Adventure Road/Cyclocross Bike Buyers Guide

Photo of Cyclocross Riders

Adventure road (or gravel) bikes are designed to handle both sealed roads and unsealed trails. They are essentially road bikes with off-road features like wide, treaded tyres and disc brakes. Adventure road bikes are perfect for road riders that also want to take on some fire roads and light trails. Keep in mind that adventure road bikes have no suspension, so they will handle quite differently to mountain bikes on rough trails.

Cyclocross bikes are designed specifically for cyclocross racing, a hybrid event that takes cues from both road cycling and mountain biking. They are more race oriented, and more of a pure off-road bike than adventure road.

Due to their robust nature, these styles of bikes have become increasingly popular with commuters, as they offer an efficient, all weather riding option. The road bike style riding position makes the cyclocross bike fast and efficient for longer, on-road rides. The off-road tyres gives superior traction in poor weather, or varied surfaces such as loose gravel roads. Likewise, the addition of disc brakes improves stopping power on wet days.

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Frame material

Frames are typically produced with alloy (aluminium) or carbon fibre. Alloy frames are lightweight and stiff, and come at a lower price than carbon fibre. Alloy is also typically heavier, and can tend give a less comfortable ride than carbon. Many alloy bikes will use carbon forks to improve comfort, as the carbon is more effective in dampening vibrations from the road.

Carbon frames provide a noticeable increase in performance. Riding a carbon bike will immediately feel easier and more responsive and easier to ride uphill as the material is extremely lightweight and stiff. Carbon also provides greater comfort (through vibration dampening) as well as power transfer and efficiency (through stiffness) compared to an alloy frame. Less flex laterally in the frame means less power is lost from each pedal stroke, and more transferred into forward motion.

Brakes

Traditionally cyclocross bikes featured cantilever brakes which allowed for extra clearance of mud and dirt from between the wheel and brake. In recent years, bikes have been designed predominantly with disc brakes, which apply force on a rotor mounted directly to the hub. Disc brakes are used on most mountain bikes, as well as cars and motorcycles. Disc brakes generally offer more stopping power and control over braking.

Groupset

A groupset is made up of the brakes and drivetrain of the bike, the drivetrain being cranks, chain, chainrings, cassette, derailleurs and shifters. As you move through price points of different groupsets, the materials and design change in order to provide improved performance. Materials progressively become lighter, smoother and more precise to operate, and more durable.

Shimano 105 is considered the first step into performance or race level groupsets. Shimano 105 is aimed at intermediate level riders, offering a good balance of performance, reliability, and cost effectiveness.

Bike fitting

It is important to be properly fit to a bike, as this process will ensure maximum comfort and performance, while reducing risk of injury. Our website offers a bike size guide which generally outlines the size of bike that will suit riders of certain heights. This is a guide only, and as individual body types differ, the most accurate way to ensure you are riding the correct size bike is to be measured and fit by a trained professional. At 99 Bikes, all our sales consultants are trained experts in bike fitting, which comes complimentary with your new bike.