Modern Cyclocross Frame vs. Relatively-Retro Pure Road

My friend was going to buy a “quiver killer” cyclocross bike (Trek Boone) that she intended to use off-road, then swap-in some other wheels with 28mm slicks for weekend group road rides. She got talked out of it on the basis that the frame would cause her to get dropped on the road rides.

It got me thinking, is a modern cyclocross frame on the road really that much slower than another rider in the group that shows up on say some 10-year old Giant TCR or a 20-year old Trek Madone 5000 series?


I’ve done hard group rides on CX bikes as well as retro road frames (with r6800 and cheap rs11 wheels) and I honestly believe you’re never going to get dropped on a road group as a result of your bike unless everyone else is on a TT bike or you’re on ultra narrow tires in the rain, getting dropped is almost always an engine problem. That’s not to say pure road bikes are obsolete, I despise ripping corners or doing fast descents on CX bikes absolutely love riding a road bike on a road and would never buy a quiver killer but not because it’s that much faster assuming you’re using slicks.

Edit:misread your question. I think a modern all road bike would be superior to older retro bikes because I like more fork trail than is present on older bikes. Both are fast enough to hang on the hardest of smashfests.


My experience is the same. That high BB does not make for fun cornering at high speeds.


and they won


Depending on the terrain and speed of the group, gearing could be an issue.

40x11 at 110 rpm gives about 28 mph. Probably enough to not get dropped, but insufficient to “win”.


Thanks for the confirmation that my thinking wasn’t way off: if you’re getting dropped, it’s likely the engine that’s falling short.

I did not know about the high BB being a hindrance in the corners and fast descents. I learn something new every day.

Good point about spinning out in the descents or sprints. This Boone 5 comes 2x with the big ring being 46T. Should be enough for her.

I won a road race on a cx bike at the end of winter while waiting for my team supplied bike. Only modification was a few links on the chain and taller 52t front ring.

The BB height difference is way way overrated. Like suddently you ride 1cm higher and you forget how to ride a bike. Ridiculous.

The marginal difference you get from the most basic road bike to the fastest aero bike do not matter in weekends group rides context.

Gearing can matter a bit but unless the bike comes with a 1x groupset nothing prevent anyone to mount a 50 or 52 chainring and mount the front derailleur higher. It may not even be needed, I’ve done plenty of group rides on my cyclocross bikes and then 1x gravel bikes while on holidays when I wanted to ride both on and off the pavement. Unless the group is riding as fast as it can and try to drop the weakest ones you don’t get suddently dropped because you have knobbly tires and max out on the tallest gear. If it does, that group is toxic and not worth riding with. People who want to run people off their rear wheel should pin a number and race, otherwise they are just sociopaths.


I own a Boone and a Specialized Allez Sprint. The Boone has lower bottom bracket drop than the Allez Sprint and more aggressive geometry than “endurance” road bikes like the Trek Domane or Canyon Endurace…This person will be fine unless she’s under geared. And if this group ride is as aggro as it sounds, she’ll have plenty of company if she does get dropped.


That’s helpful. On a vague notion of the cyclocross geometry being more aggressive than gravel bike options out there, I suggested her “one bike” should be a 2x cyclocross instead of gravel. Having said that, I wasn’t entirely confident I knew what I was talking about. Thanks.

Brilliant! I’m totally going to borrow this.


Totally agreed, with one exception: the guy who appears on your rear wheel during a long solo ride, says nothing, and sits there for miles. It happens once or twice every year. I must confess that if ‘come through’ gestures or attempts to initiate conversation are repeatedly ignored, I may try and ride such a person off my wheel… :rofl:

On the OP’s point, unless you’re riding the midweek chaingang* and there are some proper hitters, a cx bike with a 50/11 top gear and slicks will be absolutely fine.

*We have one locally, late April to early Sept. It’s 5 laps of an undulating c.10km loop in a quiet, rural-ish location. Laps 1-3 are ridden pretty hard but the group stays together, while laps 4&5 are more or less raced and drops are in play. It’s a tune up for the racers/crit boys and it’s fairly savage. It’s not my scene - I did it once last year and was bleeding from the eyeballs to hang on at the back by lap 5 - but as everyone understands the deal, there’s no issue.


This ^^

I actually don’t mind towing a group around as much as much as they like as long as:

  • they don’t complain about pace or about how I ride
  • they don’t start messing with my pace, taking unrequested half-hearted turns that let me caught in the group
    When this happens, I try and kill myself to get rid of how many as I can on the next rollers / crosswind section ^^

Regarding CX bikes for road rides: if 46*11 is long enough for the ride, then a Boone won’t get anyone dropped (and those who think so should stop finding excuses for getting dropped ;)).

As long as everyone’s in on it, there’s nothing wrong with putting your friends in the hurt locker a fast group ride :crazy_face:

IMO the Boone has vague handling due to the front ISO-speed, but I agree that a cx with road gearing isn’t getting you dropped unless the group is all riding 54 chainrings at race pace.


Nonsense…as long as the hearing is adequate, she can hang just fine.

Re: BB drop, it does make a big difference in how a bike handles. Last year I got a new gravel bike, moving from a 2017 Crux. I knew I wanted a lower BB than the Crux….went with a Cervelo Aspero and it is a much better handling bike. Lower CG and a much more stable / predicate handling bike through corners.

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Haha, do the same “advisors” also think externally run brake and gear cables will get someone dropped from a ride? It was silly advice. Did they explain how it would get her dropped? Please humour us!

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That was sorta the basis for my question. If new road frame was so crucial, woundn’t anyone showing up on a 10-year old road frame also risk being dropped.

I wasn’t there to hear it myself. The hearsay I got was just the usual CX frames are too heavy; not aero; just plain not suited for pure road riding.

To be fair when I first did a group ride with the free cobbled together Fuji Professional commuter special with mtb pedals I was pretty amazed to see myself smashing it up at the front at the town line sprint to the rest stop in the A group. Bike felt like a noodle out of the saddle compared to my primary road bike but obviously that doesn’t mean the watts don’t reach the rear tire. Was very weird, sort of like the first time you focus on cadence with a power meter where it seems like spinning makes you slower.

If anyone complains about aero on a road frameset for group riding or non professional racing. They’re silly. Lost a Merckx TT to a guy on a Super Six, crank bros Egg beaters, and 35mm wheels, kid did like a 57-58 minute 40k tt with that set up. One of the fastest Cat 5-Cat 2 move ups I’ve ever seen in my racing career.


I’d wager modern CX versus road frame/fork weights at the same price points can’t be much more than 1 lb apart. Like aero framesets still aren’t exactly lightweights at most price points. Wheels/tires and rider aero will massively outweigh that pound or two if the ride allows going lined out free for all and dropping people.

The regular group ride with decent leaders shouldn’t have anything going on that would make someone with the fitness level to ride it lose contact or struggle because of their bike. Riding CX mud tires, yeah, but your friend is going to have road-specific wheels/tires.