If you’re considering getting into cyclocross, you probably have at least some idea of how demanding a sport it can be on a bike, and are likely attempting to determine which would best suit your needs.
The Canyon Endurace CF SL Disc 9.0 Di2 fared quite well as the best of the cyclocross bikes which we review, with the Ridley X-Night being the runner-up and the best budget option.
Our Picks for the 5 Best Cyclocross Bikes
The above links will take you to eBay & Amazon, where you can check prices and see some similar bikes.
What makes a good cyclocross bike?
Important Aspects of Cyclocross Bikes
Cyclocross brings some demands to a bike that are nearly impossible for a single bike to fill. In cyclocross courses, during each lap, a biker may have to navigate multiple kinds of terrain, make sharp turns, speed down straightaways, slam up steep inclines, and sometimes even dismount and carry the bike through particularly rough patches.
If you need to carry your bike at a moment’s notice, your bike needs to be lightweight. Cyclocross is demanding enough in the riding portions to warrant a lightweight bike, and the additional need to carry the bike over impossible terrain underscores the lightweight requirement even more.
Having a short wheelbase is also a good feature to have on a cyclocross bike because it’ll help the bike navigate sharp corners and execute narrow passes of other bikers on the course, which is typically necessary for victory.
In the same vein, bikes with a shorter chainstay length are better for cyclocross because short chainstays enable the bike to maintain power during sharp cornering, though it comes at the expense of climbing traction. Steep head tube angle is necessary for cyclocross bikes, too, as it reduces the effort required to slam around sharp corners, which synergizes with many of the other necessary features.
Finally, a short reach is a typical feature of cyclocross bikes because it provides for better handling during the slow speed portions of the cyclocross course, which can often be nearly the entire course. Being more upright also helps with dismounting for portions of the course where it’s necessary to carry the bike.
The 5 Best Cyclocross Bikes Compared Side-by-Side
Let’s compare 5 of the cyclocross bikes on the market to see how they shape up relative to the features which we just identified as being extra important for cyclocross bikes.
When you’re grabbing your cyclocross bike with one arm and staggering through mounds of mud or jumping small obstacles, you’re going to want to be carrying a bike like the Canyon or the Trek. These two bikes are nearly 2kg lighter than their compatriots, which can make a noticeable cumulative difference.
Jake the Snake is the regrettable heavyweight here, weighing in at nearly 10kg.
The reach of these bikes stays clustered tightly around the 38cm mark, though Jake The Snake has an extra cm, which could make it a bit more challenging to handle the bike effectively during a sharp turn.
Chainstay lengths stick very closely to 42cm, with no real outliers to speak of.
Unlike the others, the Canyon has shaved off a few centimeters from its wheelbase length to be as nimble as possible and provide as many opportunities for overtaking the competition as a rider can manage
Seat Tube Angle
Like many of the other metrics, there is little variation among the seat tube angles of these bikes intended for cyclocross. It’s unlikely that the half degree deviations from 73 degrees are going to have any major impact on your ability to handle the bike. Likewise, there’s probably not much comfort or competitive advantage to be found in these half degree differences.
Review Of Ridley X-Night Disc Rival 1
The Ridley X-Night Disc Rival 1 has the potential to be a beast of a cyclocross bike. The Ridley has a lot of extremely durable components which make the bike extremely responsive if perhaps a bit difficult to use outside of cyclocross.
The Ridley X-Night Disc Rival 1 uses a 24t HM/HR Unidirectional carbon frame.
The thickness and broadness of the carbon frame are where the Ridley is getting its massive amount of weight—carbon frames don’t handle the frequent torsional strains of rapid, sharp turns in cyclocross very well, so they need to be tough.
This bike uses SRAM Rival1 PF30, 42t crankset with SRAM Rival1 shifters in addition to an SRAM PG1130, 11-32 cassette. It also uses an SRAM Rival1 Hydraulic Disc, F160/R140 brakeset. The bike has a KMC X11 chain, too.
The Ridley’s groupset is durable at every point. The most obvious feature of the crankset is that there only one. Having only one crankset saves on weight and reduces the number of potential points of failure that the bike can have during a rough cyclocross run.
This bike uses a Clement MXP 700x33c wheelset.
This wheelset is meant to endure a lot of abuse from sharp cornering, and it’s probably one of the bike’s stronger points.
For a bike that is purpose-built for cyclocross, the Ridley X-Night could probably perform pretty well in the hands of a sufficiently skilled biker. Even if you wanted to use it in a different setting, the Ridley X-Night could also easily perform well in very rugged conditions typically scaled by higher-end mountain bikes.
“It has a lot of helpful little features that help during cyclocross that prevent it from losing the chain.”-Le Tour de Plants
“It’s got the enthusiasm of a mountain bike. It’s the stiffest ride that I’ve ever had, and this could function as a road bike which is amazing to me.” -Graeme Street of CycloClub.
“All the parts are tied together with parts from other really reliable brands.”-Global Cycling Network
Review of Kona’s Jake the Snake
Kona’s Jake The Snake might not be the craziest cyclocross bike out there, but it’s competitive if you’re willing to make do with a few of its weaker components. Overall, Jake The Snake might be a good choice as a first cyclocross bike.
This bike uses Kona Race Light 6061 Aluminum Butted frame.
Jake’s frame is nearly 10kg in weight, which wins it no awards. The frame is the weakest point of the bike.
This bike uses a Shimano Tiagra 11-34t 10spd crankset, Shimano Tiagra brake levers and shifters, Shimano Hydraulic Flat Mount brake calipers, and a KMC X10 chain.
Jake’s groupset leaves a lot to be desired. Though all of the components in the groupset should have a compatibility bonus because they’re all made by Shimano, no single component is from Shimano’s mid or top line products.
The brake calipers are of extra concern, and may not be enough to effectively slow this beast of a bike down without being worn down themselves.
This bike uses a Clement MXP 700x33c wheelset.
These tires are common sights in bikes intended for non-cyclocross activities, which is worrying. These tires offer good traction for cyclocross, yet poor durability and nimbleness. If you purchase Jake the Snake, you should expect to replace the tires if they suffer heavy use.
There are many better cyclocross bikes than Jake the Snake, but if you’re looking for a bike that can double as a mountain bike and withstand a lot of abuse, it still might be the right bike for you.
“It has a lot of configurability—you can use it as a racing machine, or a mountain rider, or even a dirt path rider.” -Full Cycle Ottawa
“Awesome bike. I tore mine apart and put it back together again with no problems, and it’s a beast.”-Mountain Powder Hound
“Very well priced, very well specced bike—they’re designed for performance and handling, but for most people, they customize it to make it into whatever they want.”- Bicycle Works
Review Of The Trek Boone 7 Disc
The Trek Boone 7 Disc is a carefully constructed cyclocross bike that incorporates some of the high-quality components that we’ve seen mentioned before in other bikes. The Trek can cyclocross, race, or even be a city bike.
The Boone 7 Disc uses a 600 Series OCLV Carbon frame, IsoSpeed, E2 tapered head tube, BB90 bracket, hidden fender mounts, internal control routing, 3S chain keeper, and a Ride Tuned seatmast.
A lot of work has been put into this bike’s frame to make it the centerpiece of the bike. The frame’s aesthetic screams “agility,” and you’ll find that it delivers.
This bike uses SRAM Force CX1, 40T crank, SRAM Force CX1 11 speed shifters in addition to an SRAM PG-1170 11-28, 11-speed cassette. It also uses an SRAM PC 1170 chain.
This groupset is of unparalleled quality. No matter how sharp your cornering or how rapid your shifting, the groupset will be able to keep up with whatever cyclocross related challenges that you can throw its way. The only downside is that these components can be tough to maintain yourself.
This bike uses a Bontrager CX3 Team Issue, 120tpi, aramid bead, 700x32c wheelset.
The wheelset is one of the strongest parts of this bike because it bolsters the bike’s ability to make sharp turns and handle the slippery terrain. The Bontrager wheelset is also extremely durable, and can easily be transferred from cyclocross to mountain biking or any other kind of aggressive biking sport without fear of damage.
If you’re in the market for a cyclocross bike, consider the Trek Boone 7 to be a strong contender, assuming you can afford it.
“It’s meant for cyclocross, but I consider this one bike for all roads.”-Ingemar Gardell
“Trek Boone included a little bit of a suspension system that doesn’t get much attention, but if you think about it, saving your back from all those little impacts during the race is going to help you out a lot at the end of the day.”-Global Cycling Network
“Love the bike. I originally got this because I wanted a bike that could do it all, and I was pretty pumped to configure it so that it could do so.”-Wild Outdoor Living
Review of Canyon Endurace CF SL Disc 9.0 Di2
Hailing from Slovenia, the Canyon Endurace CF SL Disc 9.0 Di2 is the cyclocross bike built for those who want to combine style, power, and versatility. Surprisingly, Canyon manages to offer all of these attributes at a low cost without compromising on the quality of the components.
The Canyon Endurace CF SL Disc 9.0 Di2 uses a Canyon Endurace CF SLX DISC Frame, which is carbon.
Canyon’s frame is very light—around 7kg—meaning that it’ll be easy to carry while on the cyclocross course. There is a slight problem with this, though: a light frame made of carbon may be prone to breakage due to the torqueing of the turning necessary to navigate cyclocross.
There haven’t been any specific complaints about the Canyon’s frame breaking, but it’s worth remembering when it comes time to buy a new bike.
The Canyon Endurace CF SL Disc 9.0 Di2 uses a Shimano Dura-Ace, 11S crankset, a Shimano CN-HG700-11 chain, a Shimano Dura-Ace 11S cassette, and Shimano Dura-Ace D12, 11S shifters.
This groupset is built out from Shimano’s mid-level line of groupset products, which means that you should expect to perform maintenance on it after every cyclocross run. Don’t worry; the maintenance kit is included with your purchase.
The bottom line here is that this groupset can perform just fine in a cyclocross competition, but it’ll require your attention if you want it to last as long as the rest of the bike.
This bike uses a DT SWISS ERC 1400 DB wheelset.
The DT SWISS wheelset will be sufficient for cyclocross or mountaineering but is a bit restrictive when it comes to road use or other applications. You shouldn’t have to replace these tires, and they should provide you with plenty of traction on the cyclocross course whenever you need it.
In short, the Canyon Endurace CF SL Disc 9.0 Di2 is cyclocross bike that’s built to be perfect and may approach perfection except its frame. The only other thing to mention about this bike is that because it’s manufactured in Slovenia, getting customer service or interpreting the purchasing information can be very difficult, so plan accordingly.
“This bike is a weapon. It’s a cyclocross bike. It’s a mountain bike. It’s a road bike.”-The Sick Biker
“Let’s be honest. This bike looks good. And yeah, it sounds good. The sound of the rear hub is to my liking.” -Jaiven
“The groupset is a fantastic performer. The SWISS DT wheels are a great addition, too.” -Cycling Weekly