I'm planning on getting a cyclocross bike for commuting because my road bike is suboptimal for riding in rain and snow. A bike shop employee told me that cross bikes have worse geometry for riding on the road. He said that if you forget you're riding a cross bike and lean through a corner, you'll wipe out. He credited this problem to the geometry, rims, and tires of cross bikes. Is the assertion of the bike shop employee true, or was he full of it?

What are the practical differences in handling between a cross bike and a road bike? What are the noticeable effects of cyclocross frame geometry?

Related questions: Can I use a cyclocross bike for regular road-biking purposes?, What is the difference between race/road and cx bikes?, Explaining the effects of frame geometries

  • 3
    Can I ask which bike shop told you this? Also, I have a cyclocross and the only problem I have with leaning into corners is skill; of course it takes practice, especially at higher speeds.
    – Matt
    Commented Sep 1, 2014 at 4:47
  • 1
    A bike designed to race with minor obstacles is someone unstable on a simple road corner. It is an ideal commuting bike. Crashing though the city is more like CX course than an open road. Don't go back to that shop.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 2:52
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    I think there is some truth to what the bike shop employee said. I regularly ride an S-Works Roubaix road bike, and purchased an S-Works Tricross cyclocross bike on eBay for riding in wetish weather. I just got back from taking it for a get acquainted spin. When taking a corner at the bottom of a hill I take when returning after every ride, I felt like I was going to "wipe out" and had to back off. I'd have whipped around the corner at 25MPH on my Roubaix and thought nothing of it, but had to take the Tricross through at 10. I will grant you I could have pushed it, but why? The Roubaix road bi
    – user22875
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 0:40
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    Apart from slightly higher weight and slightly worse aerodynamics a racing cyclocross with slick tires has no disadvantages compared to a road bike.
    – Michael
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 9:43

2 Answers 2


A lot of people commute on cross bikes just fine (and even prefer them to conventional road bikes). He's full of it - the amount you'd need to forget to have issues is roughly being confused enough to think you're an onion (and if you're this confused, well, you're screwed anyway!), especially at commuting speeds. There are different bicycles for different purposes - for example, you're not going to take a touring bike like the Trek 520 and compare it to a racy road bike like the Specialized Allez. You probably wouldn't want to enter a road race with a cross bike, but commuting is a fine purpose for a lot of them.

There are 2 sorts of cross bikes - ones meant for racing , and ones meant for regular use (e.g. Trek Crossrip). These aren't necessarily disjoint (e.g. Kona Jake the Snake is used for both, to some extent), but you can tell roughly what they are for by looking at the components spec'd (example description for the Trek crossrip).

Obviously, you want slick tires for your commuter (if you're on the road) since the slightly knobby cross tires that come with them increase noise and can lower cornering speeds (For example, cornering quickly with a mountain bike on knobby tires does lead to washouts sometimes due to the knobs squirming). But things like the Kenda Small Block Eight are fine for commuting.

Typically, cross bikes have higher bottom brackets, larger tire clearances, cantilever/disc brakes, longer wheelbases , cables routed so that you can shoulder the bike easily and more relaxed geometries than road racers. This serves to give more shock absorbance and stability for the bike. The more commuter oriented variants also have easy fender mounting, rack mounts, etc.

I think the other parts of your question are answered in your related questions and the Wikipedia article.

Not really an answer to the question: Since rain, snow and grit do tend to damage drivetrain, you may just want to use an old cheap rigid mountain bike (e.g. 80s-90s Specialized Hardrock/Rockhopper, etc.). Great tire clearance, very stable, cheap to replace parts on, discrete (so they don't attract attention in the bike rack), etc.

  • Just to be clear, "commuting speed" is a very relative term. Average commuting speeds can range from 10 mph to 20 mph, depending on the person.
    – amcnabb
    Commented Jan 19, 2014 at 22:58

As someone who commutes with a CX bike and loves it, that bike shop employee is completely full of it. If he's seriously suggesting that you're going to corner better with a road bike in bad conditions than a CX bike he's a complete tool. What kind of tire you're using is the obvious consideration, not road vs. CX. Given that you can run wider tires with a CX bike and can go slick or knobby, the answer should be obvious. Northern Europeans started CX as a way to still ride something similar to their road bikes in the winter so...yeah.

  • Cynical voice in my head says that salesman was trying on a salesjob, with the aim of getting another sale.
    – Criggie
    Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 22:21

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