Apparel & Accessories

Cyclocross gear guide: Bikes, tubulars, accessories

Cyclocross is here! This is VeloNews's guide to cyclocross bikes, tubular tires, and other key accessories for the fall race season.

There’s nothing like pedaling into a steep, off-camber turn or hopping over a barrier while a crowd of rowdy ‘cross fans heckles from the sidelines. Cyclocross is built around fun, from the eccentric courses to the beer hand-ups. Perhaps that’s why ‘cross continues to grow in popularity across the U.S.

Here’s our guide to the bikes, tubular tires, and other essential gear you’ll want to check out before slathering on the embrocation and heading out to the races.

Cyclocross bike reviews

To tackle the diverse terrain and weather conditions, ‘cross bikes have evolved into versatile machines that can navigate fast, maze-like courses, as well as slow, muddy, technical ones. They are built around a beefy bottom bracket for repeated accelerations out of corners. Shorter head tubes keep the rider in a low, aggressive position. Similarly short chain stays provide a snappy ride, making it easier to pop the bike up and over technical obstacles. Quick handling is a must for maneuvering around competitors and attacking through tight corners.

Here are three bikes we’ve been riding this fall.

Cannondale SuperX Team

Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com
Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

Cannondale – Cyclocrossworld.com was arguably the most successful American team during the 2015-16 season. At the tail end of the calendar, Stephen Hyde mixed it up in Belgium’s intimidating mud on the 2017 SuperX. Now it’s in our hands, and we are big fans of this aggressive yet stable bike that’s race-ready out of the box. It’s not the perfect cyclocross racing bike, but it’s darn close.

Read the complete review >>

Foundry Flyover

Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com
Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

Despite titanium’s “look at me” aesthetic, there’s just a certain something about that brushed Ti look. Foundry found an ideal middle ground here: just the right amount of exposed metal combined with a healthy hit of powder blue and, praise the bike gods, an understated logo. It creates a balanced look that screams, “Look at me, I’m dressed sensibly.” We like it a lot, and that aesthetic sets the tone for the Flyover’s balanced ride.

Read the complete review >>

Jamis Supernova Elite

Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com
Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

Jamis picked a flashy color for the Supernova Elite, but this ’cross rig is truly a blue-collar bike: A reasonable price tag and durable component package give you a compelling argument to roll it out of the garage even when ’cross season has come and gone.

Read the complete review >>

Tubular cyclocross tires

Can you race cyclocross on tubed or tubeless clincher tires? Sure. But if you keep going down the muddy rabbit-hole of cyclocross racing, you’ll eventually want to get a set of tubular wheels and tires for racing. It doesn’t have to be an outlandish investment either — simple, low-profile alloy tubular rims, built with a basic, reliable set of hubs are nearly as effective as a fancy pair of carbon tubulars. What often makes the biggest difference is tire choice.

All-around cyclocross tubulars

For racers who have one set of tubular wheels and don’t want to swap tires all season long, opt for a versatile set of mixed-terrain tires that can tackle almost all ’cross conditions. These tubulars offer moderate bite for off-camber sections and light mud, but they have a fast-rolling center tread to zip down hard-pack straights as well. If you live in a wet and muddy region, a set of mud tires are probably a better option, but for everyone else, these in-betweeners are just the right fit.

Photo: Clement
Photo: Clement

Clement MXP

$130
Clement’s MXP tubulars tackle a wide range of conditions and variable surfaces, and they split the difference between the company’s LAS file tread and PDX mud options. These do-anything tires have an intermediate tread pattern that rolls fast on hard-pack but won’t send you into the tape on loose corners.
Read the complete review >>

Specialized Tracer

$100
Specialized’s versatile Tracer tubulars roll quickly on smooth ground but tackle corners with plenty of grip. The center knobs are spaced farther apart than other all-around tubulars like Dugast’s Typhoon or Clement MXP, but the Tracers still roll quickly and feel smooth even on pavement.
Read the complete review >>

Hutchinson Toro CX

$100
Hutchinson calls its Toro tubular a mud tire, but the low, fast-rolling tread makes it a better all-around option for mixed conditions. The tubular gets its blocky tread pattern from the company’s Toro mountain bike tire and the ’cross version hooks up similarly to the wider mountain option.
Read the complete review >>

Dugast Typhoon

$130
For a supple, smooth ride, Dugast Typhoon all-around ’cross tubulars are hard to beat. The delicate cotton casing conforms to the changing terrain, providing exceptional grip on off-camber sections and over technical terrain.
Read the complete review >>

Challenge Grifo Pro

$115
Challenge’s Grifo tires are a love ‘em or hate ‘em option that, no matter the course conditions, people just can’t seem to agree on. The side knobs don’t offer much bite, so you’ll need greater skill when you hit loose corners or have to scamper down off-camber descents.
Read the complete review >>

Mud cyclocross tubulars

What is ’cross racing without a little bit (or a lot) of mud? When the courses get sloppy with deep mud pits and slippery corners, it’s time to pull out the mud tires for extra traction. These tubulars have bigger, burlier knobs that bite into the muck, providing grip and stability in the slick sections, and the knobs are spaced far apart so they’ll shed mud as you roll. Some have faster rolling tread down the center for courses that shift between wet and dry conditions, but they sacrifice a bit of traction in the deep, muddy areas.

Photo: VeloNews.com
Photo: VeloNews.com

Dugast Rhino Cotton

$130
For the deep, sloppy muck, Dugast’s Rhino cotton tubulars are aggressive with 3.2mm tall knobs that dig into mud better than any other tubular we’ve tested.
Read the complete review >>

Challenge Limus and Baby Limus

$115
For ’cross courses covered in deep muddy ruts, Challenge’s Limus tires are up to the job with burly knobs down the middle and along the sides of the tread. But the Baby Limus takes things down a notch with smoother tread down the middle and bigger knobs on the sides if your course has just a couple slick sections between harder-packed terrain.
Read the complete review >>

Specialized Terra

$100
Specialized’s Terra tubulars look mean and aggressive with big, chunky knobs spaced far apart across the tire’s tread. The knobs are on the shorter side for mud tires, however, measuring just 2.3mm tall. But they are no slouch in the corners, digging into the slick, muddy ground with confidence.
Read the complete review >>

Clement PDX

$130
Clement’s PDX tires get their name from Portland, Oregon, where mud bowl courses are a standard weekend affair. Rows of tall and aggressive knobs line the edges of the tires for extra traction through sloppy courses with slick, muddy turns.
Read the complete review >>

File-tread cyclocross tubulars

When a ’cross course feels more like a grass crit or when it’s made up of fast, hard-packed sections, file-tread tires are the way to go. These fast-rolling tires don’t offer the same cornering or braking traction as all-around options, but they’ll get you through a non-technical course with speed. Look for bigger knobs on the outer edges of the tires if you want a little more bite when leaning the bike over, but these tires are all about a low-profile center tread for straight-line speed.

Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com
Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

Challenge Chicane Pro

$115
Challenge’s Chicane tubulars offer are a more versatile take on file tread ’cross tires thanks to meaty side knobs that allow them to punch above their weight when you lean into corners.
Read the complete review >>

Vittoria Cross Evo XN

$99
Vittoria’s Cross Evo XN tubulars were created for dry, non-technical ’cross courses where speed, not traction, is the ultimate goal.
Read the complete review >>

Dugast Pipisquallo

$130
Dugast’s cotton tubulars are the go-to choice for many top pros thanks to the supple ride characteristic and the company’s Pipisquallo file-tread tires are no exception.
Read the complete review >>

Clement LAS Tubular

$130
Named for the fast and grassy course at Cross Vegas, the LAS (the Las Vegas airport code) tubular is made for dry and smooth conditions. They float over hard-pack or asphalt thanks to the smooth file-tread down the center of the tire.
Read the complete review >>

Cyclocross accessories

Cyclocross can be a brutal sport, for body and bike. Take care of both and you’ll have more fun and more success. Here are some of the accessories and gear we’ve been testing this cyclocross season.

Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com
Photo: Brad Kaminski | VeloNews.com

Mountain Washer

$170
Cyclocross is dirty business. Leave the grime at the racecourse with this portable pressure washer that plugs into a 12-volt power outlet in your car. It sprays between 44 and 130 psi, and the 15-liter water tank provides up to 12 minutes of spraying power. A six-meter hose and three-meter power cord let you spray from every angle.

Endura MT500 Waterproof Pant II

$199
Keep your race kit clean and stay warm during pre-race warm-ups with these tough, waterproof pants. They’re fully seam-sealed for the muddiest of conditions, and a three-layer waterproof fabric makes sure you’re dry at the starting line. The pants taper at the ankles so they won’t interfere with your pedal stroke. Stretch waterproof panels and a Cordura seat are strategically placed for plenty of mobility and durability.

Thorne Products Belgian Tubular Tape

$24.99
’Cross tires don’t generally sit flush in tubular road rims, so an extra layer is needed to fill the void. Enter Thorne Products Belgian Tubular Tape, which is used in conjunction with glue to create a tough seal between tire and rim. There are other tape options on the market, but we like the method of tubular gluing used by Stu Thorne, director and mechanic of the Cannondale – Cyclocrossworld.com team.

Bontrager Aeolus 5 Disc D3 Tubular Wheels

$1,100 front; $1,300 rear
1,260 grams/pair
Upgrading to a pair of deep-profile carbon tubular hoops is almost a given for the serious racer. Bontrager’s Aeolus 5 wheels are light at 1,260 grams while remaining tough as nails. The high-profile, 50-millimeter OCLV carbon rim sheds mud and boosts cornering stability. The 19.5-millimeter inner rim width allows you to take full advantage of wide ’cross tires. Bontrager’s Carbon Care program helps you get your wheels rebuilt if you damage them after the warranty expires.

Showers Pass Refuge Waterproof Duffel Bag

$189
The Refuge could very well save your rainy race day with its welded seams and fully waterproof compartments. Its structure means it won’t flop or fold in on itself as you’re trying to pull out your rain jacket in a hurry. It’s also got a foldout changing mat so you’re not standing in the mud as you get in and out of your kit. Best of all, it’s made with ballistic-strength Nylon. This bag will take a beating for years.