The ‘cross season is pretty much over but there’s still a lot of damp and dirty winter roads to be ridden before spring arrives. Why not embrace it with a bike that was built to get dirty?
A cyclocross bike is the perfect n+1. Whilst looking similar to a standard road bike the geometry will be a bit shorter, higher and slacker. Gear ratios will be lower to tackle steeper slopes and wider knobbly tyres will give grip and comfort on rough terrain.
These characteristics make it ideal for many things other than just 'Cyclocross' - The current industry promotion of 'gravel bikes' is really selling the flexibility in a slightly different wrapper.
Fit a set of slicks and you'll be surprised how quick a 'cross bike is on road and the clearance for big tyres also means there’s ample space for mudguards to be fitted for winter training or commuting. They're great for easy days out with less fit friends or family taking in towpaths and farm tracks that would take their toll on narrow road wheels.
If you’re a dedicated roadie who’s never ridden off road then a ‘cross bike is a great introduction. It’s a lot of fun - riding off road is a completely different experience to riding on the tarmac. Getting a feel for the limits of wheel grip, and how to recover when it runs out, is a lot easier and less painful off road than on. Sliding the bike around corners and hopping it over slippery roots is a blast. Nipping between trees in the forest will bring back childhood Star Wars speeder bike fantasies. The skills you pick up will pay dividends when you’re back on your road bike and will almost certainly save you from road rash one day. If you've already got a modern mountain bike then a 'cross bike will add interest to trails that would too dull with fat tyres and suspension.
It’s a really good workout as well. You won’t go as far as on a road ride but you get more of a full body workout and it takes effort and skill whether you’re climbing or descending.
You can have a great time in the woods in a couple of hours making the most of days when daylight is in short supply or there is a few hours of sun between rainstorms. The UK’s dense network of Bridleways across much of the country means you can quickly plan a route with an OS map (or the mapping that comes with most Garmins). Alternatively just explore - ride one of your regular road routes and divert off down the tracks that lead off it (they often start far further into cities than you expect, even in London).
So, what are you waiting for? As always, RCE offers a great value way to try something new - view our collection of