I know this has been talked about a thousand times, but bare with the noob. I have an older Specialized S works road bike, and was wondering what if the aluminum front fork and frame would hold up. I am a big guy weighing about 230lbs. I know that I will have tire clearance issues also, so any help there would be great also. Running on Mavic Open Pro rims and wondering how they will handle it also.
They will all hold up but it still won't be a great bike. The lack of a good tire (both in terms of volume and tread) is going to take an awful lot of fun out of it. As you mention tire clearance will be an issue too, either the frame or the brakes. The rims will be just fine.
Sell the bike and put that money towards a 'cross bike.
Hello fellow cyclocrosser. What is the spoke count on the wheels? you might be okay if you have a high spoke count. Typically road wheels are lighter and not as strong as cross wheels and I would be a little hesitant to ride cross on them since you are a bigger guy. I'm not so much worried about the frame (maybe a little about the fork but as long as you arent jumping it I feel like it will be okay). As far as the tires go I would look for the skinniest/lowest tread cross tire that you can find and see if it clears. Another thing to keep in mind is that cross bikes are made with a lot of clearance not only to fit big tires under but also to help with the gobs of mud that get caked up on the bike. Overall I guess I would just be more concerned about the wheels than anything else. Keep racing and have fun buddy!
I'm sure the frame would hold up but it can be pretty challenging converting your road bike to a cross rig. I’m thinking that tire\brake and tire\frame clearance is definitely an issue. If you are happy with the gruppo that is on the bike, you can always check craigslist for a cx specific frame and transfer parts. A few minor changes to the tires, brakes, cassette and chainring’s would get you up and running. Is there a bike swap in your area? I’m sure you could find some cross specific gear there.
From our tire pressure research in our print magazine, I can tell you that running narrow, high pressure clincher tires will be such a disadvantage, beat you up, and you might still flat. But I love the fact that cyclocross at the grass-roots level accepts any bike - and totally think you should do anything you can to give it a try. However, if you can afford it, I personally think you would be a lot better off spending $200 on a descent hybrid bike without a suspension fork and use the cyclocross tires of your choice. The flat bar and drivetrain may not be ideal, but heck, you could make it into a lightweight singlespeed, but going wider, higher volume and lower pressure (most important) will make you a lot faster than the few extra pounds the bike may have. I promise.
If you look around, there's a lot of cheap options. Even something like this $80 bike could be a good starter bike that gives you real cyclocross tire options, and you could throw a drop bar on it. Whatever you decide, don't let $ keep you out of the sport and have fun!
Wow, I cannot believe the quick and helpful responses. This has sold me on wanting to switch focus to CX. I will be putting my tri-bike and road bike on the market to put the money towards a full CX bike.
So with that comes another question. My LBS has a Marin Toscana in my size they have had on the floor for a good while, and said they would take $700 for it and toss on a set of eggbeaters. Any thoughts on this bike for a clydesdale? Would like to do a bit of commuting and some 30 milers on it. The shop also sales Scott, Felt, and Rocky Mountain. Not sure if they could get in that price range with any of them though.
if i remember correctly, that toscana will be a burly frame and hold up...what year is it? i'm not sure how much you'll get for your road and tri bikes (def. sell the tri bike though! hah hah) but if you're really all in, you might try to get something a bit more suited for racing. the two concerns i'd have are the triple crankset and the sora parts. both will be fine initially - the triple might be great esp. if you ride it on the road on steep long climbs or steep trails. but the shifting won't be great for racing and the longer cage rear derailleur prob will give you more issues, get gunked up more, and cause more derailed chains.
good luck. another half-hearted option would be to jack up your geometry and try a canti-fork on the front of your road bike and deal with whatever you can fit in the rear. you could try a rear tubular that's narrow - that might give you some good cush.
I bet you could fit some Panaracer CrossBlasters on there, not sure if that fits into Andrew's category of "narrow, high pressure clinchers" I assume not, though they are relatively narrow. If you've got any mud on the course that can build up, you're screwed, the geometry won't be perfect, the gearing will be too big, but you'll probably get away with it for a little while and have a bunch of fun (might try to raise the handlebars up a little). I bet you don't do 3 races before you do something irrational like put a bike on your credit card. I raced against some guys in the 4's who were at the front on road bikes with knobbies. Like Andrew said, don't let anything stop you from getting out there.