Thanks to the booming interest around Cyclocross and Gravel racing, the key characteristics for the perfect commuter bike have been honed into a new class of machine – fast, tough, nimble and comfortable on rough roads. Welcome to All-Road / Cyclocross bikes!
Although these new bikes have a racing pedigree, they manage to strike a balance that makes them perfect all-conditions all-round commuters for most regular riders that also open up all sorts of options on the weekend (including racing).
Thinking of trying a Cyclocross Bike or Gravel Grinder? Read the FAQs below and contact your nearest Reid Cycles store for a free test ride.
How to Choose an All-Road / Cyclocross Bike
To understand these bikes better it is helpful to know where they came from. Cyclocross (CX) is a form of off-road circuit racing which is measured in time with races ranging from 30 minutes for beginners and juniors up to 60 minutes for pros. Riders aim to complete to most amount of laps in the allotted time and out race all other competitors. Cyclocross is currently extremely popular in Europe and the UK and gaining momentum across the USA and Australia. Melbourne currently holds Cyclocross races in the colder, muddier months and these events are a great way to test yourself and meet a few other hardy souls.
The unique thing about Cyclocross is the terrain that makes up the circuits. For the most part, riders will encounter grass, dirt, mud, sand and a wide variety of other rough ground such as rock gardens, cobblestones and small sections of asphalt. Courses also feature barriers which require riders dismount and “shoulder” their bikes to get over the obstacles. CX is a rough, dirty form of racing that requires speed and agile handling. This means the bikes need to be fast (like a Road Bike), but also very tough and responsive (like a Mountain Bike).
The geometry and aesthetics of CX road bikes closely resemble those of road bikes with a few subtle changes including wider tyres and clearance, cantilever brakes as opposed to caliper brakes to perform in the mud and stronger frames with higher bottom brackets to clear obstacles and aid agility.
These features also make CX bikes an excellent choice for a commuter bike. The stronger materials used increase rigidity and reduce road buzz, making for a more comfortable and enjoyable commute. On top of this the higher overall bottom brackets allows riders to quickly and easily tear around corners without the fear of pedal strike as pedals and cranks are generally higher off the ground than those on a conventional road bike.
SINGLESPEED CYCLOCROSS BIKES
Recently, singlespeed CX bikes have been making an appearance on the scene and again provide a number of benefits both when racing and commuting.
The nature of CX racing means that riders encounter lots of dirt, mud and debris such as sticks and twigs which can destroy derailleurs and other running gear. The choice of a singlespeed setup essentially eliminates the need for any derailleur or shifters, making these simple bikes easy and cheap to maintain.
ALL ROAD / GRAVEL RACING
Gravel-grinding / Gravel-riding is really taking off in America partly because of the vast network of dirt roads criss-crossing the country. Australia has some similar infrastructure so the trend is picking up here too. It’s a great way to get off the beaten track and explore some peaceful countryside without the traffic that can ruin a weekend pedal.
Naturally, people are also racing in these conditions. Unlike a CX event though, Gravel-racing is typically a distance affair with some technical features and hill climbs. Riding on dirt between 50 to 150 miles is tough on body, mind and gear so the bikes are built accordingly.
ALL ROAD / GRAVEL BIKES
The easiest way to describe these bikes is to imagine a Cyclocross bike built with more relaxed geometry, a lower centre of gravity and longer tube lengths for riding over longer distances. CX bikes are more agile and quick; while All-Road bikes will be more comfortable on longer rides - especially over hard-packed surfaces like gravel roads or poorly maintained city streets.
Versatility is key to this category of bikes. They are built for long rides that can lead anywhere – whether it’s a rough commute in the wet, a nip down that dirt track you’ve always just ridden past or a fully blown weekend off-road bike packing adventure. These bikes are the true all-rounders of the cycling world and allow you to just follow your nose, knowing that your bike will be able to handle the challenge.
SHOP REID CYCLES, AUSTRALIA'S BEST VALUE BIKES
For all new bikes we offer FREE servicing for 12 months, lifetime warranty on frame and forks and 2 years warranty on parts.
If you’d like some more information, give us a call or come into one of our stores for a warm welcome and friendly advice. In the meantime, check out our full range of Cyclocross Bikes.