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Buyer's guide: best new cyclocross bikes for 2020

Cyclist magazine
14 Nov 2019

Meet the CX machines you could be carrying around a muddy field this winter

If you don’t know what cyclocross (or CX) is, it’s a race that’s sort of like doing a cross country run with elements of an assault course thrown in. On a bicycle.

Which is why the bicycles in question have to be as tough as the people taking part.

At first glance, a CX bike may look like a regular road bike but look a bit closer and you’ll see frame clearance that can accommodate much beefier tyres.

Typically 32-35mm wide, these can be run at lower pressure to help resist punctures, while wearing a much more knobbly tread pattern than regular road rubber to cope with the harsh and slippery surfaces of a typical cyclocross course.

Sharp handling

CX bike frames are also designed to tackle difficult terrain. Typically they have a short wheelbase for sharper handling, while the bottom bracket is also higher to give you greater clearance over stairs, wooden planks, collapsed competitors etc.

A shorter top tube also helps you shift your weight around more easily to cope with the twists and turns of a course.

And as you’ll also have to carry your bike at some point in most races (to get over a near-vertical hill for example) that top tube will be wider so the bike can be comfortably shouldered.

Given the type of riding CX riders do, it’s also not surprising to find that MTB-style disc brakes also come as standard.

The chainset, too, can differ from a road bike with much lower ratios, typically featuring a 46-36 double chainring set-up.

Such a low gear ratio is great for the grinding conditions of a typical course, but on flat tarmac may leave you spinning out.

The best cyclocross bikes 2019:

Cube Cross Race


Designed to offer excellent handling in difficult conditions this is an agile machine that does an admirable job of providing a comfortable ride.

The double-butted, smooth-welded aluminium frame is tough enough to get the job done while being light enough to sling over your shoulder when the time comes to overcome some fiendish obstacle (the whole bike weighs in at 10.4kg thanks in part to its carbon fork).

It also features mechanical disc brakes, Shimano 105 gears and Schwalbe tyres.

Buy the Cube Cross Race from Rutland Cycling for £999

 

Cannondale CAADX 105 SE


More than simply a superb cyclocross bike, the versatile CAADX would work just as well as a hardy winter trainer or gravel bike.

The smooth-welded frame is a masterclass in creating elegant yet highly efficient tubing out of aluminium to create a CX race-ready machine.

The subtle rack and mudguard mounts together with its slightly more upright riding position, however, ensures that its repertoire isn’t confined to muddy fields.

The TRP Spyre C mechanical disc brakes will also do their job in any conditions.

Buy the Cannondale CAADX from Cycle Surgery for £979

Trek Boone disc 

A thoroughbred cyclocross race bike, the Trek Boone combines is as light and fast as they come while retaining the ability to chomp through the heaviest mud and sand.

The 600 Series OCLV carbon frame is stiff and deals with sudden bursts of power while the IsoSpeed Cross fork helps absorb road shock and vibration for added comfort.

This particular model comes with a 1x Sram Force eTap 12-speed groupset with 10-33 cassette, 32mm aramid bead Bontrager CX3 tyres, Bontrager Paradigm tubeless-ready wheels and full carbon finishing kit. 

Plus, it's also in a lovely shade of red.

Buy the Trek Boone 2020 from Evans Cycles for £4,300

Specialized CruX Elite 2019

Belonging to the same family as the CruX S-Works and CruX Expert, the CruX Elite borrows plenty from its bigger siblings just at a fraction of the cost.

The Fact 11r carbon frame shares similarities with the S-Works Tarmac road bike, meaning its plenty light while a lowered seat collar allows for more flex to weather big bumps when off-road.

This model comes with 1x Sram Rival groupset, bombproof DT Swiss R470 rims and 33mm Tracer Pro tyres.

A great bike for those beginning to take cyclocross racing seriously.

Buy the Specialized CruX Elite from Tredz for £2,500

Ribble CGR Ti

The CGR stands for cross, gravel, road, if you were wondering, which indicates this is a bike that should be comfortable on all three surfaces. Thankfully, it is.

The titanium frame provides excellent comfort on all terrains while the 40c tyres hold up well on the toughest of conditions while rolling surprisingly well on smooth tarmac.

Ribble fits the GGR Ti with a range of groupsets, dependant on your budget, with everything from 2x Shimano 105 to 1x Shimano GRX.

Buy the Ribble CGR Ti from Ribble from £2,199

Boardman CXR 8.9

Have a grand to spend on a cyclocross bike? Then take a look at this Boardman CXR 8.9 cross bike.

Its aluminium frame is pretty light, it comes specced with a 1x Sram Apex groupset, 160mm flat mount hydraulic disc brakes knobbly Donnelly Crusade PDX tyres.

Use this as your winter bike, commuter or cyclocross training bike, it's very versatile.

Buy the Boardman CXR 8.9 from Halford for £1,000

Canyon Inflite CF SLX 

The same bike that Mathieu van der Poel won basically every cyclocross race on last winter. While the rider has a lot to do with it, some testament has to be given to the bike.

Launched back in 2017, the carbon Inflite's kinked toptube helps for better carrying when off the bike while it's lightweight frame and forks five it a snappy feel even on road climbs.

The H31 Ergocockpit is comfortable and light while Shimano's Ultegra Di2 groupset provides reliable shifting.

Buy the Canyon Inflite CF SLX from Canyon for £4,099