Because a cyclocross bike can have multiple uses, including racing, commuting, and even some off-road or trail riding, cyclocross bike parts will be a little different than those for regular bikes. The differences primarily improve performance and riding comfort, both of which are important to cyclocross bike riding, but usually do not affect appearance at all.
Some of the parts and their differences are listed below:
- Top tube. You may know this as the “bar” or the piece that runs from just under the handlebars to the seat. When purchasing cyclocross bikes, you may find that the top tube is approximately 1 centimeter (less than 1 inch) shorter than the top tube on a regular bike.
- Tires. Clincher or tubular, knobby or semi-slick? The type of tires you buy will depend on how you use your bike the most. If you’re new to cyclocross biking, ask someone who works at a cyclocross bike parts store. He can give you advice on which tires would be the best.
- Shifters. Cyclocross bikes have gears, and there are two types of shifters. STI shifters let you brake and shift gears from the same component housing; bar end shifters are mounted directly on the handlebars. This means you may have to move your hand from the handlebar to control the brakes.
- Brakes and brake parts. Again, there are different types. These include disc brakes, similar to the ones that are on automobiles. However, if you use your bike for racing, you need to know that some racing organizations do not allow disc brakes, so you may find yourself having to change out brakes, which can be difficult.
- Seat. Your seat, or saddle, has to be comfortable or you are going to be miserable. This is true whether you are racing or just riding. If you race, the seat support must be durable, because racing sometimes requires you to have to mount your bike in a hurry, and you may not have time to seat yourself gently.