Right where the paved roads end for other cyclists, fun and adventure are just beginning for you. With a cyclocross or gravel bike, you'll be fast all year round, yet flexible as you can ride on paved roads, gravel roads and light off-road terrain. You no longer have to switch to a mountain bike, as used to be common in autumn and winter or when the weather is bad and the ground is softened. After all, the proven cyclocross and gravel bikes convince both off-road and on the road with a performance equal to that of a road bike. » Read more
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You wonder: What is cyclocross anyway? First of all, cyclocross is a cycling sport that has its origins in France at the beginning of the 20th century. Road cyclists wanted to start training here even before the start of the season and so they swerved to off-road. The fast ride over forest tracks, through meadows and over gravel roads turned out to be a very effective training. This conditionally and technically demanding training increased the performance for the road races in the competition season.
From a recreational sport discipline where cyclists chased each other over sticks and stones, it has evolved into a cycling sport of its own. It quickly spread from France to Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg and above all to Belgium. Accordingly, there are many names for this off-road cycling discipline: Besides today’s most widespread term “cyclocross” (short: CX) , these names are also common:
Radquer (especially in Switzerland)
Cyclocross races are characterized by relatively short circuits, with the race duration being less than one hour. So when the cyclocross riders go to the start with their special bikes, maximum action is guaranteed. The courses usually consist of sections with very different surfaces, which follow each other directly: Forest soil, dirt roads, grassland, gravel, sand, mud and even ice and snow in the winter.
And if this wasn’t demanding enough, additional challenges are added. Cyclocross courses are full of steep climbs and descents, and often also of obstacles that can only be overcome if the athlete shoulders his cyclocross bike. For example, ditches are bridged or steps are climbed before getting back on the saddle.
A sport within the world of cycling that is very attractive for spectators, means also a lot of fun for hobby cyclists. With a CX-Bike you are fast on almost every surface: On the road you keep up with road bike riders and in easy terrain you can compete with mountain bikers. It is clear, however, that this is only possible because a cyclocross bike has some special features.
A cyclocross bike is an off-road racing bike. It has wider tires (usually 33 mm) with studs and more ground clearance thanks to a lower bottom bracket drop. In addition, the derailleur system has a special Cyclocross ratio and a wide range of gears. Many Cyclocross bikes today have a more simplified 1x drivetrain. Most current Cyclocross bikes have modern disc brakes.
The close relationship of the cyclocross-bike to the conventional road bike is easy visible. Not only is a road bike handlebar (dropbar) used on the cyclocrosser, but the frame of a cyclocross bike is also based on the aggressive geometry of a classic road bike. However, a rather short top tube and head tube result in a shorter wheelbase and a rather flat steering angle, which allows optimal control on steep descents. Since you will also ride over roots, branches and stones more often with a cyclocross bike, the ground clearance is greater compared to a road bike: the bottom bracket is a considerable bit higher.
Another important feature of cyclocross frames is caused by the special tires: The rear end and fork of cyclocross bikes are designed to allow the use of wider tires compared to road bikes. Classic road bike tires have little to no profile (slicks) and are usually between 23 and 28 mm wide. Cyclocross tires, on the other hand, usually have a width of 33 mm, which is also the official upper limit for competitions set by the International Cycling Union (UCI).
Almost all cyclocross bicycle frames also allow the use of 35 and 37 mm wide or even more bulky tires. Depending on the surface to be ridden on, these have different studded profiles. This means that optimum grip is always guaranteed, whether in mud, on slippery grass or on fine gravel stones. The folding tires or clincher tires used on cyclocross bikes are ridden either in the classic way with tubes or tubeless (without tubes) with a tire sealant. This requires not only special tires and valves but also compatible rims. CX professionals also like to use tubular tires in competition.
Anyone who rides a cyclocross bike does not ride just any ordinary bicycle - he wants to be one thing above all: fast! And this without being slowed down by any obstacle for longer than necessary. That's why cyclocross frames must be nimble, light and strong. No surprise that the materials used are almost exclusively either the particularly light, strong and, depending on the layer, shock absorbing carbon or stiff aluminium. In contrast to classic road bikes, however, cyclocross bikes are designed for robustness. Instead of thin-walled aero frames, reinforced tubes with a cross-section suitable for higher loads are used.
A CX bike is not designed to maintain a certain speed for as many kilometers as possible at an optimal cadence. What matters is high acceleration from corners and the ability to overcome many short, very steep climbs.
A cassette gear ratio of 11-32 teeth, which is particularly popular for cyclocross derailleur systems, makes it possible to ride both downhill and uphill. The steps between the different cogs are greater than, for example, with a typical road bike cassette with 12-25 teeth, which should be light and stepped as closely as possible to the desired cadence of the athlete. In cyclocross, the larger gear steps are even desired because they allow for a faster acceleration on a short straight.
More and more often cyclocross bikes are built with only one chainring. Something that has been standard on mountain bikes for a while now, is gradually gaining ground on CX bikes as well. By using a single, medium-sized chainring (with 42 teeth instead of 46/36), the drivetrain is simplified. With a 1x11 or 1x12 derailleur system on the cyclocross bike, the risk of shifting mistakes or chain dropping is reduced. Maintenance and adjustment of the front derailleur are also eliminated. In order to ensure the widest possible gear range, cassettes with 11-42 or even up to 10-52 teeth can be used.
While cantilever brakes were used in the early days, today you can virtually only buy cyclocross bikes that have hydraulic or mechanical disc brakes. Mountain bikes were also the forerunners in this development. Compared to rim brakes, disc brakes allow for better dosage of braking power and good control even in the wet and the use of tires with different widths without any problems.
The rims of wheels for rim brakes should not exceed a certain width. Finally, it must be possible to bring the brake arms close to the brake tracks without touching the tire. However, particularly wide tires should only be mounted on wide rims with a large inner width. Since the brake discs are mounted on the hubs, the rims of today's cyclocross wheelsets can be almost as wide as you like.
To make it easier for you to answer the question whether your next bike will be a road bike or a cyclocross,
here is an overview of the similarities:
The differences between cyclocross and road racing bikes:
While cyclocross bikes have a relatively long tradition in Europe, gravel bikes (sometimes written: gravelbikes) are a rather young breed of bicycles.The gravel concept comes from the USA, because on the one hand there are less tarmac roads and on the other hand the desire of many racing cyclists to be able to move around more freely had grown. They wanted to be able to explore the world beyond smooth tarmac roads, far away from traffic.
A gravel-Bike is a special road bike, which is designed in such a way that you can ride it also off the tarmac, for example on gravel roads. Gravel bikes can be equipped with relatively wide tires (e.g. 40 mm), some are also equipped with especially nimble 27.5-inch wheels (650B) instead of the usual 28-inch wheelsets. Gravel bikes are designed for high riding comfort, which is why the saddle superelevation is considerably lower. For bikepacking tours lasting several days, most gravel bikes have many mounting points for cargo racks respectively panniers and luggage bags.
One of the main differences between a road bike and a gravel bike is that the latter can accommodate wider tires. Tire widths of 40 mm are easily possible, often even much more. This makes it possible to ride on forest roads just as well as on gravel roads and sand tracks. In addition, unlike cyclocross bikes, there are also gravel bikes with a suspension fork, even though these models are currently still the exception. While the 1x gearing has not yet been able to gain acceptance on road bikes, more and more gravel bikes with 1x11 or 1x12-speed shifting systems are entering the market.
Cyclocross bikes are primarily light and have an aggressive frame geometry, whereas gravel bikes are generally designed to be comfortable and durable. Because of these differences, there are hardly any cyclocross bikes, but some gravel bikes with steel frames. Steel tubes look more aesthetically appealing, but are slightly heavier overall than tubes made of aluminium, carbon or exotic titanium. In order to make it possible to make multi-day gravel tours, most gravel bikes have not only mounts for fenders but also many eyelets for carriers and bottle cages. The geometry of a cyclocross bike is competition-oriented, while on a gravel bike you should sit more upright and comfortable.
Despite all the benefits a gravel bike offers, it does not necessarily have to be more expensive than other bikes. Of course, as with road bikes and cyclocross bikes, there are also very high-priced gravel bikes, which have a particularly high-quality configuration. However, since gravel bikes are primarily designed for comfort and reliability and therefore not every gram counts (which usually accounts for a high additional price) in terms of frame and components, some gravel bikes are comparatively affordable. They are more often made of aluminium or steel than carbon and are rarely equipped with the expensive electronic derailleur systems often found on cyclocross and road bikes of the upper segment.
If you want to fulfill your dream of a super light cyclocross bike with a carbon frame or a comfortable long distance bike for extended bikepacking tours, BIKE24 is the right choice for you! In our shop you can not only buy the best CX-bikes and gravel bikes the market has to offer, you also get great customer service.
Before purchasing, we will be happy to assist you in choosing the right model and the correct frame size. After the purchase we are still available for all your questions, for example concerning the final assembly after you have unpacked your new bike.