Can You Use a Mountain Bike for Cyclocross?

If you own a mountain bike and want to use it for cyclocross racing, you can easily do that without spending money on a cyclocross bike. Read on to know more!

You can use your mountain bike for cyclocross racing, but a few alterations are needed. To convert your mountain bike to a CX bike, you need to pull off the saddlebag, bottle cages, pump, and bar ends and alter the fat rubber under the tires for something narrower. Once the requirements are met, you can use your mountain bike for cyclocross racing right away.

What is Cyclocross?

Cyclocross is a unique discipline of cycling which is non-Olympic and is best described as a mix between mountain biking, road cycling and steeplechase. Even though the origin of this sport is still not clear, cyclists continue to go beyond their limits and cycle from stairs to fences and other tricky terrains. This makes it an exciting sport.

The bike used in cyclocross is known as a cyclocross bike, cross bike, or even a CX bike; however, most contestants use modified road bikes or altered mountain bikes for this racing sport. CX bikes’ specifications include knobby and skinny tires, disc brakes, and no bar ends. These features make it easy to pass over different obstacles.

Furthermore, cyclocross races occur in parks or any other open land and have multiple laps that the racers have to ride through. Also, these races are carried out in adverse weather conditions, including rain and snow. Some well-known cyclocross racing events include UCI World Cup, UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, and USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championship events.


Should I Buy A Mountain Bike Or A Cyclocross Bike?

If you are thinking about whether you should buy a mountain bike or a cyclocross bike, then the first question you should ask yourself is: what will you use the bike for?

Both the bikes have their advantages and disadvantages; for example, cyclocross bikes are great for off-road riding, whereas mountain bikes are ideal for travelling over rough roads and terrains. So read on below to find out what each bike is useful for, and then choose the one more suited to you.

For Fitness

If you are getting a bicycle for fitness, such as competing in cyclocross races, you may think a cyclocross bike is perfect for you. But this may not be necessary; in fact, a mountain bike can easily be altered into a cyclocross bike when you want. If your MTB bike has a hardtail, then you can change out the form and make your bike rigid and lighter. Also, cyclocross rules do not allow bar ends, so you need to remove that and change the tires to narrow ones with low-profile knobs.

Meanwhile, if you have a cyclocross bike, then no alterations will be needed. But keep in mind that a cyclocross bike is expensive compared to a mountain bike, so MTB is a good option.

For Commuting

When commuting from one place to another, you need a lightweight bike that can run through rough terrains. This is where a cyclocross bike can come in handy. These bikes are lighter than mountain bikes and fast enough to handle the few potholes that can show up on the road.

Similarities and Differences

When it comes to the similarities and differences between a cyclocross bike or a mountain bike, you must know that both have knobby tires. These tires allow you to ride through the mud and provide you with good traction. However, mountain bike tires have more control over rough and rocky roads as compared to CX bikes. They come with deep tread tires and have multiple gears that are useful in mountainous terrains. The construction of MTB bikes is also more sturdy.

Cross bikes, however, have shifts and drop-bar handlebars that are very similar to a road bike, and they are more versatile than MTB. With a few simple alterations, you can change your cross bike into a reliable commuter bicycle and use it every day. But you cannot do that with your mountain bike. Moreover, cross bikes can deal with the harsh weather conditions of a cyclocross race with more ease than MTB bikes.

On the other hand, mountain bikes can be used on rough terrains filled with potholes and gravel, but cross bikes cannot. Another difference is price; cyclocross bikes are more costly than mountain bikes, which is why most people opt for MTB instead of CX bikes.


Converting A Mountain Bike

If you want to convert your mountain bike to cyclocross on a mountain bike, follow the tips mentioned below.

  • Change the shallow drop bars and get flat bars instead.
  • Make use of a shorter stem so that the reach remains comfortable.
  • Opt for old-style canti brakes.
  • Remove the pump, cages and spares.
  • Place a good set of X-C rims or LX that are lightweight.
  • Use a rigid head-tube front cable stop and front fork on the MTB.

With these alterations, your bike will perform fast and smoothly in cyclocross racing, and may even win it.

Closing Thoughts

To sum it up, a cyclocross bike is designed to beat the harsh conditions of cyclocross racing and is versatile. On the other hand, a mountain bike is sturdy and has deep-tread tires and multiple gears designed for mountain terrain, so cyclocross racing on a mountain bike is very much possible. These bikes are great, but if you do not want to spend extra money on a CX bike, an MTB bike is a great option. You can enjoy cyclocross racing on an MTB bike with ease and can convert it so that you can take part in the race or for daily use.