Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to convert a road bike to a cyclocross bike

This comes up a lot on the cyclocross forums. You want to try out cyclocross but aren’t ready to spend $600 or more on a “real” cyclocross bike. Don’t worry, before about 10 years ago, “real” cyclocross bikes didn’t exist. Or if they did, they were in very limited quantities.

To convert a road bike to a cyclocross bike you’ll need the following:

You CAN use a road bike frame for cyclocross riding! The main issue here is tire clearance. Look for an old steel road bike, ideally one with 27” wheels. 27” wheels are larger than 700c’s and thus you’ll have more room for cyclocross tires. Tip: older Nishiki and Raleigh frames have plenty of clearance for cyclocross (I’ve done it).

If you lucked out, the frame you got has a fork big enough to fit a cyclocross tire in it too! If not, you can simply buy a cyclocross fork. You can even buy a disc front fork if you want!

Use centerpull brakes. They stop really well, are easy to set up, have good mud/tire clearance and are pretty cheap.

Crank Brothers Candy pedals are very popular as are Time ATACs. If you have a mountain bike and like the pedals on it, use the same ones on your cyclocross bike.

Any road wheels will do. If the frame you bought above came with wheels, they will work fine.

Cyclocross Tires:
Get a set of cyclocross tires. You’ll probably need something around 30mm to fit in the frame. Some people are staunch supporters of one brand or another, I’ve never been able to tell the difference.

Integrated shifters like on a modern road bike work great. Though, they are expensive and can break easily. A cheaper and more durable option is bar end shifters. Suntour barends or “barcons” are some of the best.

There you go, hopefully I've demystified the mystery a bit. Let me know by leaving a comment or sending me an email at plusonelap at gmail dot com

1 comment:

CJMcB said...

Much appreciated. I'm going to undertake this project over the next month to make a commuter. I'll let you know how it goes.