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Is it possible?

I ride a road bike, back in the saddle after a lengthy absence and cyclocross is all new to me. I went to see my first race on Saturday at Morris Plains in New Jersey. It looks a hell of a lot of fun but it also looks bloody expensive. I'm dying to have a go but it seems beyond my limited budget. The road bike is a fine ride but not cyclocross compatible in my opinion. Not much tire clearance, no braze-ons for cantis etc. Most of the bikes - I watched the 40+ and 50+ races, I'd be in the 40+ but think I'd struggle to compete with a 60+ field to be honest - I saw raced were of the expensive variety. Van Dessels seemed to be very popular, Ridley's and one gent had an absolutely stunning red steel Gunnar model.


I'd be very interested to know how successful people have been in either a) scoring an awesome deal on a bike and any tips for doing so, where to look etc... and b) assembling a bike of their own.


I'm tempted to try  b. I'm giving myself 12 months to get in shape and either build a bike (eBay, Craigslist, garage sales) or save up for an entry level bike.



If I can just be a cheeky sod and sneak in another one; I'm a big fan of steel frames how suitable or unsuitable do people feel steel is for cyclocross?


Any opinions, advice, constructive criticisms greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance, you cyclocross guys are insane, in the nicest possible way, naturally.

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Spent a few hours mid day today over at Hidden Valley in Vernon watching the races today. Great looking course, seemed to have a bit of everything and looked more challenging than the one in Morris Plains. Van Dessel seemed to be the most popular bike again. Plenty of Cannondales, Specialized and a few Treks, one guy on a Raleigh who've I've tons of respect for  - did two races back to back. Impresses me anyway. - Felt, spotted one Surly and a couple of other steel frames. Only saw one single speed, a Van Dessel with disc brakes and a funky shaped down tube. Didn't see the guy race on it. Love to know how he got on.


Bike purchase pushed back a little bit more due to speeding ticket picked up just outside West Milford. Never even saw the signs for the workmen until I was alongside them. :(

We probably saw each other there.  I was there most of the day, and raced at 1:45.  Sorry about getting the party lights.  They were all over the place on the way home.


I'm one of the hordes on Van Dessels.  It's a local company based in Mendham NJ.  That's probably why you see so many.  That and the fact that they make the job of getting around the course so much easier.  I love mine, but the only way I could afford it is that I got a great deal on it.  It is definitely not the only way to go for CX.  There are plenty of people riding cross with older bikes or "frankenbikes" as a friend calls the nonCX bikes modified specifically for cross.  My first race earlier this season was on a 25 year old Peugeot MTB outfitted with skinny, CX specific tires.  At the time it was what I had available, so I raced it.  A buddy of mine has an older Fuji that he bought used, and does well for his first season. If the Van Dessel didn't drop into my lap for the right price at the right time, I'd probably still be on the Peugeot.  There are several places that can get previous model year Fuji's for a great price.  The shop that you are working with should be able to do so.


The Mud and grass combo of the Hidden Valley course really leveled out the equipment, and it was about the motor and mastery of technique.  At one point I passed the guy you mentioned on the Van Dessel with the funky downtube.  I'm not sure if he got lapped or finished in the lower half of the field.  The course would have been pretty hard on a single speed though.  It was tough enough with multiple gears.


Good luck with your decision.  Hope you find a bike soon and are able to join us.


maybe a little late but here's what I did.

-found a aluminum Cannondale hybrid ( room for wide tires and mud as well as cantilever bosses) for $100 used

-put some Kenda cx tires on it $12.99 ea

-moved some road bars on it with flight deck lever/shifters $0

-moved over a rear derailler $0

-Tektro cantis $19.99

-bought a take off threadless stem $30

-Pauls chainkeeper instea of a front derailler making it a 1x8 like my mt bike (the one that's not a single speed) $45

$320 for a lightweight, get my feet wet, simple cx bike.

The only mechanical issue I had in my first 6 races ever was the pedal coming off during a race. The crankset I swapped to was substantially lighter but from a tandem.....they were on the wrong side of the bike and the pedals unscrewed themselves, DUH! After some cutting, grinding and buffing of the other set of cranks from the tandem, things are a-ok and no more money spent.

This doesn't mean I'm not drooling over some of the disc brake models cx bikes for next season....

CX is lots of fun if you like; suffering, mud, running up steep hills, beer, one dollar bills and finishing anonymously near the back of the pack :)

Eric Lewis is exactly right.  Way too much fashion in 'cross.  Why local racers need to be on carbon anything just boggles my mind.

Way, way back in the day lots of guys contested 'cross races on road bikes because there was precious little 'cross equipment in the U.S.   I did it and it is fine.  I wasn't the only one either.  Alan's were hard to find but about all that was here except for customs.   I rode Peugeot's made with 531 until they cracked.  I don't know how many are still around, but a great 'cross bike and plentiful in the 1980's.

So, necessity being the mother of invention, find a 70's road bike that has long reach brakes and throw some 28c tires on there and you are done.  The beauty of this method is should something bend, bend it back and you are off to the races, again.   $300 will definitely get you racing.  Definitely.  The rest is fitness.

Not late at all. Much appreciated advice. Never even thought about adapting a hybrid, other than a brief moment when moving the wife's Giant across the garage. I'm wanting to race for the fun of it, get out, get muddy, have an interest in something. Don't get me wrong, the Van Dessels look like fantastic bikes and at the right price I'd bite someone's hand off for one but in my mid forties and just starting out cheap and cheerful is the way to go. Love the 1x8 gearing. That's five more gears than I use on my road bike.

The speeding ticket came to $433s with costs and a surcharge - bail West Milford out - of $250s! Still no points thanks to a good brief who cost another $300s. Could have got a decent bike for that couldn't I?

To everyone, thanks for all the invaluable advice. Legs are getting stronger, heart and lungs coping better, putting in the miles on the road, hope to be involved in Cyclocross for the start of next season.

 My wife can confirm I'm a dirt bag when it comes to bike stuff. When you add in a wife and daughter into the equation you start looking at every part and frame in two categories.. want vs need.


  Invest the money in a dood steel frame and fork. Remember the frame lasts longer then parts. Planet X Kaffenback I have coming is steel. Has the options for disc or canti. And if I'm dumb enough to go singlespeed I can via swapouts. 




here's a photo of my $320 converted hybrid. It works great for this 47 yr old newbie.


Nice one Eric. That's the type of ride I'm leaning towards. Of-course I'd love a $2000 ride but I live in the real world. Most impressive pal.

Found a 2011 Kona Jake on the www last night for $699s brand new , Boulder but Kona won't let the store ship to Nj.

That's un American!

Check Campmor (in Paramus) for a sale.  They are also a Kona dealer.  They might have the same sale going on, or you might be able to talk them down to a similar price.  Alternatively, see if the Boulder store can ship to Campmor.  They might be able to get around restrictions by doing that.  There might be a surcharge, but it's a possibility.

Still saving, it's not easy with three kids, the guilt of spending a few bucks on yourself, and putting in the miles on the road. By God this New Jersey heat wave is killing me. Roll on The Fall.

I'd put all thoughts of CX out of my mind. Everytime I got a few bucks saved a bill came in to take care of it. Then I was in my local park, Brookdale the other weekend and saw a guy doing laps on a Van Dessel and I got a touch envious. then the rain came and I bundled the kids in the car while the lucky sod on the CX bundled his bike in a pick-up. Been surfing the www since and ordered a Planet X Uncle John frame and fork with a view to building up gradually with finds and cheap pieces.


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