Do you want a bike that is faster than a mountain bike on road but tougher than a road bike? You might need a cyclocross bike and not even know it. Cyclocross is an off road sport that runs in the fall. The courses are on grass, mud and dirt roads with sections with barriers that the riders must dismount and run over. The laps tend to be short making for a spectator friendly type of racing. Cyclocross started in Europe as an off season sport for road racers but has grown into it's own specialty. The bikes that have grown out of this sport have to be fast and light but tough with lots of traction due to the conditions. Even if you don't race cyclocross, this type of bike may be the best option for all round riding.
Cyclocross bikes look a lot like a road race bike until you look closely. While they have the drop handlebars of a road bike, they run mountain bike cantilever or disc brakes. This means more stopping power is messy conditions and more clearance so fatter tires fit in the frame. This increased clearance also allows for the running of fenders for wet weather training and commuting. The frame geometry is a little more relaxed than a road bike so they are stable on slippery trails. This carries over to winter riding where that stability and the room to run studded tires make these great four season bikes.
Cyclocross bikes are available made from all of the popular frame materials including steel, aluminum, titanium and carbon fiber. Depending on what you would like to use the bike for you can get very streamlined models specifically for racing or more utilitarian designs that have rack and fender mounts. The cyclocross bike is a jack of all trades. Put a road racing tire on and you can go on club group rides. Put on your racks and wider tires to turn it into a commuting or touring bike. I build a lot of cyclocross bikes for people that never get raced. They use them as an all round machine that is at home on both roads and dirt trails. Faster than a mountain bike but you can take it places a road bike could never go.
Most bike companies offer cyclocross options but for racing I recommend the Kuota Kross, a full carbon speed machine and for all round use you can't beat the Surly Cross Check.
Cyclocross Bikes - The Sport Utility Vehicle You Pedal
It's in you to become a better cyclist. Helping you get there is my goal. Equipment, riding skills, fitness and nutrition all have to be dialed in to reach your potential. To take your next step on that journey visit http://www.cyclecambridge.com