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My bicycle was recently stolen and I'm now trying to get a replacement.

I had the Merida Crossway XT Edition (http://www.merida-bikes.com/de_de/bikes/cross/cross/2015/crossway-xt-edition-lady-2875.html ). It is a wonderful bicycle. I made more than 3000 kilometers with it in about one year.
This is considered a cross bike.

Now, besides this, there is the cyclo-cross type of bicycle that and I was looking at the Cyclo Cross 500 model (http://www.merida-bikes.com/de_de/bikes/cross/cyclo-cross/2015/cyclo-cross-500-2871.html )

There are more differences but what I'm mostly concerned about is the lack of suspension on the fork. I read a bit and it looks like the cyclo cross bikes don't have normally such a suspension.

I'm at that age when you start to feel stuff about your body (hopefully just in a phase thou) and for a couple of months I feel my back is not very happy. Therefore I am asking: How big of a difference would I feel with a cyclo cross bike without a suspension in the fork? Is this type of frame absorbing more shocks/vibrations than the frame with suspension of is the the other way around?

I am also interested in other differences like the handlebars and the lack of some low speeds but while I might live with these, too much vibrations might be a deal breaker.

Many thanks and happy riding! Mario.

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    Crossway is a play on crossover - city and trail. The other bike is a true cyclocross race bike and is probably not the best bike for you. – paparazzo Apr 23 '15 at 21:58
  • The links are dead now. They just land on the homepage. – Vladimir F Jul 22 at 8:41
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I'm not sure about the term "cross bike", which doesn't seem to be used in English-speaking countries (except as an abbreviation for cyclocross, but that's not what this bike is); perhaps it's what we call a "hybrid bike" (although hybrids usually don't have a suspension fork)

Cyclocross bikes are a totally different category. They are intended for racing, and are basically road bikes ('Rennrad' in German) that can accomodate wider tires (usually up to around 40mm, although cyclocross racing only allows up to 33mm). Usually the rider's position is slightly more upright than on a pure road bike.

A suspension fork is only useful for bumpy trails with rocks sticking out of the surface. In my experience, they don't absorb tiny bumps (like gravel) or vibration. Unless you are riding on bumpy singletrack trails, a suspension fork doesn't do much. What makes the most difference for comfort is the size of the tires. Wider tires (35mm, or better yet, 40mm) absorb a lot of small bumps and make the ride a lot more comfortable. This is mostly because you can run wider tires at lower pressure, whereas narrow tires need high pressure and tend to feel rock-hard. The tires on the cyclocross bike you linked to are 35mm, which is pretty decent, but 38mm would be better. Maybe that bike can accomodate 38mm or 40mm tires, which would be good.

A lot of people are under the impression that some frames have magical properties that allow them to absorb vibration, but in my experience this is just wishful thinking. There may be a difference there, but it is tiny compared to the difference between thin tires and wide tires. Tire pressure makes a much bigger difference, with lower pressure being more comfortable.

You also asked about handlebars and lower gears. I used to ride only mountain bikes and have recently started riding a cyclocross bike. The more leaned-over position (lower handlebars) on the cyclocross bike is less comfortable and I'm getting a lot of pain in my shoulders and neck. However, the drop bars allow multiple different positions for my hands, which reduces pain in my hands on long rides compared to my mountain bike.

If you ride steep hills, you are going to miss the lower gears of your old bike. Unfortunately, the cyclocross bike you are considering has an 11-28 cassette and a 46-36 crank, which means that the lowest gear is 36/28 = 1.28, while your old bike had a lowest gear of 26/34 = 0.76. That is a huge difference !

The advantage of the cyclocross bike is that the drop handlebars are more comfortable for your hands on long rides (more than 2 hours) and you can go quite a bit faster due to the more aerodynamic position. My mountain bike with slick tires is very similar to your old bike, and I used to go around 16-17mph on that bike. With my cyclocross bike, I can usually go 19-21mph with similar effort. I'm just hoping that the pain in the shoulders and neck will go away as I get more used to this bike.

Bottom line: if you really enjoyed your old 'cross' bike and are concerned with comfort, then a cyclocross bike is probably not a good choice for you.

  • Thank you for your answer! I would be riding around Munich and yes, the smallest gears might help sometimes but not that much as I thought they would. The XT that I had had a lockout for the suspension and while off the difference in riding was sensible even on bicycle paths with minor bumps. Therefore the question. Another point that I didn't add to the question is the minus 2 Kg with the cyclo cross version. (I wanted to put links from UK but the categories are different there and felt that the DE links give more insight to my question. I don't get the name difference also). – mosu Apr 24 '15 at 21:32
  • For riding around the city, I think you could get used to a rigid fork, as long as your tires are wide enough. But here is another thing to consider: I looked at the geometry specs for the two bikes. The "Absenkung (S)" measurement is about 60mm higher for your old bike compared to the cyclocross bike. I think having your handlebars 60mm lower is not going to be very comfortable, unless you want to be aerodynamic for higher speeds. – Nik Apr 24 '15 at 21:41
  • There are quite a lot of crosstrail/hardtail hybrids around (see e.g. evans) but there's the question of what they're good for with low-travel front suspension (though they might make the vicious speed bumps nicer on my new commute). – Chris H Apr 25 '15 at 12:39
  • I was this weekend to a big bicycle shop in Munich. Rode a bit on several cyclo-cross bikes. I decided I will buy now the cross bike and, probably next year, the cyclo cross one if the desire is still there. The reason is that I just can't seem to be able to decide between the two. Therefore why not having both of them! :) Many thanks for your answers! – mosu Apr 26 '15 at 21:43
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I don't know why, but Merida seems to be confusing the terminology. Cross is typically short-hand for cyclocross and used interchangeably. If you told me you were looking for a cross bike I would instantly assume you mean 'cyclocross.'

Cyclocross bikes, are somewhat race specific and sacrifice suspension for speed. Most cyclocross forks are going to absorb some of the vibration, but not much.

If your back is giving you trouble, I would go with something that does have front suspension like the XT you had.

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    It looks like it is a German thing and not a Merida thing: giant-bicycles.com/de-de/bike-index :) – mosu Apr 24 '15 at 21:56
  • Yes, in Germany, a "Crossbike" is essentially a hybrid trekking bike that is a little more geared toward difficult terrain. It is not meant for racing and doesn't usually have drop handlebars, but it does normally have a suspension fork. Example: cube.eu/2019/bikes/trekking/tour/cross/… – antred Sep 18 at 20:47

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