WHAT IS AN CYCLOCROSS BIKE?
Cyclocross is a form of cycle racing that is traditionally held through the winter months. The cross season tends to start when the road racing season concludes and is an invaluable aid to fitness in the off season as well as an exciting form of racing it its own right. Riders will line up for a mass start and compete around an of-road circuit consisting of a set number of laps. The circuit will feature some difficult conditions as well as obstacles which result in a rider having to dismount, carry the bike over the obstacle and then remount.
The modern day cyclocross bike is not too dissimilar to a gravel bike and certainly visually it is hard to tell them apart. Where a cross bike differs the most is in the geometry, frame tube profile and tyre clearance. A true cross bike is still a race bike, albeit raced off-road. For this reason, the cyclocross bike still retains an aggressive geometry which places the rider on a more streamlined race position.
In terms of the frame itself it needs to be comfortable to enough to carry the bike when an obstacle that cannot be ridden over is encountered. Therefore, the top tube needs to be as close to horizontal as possible and the underside will be flat to allow the bike to be shouldered with little discomfort. Tyre clearance is dictated by UCI regulations and is limited to a width of 33mm. Therefore, a cross bike will have less clearance than a gravel bike.