Cyclocross Frame and Fork Design

What’s the Difference?

Cyclocross is a bike sport that involves riding off-road in often muddy conditions. The mud gave rise to two design features, 700x35C knobby tyres and cantilever brakes with ample clearance where the tyres pass by the brakes. There is not much mud in Australia but some of these bikes find their way there, and sometimes these are thought, because of the tyre size and brake clearance, to be suitable for touring. In some cases, the marketing departments have asked for rack mounts to be added. This further confuses people who don’t measure everything up to check.

Cyclocross bikes or frame-sets generally do not have the frame geometry you will end up preferring if you go touring. They usually have 430mm chain-stays and consequently heels would clip the panniers. You can possibly move the bags back but then you have a tail-wagging-the-dog scenario. Or you can use front bags on the back and go “lightweight” touring. They have higher bottom brackets for cornering in races so don’t have as comfortable a feel. They don’t have the thicker main-tube walls that touring bikes should have for loads. They have fork offsets akin to road racing bikes. This is good for racing but not so good for all-day riding. That “twitchiness” gets annoying, especially when contrasted to touring geometry where the bike seems to steer itself. Proper touring bikes require little effort to steer and you don’t need to hold the bars tightly.