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BIKE-TO-BROWN  April 2006

BIKE-TO-BROWN April 2006

Subject:

Cyclocross bike explained

From:

"Rogers, Donald" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Rogers, Donald

Date:

Fri, 21 Apr 2006 16:44:43 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (85 lines)

> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Brown University Bicycle Commuting List 
> > [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of John Mertus
> > Sent: Friday, April 14, 2006 10:53 AM
> > Subject: [BIKE-TO-BROWN] Mountain/Hybrid vs Cyclocross
> >
> > I'll bite, what is the difference between a Mountain/Hybrid and a 
> > Cyclocross?

I never saw an answer to this go across the list, so here goes ...

Take your Lancey-pants lightweight drop-bar racing bike, and turn off
the pavement into the woods. Ride over mud, across off-camber turns,
through sand, on fields, over roots, and add bits of paved road along
the way for variety. When you get to a steep rough hill or stairs, hop
off and run/carry the bike up, then hop on while still in motion and
pedal down the other side. Get messy. Enjoy yourself. Invite your
friends next time and make it a race. You are now riding cyclocross. It
helps if it's raining or snowing. Do it until you realize your race bike
is starting to come apart at the seams. Realize also that most of the
fun is in using a road-style bike in this terrain instead of a heavy
mountain bike. So, build a more suitable bike. 

Here's what you keep from your road bike:

 - lightweight frame without suspension components

 - drop bars

 - fast tires

Here's what you change to make it more suitable:

 - use slightly beefier tubes in the frame so it won't break

 - add more clearance (space) at the points the tire passes by the frame
(fork crown, rear seatstays and chainstays) so that you can run slightly
puffier tires to handle the rough stuff. Also, this lets you cake your
wheel up with mud and keep it from binding in the frame. If you also add
rack eyelets at the dropouts (and most cyclocross builders do) you now
also have plenty of room for fenders. Leave 'em at home on race day,
though, the mud will build up sumpin' fierce in there.

 - Change the frame geometry a little to have a higher bottom bracket
(where the crankarms connect in the base of the frame). This lets you
get over roots and obstacles a little more easily. 

 - Switch to powerful cantilever or disc brakes (discs are especially
good in mud/rain/ice conditions).

 - Maybe add an extra set of brake levers for when you're on the tops of
the bars.

All of these improvements happen to work out as a great commuter bike
too. It's reliable, versatile, and ready for all weather. Strong like ox
but quick like bunny.

Hm. Now I want one!

I don't have enough knowledge of this category to recommend a brand, but
I expect the Surly Cross-check is a pretty good value, as are most
things Surly. ProvBike should have some sort of 'cross bikes on the
floor, I expect.

For comparison, the primary attributes of a true mountain bike will be
heavier/beefier frame, various suspension bits, really wide knobby tires
that are frankly too slow for pavement riding, and a mostly-flat bar
that offers fewer hand positions than a drop bar.

A hybrid tries to optimize pavement comfort with a mix of moderate
suspension, wide-ish smooth-ish tires, easy gears, and occasionally
useful bits like fenders. High, upright bar position. Often made to a
low price point, which they achieve with a heavy frame. Reasonable for
casual jaunts, but not fast, light, or speedy-feeling.

Pick your poison, shop thoroughly, and have fun!

Don

Bike to Brown discussion list:
http://listserv.brown.edu/archives/bike-to-brown.html

Bike to Brown website:
http://biketobrown.brown.edu/

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