What makes Cyclocross bikes great commuter bikes?
Cyclocross commuter bikes might be a new concept to many of our readers, but they’re a niche bicycle that is just as well suited to cycling to work as they are for their originally intended purpose. Cyclocross as a sport sits somewhere between mountain-biking and road-racing, from afar the bikes might look like traditional road bikes (racers) but up close you can see they share some common ground with mountain bikes. Cyclocross takes place on courses often laid out on grass (that soon becomes mud) and is a phenomenally demanding sport from a physical perspective. Now, at this point you might be wondering why on earth we’re recommending a Cyclocross bike for your bimble to work? Well let’s have a look two ways in which these machines differ to ‘normal’ road bikes and you’ll start to see why you should be considering one as your commuter bike.
Cyclocross brakes are perfect for commuting.
The first time we ever rode through London we were astonished at just how frequently we had to stop. It wasn’t just the frequency of the stops that alarmed us, it was the lack of warning and the swift action that had to be taken to avoid catastrophe. We don’t wish to give the impression that there’s inherently wrong with the braking systems on any bikes but Cyclocross bikes have something of a major advantage when it comes to the need to stop incredibly quickly. Much like the majority of MTBs Cyclocross bikes are fitted with disc brakes. During races these bikes get caked in mud, so much like their mountainous cousins the brakes are moved to the centre of the rim and mounted using a disc and calliper system. This is a remarkably efficient system for bringing your bicycle to a halt when a pedestrian steps of the pavement and into your path. Having the braking system mounted in the centre of the wheel (and on a disc) also means that no matter what the weather you’ll be able to stop safely all year round. Some Cyclocross bikes have an additional set of brake levers (a bit like BMX) brakes mounted on the top part of the bars, so you can ride in a very upright position but still be confident that (should you need to) you always have the means of stoppage at your fingertips.
Cyclocross tyres are a bit more forgiving on the ride to work.
Another major difference between Cyclocross bikes and road bikes is that Cyclocross tyres are a bit wider than those found on road bikes. They also tend to grip better, whereas almost all road tyres are almost entirely smooth. The grip is there to help stability and torque when slipping up a muddy bank during a race, but we dare say there are time on your ride to work that a little extra grip would put your mind at rest. The extra width on the tyres also helps smooth out potholes and other bum-punishing road anomalies. Quite often on a commute you’ll find yourself leaving the highway to take advantage of a public footpath or canal / river path, and yet again this is where your Cyclocross bike will be at an advantage over almost any other type of bicycle.
Cyclocross commuter bike recommendations
We particularly like the Cannondale CAADX Cyclocross bike, but we do realise that it’s at the upper end of the £1,000 budget that a lot of Cycle to Work Schemes have in place. Blowing your entire budget on this bike would leave you with no money for accessories, but if this bike isn’t your first foray into cycling then we say what the hell, live a little and buy yourself a thing of beauty.
Always check your local independent bike shop!