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Gear Guy

Is a cross bike suitable for rail-to-trail routes?

After riding a road bike, I would like to branch out and ride more bike paths and rail-to-trail routes. I really don’t need a mountain bike. I’m looking at a cross bike like the Bianchi Axis. Is this a comfortable solution? Andy St. Paul, Minnesota


You’re right. You don’t need a mountain bike. It always kind of slays me to see people thumping around a basically urban environment with a mountain bike, sporting dual suspension and big, knobby tires.

Jamis Coda Comp

Coda Comp

I saw someone on a really cool bike two weeks ago—a Jamis Coda Comp ($825; It does look sort of like a mountain bike, with an upright seating position, but it has road-style wheels and gearing so it’s both comfortable and fast. Plus it has slightly fat (700 by 28) tires for better float on rougher terrain. I should think it the perfect bike for squirting around on bike paths and converted rail routes.

That said, cross bikes are extremely useful bicycles for this sort of thing as well. I like their good performance and adaptability (they also make great rain bikes because they have cantilever or disc brakes and room for fenders). Bianchi’s Axis ($1,400; is one of my favorite cross bikes. It has a light, tough aluminum frame, a mix of SRAM and Shimano components, cantilever brakes, and a triple chain ring—a very useful thing on big hills…oh, wait, you’re in Minnesota. It’s a comfortable bike, with a setup like any good road bike, but a little slacker than a more typical road racer, so a little less twitchy on corners. I think you’d love it. But look at the Jamis, too. I think you’ll find it an intriguing alternative.

The votes are in: Check out the winners of Outside's 2006 Gear of the Year awards, including the year's hottest road and mountain bikes.

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Lead Photo: courtesy, Jamis