Who says that you need a different bike for each type of cycling discipline!
While it would be nice to be able to afford a gravel bike for Saturday adventures, a road bike for rides in the countryside, a cyclocross bike for races, and a mountain bike for a bit of fun.
That's not possible for most of us.
So is it possible to convert bikes and use them across multiple disciplines?
Yes! However, to do this, you will have to get a good grip of the mechanics of bicycles and be prepared to spend a lot of time changing wheels.
Can you put cyclocross tires on a road bike?
If you are looking to use your road bike for a bit of cyclocross then it is possible to put cyclocross wheels on it.
This can save you a lot of money, rather than you having to purchase a whole new bike.
The really good news is that road bikes and cyclocross bikes have a near identical wheel set. So, converting from one wheel type to another will be a breeze.
Cyclocross is about performance and endurance so you will need to find a tough set of wheels. It is traditional to use tubular wheels in cyclocross.
You should also remember that there are restrictions you have to adhere to at cyclocross races. Your wheels should not be any thicker than 33mm.
You won't need to change the brake configurations on your bike, however, you will need to look into getting some new pedals.
Cyclocross involves getting on and off your bike while wearing shoes with metal spikes on the bottom.
Cyclocross is one of the most fun cycling disciplines and it has a really wonderful community that has built up around it. It is a really exciting sport to watch so there will always be people there to cheer you on.
Are cyclocross bikes as fast as road bikes?
As we have just learned, you can use your cyclocross bike as a road bike by replacing its tires. The next question you'll probably want to ask is, does it perform as well as a road bike?
That question has a very simple answer - no! While you can convert your cyclocross bike into a road fairing bike, you have to remember that it wasn't designed for that purpose.
It won't have the power levels behind it to compete with a road bike. Cyclocross bikes are also far heavier than road bikes.
Which works well for them when they are used for their intended purpose. But it doesn't do them any good on the road.
So to answer your question - no, cyclocross bikes are not as fast as road bikes. They are not as stable on the road.
They are less powerful than road bikes. And they are also much heavier than the average road bike.
Cyclocross bikes have moved on a lot from their origins as modified road bikes.
Can you use a gravel bike for cyclocross?
If you want to try cyclocross but don't want to commit to buying a new bike yet - why not have a look in your shed. If you already have a gravel bike, you might be surprised to hear that with a few tweaks you can convert it into a cyclocross worthy bike. And save yourself a lot of money in the process.
There are seven things you will need to do to convert your gravel bike into a cyclocross bike.
1. Mount new tires
For a cyclocross race, you cannot use tires that are wider than 33mm. We would recommend mounting new tires that fall between 31-33mm.
Gravel tires are not designed for the mud and turf of cyclocross - you'll appreciate the change once you've made it.
2. Remove the bolt cages
Removing the bold cages from your gravel bike will make it a lot easier to carry. You will be expected to carry the bike over barriers, up hills, and even up sets of stairs during a race.
While gravel bikes don't offer much space to grip onto, getting rid of the bolt cafes is going to make things a lot easier for you.
3. 1x groupset
You will need to shift your bike from an X2 (traditional gravel setting) to an X1 groupset. X2 does not cope well with the mud, grass, and other things that are flying around during a cyclocross race.
4. Lose the flare bars
If you want to be winning races then you should consider ditching your flare bars for something more compact. Flare bars just aren't efficient enough for cyclocross.
5. Install cyclocross friendly pedals
Cyclocross involves getting off your bike and running through mud. This means that your road pedals aren't going to cut it.
Cyclocross shoes have spikes on them so you will have to find pedals that also allow for that.
6. Adjust stem and saddle height
You will need to add a longer stem to your bike, gravel bikes have notoriously short stems. When you are practicing for your first race, experiment with saddle heights.
Some riders like them lower, some higher. Find what works best for you.
7. Goodbye racks and bags
Remember that cyclocross is a race and racks and bags are only going to get in your way. You need strip storage and nothing else.
What is the difference between a cyclocross and gravel bike?
Gravel bikes and cyclocross bikes are designed for very different purposes.
Gravel bikes are often called 'adventure bikes'. They are designed for fun days out, riding across many surfaces.
They are for more casual riding rather than racing. They have a shorter stem than most bikes but are otherwise quite similar to road bikes.
Cyclocross bikes are designed for the sport of cyclocross - which, to put it simply, is obstacle courses with bikes. They are very fast races where the rider must ride aggressively.
Cyclocross bikes have a shorter chainstay, no storage, and a more compact bar. There is less of a focus on comfort and more on performance.