Find a Club

MCF member clubs welcome new members of all levels. Here are just a few.
Gopher Wheelmen
Contact:  Matthew Sterling
Saint Paul Bicycle Racing Club
Contact:  Tim LaBerge
Website:  Bianchi/Grand Performance
Loon State Cyclists
Contact:  Mike Delaney
Website:  Loon State Cyclists

Cyclocross Video

Feature Video

More Cyclocross Videos

- Cyclocross Technique

- The Cross Bike

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Cyclocross Equipment

Cross Bikes

Cyclocross BikeCyclo-cross bicycles roughly resemble the racing bicycles used in road racing. The major differences between the two are that cyclo-cross frames have wider clearances, knobby tires, cantilever brakes, and lower gears. As a high-end bicycle purpose-built for a specific sport competition, they also differ from ordinary cross bikes, which are general-purpose utility bikes fitted with slightly wider 700C tires for use on unpaved paths or trails.

Cyclo-cross bike design and frame geometry has varied over the years.  Choose the same size frame you use for road racing, but with extra seat stay, chain stay and fork crown clearance. This helps prevent the build-up of mud and other debris that can add unwanted rolling resistance. You also need a higher-than-normal bottom bracket to prevent pedals from rubbing against the ground.  Water-bottle braze-ons are unnecessary - cyclo-cross races are too short to pack a bottle on your bike, and the bottle would be in the way when you shouldering your bike.

When fitting your 'cross bike, your saddle height should be 1 cm lower and stem length 1 cm shorter. This allows for more body movement when maneuvering your bike in technical sections.

A 13-26 cog set should be sufficient (if you need more than a 26-tooth cog, it may be time to start running). Use a high-quality road derailleur or a short-cage mountain bike derailleur. Up front you may choose to use a single chain ring, probably no more than a 46-tooth, but you should run a chain guide to keep the chain on the ring over bumpy sections. If you decide to use two chain rings, a 48/42-tooth combo is standard.If you decide to use two bikes - and a spare is a good idea, since cyclo-cross can be hard on equipment. Strive for consistency in equipment. When you have to jump off one bike and onto another, it's important that your shift levers, saddle and other components be in the same places. 

Cyclocross Pedals
Look for aluminum pedals that are symmetrical, serrated on both sides, wide, light and inexpensive. Symmetry is important because any pedal becomes unbalanced when you add a toe clip, making it very difficult to flip over and slip your foot in; unbalanced pedals only increase the problem. Double-sided serration is important in case you need to ride on the back side of the pedal; it gives you a good surface with which to make contact.  Double-sided clipless pedals, which are common on mountain bikes, are very good and getting better all the time. 
Using a Mountain (or Road) Bike
Strip off all non-essential gear - spare tire, pump, fenders, water-bottle cages, and shocks. Remember, you'll be carrying this bike, and it should not be heavier than is absolutely necessary. As for suspension, it may be great for the long, steady efforts of mountain biking, but in cyclo-cross, you have to accelerate repeatedly on each lap - which is much easier on a lighter bike with a stiff fork.
Cyclocross Clothing
It should fit skin-tight, especially shorts - you don't want any loose clothing snagging on your saddle when you're jumping on and off your bike. But remember, it's wintertime, which generally means bad weather. Your race-day bag should include clothes that layer well for temperature changes.
Other Cyclocross Components

Handlebars and Shifters

Use road-style dropped bars with bar-end shifters. Cut off the tips of your bars - maybe 3 to 5 cm, depending on the size of your hand - which brings your shift and brake levers closer and makes for less space to shuffle between the two. Shift/brake-lever combinations are a good alternative, although they are a little exposed, a lot heavier and can be damaged beyond repair in a crash.


Cantilevers offer superior stopping power, light weight and clearance to help prevent debris buildup. V-brakes also work well but require an adapter to work with cyclo-cross levers. Some racers choose disk brakes, which are the ultimate in mud clearance and performance, but are heavier and less common on less-expensive ‘cross bikes.