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I am in the market for a new bike. It is really my first bike, I am borrowing an old 1980's Cannondale road bike from a friend currently. I have an 8-mile daily commute (1-way, 16 total miles put on 4 or 5 days a week) and I am looking for a bike that I can put some racks and fenders on.

However, I am also super interested in getting into CX racing, we have an awesome local community for it and I have been getting to know some people in it. I also don't have a ton of money (recent college student, I am buying a bike so I don't have to buy a car and spend money on fuel and expensive repairs).

For example, there is a Trek Crossrip Elite near me for sale for $650, and I was thinking about jumping on that, but I don't want to be too hasty. I know people say that they would rather have the 105 set rather than the SORA, but I hope to save up some money for a dedicated CX race bike in a couple years, or something similar that I wouldn't be using for commuting, but I need something now.

So what features ( geometry, component level ) should I look for in a good entry-level CX bike that would work for racing as well as a general purpose commuter?

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    Voting to close under product rec. For what its worth, a lot of cross races allow the lowest tier to be done on mountain bikes, and you can get a lot of cheap mountain bikes (sub 100 dollars) which would work fine for both purposes. – Batman Mar 2 '15 at 20:20
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A CX bike does make a great commuter. It is stable and strong and still pretty efficient on the road. Just put some touring tires on it.

So your question boils down to a CX bike that has mounts for racks and fenders. You don't find many racing bikes designed for racks and fenders. Would never actually race with fenders or rack.

You almost never see rack mounts on carbon bike (road, mtn, or CX). So you are limited to aluminum, steel, or titanium CX.

I know of just a few true CX bikes that come with rack and or fender mounts. Moots is a high end semi custom that you can order with mounts. The titanium La Crux comes with mounts (see picture). The Cross Check has mounts and is a designed as a CX but I have never seen a Cross Check in a race as it is heavy.

Given not a lot true race CX have mounts then you can open up your options by looking at CX like commuter bikes - drop bars and take CX size tires. Look for a compact crank (34T or 36T small). You might be giving up some ground clearance compared to a true CX but as a beginner you are not going to be hopping obstacles.

CX or commuter look for a bike that will take 38mm tires. Higher end riders are on 33mm but start with big and soft. If you have only ridden a borrowed road bike those down hill switchbacks are going to be scary.

Unless you are Cat 1 or 2 road or mountain racer you are not going to be competitive your first season. Focus on having fun and getting better.

You will see people riding mountain bikes in local races - I get beat by mountain bikes. Until you develop technique you are probably going to be faster on a mountain bike.

That Crossrip Elite would not be a bad starter CX. I has a CX type geometry and will take CX sized tires.

This is a legit CX racer I use for commuting on the off season:
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