I nuts about cyclocross. What is a good starter bike for cyclocross? All the Bay Area stores are sold outno stock! Can you recommend a good shop from which to order one in the Bay Area? Tiger Pacifica, California
You can start on cyclocross with just a mountain bike. You likely won't win many races due to a fat-tire rig's weight and relatively poor rolling characteristics. But it'll work. A true 'cross bike is essentially a slightly beefed up road frame (usually aluminum) with front forks and rear triangle adapted for somewhat fat tires (usually 700 x 32 knobbies) and either V-brakes or discs. Cyclo frames actually are exceedingly useful all-around framesI've used them for "rain bikes" for years because they have room for fenders, good wet-weather braking, and corrosion-resistant frames.
Cannondale makes a fine 'cross bikecalled simply the Cannondale Cyclocrossfor $1,250 (www.cannondale.com). This has a very stiff frame, plenty of room for knobby tires, and TruVatiV/Shimano components. In time the component mix could use upgrading, but it's a race-ready bike right out of the box. If you have an accurate read on your road-bike size, then you can safely order one online or buy on eBay; typically 'cross bikes are fitted a size smaller than your normal road size (so, if you ride a 56-centimeter bike, buy a 54) and you can make adjustments with stem and seatpost to ensure good fit. The smaller size makes it a little easier to get over the frame when dismounting.
Bianchi makes a good, reasonably priced cyclocross bike as wellthe Axis ($1,400; www.bianchiusa.com). This one's got Shimano components, a really nice aluminum frame, and is easily adapted to light touring or general training.
I can't recommend a good shop in the Bay Area, but surely there are many reputable ones (try the Bike Nook in San Fran proper). Any that's a Cannondale or Bianchi dealer should be able to order a bike for youif they haven't already got one in.
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