Cyclocross bike racing is gaining more and more popularity as an adventurous sport for adrenaline junkies. It’s quite different from regular bicycle racing as you need to ride across hostile terrains as quick as you can with barriers that may require of you to hop on and off your bike to be able to overcome them. For those who are not afraid to get dirty, cyclocross provides the opportunity to take up the challenges of muddy, gravelly, and sandy trails and overcome any obstacle that comes your way even on the worst possible weather. Also, you don’t have to turn pro and engage in professional racing to be able to get the taste of cyclocross adventures. All you need is a versatile bike, a terrain of your choice to navigate and the desire for speed and efficiency.
Although cyclocross races may include some portions of pavement, you’ll be cycling mostly on off-road trails, such as sand pits, hills, and various muddy sections. To be able to conquer the rough terrain, you need the right equipment, and an essential part of it is a top quality cyclocross bike that can rise up to any challenge. We looked over dozens of cyclocross bikes aiming to find the one that can fulfill any cyclocross enthusiast’s expectations, taking into account the size, components, frame materials, Amazon ratings, the price and many other features that are considered relevant when deciding on the right cyclocross bike. We picked out top 5 of the best-rated cyclocross bikes you can buy for you off-road adventures.
For high-performance cyclocross riding and racing, we’ve identified Raleigh Bikes Merit 2 Endurance as a top choice. With its light alloy frame, TRP dual actuated mechanical disc brakes, and the Shimano Claris 8 speed shifters that allow the choice between 16 gear combinations, this bike is ideal for blazing alternative trails quickly and efficiently.
In This Article
The 5 Top-Rated Cyclocross Bikes
|Best Overall||Raleigh Bikes Merit 2 Endurance||4.5|
|Runner Up||Tommaso Imola Endurance Aluminum Road Bike||4.4|
|Best Budget Buy||Takara Shiro Adventure Bike||3.0|
|Best Hybrid Bike||Vilano Diverse 3.0 Performance Hybrid Road Bike||4.3|
|Best All Road Bike||Tommaso Avventura – Shimano Sora Gravel Adventure Bike||4.3|
*Ratings are from Amazon at the time of publication and can change
Our Top Pick: Raleigh Bikes Merit 2 Endurance
Raleigh Bikes Merit 2 Endurance is specially designed to make your off-road adventures safe but nonetheless intense. It’s made with an extremely light butted alloy frame with thru axles, disc tabs, and a lightweight carbon-alloy tapered steer disc brake. It features Shimano Claris 8 speed shifters for 16 gears and TRP spyre dual actuated mechanical disc brakes for great stopping power regardless of the conditions.
This bike is partially assembled, so it will need further assembling to be ready for use. The amount of time you’ll spend assembling it depends on your prior experience with assembling bikes. The manufacturer states that those with no prior experience will need 120 min, whereas the more experienced ones will finish it in 30 min. There are 5 sizes available: small, medium, large, x-large, and xx-large. The price is a little under $700.
Raleigh Bikes Merit 2 Endurance Bike Key Features:
- Light butted alloy frame with thru axles
- TRP spyre dual actuated mechanical disc brakes for great stopping power
- SRAM Rival shifter for 16 gears
- Available in small, medium, large, x-large, and xx-large
- Partially assembled
Our Runner-Up Pick: Tommaso Imola Endurance Aluminum Road Bike
Tommaso Imola Endurance Aluminum Road Bike will make your rides comfortable regardless of the severity of conditions. It’s suitable for beginners and advanced cyclists and it can handle dirt, gravel, and mud with ease. The bike features durable aluminum components, a laser-measured frame that is be made to suit individual needs, and brand new Shimano Claris shifters, derailleurs, crank, and brakes . It also features 700c wheels for better grip.
Tommaso Imola Endurance Aluminum Road Bike comes with a lifetime warranty. It’s available in XXS, XS, S, M, L, and XL at a competitive price ranging from $600 to $650 depending on the size.
Tommaso Imola Endurance Aluminum Road Bike Key Features:
- Aluminum, laser-measured frame that can be customized
- Shimano Claris shifters, derailleurs, crank, and brakes
- 700c wheels
- Available in XXS, XS, S, M, L, and XL
- Lifetime warranty
Best Budget Pick: Takara Shiro Adventure Bike
Takara Shiro Adventure Bike is a great bike for amateurs interested in cyclocross and it features an excellent frame, although you will need to do some upgrading of breaks and gears if you want to take part in professional races, the reviewers say. It’s easy to assemble and it features chromalloy steel frame and fork, 21-speed Shimano drivetrain, and double space for water bottles.
It’s comes at a fairly affordable price of $233.99.
Takara Shiro Adventure Bike Key Features:
- Ideal for cyclocross amateurs
- Durable chromalloy steel frame and fork
- 21-speed Shimano STI drivetrain
- Double space for water bottles
- Easy to assemble
- 700c x 40mm high volume Tires
Best Hybrid Bike: Vilano Diverse 3.0 Performance Hybrid Road Bike
Vilano Diverse 3.0 Performance Hybrid Road Bike promises high-performance on rough terrain under all weather conditions. It’s the right bike for commuters as it’s able to handle long distances with ease. It features 6061 aluminum frame and fork, a 24-speed drivetrain, and 700c wheels.
The bike is partially assembled and it includes brief instructions for further assembling. It also includes free pedals. It’s available in 49cm, 53cm, and 57cm. It comes at a price of $300.
Vilano Diverse 3.0 Performance Hybrid Road Bike Key Features:
- Ideal for commuters, able to handle long distances and rough terrain
- 6061 aluminum frame and fork
- 24-speed drivetrain
- 700c wheels
- Available in 49cm, 53cm, and 57cm
- Partially assembled
- Free pedals included
Best All Road Bike: Tommaso Avventura – Shimano Sora Gravel Adventure Bike
Tommaso Avventura – Shimano Sora Gravel Adventure Bike can cater to all your off-road needs. It’s made of aluminum compact frame combined with a high modulus carbon fiber fork for maximum vibration. The bike’s TC-30D rims and wide 32c tires enable handling of all types of terrain and ensure control and grip without slowing you down on the streets. It also features compact frame geometry for maximum comfort.
This bike requires professional assembly to ensure optimal performance. It’s available in XS (5’2″-5’6″), S (5’6″-5’8″), M (5’8″-5’11”), and XL (6’2″-6’5″) at the price of $875.
Tommaso Avventura – Shimano Sora Gravel Adventure Bike Key Features:
- Aluminum compact frame and a high modulus carbon fiber fork
- TC-30D rims and 32c tires
- 2×9 Shimano Sora Groupset
- Compact frame geometry
- Professional assembly required
- Available in XS (5’2″-5’6″), S (5’6″-5’8″), M (5’8″-5’11”), and XL (6’2″-6’5″)
Who Should Buy a Cyclocross Bike
Cyclocross enthusiasts and professional racers need a top quality bike that’s designed for cyclocross riding and racing. As cyclocross rides involve plenty of off-road trails and rough terrain, such as hills and sandy, muddy or gravelly sections, professional racers require a bike that can easily maneuver and conquer such trails as quickly and efficiently as possible.
However, you don’t have to be a professional taking part in competitions to own a cyclocross bike. Any commuter who needs to ride long distances or simply enjoys off-road cycling on weekends can benefit immensely from a quality cyclocross bike. These bikes are built to handle backroads, mud, gravel, and dirt, and any adventure cyclist can make their trail blazing much more comfortable and safer with a cyclocross bike.
Important Features to Consider
A cyclocross bike should do several things well. Here’s what to consider when selecting a cyclocross bike for your off-road adventures:
- Lightweight frame. The cyclocross bike’s frame should be as light as possible as cyclocross racing sometimes involves hopping on and off the bike, taking it in your hands and running or jumping. However, it should also be sturdy enough to be able to handle sharp turns and the rough terrain. Many modern cyclocross bikes are now made of carbon fiber, which is extremely light and absorbs vibrations well. However, aluminum and steel frames are also quite common as they are less expensive and ensure durability, especially if the bike is going to be used for commuting or racing.
- Size. It can be tricky to determine which size your cyclocross bike should be. In general, the bike that fits properly will allow you to stand over the top tube with approximately two inches of clearance, pedal with your knees slightly bent at the bottom of the stroke, and reach the handlebars and brake levers comfortably. Additionally, there are bikes that are specifically designed for men and women, as women usually have shorter torsos and longer legs than men, so bikes with smaller frames would be more suitable for them.
- Small gear ratio. Cyclocross races don’t reach high speeds or regular road racing, which means that these bikes have smaller gear ratios, typically 42/32, 44/34, or 46/36.
- Hydraulic disc brakes. One of the most essential components of a cyclocross bike are the brakes, as they need to confront with extremely rough trails that may include mud, gravel, and sand. In the past, cyclocross bikes had cantilever or V-brake options. Although they were more effective against mud than standard bike brakes, they still had a tendency to clog up on excessively rainy and muddy conditions. Nowadays, the best cyclocross bike models contain hydraulic disc brakes. They keep the braking surface away from the rims and, therefore mud and dirt, which prevents contamination. They are more expensive, but they provide incredible stopping power, which is of great importance.
- Good tires. The cyclocross tires are of higher volume than road bike tires in order to ensure better grip, cushioning, and puncture resistance. They should be wide enough to enable you control and grip on the trails without slowing you down on the streets, so that you can handle all surfaces with ease. They can be up to 40mm.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a cyclocross bike and how does it work?
A cyclocross bike is designed to be used in off-road cycling or racing. It has a frame usually made of aluminum, steel or carbon fiber to be as light as possible and absorb vibrations well. Its tires are wider and more voluminous than on standard bikes as the one who rides it needs to maintain a good grip and control on a rough surface. Most often, a cyclocross bike features disc brakes for greater stopping power. As cyclocross races aren’t based on speed, but rather on time, it features smaller gear ratios. A cyclocross bike is a versatile bike that can be used on any type of off-road cycling, not just cyclocross racing.
What is cyclocross?
Cyclocross is a specific type of bike racing. It involves cycling across rough terrain, such as dirty and muddy trails, sand or gravel. Although majority of the course is off-road, there are also some portions of pavement. Typically, there are barriers in the course that can be up to 40cm tall and 4-6m apart.
The races are based on time rather than on distance, and time is measured by laps. How long a race will last depends on the category of the participants and it can be anything from 30min for beginners to 60min for advanced riders. If there are sections of the race that are too muddy or slow to ride, the participants have to pick up their bikes and run. Although cyclocross takes place all-year round, it’s mainly a fall and winter sport, with the World Championships held in January.
What is the difference between a cyclocross and a road bike?
Although both bikes are similar, there are some key differences between them. They feature similar frames, which are designed for speed and which allow the rider to have multiple hand positions. Road bikes have rim brakes and 700c wheels and feature minimal tire clearance in order to be lighter and more aerodynamic. On the other hand, cyclocross bikes are heavier, have higher tire clearance and wider, knobbier tires suitable for hostile terrain. Cyclocross bikes also have disc brakes which gives them greater stopping power during wet and snowy conditions.
How long is a cyclocross course?
The distance of the cyclocross course must be at least 2.5km and it can be up to 3.5km.
Other Cyclocross Bikes We Reviewed
We looked at 20 other cyclocross bikes. Even though they didn’t make our 5 best cyclocross bikes list, they’re the best of the rest and each is still a great option for your off-road adventures. The information you’ll need to compare each one is included with the listing.
This bike is ideal for commuting and it’s easy to maintain. It’s available in 3 sizes, designed for riders 5’2”-6’2”.
- Chromoly frame
- Shimano 7-speed internal hub
- Gates carbon belt drive
- Available in 3 sizes, designed for riders 5’2″-6’2″
This bike designed for ladies features upright frame geometry, steel handlebar, DB Kraton grips, 21-speed drivetrain, aluminum alloy rims and Kenda tires. It’s available in small and medium size.
- Upright frame geometry that keeps you aggressive in the saddle
- Steel handlebar and DB Kraton grips that absorb bumps
- 21-speed drivetrain
- Aluminum alloy rims and Kenda tires
- Available in Small and Medium size
Cost: $262-$350 depending on the size
- Handcrafted aluminum frame
- 700c wheels
- 21-speed drivetrain and Shimano rear derailleur
- Linear pull brakes and alloy quick release seat clamp
Mongoose mountain bike features durable steel mountain-style frame, 21-speed twist shifters and Shimano rear derailleur for a wide gear range and quick shifts, and knobby mountain tires for added grip.
- Steel mountain-style frame
- 21-speed twist shifters and Shimano rear derailleur
- Front and rear linear pull brakes
- Knobby tires
- Alloy rims
Nashbar Women’s Dual Sport Disc Hybrid Bike provides the performance of a road bike and the comfort of a mountain bike. It’s suitable for riding around neighborhood and handling dirty trails.
- 6061 aluminum frame
- Shimano 24-speed drivetrain
- Tektro M280 mechanical disc brakes with 160mm rotors
- 700c wheels
ORKAN Reinforced Mountain Bike 26” features aluminum mountain frame and suspension fork, 18-speed drivetrain and Shimano rear derailleur shift, and steel V-brakes.
- Aluminum mountain frame and suspension fork
- 18-speed drivetrain
- Shimano rear derailleur shift
- Steel V-brakes
Raleigh Cadent 1 Urban Fitness Bike offers the efficiency of a road bike combined with the comfort of flat bars and upright geometry. It’s suitable for races and regular rides around town.
- Flat steel handlebar
- 21-speed Shimano shifter
- 700c wheels
- Available in S, M, L, and XL
- Some assembly required
Schwinn Men’s Volare 1200 Bike is a lightweight, fast, and versatile bike suitable for training programs and casual rides. It features aluminum fitness frame, 21-speed drivetrain, alloy linear pull brakes on the front and rear, and it comes with a limited life warranty for as long as you own the bike.
- Aluminum fitness frame
- Flat-styled handlebar and sport riding seat
- 21-speed drivetrain
- Alloy linear pull brakes on the front and rear
- Limited life warranty for as long as you own the bike
All Road Bikes
Blue Competition Cycles bike features a carbon frame, 700c wheels, and Shimano shifting system.
- Carbon frame
- 700c wheels
- Shimano shifting system
- Available in XS, SM, MD, ML, LG, and XL
Colnago World Cup SL features higher bottom bracket height designed for off-road racing. It also features a reinforcement tube between the seat tube and top tube which facilitates the carrying of the frame on the shoulder during sections that are too difficult to ride.
- 56 cm
- Higher bottom bracket height designed for off-road racing
- 6000 series aluminum frame
- Reinforcement tube between the seat tube and top tube which facilitates the carrying of the frame on the shoulder
Extrbici XC550 Racing Road Bike is designed for professional road racing. It features a steel frame, 21-speed drive train, 700c wheels, and aluminum alloy double disc brakes.
- Steel frame
- 21-speed drive train
- 700c wheels
- Aluminum alloy double disc brakes
- 90% pre-assembled; requires installing the front wheel, handlebar and pedals and airing up the tires
Cost: Est. $300
KHS CX550 bike is designed for all types of off-road racing. It features carbon frame and fork. It’s available in X-Small, Small, and Large size.
- Carbon frame and fork
- Sram CX1 11-Speed
- American Classic Disc Wheelset
- FSA Carbon Components
- Available in X-Small, Small, and Large
State Bicycle’s standard bike is designed for racing and commuting. It features a steel frame and fork, cantilever brakes, and 30mm rim tires.
- A steel frame and fork
- Cantilever brakes
- 30mm rim tires
- Available in 49cm, 52cm, 55cm, and 58cm
State Bicycle Co. Thunderbird bike features sturdy and durable 6061 aluminum frameset and Avid BB5 disc brakes for greater stopping power. It also allows for addition of a rear derailleur.
- 6061 aluminum frame and a carbon fork
- Avid BB5 disc brakes
- Ability to add a rear derailleur
- Available in 46cm, 49cm, 52cm, 55cm, and 58cm
Stradalli cyclocross bike features carbon fiber frame, tapered headtube, Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 Speed Group set, and hydraulic disc brakes. It’s available in 48cm, 50cm, 52cm, 54cm, and 56cm.
- Tapered headtube for a comfortable ride
- Carbon fiber frame
- Shimano Ultegra 6800 11 Speed Group set
- Hydraulic disc brakes
- Available in 48cm, 50cm, 52cm, 54cm, and 56cm
Stringbike Cross, String Driven Bicycle features a modern type of construction that doesn’t contain conventional chains, derailleurs, gear shift mechanisms and related parts. It contains string drive, 19 speeds that can be shifted while pedaling or while stationary, and hydraulic brakes.
- String drive, no chains, derailleurs, gear shift mechanisms and related parts
- 19 speeds that can be shifted while pedaling or while stationary
- Hydraulic brakes
KELAND Electric Mountain Bike features aluminum frame and a carbon fork, a removable lithium-ion battery, 21-speed transmission system, and 2 working modes: E-bike and assisted bicycle. It also has LOW, MID, and HIGH 3-meter operations.
- 26 inch wheel size
- Aluminum frame and a carbon fork
- Removable lithium-ion battery
- 21-speed transmission system
- 2 working modes: E-bike and assisted bicycle
- LOW, MID, and HIGH 3-meter operations
Yuanne 26 Inch Folding Electric Bike features a collapsible frame, machine front and rear disc brakes, and 3 levels of assistance to help you along. It also contains a 36V-10AH battery and a built-in lithium battery design which minimizes the chances of the battery being stolen.
- Collapsible frame
- Machine front and rear disc brakes
- 6-speed gears
- 3 levels of assistance
- 36V-10AH lithium battery
LightInTheBox Folding Mountain Bike features steel mountain frame with suspension fork. It has 21-speed transmission system, double disc brakes, and Shimano front and rear derailleur.
- 26 inch wheel size
- Steel mountain frame with suspension fork
- 21-speed transmission system and Shimano front and rear derailleur
- Double disc brakes
- Rider weight under 120kg
- Rider height 155-185cm
This bike is suitable for commuting and riding up the hills. It features low frame, 7-speed Shimano shifter, and front and rear alloy linear pull brakes.
- Perfect for commuting
- Foldable in a few easy steps
- Low frame
- 7-speed Shimano drivetrain
- Front and rear alloy linear pull brakes