Cyclocross is characterized by a combination of mountain biking and road cycling along with running up and down hills or over obstacles while carrying the bike. Most cyclocross tracks feature a lap or route with various surfaces including pavement, trails, grass, sand or dirt requiring the cyclocross bike to have the design, features and components to adapt to the specific riding conditions. With the growth of cyclocross, bike companies are producing cyclocross-specific bikes, but the top 10 cyclocross bikes use lightweight materials and high-quality components along with added features.
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RoadBikeReview.com recommends the Bianchi Axis and Surly Cross-Check while BikeRumor.com recommends the Giant TCX. In the 2010 Buyer’s Guide of Bicycling Magazine, the top cyclocross bikes included the Blue Norcross, Swobo Crosby, Fuji Cross Comp, Cannondale CX Red and the Stevens Bikes Carbon Team Ultegra along with the Motobecane Fantom Cross Pro and the Ridley X-Night.
Cyclocross bikes are designed with a specific frame geometry using a combination of lightweight materials that allows riders to carry the bike over barriers, obstacles or hills. The Swobo Crosby and Cannondale CX Red are made with an aluminum frame that offers an inexpensive cyclocross bike that is still lightweight and durable. Other top cyclocross bikes such as the Stevens Bikes Carbon Team Ultegra use a carbon frame to reduce weight while maintaining durable. These bikes, however, are also more expensive than an aluminum frame bike.
The top 10 cyclocross bikes are based on road bikes, but contain certain features of mountain bikes to handle the varied terrain. For example, road bike-style drop handlebars curl down for various hand and arm positions while riding on pavement, and the mountain bike-style increased clearance around the narrow profile, knobby tires provide balance and stability on pavement, trails and mud. The short chain link system and double chain-ring setup is used to keep the chain in place on bumpy off-road trails and the cantilever brakes provide control and handling around tight corners.
Components – including the sprockets, derailleurs and shifters – on the top 10 cyclocross bikes use high-quality materials for improved performance in the various riding conditions. For example, the Swobo Crosby uses SRAM components including the torpedo hub to switch from fixed gear to free wheel. Similarly, the Cannondale CX Red uses the SRAM Red drivetrain to efficient power transfer through the pedals.