comfortably all day long under a helmet.
The difference between regular bike shorts and bib shorts is that the latter comes with suspenders built into them, making them a more comfortable riding gear. They keep the shorts up, thereby preventing them from pulling down enough to expose your lower back to the wind.
Bib shorts are equipped with an ergonomically designed advanced pad known as chamois. These shorts effectively absorb the road vibrations and provide the right balance and comfort on longer rides.
A good pair of cycling gloves helps maintain your grip on the handlebar by absorbing sweat. Some of them have padded palms to cushion your hands from vibrations. Cycling gloves also improve the comfort level in cold weather as they prevent numb fingers.
It is recommended that you get at least two different pairs of cycling gloves: full finger gloves for cold days and fingerless mitts for more breathability during the summer.
Cycling shoes have relatively stiff soles to improve performance. Most of the shoes have tread, so you can use them with clipless pedals and walk in them.
Depending on your cycling skills, you can choose MTB or road-style pedals. Getting MTB pedals with an additional platform allows easier clipping-in and also riding in casual shoes. Being clipped-in will attach you firmly to the bike, which reduces the chances of discomfort or injury.
High-powered lights are vital to avoid any accidents while cycling in the dark. A complete set of lights will make you visible to other road users, thereby making your commute safe even in the dark. Getting a complete set of lights is more cost-effective than buying a front and rear light separately.
A set of multitools is practical for both out on roads and in the workshop. It helps in various tasks, including checking the functionality and adjustments to the saddle or pedal while traversing challenging terrains.
Good chain lube is a vital bicycle accessory to slow the wear between chain joints. Get a lube that works in all weather conditions so that you can have a smooth commuting experience.
A flat tire while cycling is the worst nightmare. It is, therefore, better to carry a portable pump, so you can quickly get the tire back to pressure. A mini-pump is easy to carry around and can be safely stored in the bag.
Cyclocross bikes are not just reserved for races and off-road adventures. Their robust and comfortable build makes them incredibly practical for road touring, regardless of weather conditions. Also, getting high-quality gear can take your riding experience to the next level.