Starting with a bare cyclocross frameset is appealing to many because it feels like a cost-efficient way to dip a toe in the muddy sport. A dedicated roadie often has spare wheels and spare components in boxes. Taking old stuff and hanging them on a ‘cross frame is like practical storage—the old parts are still in the garage, just on another bike. That bike can be ridden whenever, and cannibalized if necessary.
‘Cross bikes are like the old days of Paris-Roubaix wheels. Whether it’s the second ride or the 700th, used is used. The best cyclocross bikes look good with signs of wear. Battle scars are medals in their own right. Pre-loved cyclocross bikes for sale have been tested and proven worthy.
At one time, ‘cross bikes were a bit more small-batch and boutiquey. One-off gems could be a bit funky, like a single-speed cyclocross bike, something the All-City Nature Cross bike does with OG flair. That was when larger manufacturers were reluctant to devote resources to a niche sport. After dipping their toes in the mud, companies like Cannondale, with their CAAD X, and Giant with the TCX, taught the Euro ‘cross mafia a thing or two about how to build a racer.
Cyclocross bikes have long been the jack-of-all-trades of drop-bar bikes. It can function as a commuter, a loaded tourer, a winter bike, a racer, and a knockabout ride that can do it all save full-on MTB. It’s only in recent years that gravel bikes became a thing that was different than cyclocross.
This is the battle du jour. Pure cyclocross race bikes are designed around 33mm wide tires, the widest UCI cyclocross rules allow. Building around these typically makes bikes not only lighter but a little more nimble. Even if you never race, there are reasons to consider a ‘cross bike over a gravel bike, something we have delved into. And if you’re a gravel dabbler who still prefers road speed, there are “allroad” bikes like the Factor Vista, which can handle road, cx, and gravel.
Trek has a longer ‘cross history than most will appreciate. They built the LeMond Poprad which Matt Kelly rode to victory at the 1999 Junior Cyclocross Worlds. They’ve been going gangbusters with the ‘cross-specific Boone since ‘cross legend Sven Nys started riding with them in 2014. Trek ‘cross bikes are built around 33mm tires and tight ‘n light Euro’ geometry.
Specialized got the ‘cross bug in the ‘80s when they debuted the Tricross cx clincher. Eventually, that became the name of their cx bike, before they retired it and moved on to the CruX while having the Specialized Diverge for gravel. Because the world is going gravel, they’ve evolved the CruX into a more versatile steed, one that can do ‘cross and gravel.