Why are cyclocross bikes so much more expensive than similar hybrids?

by dafyddp   March 18, 2014  

I've been looking at jumping on the cyclocross bandwagon recently, and spent sometime trawling the usual sites comparing specs and costs. It strikes me that fundamentally, there's very little difference in the spec between, say, a £500 hybrid and a £800+ cyclocross. The main differences seem to be the straight vs drop handlebars and the choice of brakes/gear lever that this requires. With so many mainstream companies now producing cyclocross-type bikes, I'm struggling to believe the difference is purely down to the economy of scale...

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Your first sentence should have explained it all.

"cyclocross bandwagon"

BOOM, there is your answer, while it is popular, people are going to cash in.

Just like when carbon first came out, now the prices have come down.

It is also because cyclocross bikes are perfect for winter bikes and commuter, this keeps the value up

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posted by Gkam84 [8699 posts]
18th March 2014 - 17:30

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I would hazard a guess more design work and testing, probably a better material, lighter weight, and probably nicer wheels.

all potentially little details that can all add up

Racer 074 for the 2014 Transcontinental Race; 2,000 miles from London to Istanbul.

http://themartincox.co.uk/2014/03/racer-074-transcontinental-race-2014/

posted by themartincox [322 posts]
18th March 2014 - 17:30

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Keith Bontrager made his famous aphorism about mountain bikes:

"Strong. Light. Cheap. Pick Two."

I think in Cyclo Cross it's that with stilts on since you have to carry the damn bike up anything you can't ride up and it takes some abuse.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [505 posts]
18th March 2014 - 18:09

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@Gkam84 - hmm, see below...

@themartincox - that's what I though originally, but compare these two offerings from Boardman:
Hybrid - http://bit.ly/1j1q9WZ
Cyclocross - http://bit.ly/1l0JsUR

There's a 0.8kg weight difference
The CX has carbon forks vs alu on the hybrid
The gearing is a bit different, but follows a similar combo (SRAM/Microshift)
Same disc brakes
Same hubs, different rims
etc

The CX might have an edge, but not convinced it's £400 worth...

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posted by dafyddp [143 posts]
18th March 2014 - 18:16

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While a CX bike shares the versatility of a hybrid, it is not a hybrid. It's more of a subset of a road bike, just with a few special versatility-adding dimensions. The biggest difference in price between hybrid and 'cross bike is coming from the latter's road bike drivetrain. The CX bike posted above has integrated SRAM Apex shifters, which are on a different, more expensive level on than the thumb shifters on a hybrid.

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posted by Dux89 [82 posts]
18th March 2014 - 18:35

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I was going to point for the shifters for a start. Maybe better to compare bikes of the same price and see what you get.

posted by mattsccm [245 posts]
18th March 2014 - 20:40

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CX bike = cool.

Hybrid, well, erm, not cool.

Nerd

posted by Super Domestique [1592 posts]
18th March 2014 - 21:13

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drfabulous0 wrote:
Super Domestique wrote:
CX bike = cool.

Hybrid, well, erm, not cool.

Nerd

A hybrid can be cool if you stick fat tyres on it and call it a 29er.

ssshhhh I've got a 29er Cool

posted by Super Domestique [1592 posts]
18th March 2014 - 21:38

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Super Domestique wrote:
CX bike = cool.

Hybrid, well, erm, not cool.

Nerd

A hybrid can be cool if you stick fat tyres on it and call it a 29er.

posted by drfabulous0 [274 posts]
18th March 2014 - 21:39

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How did I answer that before you asked! Thinking Silly

posted by Super Domestique [1592 posts]
18th March 2014 - 21:42

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The main reason should be that cross bikes are race bikes, and the frames should be engineered for that. Where as hybrids are leisure bikes, so don't necessarily need as hardy.

posted by mrkeith119 [85 posts]
18th March 2014 - 21:49

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SD if you were ever to race me then that would become obvious, my idea of resistance training is smoking and to me a training ride is one where I am too drunk to ride home and have to get the train, even my posts have now become so slow that I have been lapped.

Anyway your 29er is cool.

posted by drfabulous0 [274 posts]
18th March 2014 - 22:31

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drfabulous0 wrote:
SD if you were ever to race me then that would become obvious, my idea of resistance training is smoking and to me a training ride is one where I am too drunk to ride home and have to get the train, even my posts have now become so slow that I have been lapped.

Anyway your 29er is cool.

Rolling On The Floor great reply sir

posted by Super Domestique [1592 posts]
18th March 2014 - 22:40

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mrkeith119 wrote:
The main reason should be that cross bikes are race bikes, and the frames should be engineered for that. Where as hybrids are leisure bikes, so don't necessarily need as hardy.

Well, you say that, but increasingly we're seeing CX with bottle and dare I say it, rack bosses (not to mention mudguard compatibility), and with gear ratios much more suitable for commuting or even touring. These bikes have the street cred of a proper cx, but clearly designed for jogging around town and maybe diverting off road once in a while. In other words, aiming squarely at the hybrid market!

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posted by dafyddp [143 posts]
19th March 2014 - 0:38

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Price is partly a function of what the market will pay.

Hybrid bikes are more utilitarian, and people will only pay so much for "a bike to go to work on".

CX bikes have more of an emotional aspect to the purchase, so people will pay more.

Just a theory.

posted by BikeBud [98 posts]
19th March 2014 - 12:57

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It would be better to compare the CX Comp (£699) with Hybird Comp (£499) or the CX Team (£899) with the Hybrid Team (£749).
The is still a difference in price but it is less.
The first thing I noticed was the Hybrid Comp has a Sram X5 groupset and the CX Team has Sram Apex. So although the same brand, they aren't the same teir and therefore not the same price.

Secondly I wouldn't say the CX bikes are aimed directly at the hybrid market. They have increasingly become more versitile 'do it all bikes' and as such tend to be better spec'd and better built than straight out hybrid bikes. The increasing occurance of rack and mudguard eyelets as well as bottle bosses means that these bikes are being used as winter trainers as well as for the uses you mentioned above.

posted by Dapper Giles [46 posts]
19th March 2014 - 13:05

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Take into account the size of the market too.
CX bikes, likely to be bought by people already into cycling seriously as second/third/N+1 bike
Hybrids, likely to be bought by the general population as a sole bike.

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posted by glynr36 [285 posts]
19th March 2014 - 17:46

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If you draw a proper comparison between cx and hybrid bikes with similar spec from the same manufacturer, you'll almost always find that the brake/shift levers on the cx account for the difference in price. Separate thumb shifters cost buttons in comparison.

I have a Boardman Hybrid for commuting, with the plan being to replace it with the new CX Team so that I have a better position for fighting into the wind. I considered converting the hybrid, but the cost of new bars, brifters and cable disc brakes came to more than half what a whole new bike would cost me through cycle 2 work scheme.

I may be in the minority but my hybrid was very definitely n+1 and bought specifically for commuting.

My eyes prefer Celeste, my bum prefers titanium.

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posted by Jack Osbourne snr [304 posts]
20th March 2014 - 9:48

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Jack Osbourne snr wrote:
If you draw a proper comparison between cx and hybrid bikes with similar spec from the same manufacturer, you'll almost always find that the brake/shift levers on the cx account for the difference in price. Separate thumb shifters cost buttons in comparison.

That doesn't account for very much, the cost difference between Tourney road and hybrid groups at bulk OE level is around $3 for the whole gruppo. I think the diffrence is partly in costs, due to smaller production runs as much as component choice, and partly fashion and marketing.

posted by drfabulous0 [274 posts]
20th March 2014 - 11:02

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I only have retail prices to go on where there is a shitload of a difference between brifters and separate brake/ shift levers. I was also thinking much further up the ranges than the equivalent of tourney.

I'm not totally disagreeing with you though...

My eyes prefer Celeste, my bum prefers titanium.

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posted by Jack Osbourne snr [304 posts]
20th March 2014 - 11:44

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Tiagra STI road lever pair: list £175

Tiagra flat-bar set (shifters + levers): list £105

There's £70 for ya right there.

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [438 posts]
20th March 2014 - 12:37

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I've got a 2000 Cannondale Hybrid (upgraded with carbon forks, disc brakes) which I use for commuting/utility but started 'lusting' for a CX bike. I run Cyclemeter on my 17.5 mile trip back from work (once/twice a week - take the bike on the train, although sometimes bike both ways in the summer) which involves mostly tarmac cycle paths and very little traffic hold ups. The hybrid (130 logged rides) average (1hr 10m) is only 10 min slower than my steel Genesis road bike (40 logged rides) so I told myself to stop thinking that the CX bike would change my life, especially if it had mudguards, rack and D lock. Seeing the hydrid spends most of its life locked up in town or squeezed into a train's bike compartment, it seems like the most practical solution.

Shades

posted by Shades [182 posts]
20th March 2014 - 13:00

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I have Jamis Nova Pro cyclocross bike with Ultegra Di2. Great gearing, glides over London potholes and bumps, can deal with pavement hops to get around jams, is fast enough to get up the hills with minimal hassle, disc brakes to stop in the wet or to avoid left-turning WVM. Great commuting bike, great winter bike, and huge fun at weekends on the South Downs in the mud.

I love it and feel it's worth the cash.

Extra bike? What extra bike dear?

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posted by goggy [87 posts]
20th March 2014 - 23:03

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