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Difference Between Cyclocross Bikes and Road Bikes

Cyclocross Bikes VS Road Bikes

Cylocross and road bikes are two distinctive types of bikes used by many bikers and bike enthusiasts.

A cyclocross bike (also known simply as “cross” and “CX”), is a bike that is designed for cyclocross events. In these events, the bike is required to be lifted by the biker depending on the obstacle or barriers in the way. Cyclocross events and bikes are very popular in Europe.

On the other hand, a road bike is a bike designed for competitive road cycling or for leisure biking. They are also called “roadies” and “racing bikes.”

The cyclocross bike’s design allows the bike to withstand a number of courses like grass fields, dirt roads, asphalt, sand, mud and small bodies of water. The bikes can be used for road riding, off-road riding, and trail riding. By this respect, cyclocross bikes are considered versatile bikes. Meanwhile, road bikes are designed for roads or any smooth and paved way. They are great vehicles for high speeds and long distances.

The design of each bike is almost similar. The cyclocross bike, in itself, is a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike. However, their usage makes the design different from each other. Cyclocross bikes have a burlier, tougher frame. The frame composition is usually aluminium and carbon for professional bikes and steel and titanium for the standard type. The frame is designed for maximum strength. In addition, the bike also has a wide rim to accommodate both wide and thin wheels. Tires can be as wide as 30-35 millimeters but can also be fitted with 23 millimeter tires. It has two sets of brakes, the cantilever brake and the normal brakes. Also, the bike often has a single, front chain.

Another feature of the cyclocross bike is that it has a rear brake cable which allows the biker to carry the bike in a case of an obstacle.

Meanwhile, the road bike has its own features. It has an ultra lightweight frame often made of aluminium or thin steel. The bike uses 23 millimeter tires and calipers for brakes. It has only one set of brakes. The design allows for a more aerodynamic position.

A road bike usually has 2 chains, one chain with 39 teeth and another one with 59 teeth. Its tires are usually pumped to a high pressure and usually have no thread pattern.


1.Both cyclocross and road bikes are two types of bikes. They have the same frame shape, there is no suspension on both bikes, they use skinny tires, have low-profile seats and lightweight frames. The reason why cyclocross and road bikes share similar features is because the cyclocross bike has a combination of features from mountain and road bikes.
2.Cyclocross bikes are used for cyclocross events while road bikes are used for road racing events. The events dictate the design and function of each bike. For example, the cyclocross bike must be light and durable because the cyclocross event is filled with many obstacles or in an obstacle race setting. However, road bikes are meant to be fast and light in a speed race.
3.The cyclocross bike frame is tougher but still lightweight made with aluminium with carbon or steel with titanium. In contrast, frames of road bikes are made with either aluminium or steel.
4.The cyclocross bikes have a wider rim to accommodate both wide and thin tires while road bike rims can only fit tires as wide as 23 millimeters.
5.Road bikes only have one set of brakes, caliper brakes to be precise. However, cyclocross bikes have two sets, the normal type of brakes and a cantilever brake.
6.The cyclocross has a special feature called a rear brake cable that allows the biker to carry the bike. In road bikes, there can be mounts for water bottles and other necessities.
7.Cyclocross bikes have heavier but sturdier materials. In contrast, road bikes have light and sensitive components.
8.Cyclocross bikes are described as more versatile compared to road bikes.

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1 Comment

  1. Sorry, have you ever seen a cyclocross bike? Two sets of brakes, calipers and cantilevers? What would the calipers be good for, shielding the cantilevers from mud? A special feature called a rear brake cable, for carrying the bike? Good luck carrying the bike by the cable, and more so riding a road bike that doesn’t have one.

    Cyclocross bikes have cantilever brakes only; they have two sets of levers on the handlebars to allow intensive braking with hands on the tops (not needed on a road bike).

    A rear brake cable is the cable that operates the rear brake, almost all bikes have them. On a cyclocross bike the cable must not interfere with carrying the bike with the rear part of top tube resting on the racer’s shoulder. That means the cable has to run atop the top tube, on its side, or through it; it used to be quite common to run the cable underneath the top tube on road bikes.

    The part about the road bike is just nonsense.

    The most distinguishing feature of cyclocross bikes is the off-road capability – that means clearances for 35mm tyres + mud on them (longer chainstays, longer fork blades, wider fork crowns, cantilever brakes), higher bottom bracket, lower gears and more robust drivetrain that works reliably while completely saturated with mud. Another distinctive feature is the lack of any protruding parts in the main triangle as those could snag clothing while dismounted. The bike is slightly longer as a result of the frame clearances and the riding position tends to be slightly more upright.

    A road bike, on the other hand, is optimized for paved surfaces and has tighter clearances to keep the frame from lateral flex without increasing weight. Nowadays most components are optimized for aerodynamics, the majority made of carbon fiber composites, as they are much less likely to get hit by debris. I’ve never seen a 59-tooth chainring on a road bike, the most common combination is probably 39/52. That bit about 23mm tyres is outdated – today the pros use 25s, and frames with clearance for 23s only were very rare even in the steel era when chainstays had to be as short as possible. The riding position is not much lower and more aero on road bikes compared to CX bikes, as road races usually take much longer and comfort is very important.

    Hope this clears it up a bit.

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