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Hi,

I'm new to the hobby of road biking. I recently sold my mountain bike and miss riding and would like something to commute with and certainly would not mind having the ability to ride some smooth dirt trails if the opportunity arose. A friend of mine who is a road biker recommended that I look into cross bikes because he claims that they are usually stronger, more comfortable, and a little more versatile as to what terrain can be ridden over, which all sound appealing to me. But what are the disadvantages? Weight?

Thanks.
 

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For riding down roads, including dirt ones, nothing beats a road bike. When the road turns to dirt, you are better off with larger tires of about 25 cm wide. There is nothing wrong with a cross bike, but a road bike is designed to fit you for normal road riding, which sounds like what you wish to do. Advantages of a cross bike is you can add fenders and racks easier and can ride on trails if you wish. Disadvantages are the positions is a little tall for day to day road riding, but not a big deal if that's all you have. There are many affordable road and cross bikes out there at a wide range of prices. There are few "good deals", generally you trade off in one area and gain in another at the same price point in a new bike. In the end, find a shop that can help you with sizing and service after the sale.
 

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mbryant52 said:
Hi,

I'm new to the hobby of road biking. I recently sold my mountain bike and miss riding and would like something to commute with and certainly would not mind having the ability to ride some smooth dirt trails if the opportunity arose. A friend of mine who is a road biker recommended that I look into cross bikes because he claims that they are usually stronger, more comfortable, and a little more versatile as to what terrain can be ridden over, which all sound appealing to me. But what are the disadvantages? Weight?

Thanks.
If you're coming from a mtb background and are starting to ride road, you'll probably be comfortable with a more upright road bike position (more similar to a mtb but maybe a bit more stretched out). I think this is a normal progression from mtb to road (regardless of the cross issue). Though I agree with the previous poster about nothing being better for going down roads than a road bike, if you're not used to a road bike then a cross bike (as your only bike) will do just fine on the road with some skinny slicks. If you really enjoy the pure road riding, a specialized road bike will certainly be a good addition some day.

If this is going to be your one bike and you would still like to do some trail riding, a cross bike might be just the ticket. I think a cross bike is nearly as good, and in some ways better than a hard tail for trails where a hard tail is reasonable. If the trails you would like to ride are rock gardens, a cross bike is not the thing. If they're more like fireroads or not too bumpy singletrack, a cross bike can be great. Personally I've stopped riding my hard tail mtb in favor of my cross bike - and would like to replace it with a full suspension mtb for the more technical (bumpy) trails.

A cross bike at the same price point as a road bike will probably weigh a bit more. You can, if it's a priority and an option ($$) get a cross bike to be just as light as some of the lighter road bikes. In a practical sense, a good cross bike can be made to be plenty light for road riding. If you're at your top fitness, very thin and the last part of the package left to optimize is your bike, you may appreciate a super-light purpose built road bike as compared to a pretty light cross bike on the road. This is not the case for most of us :)

If you do want a single bike to do it all, I think a cross bike with a compact double (34-50) and a 12-27 (or 13-29 if you're going campy) is generally the ticket. If that's not low enough you can get a mtb rear derailleur and a mtb cassette to take it to an 11-34 - but at this point you could also consider a triple crankset and a more reasonably spaced cassette like a 12-25 or 12-27.

i use my 34-50 and 13-29 cross bike for almost everything (commuting, foul weather, trails and cross racing). when i really want a light, pure road bike, i ride my road bike. as i said i'd like to replace my hardtail mtb with a full suspension bike. for me, that would be the ideal set of bikes. if i only could have one, it'd be the cross bike i have now.
 

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The cross bike is going to be just a little less quick-steering and skittish than a road only bike. It will probably weigh a couple pounds more.

There are no disadvantages. The geometry is very much the way road bikes were made for decades with a slightly longer chainstays and angles, but with more BB clearance.

Ron
 

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I find little difference between a road bike and a cross bike. The only difference is the tyres, both on speed and weight and even that doesn't make as much difference as I feared.

I got rid of my rigid MTB and my road bike, I now have a bike that I can go wherever I fancy on, jump up curbs, ride across verges, take shortcuts across singletrack etc,. Makes the whole ride more fun for me.

My cross bike weighs slightly more than a simlar road bike, but the difference is a few hundred grams on the frame and fork and nothing more. The rest of the components are the same as a road bike.
 
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