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Commuting on A Crossbike.

4157 Views 25 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  ADDam
Is this pretty common? I was talking to some of the guys at work today about buying a commuter and they strongly suggested buying a crossbike rather than a "commuter." Giant still has a few TCX 1's left so I may order one of those rather than a Seek 1. Any opinions?

I have about a 5 mile commute, but I also may want to take it on rec. road rides as well.

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A cross bike is an excellent choice. You might test ride a couple different bikes to figure out what is comfortable for you though. You also need to consider whether you will have racks and fenders, because then you will need bikes with the appropriate eyelets. Not sure if the Giant has them.
I've been harping on about this for a long time. umarth has summed it up though - whether you buy a true cross bike, or something more like a Surly or a Voodoo which is a cross bike with eyelets is up to you, but they would have to be the more versatile commuting bike to ride.
With a 5 mile one-way commute you can ride anything you want. I once rode my full-suspension mountain bike to the subway, brought my bike with me downtown, rode it for a burrito run at lunch time, then took it back onto the subway and rode home from the station. It was nice not having to worry about riding over glass. This was about 12 miles round trip.

A cross bike is a nice way to go for an all-weather commuter as you will have plenty of tire clearance for fenders if you want. Properly set up cantilever brakes with good brake pads give great braking power wet or dry (Kool Stop salmon pads are the way to go here!).

You mention doing other rides with this bike other than commuting, though, and this may be enough to change the direction you are going with this bike. Are you doing serious road bike type rides with a group of friends who are also riding road bikes? Are you just putting in mileage after work or on the weekends and don't care about going balls-out fast or keeping up with your buddies? While it is true that you can keep up with roadies on a cyclocross bike, it is also true that you will have to work at it a little harder to do so. If you are trying to keep a minimalist stable of bikes and have a bike that you can commute with as well as doing weekend casual rides then I would suggest a cyclocross bike. If you need to keep up with your buddies then a proper road bike is the way to go. It's going to be less versatile than a cyclocross bike is but it will get the job done. I've commuted to work on my road bikes, 28 miles round trip, with a Camelbak Blowfish minus the water bladder to carry my stuff. No problems at all.
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My friend does all her commuting and road riding on a Kona Jake. She's really happy with it - she bought hers after borrowing mine for a few months. That model has a steel fork, but the next one up, the Jake the Snake, has a carbon fork and costs about the same as the TCX 1. I think that carbon forks are really nice for putting in lots of road miles with skinny tires - really mellow road feel, but nice and snappy handling.

There are a few other options out there if you're only into riding on the road but want a rack and fenders. Another friend of mine has a Trek Portland for commuting and road riding. Salsa makes some road frames that will accept fenders and give you a much more fun ride than a "commuter" and so does Soma. A lot of people really like Surly, but I think it's easy to do better.

Commuter bikes are targeted at people who are intimidated by road bikes and won't be going off-road. If you're comfortable riding on drop bars, it's much better to buy a road bike that can accept a rack and fenders. Many cross bikes fit that bill too, and racing them is totally fun. If you really want to ride on flat bars, start with a mountain bike - it's a lot easier to build a fun, high-performance bike around a frame designed with fun and performance in mind than around one that got fobbed off on a junior engineer and is designed to be something that's not intimidating to someone who's out of shape.
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Road bikes tend to be highly specialized tools for riding on a hard and smooth surface. Cyclocross bikes are more versatile: you have space for bigger tires if you want to ride on dirt or snow. Many models have eyelets for racks and fenders. Fenders can be really nice if you ever ride in wet conditions.
I commute on my Jake. I use it for road rides, Forest Service roads, grocery store runs, etc... It's such a versatile bike! I like that I can comfortably link pavement and dirt roads for big loops here in the valley. Having the granny gear is nice for the carry over in training for MTBing. I took off the knobbies and mounted up a set of 40c Kenda Breakers. They work great for everything I use them for.
I'm hoping to get one of these: I commute daily but also want something fast for riding on our long swooping roads at weekends when I want a change from riding the trails.
Actually I was pondering the same thing myself but i went with a HT. But I have added drop bar ends, cross lever, areo brake lever, and 26x1 tires. It isnt as light as most cross/road bikes but I am able to beat most bike courier in my town on it. It probably would be cheaper too as the upgrades only total around 150. The bike also has a front suspension that a cross bike lacks. It has all the eyelets for racks. I do alot of riding on mine i have done 70 mile rides on it with no problems inless alot of hills are involved because of the weight. Oh I remember that sala already makes a bike like this with 29in tires so it can run 700c wheels but it sells for around 2000. The only problem with a true cross bike is getting the mounts as everyone else has mentioned you might want to look into getting a touring road bike as they will have the mounts and some even come with the rack already.
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+1 on the Surly Cross Check

I think it is the perfect commuter. Mounts for fenders and a rear rack, steel frame rides nice on rough roads. The bike can handle singletrack, curbs, dirt, gravel, etc... At $1000 for the QBP build, you get a good build kit. Nothing fancy, but good quality for the price.
I always advocate the use of a mountain bike for almost any application. If you're already riding one, then you'll likely be comfortable riding one to work. I do and I even do recreational road rides on one. It's a matter of personal choice, of course but I love the versatility and handling a MTB affords.
Opening another can of worms..

If you go this route, I'll tag on the idea of using craigslist. I have an 89 Rockhopper that I bought for 100 and it is fairly quick and can do the fenders and racks. And fatter tires.

Gary the No-Trash Cougar said:
I always advocate the use of a mountain bike for almost any application. If you're already riding one, then you'll likely be comfortable riding one to work. I do and I even do recreational road rides on one. It's a matter of personal choice, of course but I love the versatility and handling a MTB affords.
My Rocky Mountain Solo CX is serving as my daily commuter this summer on my 38km round trip. It's got 700x26 slicks and fenders right now. Of course, it is very versatile, and has been used for cross racing, road rides, mixed terrain rides, trail rides, wet rides, dry rides.... It has disc mounts, and fender mounts, but it lacks rack mounts.

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Well I work for a shop, So I have access to quite a few bikes (at cost :thumbsup: ). Our Big brands are C'dale and Giant. We can also get Surly, Soma, VooDoo, Salsa and maybe a few others.

As far a the road riding on weekends, its not a race, but I am looking for some speed. Are the crossbikes geared incredibly different than regular road bikes?
ADDam said:
Well I work for a shop,...

...Are the crossbikes geared incredibly different than regular road bikes?
Most cross bikes come with compact cranks, which allows you to run rings as small as 34, and as large as 50ish. The gearing found stock on cross bikes is highly variable, but 36/46 is pretty common. You will likely find that a little low for road riding. Personally, I run 36/48 which I find to be good for commuting, and a pretty good compromise for a do it all setup with a 12-26 cassette.
I am running a Shimano FC-R700 (34/50) compact crank on my Surly Cross Check. On the back I am running an 8spd MTB cassette. It is a bit of an unusual set up, but it works for me. I am also running 700x38 tires. Now, I would never try to hit the racer boy road ride up with my set up. My bike weighs many pounds north of the 16-18lb mark that many nice road rides are weighing in at these days. But I have been told by a few people who do frequent local roady events that I could easily hang with the slow group, or even the moderately paced group. And that would be without a change in tires. For reference, I normally cruise to work in the 18-22mph range on still days with no wind on pavement. Pack riding will ofcourse increase your speed. Riding in a pack at 25mph would put me in the top of my gearing, but I think I could do it, especially if I put on some quality 700x28 touring tires. Now riding in a pack of piranhas at 27-28mph would not be possible with my bike or my current physical fitness level.;)

BTW, the Cross Check is a great bike. A durable and flexible platform. The Salsa Casseroll would be my choice if I was doing strictly road riding and commuting. But I hit a lot of gravel roads since I live in one of the gravel road meccas of America. I think that a physically fit rider could easily hang with all but the fastest guys on the road if riding a Casseroll. Uber expensive road bikes are cool until you decide to hop a curb, take a short cut across a grass field, ride a gravel road, put on a fender....etc. I could go on forever, but I am biased.:rolleyes:
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I commute on a K2 Enemy CX bike that I picked up last october at Performance for $850. It's got the Shimano 105 package, a carbon fork and the clearance and eyelets for fenders and a rear rack both of which I have mounted up.

Compact double rings in front (50/34) and it came stock with a 11/24 (10 spd.) cassette in the rear. I have since swapped the rear cassette out for a 12/27 to make hill climbing just a little easier. I also removed the cross tires and installed Conit Gatorskins since I don't take the bike off road.

Beyond my typical 120 miles/week of commuting, I do weekend rides with my wife and I've done a couple of centuries, and plan on doing the Seattle to Portland ride (200+ miles in one day) next month. It's fast enough for me, comfortable to ride, and plenty versatile.
I am commuting on a Salsa La Cruz. Super comfy True Temper OX Platinum. I need to get new pics up, but I am running 700x32 w/ fenders and there is room for plenty more tire. I found this rack that works great and moves the panniers back 4cm so there are no heel clearance issues.

btw, the pricing on the complete La Cruz is great. And yay for discs!
Ordered my Giant TCX Today! WOO HOO! Should be here monday!
'Cross is Boss.......:)

i commute on an '07 S-Works Tricross.....

It's also my swiss-army-knife of bikes......easy to do a 30 mile roadburn and throw some trails in the mix....can hook racks on both front and rear.....and accepts 44 wide tires for the 'heavier' dirt useage.....

you're gonna have fun on upgrade IMHO would be to get the 'right' size Salsa Bel Lap bars.....they have a slight flair, and feel ohhhhhh soooooo nice in the drops

photo credit - skyline35


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