Can I race ‘cross with this? – Canadian Cycling Magazine

The road season is coming to an end and the cyclocross season is about to begin. With the rise of do-it-all bikes, you may be wondering if you can enter a ‘cross race without buying a dedicated cyclocross bike. Afterall, you can take some steps to turn a gravel or adventure bike into a ‘cross ready machine. Below, we will look at six bikes that may be suitable for a cyclocross race this autumn.

Rondo Hvrt

Rondo Hvrt with 650b wheels and PRO bags. Photo: Matt Stetson

The Rondo Hvrt is designed to be a versatile aero road bike. With loads of clearance and the Twintip fork, the possibility exists of doing a ‘cross race on this bike. The Twintip fork gives the bike two distinct geometries to choose from in your riding making it more likely you find a setup that suits the technical challenges of cyclocross. Clearance for 40 mm tires allows the bike to be set up with cyclocross tires and thus is suitable to be raced, though the longer wheelbase designed for stability on the road will make navigating obstacles a little tougher.

Cannondale Topstone

Photo: Meg McMahon

The Topstone is a carbon gravel bike designed for riding off the beaten path while still staying suitable for the road. The generous 650b x 48 mm and 700c x 40 mm tire clearance makes it no problem to mount a tire that will help you get through the mud of a cyclocross race. With the Kingpin suspension, it absords rough terrain well and is quite fun to ride on singletrack. The Topstone would be a fine choice if you want to do a couple of ‘cross races while having a bike that specializes in gravel and adventure riding.

Norco Section

An impressively light build makes the Norco Section Carbon Ultegra a fine option for adventure cyclists riding both gravel and roads. The bike’s clearance of 35 mm makes clearance for mud once outfitted with cyclocorss tires is a little tenuous but could get the job done in a bind or on a dry course. The Section is more suited for conditions where you don’t risk getting the clearance clogged with mud which even happens on cyclocross bikes.

Cervelo Aspero

Plenty of clearance.

Cervelo is a brand with a heritage in racing and true to form introduced the Aspero with the spandex clag gravel rider in mind. The 700c x 44 mm and 650b x 49 mm of clearance means you can mount a whole range of tires onto the bike. A cyclocross race is surely not out of the question and the Aspero could even suit a fast course. The dropped chainstays allows the bike to have a short wheelbase and keeps the handling tight, perfect for navigating obstacles in ‘cross. The bikes Trail Mixer feature allows an insert on the fork to be flipped resulting in two different rakes. In the forward setting, you get less trail for faster steering. Set the Trail Mixer in the rear position, to mellow out the quicker handling of small tire. For cyclocross you’ll want to do some experimenting to find the right setup for you. The Aspero isn’t designed for ‘cross but can handle the discipline if you want to push it’s limits.

Trek Domane

The Domane is an endurance road bike. The 2020 model has a new aerodynamic frame design and clearance for 38 mm to go along with the road dampening IsoSpeed technology in the front and rear of the bike. In a bind, you’d be able to take the bike for a rip on a cyclocross course, but like other endurance bike models it lacks the dialled geometry for technical riding and the tire clearance for the most effective mud shed potential in messy conditions.

No. 22 Broken Arrow

A dedicated cyclocross bike, the No. 22 Broken Arrow has clearance for 40 mm tires and space to shed mud no issue. The geometry of the bike is dialled for the technicalities of cyclocross. The wide space between the top tube and downtube make it easy to run with and shoulder. Everything about the Broken Arrow makes it suitable for racing ‘cross. All the while, it’s a good ride for gravel and mixed-surface events that are popping up everywhere.