I haven't had a bike since I was a kid, however my wife and I want to start riding. Unfortunately, my wife won't consider anything other than a road bike. And although I don't mind the idea of a road bike, I also don't want to be limited to just pavement. But I have no aspirations of mountain biking either.
My wife's been in a hand full of amateur road races - several years ago. And if we get back into riding, we'll likely do one or two per year just for fun. Between kids, jobs, and everything else I doubt we'll have time for any more than that.
All that being said, and after doing a little research, I think a Cyclocross bike is the closest fit for what I'm looking for. I can go on long road rides with my wife on the weekends and still hang with my kids at the park or on the dirt and gravel roads.
Being new to the sport, I have no brand preferences and I can't talk smart about tech stuff. I'm just looking for recommendations on a low-to-mid priced, solid performing entry level Cyclocross bike.
Looking forward to hearing everyone's thoughts, opinions, and experiences.
I'm looking to do similar type of riding, really commuting and occasional road rides. The commuting part will have me traveling up/down allies, etc. Cross seems to be the way to go.
That said, 3 brands stick out for solid performance and still easy on the wallet.
1) Higher End: Giant TCX 1 or 2: The TCX 1 is about $1600, but loaded great components and around a solid frame/fork.
2) Kona Jake or Jake-The-Snake: A both hugely popular in the Cross scene because of performance and value.
3) Redline' Conquest Series. They range from $750 mark to about 2k, but again hugely popular based on performance vs. price!
Hope that helps some.
those suggestions you got are all fine bikes. your logic to choose a cx bike is spot on. plus there will be plenty of room fo fenders and things like that if you wanna have a nice rain bike. based on your intended uses, maybe you'd want something a bit tighter/lower - so shorter chainstays and lower bottom bracket height. don't compare heights though - compare the BB drop of a frame since who knows how they measure them and with what tires. you'll have a lower center of gravity and a more nimble bike for that road riding you'll do.
the nice thing is is that there are so many nice cx bikes out there - and what it should likely come down to is the shop that can provide you with the best service and fitting. as you're getting back into it, you'll probably have a bigger-than-you-want shopping list that may include biking shoes, helmets, shorts, etc. and a great shop will help make the whole process easier. ride a few different ones, see what fits, see what shop will provide you with the best shopping and service experience, and roll with it. that's what I'd suggest.
a few variables also to consider when shopping: disc brakes? not many bikes have them but it's a growing trend. steel or aluminum? benefits to each - there aren't that many steel bikes out there but i've seen some from raleigh, jamis, redline, soma, surly, etc. double or triple? many of us hate triples for racing, but for your type of riding, that might be the sweet setup. nowadays, with 11-32 10s cassettes though, you can run a compact up front and have pretty darn low gearing. at the lower price range though some bikes are still 9speed.
and if you can, check out a cx race sometime. it might just make you wanna try it!
good luck, hope that helps!
Thanks Andrew. I've been window shopping off and on for quite some time now, trying to decide on EXACTLY what I wanted - searching for that perfect bike. However, choosing a good solid bike shop with quality service may be the best advise I've received. And of course having shopped around a bit already, I have my shop picked out. I've always been happy with the service of the Alpine Shop in St. Louis... and they're within walking distance!
I'm actually currently out of the country so my window shopping is relegated to the web for now. However, after browsing several sites, Salsa bikes look good. Any thoughts on the Vaya or Chili Con Crosso?
Those bikesdirect bikes can be a good deal, and a great way to save money (also see airborne.net, an advertiser here) but I'd say it really depends on mechanically proficient you are and confident in sizing and fit. If you need a shop to do most things, you may pay the savings back to a local shop for adjustments and tune-ups. They'll also help make sure you fit the bike.
You could also consider used.
As for trying cx - I can absolutely say you should never let your equipment keep you from trying the sport! Use what you have, or what you can afford. Grab a hybrid, mountain bike, road bike, and just have some fun. $ should not keep you from this awesome sport...and you can better rationalize the investment when you know that you're in love.
+1 for used. Often, you can find a really nice bike used. Lots of people buy bikes and then change their minds and unload them.
As people have already mentioned, Redline knows a thing or two about CX bikes. You can't go wrong with Cannondale either. That CAADX is a nice frame, so you can just upgrade the components if you ever feel like it. Salsa also makes really good frames at decent prices. I know some racers who swear by the Chili Con Crosso-- decent weight, comfy ride and fairly durable is what I have heard. IMO, all the bikes you mentioned are pretty nice. You have good taste, Seth!
And definitely try 'cross no matter what your equipment. People will not judge you. I've seen (and been crushed by) people on mountain bikes, hybrids, old rusty singlespeeds, you name it. It will be fun no matter what.
Finally-- who says you shouldn't buy a bike based on looks? Me like pretty bikes....