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Twelve of the best cyclo-cross bikes

Thinking of swapping for your road bike for mud and knobbly tyres this winter? Then look no further...

For many, the coming of winter heralds an end to the road season and a switch to the knobbly tyres, mud, sand, frites and beer of the cyclo-cross scene.

Hard, fast, technical ‘cross racing can help roadies maintain focus and fitness through the off-season, and also improve your bike handling skills too. Plus it’s fun.

A beginner’s guide to cyclo-cross: taking the plunge

And while many ‘cross leagues will allow CX newbies to turn up and race on a mountain bike, a dedicated ‘cross machine will help you get faster and enhance your enjoyment.

There’s a plethora of options out there on the market too, and if you need help buying you can check out our buyer’s guide here. Otherwise, let’s take a close look at a dozen of the best ‘cross bikes on the market for 2017/18…

Canyon Inflite CF SLX 9.0 Pro Race

Canyon launched the Inflite in August – their first carbon-fibre ‘cross race frame, which tips the scales at just 940g. Or rather, they launched the Inflite CF SLX in August – the Inflite having been a staple of their range since 2013.

Previously, however, the bike was the German direct-to-consumer brand’s versatile option, operating somewhere between cyclo-cross machine and all-weather road bike. The latest iteration is Canyon’s no-holds-barred ‘cross race bike.

Alongside the impressively low weight, the frame features a striking kinked toptube, designed to make it easier to shoulder when racing. It also allows for increased seatpost deflection.

There are three builds available, and the Canyon Inflite CF SLX 9.0 Pro Race sits top of the tree with a SRAM Force CX1 drivetrain and Quarq Prime Carbon crankset.

Website: Canyon
Price: £3,599

Pinnacle Arkose LTD

Though listed as a cyclo-cross bike, the Pinnacle Arkose is far more than that, as eluded to by its additional moniker of ‘adventure road’.

The LTD edition pictured here is the flagship model in the range – designed to celebrate the brand’s tenth anniversary – and its dripping in innovative features and one-off specs.

In this instance, that includes Tektro Hylex hydraulic brakes and Shimano’s XT Di2 1×11 MTB gearing, while it is supplied with WTB Riddler 45c tyres.

You will want to swap those out for something a little thinner if you’re looking to take it to a ‘cross race, but it only serves to highlight the enormous clearance. Versatility is the key here – this is a do-all bike in every sense of the word.

Website: Evans Cycles
Price: £1,750

Vitus Energie Pro

Vitus have served up some bold claims when it comes to the Energie Pro – their flagship pro-level ‘cross bike.

But away from marketing bluster that tells us the bike ‘redefines performance and raises the stakes’, what you have is a relatively lightweight (8.38kg off-the-peg in size 54cm), sleek and stylish ‘cross racing machine.

A hi-mod T700 carbon fibre frame and fork is at the bike’s heart, while it is dressed with SRAM’s Rival 1 Hydro groupset, combining a wide-ratio casette with a single-ring X-SYNC 40t chainring.

Tubeless-ready WTB Frequency CX Team/Novatec hoops and Vitus finishing kit complete the bike, which at £1,649.99 represents real value-for-money when it comes to a carbon-fibre ‘cross racing machine.

Website: Vitus Bikes
Price: £1,649.99

Ridley X Night SL Disc Ultegra

Belgian experts Ridley know their stuff when it comes to cyclo-cross racing bikes, which is little surprise when you consider the bikes are born in the cyclo-cross heartland.

A long-standing stalwart of their ‘cross range, the X Night SL (and second-tier X Night) frame has gone on a diet for 2018 with an upgraded carbon lay-up, gaining more tyre clearance in the process too.

With a claimed frame weight of 850g, the X Night is one of the lightest production ‘cross frames around, while 2018 also sees it equipped with a rear thru axle and flat-mount disc brakes up front for the first time.

The bike pictured here is the £4,399.99 Ultegra Di2-equipped version, but it is also available with mechanical Ultegra (c.£3,200) or SRAM Force 1 (£4,499.99).

Website: Ridley Bikes
Price: £4,399.99

Merida Cyclo Cross 6000

Merida’s flagship cyclo-cross bike, the Cyclo Cross 6000, is packed with tech, with Flex Stays to soak up vibrations from the course, and a carbon-fibre blend bonded with epoxy resin and added nano particles for added impact resistance.

And it’s not just below the surface where the Cyclo Cross 6000 impresses either, with its striking looks matched to a SRAM Apex 1 1×11 groupset and Maxxis 33c tyres.

Merida’s own-brand components complete the bike, which also boasts a full carbon tapered fork.

Website: Merida Bikes
Price: £2,500

Specialized CruX Expert X1

Specialized call the CruX Expert X1 ‘everything you need and nothing that you don’t’ – in other words, pro-level performance without pro-level price.

Lively handling, lightweight-but-stiff FACT 11r carbon lay-up and hydraulic discs with thru-axles front and rear all add to the get-up, while Specialized have lent tech from the ever-popular Tarmac road bikes when it comes to the geometry and lay-up.

At 900g for a 56cm frameset, the CruX is also seriously light – shedding almost 50 per cent of the weight of its predecessor.

A full SRAM Force 1 groupset, Roval wheels and Spesh’s own-brand finishing kit complete the bike, which delivers everything you’d expect to accompany a £3,900 price tag.

Website: Specialized
Price: £3,900

Trek Boone 7 Disc

Katie Compton and Sven Nys were both consulted on the design of Trek’s Boone ‘cross bike, and the Boone 7 Disc will be the same one used by Britain’s rising star Tom Pidcock and his Telenet-Fidea Lions team-mates this winter.

The stand out features are a lightweight carbon frame with IsoSpeed integrated into the front and rear. IsoSpeed, you might remember, is the vibration-dampening tech which first appeared on Trek’s cobble-busting Domane.

Bontrager finishing kit keeps things on-brand, while the groupset is SRAM’s 1×11 Force CX 1.

Flat-mount hydraulic disc brakes, and added ‘cross-specific features such as CrossLock removable water bottle cages and tube shapes built to make shouldering the bike easier make this every bit the premium pro-level ‘cross machine it is billed to be.

Website: Trek Bikes
Price: £3,900

Giant TCX Advanced Pro 2

The Giant TCX Advanced Pro first came to attention as Lars van der Haar raced it to victory at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup, and this is the second iteration of their race-proven machine.

Lightweight Advanced-grade carbon fibre is at the heart of the frame, which boasts a racey geometry and asymmetrical chainstays – designed for optimal power transfer.

Other clever features include the D-Fuse composite seatpost for added compliance and Giant’s OverDrive 2 steerer tube system.

Otherwise it’s a SRAM Rival 1 groupset, flat-mount discs and thru-axles, finished with Giant’s own-brand finishing kit and Schwalbe X-One rubber.

Website: Giant Bicycles
Price: £2,299

Kinesis CX Race Evo

Kinesis have been busy expanding their presence on the British ‘cross scene, boosted by their sponsorships of the London and Yorkshire ‘cross leagues.

And they have been busy behind-the-scenes too, expanding their cyclo-cross range with the new entry-level CX1, which was launched at The Cycle Show.

The CX Race Evo remains the top dog, however, and has been updated to fit that billing, with a re-engineered get-up to make it thru-axle and disc-brake only.

The Scandium design remains, but with a new performance-focussed update. Available as a frameset only, you can therefore spec it to your exact wants.

Website: Kinesis Bikes
Price: £549.99 (frameset only)

Cannondale SuperX Di2

Cannondale’s SuperX is their flagship ‘cross machine, with loads of mud clearance and a carbon frame built squarely with racing in mind.

Shortened chainstays and a slackened headtube angle meets a comfort-focused rear triangle to keep things plush but responsive.

The frame features a removable front derailleur mount, to keep things svelte is you opt for a 1x drivetrain – which all four off-the-peg models come equipped with.

The range starts with the SRAM Apex 1-equipped version (£2,499.99), and there are two dressed with SRAM Force 1 (£2,999.99 to £3,249.99). This, however, is the Shimano XT Di2/105 mix – a race-ready combination that tops the tree with a £4,299.99 price tag.

Website: Cannondale
Price: £4,299.99

Cube Cross Race C:62

The Cube Cross Race C:62 SLT is a head-turner, with a spec and performance to match its striking looks.

Crafted from Cube’s twin-moulded C:62 carbon-fibre lay-up, the carbon frame and fork are paired with a full Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset, hydraulic disc brakes and Newmen components.

Schwalbe X-One tyres and a Cube Race SL Carbon 145 saddle completes the spec, with the claimed weight a hugely impressive 7.6kg. Now that’s light.

Website: Cube
Price: £3,799

Boardman CXR 9.4

The CXR 9.4 has been Boardman’s ‘cross bike since first dipping their toes into the market in 2014, though it has undergone a few tweaks since then.

The latest iteration has a new paintjob, but retains at its heart a super-light and super-stiff carbon frame and fork, crafted from C10 carbon.

SRAM’s Force CX1 groupset dresses the CXR 9.4, while Boardman have added their own disc-specific wheelset, the Boardman CXR Elite Five Disc, designed exclusively for ‘cross racing.

The 9.4 is the top-spec full bike in the CXR range, but you can also bag the CXR 9.8 frameset for £999.99, or drop down a level to the CXR 9.2 Winter Road Upgrade for less than £2,000.

Website: Boardman Bikes
Price: £2,299.99

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