Cross or Road

The Jogger

Legendary Member
Right, I'm in the market for another bike, I've been using my trusty Trek FX7.3 for my commute but would like to get either of the above for commute and also longer rides and to build up my mileage and increase speed. I live right by the South Downs Way and would also like to do a bit on there but don't want a full blown mtb. Is there much difference in speed between a road and cross bike and would the cross be ok for the sdw. Also would it be lighter than the Trek?

My budget would be up to £700 it will be through the C2W so second hand will not be an option.



Senior Member
Sunny Wakefield
I like the look of the Specialized Tricross, happily priced at £700.

Obviously there is going to be a trade off- you'll lose some speed for the off-roady-ness, but probably not as much as you'd expect.

There's a Rvolution version for about £400 which might become my winter bike...


I regularly use my Tricross off road. The standard tyres won't be much good when the chalk is wet - but then very few tyres will be. It's fine in mud or on wet grass, though.

As for speed compared to a road bike, I have a Tricross and a Secteur and I reckon the difference is around / under 5%. The benefits of the Tricross (it is considerably more stable and, of course, I use it on crappy surfaces without worrying about its fragility) mean that I'd choose that style every time if I could only have one bike. I still find it amusing to get all the funny looks from people when riding off road on a bike with drops. :laugh:

A brief example from just yesterday afternoon. I got home after about 25 miles on and off road on the Tricross but I wanted to go a bit further, so I headed along the river.

As I left the tarmac , I tucked in behind a couple of chaps on MTB's. One turned off almost immediately but the other set off at a pretty good pace along the river, making the most of his suspension. After about 1/4 mile, though, I realised that the gap between us wasn't changing and about 1/2 mile after that, he stopped "for a drink" ;) so I passed him.

A couple of miles further along, there was a group of people walking their dog and I stopped for a quick chat. As I set off, though, I heard one of them saying that there was another bike behind me, so I upped my pace a little as there's little opportunity to pass there and I didn't want to hold him up.

Bear in mind that I was probably close to twice this guy's age and weight, and we're riding on mud which has set solid, giving a very rough surface. I've also done 30 miles, at least half of it off road, by this point!

About 200m later, at Boveney Lock, the path splits to give two parallel options, one is a properly surfaced cycle path, the other is the muddy river bank. I head for the river and the other chap, on his MTB, goes for the cycle path. I slowed a little as I was no longer holding him up but, when the two paths joined again about 500m later, I was still in front of him. From that point, though, there was only the one path and it was a nicely surfaced wide cycle path, and he had no hope of sticking with me on the flat.

In summary, I was easily riding the Tricross on hard-packed mud as fast as a guy on an MTB, and he had no hope once the surface got smooth.

I reckon a cross bike is almost as good as an MTB off road (other than on really rough surfaces) but a load better than an MTB on properly surfaced paths and roads. It's the same the other way too. Although I am working harder, I can ride with roadies on the cyclo-cross bike but I'll still be riding when they are carrying their fragility on their shoulders when we run out of tarmac.


Of course, if doing "proper" off-roading rather than following tow paths and the like, then fatter tyres, lower gears, wider bars and, of course, suspension will all mean the MTB will have the edge, just as a road bike would be a better choice for a 100 mile day on the tarmac. But, as I said above, if I was only allowed one bike, it would be a Tricross.


Lover of things that come in 3's
good info from Norm there, only thing I'd add is around options. The Tricross could be transformed by slinging on a set of road tyres/wheels, you couldn't reverse the process if you had a roadbike.


Good advice from Norm and MacB. If you're only going to have one bike then it must be a cyclo cross model for sheer versatility. With a second pair of wheels shod with road tyres and if needed a larger outer chainring the world is your oyster.
I know that a lot of current frames come with mudguard eyes and carrier mounting points so you can have the perfect offroad, on road, touring and commuter bike all in one while the fact of it not being 100% designed for three of these activities doesn't really matter.
Many moons ago I often used my cross bike in road races just fitting road tyres and a 52 chainring. I can't say I had a lot of success but then I didn't on my road bike either.
The Jogger

The Jogger

Legendary Member
Thanks guys for chipping in, especially Norm for all the detail. It will definitely be the cross and more than likely the tricross but will have a look at the kona aswell .
cheers and much appreciated .


Whatever you do, try (Tri? :becool:) one for yourself first! The style suits me and my requirements, that doesn't mean it will work for everyone. :tongue:


Long term loafer
Wiggle have 20% off the Focus range until Monday meaning that the Focus Mares is only £600 which seems like an incredible price and I would buy one myself if I had the money right now. I have been trying to decide between a road bike and a cross bike for some time now and had more or less decided to buy a Trek 1.7 but now you have made me think again.


Remember the fallen.
Costa Clyde.
Another Tri-ed and tested Tricross fan here! I've had mine for about 7 months and 1300 miles now. It has been used on a variety of surfaces from smooth road, to rough road, to shingle, and hard packed canal paths.

I changed the tyres from the standard 700x32 mainly because they were very puncture prone. When upgrading to Specialized Nimbus Armadillos, I decided to get narrower sized ones so am now running on 700x28. Between the narrower size and higher pressure, I am finding them a bit uncomfortable on anything but smooth surfaces. So much so that I was thinking about getting a second bike. Either a hybrid with front suspension like a Trek 7300, or Scott P5; or a low spec mountain bike like a Scott Aspect 40. But having tried a Scott P5 today, it is not a patch on the Tricross, and to be honest I know it would have been a white elephant. Having read Norms post, I think he may have saved me £350 xx(. The answer is staring me in the face:

Go back to a wider tyre size!!! I like the Armadillo protection, it has so far worked well, so I'll be looking at getting a pair of 700x32 or 34, for dealing with the rougher stuff.
Top Bottom