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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I want to try cyclocross racing with just my 29er hard tail mountain bike before I drop for a cross bike. The local races (CCCX) doesn’t care about mountain bikes. So, what are the benefits and burdens of a cyclocross bike vs a mountain bike?

In fact, on the local dry, hard courses I think I would bounce around and fatigue with high pressure tires and a ridged fork. A cross bike would be a lot easier to pick up over barriers and shoulder with the horizontal top tube. I dont think there are many cross obstacals in the local races.
 

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Is there a question there? :D

The two biggest differences I noticed when I switched from a 26" hardtail to my 'cross bike in 2008 were that it's a lot easier to cross barriers and do run-ups and that 'cross bikes accelerate a lot faster out of corners. In my area, we tend to have grass infield sections with a lot of 180 degree turns, and it's nice to be on a lighter, rigid bike for those accelerations.

I think on some courses, the speeds get high enough for a more aero riding position to be useful. But it's really hard to get a sense of that by feel.

Depending on the course, sometimes you can carry more speed in tight turns or technical sections on a mountain bike, and sometimes you can ride the run-ups, or parts of them. That can help balance things out against a 'cross bike.
 

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I did my first cross race a last weekend on my rigid singlespeed 29'er. I've been riding around on my old commuter / touring bike this week with cross tires, and it makes me think a cross bike or at least cross tires would be faster. But that's just perception; I haven't done any timed tests.
For $60-$100 you could get a set of tires and try it out. If you decided a cross bike would be faster then you already have a spare set of tires (unless you go with tubulars).
 

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There might be sections where'd you'd prefer fatter wheels or a suspension fork but, on balance, the cross bike is the fastest tool for the job. Cyclocross is about the variety of terrain.

If a mountain bike would be faster than a cross bike, then it's not a very good cross course IMO.
 

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Agree w/ much that's been said so far.

The 2 main things I would suggest you try:

1. Try switching to a rigid fork
Since your 9er is a hardtail, this reduces the "bouncing around" of suspension, and helps quicken the response/feel of accelerating out of a corner. And with the rigid fork, your mtb will be lighter b/c you won't have to carry the extra weight of suspension.

2. Switch to cross tires.
Your 9er wheels should fit a majority of 'cross tires. With the lighter weight of 'cross tires VS mtb tires, this will help "lighten the load". Note: when you make the switch to CX tires, really pay attention and find the right tire pressure. The right pressure can really make or break how your bike (CX or mtb) will feel on the course.

Here in SE MI, we have a couple elite mtb'ers who race cross on their mtb's as well. These are the things they do with their mtb's.

I feel ultimately, you'll want to get a CX bike if you want to get serious about it. But since you're just starting out, doing those 2 things will give you a good taste of CX.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
AndrwSwitch said:
Is there a question there? :D
So, what are the benefits and burdens of a cyclocross bike vs a mountain bike?
Sorry, dropped the question mark originally.
 

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x2 to what's been said.

Race the 29er for now. If it has XC racing tires, don't bother changing anything. Possibly lock-out the fork, or set he compression fairly high, so you don't get any bob. The race is 40 minutes (usually, for the Cat4/C race), so fatigue from the bumps isn't an issue.

In the Cat4/C races, fitness is a far bigger issue than bike. There are frequently guys on mtn bikes in the top-20 (local fields are 60-125 entrants). The podium is almost always roadies on 'cross bikes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Besides Motobecane, who else makes a afordable Cross bike that comes with disks that is not a heavy build of for commuting (Redline)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
krisdrum said:
Why disk brakes? You are just making the bike heavier. Are you going to do anything else with it besides race it?
Disks are nice to have in the wet mud.
 

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Killroy said:
Disks are nice to have in the wet mud.
They've been racing cross in wet mud decades before disks were even thought of. I know they are now UCI legal and all, but I'm still skeptical as to how much we'll see them at the top level of the sport regardless of the rule change.

If you want to race cross with disk, just use your 29er and save yourself some money. There was a guy in NY/NJ on a rigid 29er last year that was finishing pretty consistently mid-pack or higher.

As was said above, it is far less about the bike/equipment and far more about the engine behind it to be competitive. Heck there was a guy last year racing Cat 3 with a riser bar fixie with skinny tires and he was consistently mid-pack.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
pretender said:
These are three requirements. Pick two.
The Motobecane Fantom Cross comes with Avid BB5 disks brakes, but I bet the bike is heavy. It it is as heavy as my mountain bike, then what's the point?
 

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Killroy said:
The Motobecane Fantom Cross comes with Avid BB5 disks brakes, but I bet the bike is heavy. It it is as heavy as my mountain bike, then what's the point?
Exactly my point. And pretender's. Light, cheap, durable: pick two.
 

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I'd say buy some CX tires. If you end up getting a CX bike you got your own snazzy tires to put on them. If you just keep rocking the 29er, there are plenty of other situations where a set of CX tires might come in handy.

As for disc brakes on a CX bike: over rated. I raced last year on canti's, never had a problem even in the mud. This year I'm saddled with disc brakes on my monstercross bike. Sure there's a little more stopping power in the brakes, but the limiting factor is always tire traction.
 

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Killroy said:
Disks are nice to have in the wet mud.
Also, by having discs it means you didn't have to set up cantilevers.

That being said, we come from fairly similar backgrounds- as I didn't really start riding any offroad with skinny tires and more road geometry until recently. It is amazingly fun- some of it comes from the bike's handling, some of it from skinny tires and a surprising amount of it from the cantilevers. I've started to ride the easy singletrack in my area on my cross bike and it has been fun.
 

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Killroy said:
I want to try cyclocross racing
OK.

:cool:

Don't worry about the bike. Just go and race. Have fun. Try to keep your lungs on the inside.

:thumbsup:
 

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I'm a mountain biker and don't do road. I race Cat 2/sport MTB and last year I wanted to try cross. I have a 29er singlespeed that I decided to put a rigid fork on and CX tires and it worked great. I put a much taller gear on (36:16) so I could get some top end speed and because climbing is not typically a factor in CX. I could consistently finish mid-pack in the Cat 4/5 race and decided I loved cross! Originally I was totally obsessed with "I'm gonna get a cross bike!" Now not so much, I invested in some gears so now I've got the 29er set up 1x9 (42 chainring, 12-34 cassette) with the CX tires and rigid fork and that is CX-enough for me. It weighs 25 lbs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
ewarnerusa said:
I'm a mountain biker and don't do road. I race Cat 2/sport MTB and last year I wanted to try cross. I have a 29er singlespeed that I decided to put a rigid fork on and CX tires and it worked great. I put a much taller gear on (36:16) so I could get some top end speed and because climbing is not typically a factor in CX. I could consistently finish mid-pack in the Cat 4/5 race and decided I loved cross! Originally I was totally obsessed with "I'm gonna get a cross bike!" Now not so much, I invested in some gears so now I've got the 29er set up 1x9 (42 chainring, 12-34 cassette) with the CX tires and rigid fork and that is CX-enough for me. It weighs 25 lbs.
What tires are those? They look wide-ish for cross tires. I have been wanting to try tires between 34c and 2.0.
 
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