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I'm looking at two specific bikes.

Here is the first: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/fantom_cross_trail_xiv.htm

It's a cyclocross style bike.

The second: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/disc-brake-roadbikes/turinoelite-discbrake-roadbike.htm

I'm just really unfamiliar with bikes, as I haven't bought a new one since I was a kid over 15 year ago. I will only be riding on pavement; however, the roads along my route are really rough with many potholes in the concrete. I think a roadbike would make more sense, but would the cyclocross be more durable?

If one has rims/tires that will need replacing much less than the other, that is what I want. But I haven't seen any information on this online? Does anyone have any ideas?

Thanks in advance!

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  • Well, that's just about the question I have on acquiring a bike, except with rather more knowledge behind it! – user2943160 Sep 1 '16 at 2:00
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    If you're not racing or going off-road then a moderately priced road or touring bike will be as durable as one could ask for. Only high-priced racing bikes are particularly fragile, and they're not as fragile as you might believe. Re tires and wheels, the main thing is to not allow your tires to become underinflated, as this will kill tires, tubes, and rims rather quickly. – Daniel R Hicks Sep 1 '16 at 12:09
  • @Rider_X This may be a situation where the s-1 rule applies. – CRoberts Jun 8 '17 at 19:40
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It's tough to give an "objective" answer to this, but I was in the same scenario 5 years ago and went with a CX bike and have no regrets.

I always advise newbies to non-mountain biking (e.g. you're new to pavement commuting, road biking, racing, touring, gravel road biking, etc.) to at least consider a CX bike.

Here are some thoughts:

Road bikes tend to be very specifically tailored to road cycling, with lightweight (i.e. less durable components), and an aggresive (i.e. "hunched over" riding position that while great for racing is not so hot for almost all other pursuits (commuting, touring, etc.).

CX bikes, at least at the entry level (think aluminum frame, carbon fork, low to mid-range components) tend to have a more upright position that's a lot easier to get used to if you're coming from mountain/hybrid bikes. They also tend to have more heavy duty components, e.g. wheels with more spokes, etc., and the aluminum frame ones will often include mounting points for racks, fenders, etc., which road bikes tend not to.

As such, a CX bike can be a bit of a jack of all trades, letting you try out various types of road riding:

  • Want to try gravel racing? You've got the tire clearance for fatter knobby tires. I just put 42mm tires on my CX bike; that's not gonna happen on a true road bike.
  • Want to try racing in a local race or time trial? Put some skinny slicks on it, take off the fenders/racks, you've got a reasonable road machine. You're not going to win any races, but you're also not going to get laughed out of the race. I spend a lot of time riding pavement with 28C Gatorskins on mine.
  • Want to try some light duty touring? If you go with a ALU frame CX bike with fender attachment points, you can throw a rack and fenders on and go for a few days tour. I did a 135km ride last year on my CX bike with 60 pounds of gear on it.

Ultimately, I've found my CX bike to be a real swiss army knife and it's allowed me to experiment with a lot more different types of riding than I think I could have if I'd gone with a dedicated road bike.

In the end you should test ride both bikes, a couple times if the first rides aren't conclusive, and see what you like the feel of better.

Also, quick caveat: in the time since I bought my bike, spinoffs of road racing have been proliferating and manufacturers are putting out more and more high end bikes within those niches (e.g. high end all-carbon CX bikes or gravel bikes), and like a dedicated road bike, those will not be as multi-purpose as an entry level CX bike would be. E.g. if you look at a high end CX bike, it will probably be all-carbon, with no fender/rack mounting, so will not offer much in the way of touring capabilities.

Hope that helps!

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Couple points on road bike categories:

  1. The "All Road" category now exists, which is essentially a tougher road bike with the tire clearances of a CX bike. The geometry and handling is typically either more road bike like or a hybrid between road and CX. Also some (but not all) "all road" bikes come with other niceties like fender and rack eyelets (thank you!). Your riding position also tends to be more upright as these bikes as they are not intended for racing.
  2. CX bikes are great too, often they used to be equipped like the "all road" bikes are now, with fender and rake eyelets (so you could use it for multiple purposes), but lately I have found mainstream CX bikes offerings are much more race focused than they used to be so they may not be as useful for general riding. This can mean more aggressive riding positions and no rack or fender eyelets. Brand dependent, YMMV.
  3. Road bikes are actually tougher than they look. I used to ride my road bike down gravel all the time until "all road" became a thing. That said, I do appreciate the current crop of "all road" bikes as they have the clearance to to run much larger volume tires which is much better for gravel and rough pavement.
  4. Depending on your intended use, a sport touring road bike could be a good choice as well. Similar to an all road bike, these typically support larger volume tires, have more upright position, will definitely have rack and fender eyelets, but will also have more stable handling than the previous 3 categories. This makes them better suited to hauling loads and potentially casual riding as these bikes are typically more forgiving to momentary lapses in concentration or balance.

Finally...

If one has rims/tires that will need replacing much less than the other, that is what I want. But I haven't seen any information on this online? Does anyone have any ideas?

Tires wear out based on tread thickness, compound, tire width and mileage. Tires that you have to replace less often have tread and casings that are thicker and less supple, offering a rougher ride and requiring more effort to pedal. Touring tires will offer the best longevity at the cost of experience (they are noticeably slower to pedal). Larger volume supple tires (there are a few now) are a good compromise as they are fast, offer superior comfort and all else equal larger volume tires wear out less quickly than smaller volume tires.

Rims can require replacement due to wearing out the brake track (rim brakes) or damage (e.g., hitting a large hole with insufficiently inflated tires). A lot of road bikes in all four outlined categories come with disc brakes. As the disc is what wears under braking (and can be replaced), disc wheels can theoretically last indefinitely if you do not damage them. Running a larger volume tire will reduce the chance a errant pot hole will damage a rim.

Finally, wheel longevity can also be affected by bearing type. Cartridge bearing wheels could also provide some better longevity compared to cone and cup arrangements if you adverse to maintenance. Cup and cone require periodic maintenance, that if missed for extended periods, can result in permeant damage to bearing races. This can be a problem if the damaged race is the one that is part of the wheel hub. Alternatively, a damaged cartridge bearings can simply be removed and replaced, which can be hard to do at home, but most local bike shops should be able to do without issue.

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Generally speaking, cyclocross bikes are intended to be raced both on and off roads. Because cyclocross bikes can be expected to hit roots, rocks, and other bumps of all sorts, presumably cyclocross bikes are built to be sturdier than road bikes, at the expense of being a bit heavier. I would expect the cyclocross bike to be more durable. Most road bikes are designed to be light, at the possible expense of durability; some makes and models are more durable than others, of course.

Not having ever seen either of the two models you mentioned, I'd expect the cyclocross-style bike to be sturdier but slower, and the road bike to be faster but perhaps less durable. The cyclocross-style bike comes equipped with 35 mm tires, and the road-style bike with 25 mm tires, so the road-style bike is definitely likely to be faster.

The rims should only need very infrequent replacing with both types of bikes, unless you really beat the bike up. Tires generally only need replacing when they wear down. You might need to replace spokes and true the wheel more often on the road bike, but once you learn how to do such simple repairs that won't be much of a concern.

Especially for someone recently returned to bicycling, I'd recommend that you buy a bike from your locally-owned bike shop (not a department store or a big chain) rather than an online store. The local shop will do a much better job of helping you pick the best style, make, and model for you. The local shop should make sure that you get the right size, and adjust it to fit you correctly, which is very important. If you buy locally, you can test-ride the bike; personally I wouldn't want to buy a bike without riding it first, unless I'd tried my friend's bike of the same model or something. The local shop should set up the bike properly, and they should stand behind the sale and quickly correct any problems you might find. You might pay a bit more for the locally-purchased bike, but you're more likely to feel good about the purchase if you buy locally.

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I have both, but used my race-spec CX for everything for a couple of years.

It's a perfectly capable road bike and could hold pace on the club runs with road wheels on without any bother (and having low gearing helped for the hills!), it's a hoot to ride on singletrack as long as it isn't too rocky or steep, and I use it to commute on (and have done for the past 2 years) when it isn't nice enough weather to get the roadie out.

If I had to have one, I'd take a CX bike every time.

My advice would be to get a CX bike and ideally a couple of wheelsets, leave one set up for road with 25-28mm slicks on, and have a set for the trails!

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