These are the best cyclocross bikes that you can buy in 2020, as rated by our expert testers.
Cyclocross has been around since the turn of the last century, and is a now a very well-established sport. But in bike terms, it has never stopped evolving, particularly over the last few years with the explosion of ever more advanced carbon fibre construction, the growth in popularity of disc brakes and a shift towards tubeless tyres.
For some time, lower-priced cyclocross bikes have been looked upon as not only racing machines, but also as general workhorses, with rack and mudguard mounts common, often more road-oriented gearing, and occasionally compromised design.
They’ve got to be light enough to carry, stable enough to ride and sturdy enough to take plenty of abuse. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
Best cyclocross bikes
Cannondale SuperX Apex: £2,500
Giant TCX Advanced Pro2: £2,299 / $2,995 / AU$3,499
Specialized CruX Expert: £4,250 / $4,700
Vitus Energie EVO CRS: £3,499 / $4,299.99 / €3,999.99 / AU$5,999.99
Boardman CXR 9.2: £2,399
Merida Mission CX 8000: £3,600 / AU$5,000
Ribble CX SL Pro: £3,249 / $3,462 / $5,800
Ribble CX5: £2,104 (as tested)
Trek Crockett 7: £2,500 / $2,929
The advent of specific adventure and gravel bikes has not only created more niches for manufacturers to fill, but the specialisation it has brought has given cyclocross bikes their purity of purpose back.
Of course, you could easily convert them for training, commuting or gravel use with suitable tyres.
Cannondale SuperX Apex
The Super X Apex remains one of the most successful CX bikes on sale. Cycling Plus
- An ideal first race bike
- Top kit
- Sorted frame
Even though this model was released several years ago, it’s still one of the most successful CX bikes available, thanks to its choice specification that’s perfectly equipped to handle modern cyclocross racing.
The bike retains all of the functionality of the more expensive options but uses less expensive and heavier materials, such as SRAM’s slightly cheaper Apex 1 and Cannondale’s proprietary Si aluminium crankset, which is mated to a 40t X-Sync-toothed chainring.
Top kit and a high-performing frame make for an excellent bike. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
The relaxed geometry (71-degree head angle) inspires confidence on rough terrain or long, fast descents.
Overall, the bike’s fantastic frameset and fairly reasonable price open the door to top-level performance and the bike is a great starting point for upgrades.
Giant TCX Advanced Pro2
Giant’s TCX is another awesome performer. Cycling Plus
- £2,299 / $2,995 / AU$3,499
- Comfortable and fast
- Out of the box racer
- Sorted equipment
Having been around for quite a few years, the TCX offers race-level technology at more affordable prices due to the trickle down effect.
The TCX has a purposeful looking fork and frame, and is equipped with go-to CX kit, such as SRAM’s Rival 1 gears, Apex 1 brakes and a mix of Giant’s own-brand components.
The TCX is ready to hit sandpits. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
The frame’s profile gives the bike flexy and stiff characteristics where they’re needed most. The top tube’s thin profile and triangular seatstays help with comfort, flexing on rough terrain.
Overall, the bike’s got great poise and it’s easy to attune yourself to how it performs. It’s a bike you’ll just want to ride further — a true top performer.
Specialized CruX Expert
The CruX is a good looker! Robert Smith Photography / Immediate Media
- £4,250 / $4,700 / AU$N/A
- Especially lightweight
- Room for 40mm tyres
- Superb specification
Using the same FACT 11r carbon frame and FACT 11r carbon fork as the other carbon models in the range, Specialized is claiming that its 56cm CX frame weighs only 900g. This is an impressive figure and is 400g lighter than the outgoing model.
It’s fitted with a SRAM Force 1 drivetrain that is mated to carbon Praxis Zayante cranks. The wheels are also carbon, Roval’s C 38 rims are laced to DT Swiss 350 hubs and, with this level of component specification, the full weight of the bike is 7.72kg.
The bike’s geometry treads the fine line between stability and agility and small changes in riding position don’t cause massive, pivoting alterations in trajectory. Tyre clearance is spot on and you can even fit a 40mm tyre in there, should you wish.
Vitus Energie EVO CRS
Vitus’s all-new 2021 Energie EVO CRS Force eTap. Jack Luke / Immediate Media
- £3,499 / $4,299.99 / €3,999.99 / AU$5,999.99
- Superb value for money
- Excellent ‘cross-friendly build
Vitus has redesigned its Energie EVO cyclocross bike for 2021 and this top-end Force eTap build is a very capable bike that boasts a value-packed build and a versatile frameset that can be turned to nearly all disciplines.
The spec is spot-on for cyclocross racing, but, with large clearances, the bike will also make a perfect gravel bike. Add in mudguard mounts and Vitus is onto a winner.
Boardman CXR 9.2
Stealthy in grey, the Boardman scored well. Cycling Plus
- £2,399 / $N/A / AU$N/A
- Reasonably priced
- Capable out of the box
- SRAM Force drivetrain and disc brakes
The redesigned CXR frameset gives the bike more tyre clearance and improved handling. The CXR range of bikes all share the same C10 carbon frame and construction.
The bike comes with a 1x SRAM Force 1 drivetrain and 160mm disc brakes, but the frame is compatible with 2x systems if you’re that way inclined.
The Boardman’s a solid bet whether you’re jumping barriers or running up steps. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
The 11-36t cassette is paired with a 40-tooth chainring, and we reckon this setup is perfectly adequate to conquer anything a CX course can throw at you.
Weighing a total of 8.23kg, the CXR 9.2 is as fast and as willing as any competent CX rider. It’s a well-equipped, light and manoeuvrable race bike that won’t break the bank.
Merida Mission CX 8000
The Nano Matrix carbon frameset and carbon seatpost give the 8000 CX a composed ride over rutted grassland. Robert Smith
- £3,600 / $N/A / AU$5,000
- Superb ride quality
- Serious race-ready performance
- Bonus versatility
The Mission CX 8000 from Merida doesn’t offer the best value for money on this list, but it is a serious racer that offers an excellent ride quality with precise handling and superb stability and control.
A competitive 7.76kg weight figure, generous tyre clearances and a quality alloy wheelset from DT add to the Mission’s appeal.
The gear ratios from its SRAM Force 1 group are spot-on for serious ’cross racing, but with mudguards fitted and minor tweaks, the Mission 8000 CX could be handy for so much more than time between the tape.
Ribble CX SL Pro
The CX SL Pro is a ready-to-race ’cross package. Robert Smith
- £3,249 / $3,462 / $5,800
- Proper race-ready build
- Good tyre clearance
- Nice clean lines
The Ribble CX SL is available in three distinct builds: Sport, Enthusiast and Pro. Every model shares the same £1,200 frameset, with each build tailored to suit different price points.
We tested the top-end Pro build that is designed specifically for life between the course marker tapes. That includes tubular tyres, which give up on convenience, but are a must-have for traditionalist ‘cross racers.
The CX5 frame looks conventional, with a near horizontal top tube. Robert Smith
- £2,104 (as tested) international pricing TBC
- Decent for road use
- Great value
- Customisable spec
The Ribble CX5 is a capable and great value ‘cross bike with bonus versatility for the road thanks to mudguard mounts.
The build we tested included SRAM’s Force 1 groupset, Mavic Aksium Disc wheels and Deda finishing kit, although you can configure a build to suit your needs and budget. Our large CX5 test bike came in at a respectable 8.39kg.
If we’re being fussy, then the 42-ring and 11-32 cassette of our test bike was a little high for most ’cross riders, but fine for road use.
Trek Crockett 7
The Crockett is an almost all-aluminium build. Cycling Plus
- £2,500 / $2,929 / AU$N/A
- Excellent specification
- Great aluminium frame
- Impressively low weight
The all-aluminium Crockett frame is mated to an IsoSpeed carbon fork, which is one of Trek’s more proven designs and adds just enough flex and stability to the bike’s ride.
The bike is equipped with SRAM’s Force 1 groupset, although Trek has replaced the cranks with a set of Praxis Albas and a narrow wide direct-mount 40-tooth chainring. The rest of the bike’s kit is taken care of by Trek’s in-house component brand, Bontrager.
Trek’s Crockett will make you re-think whether carbon bikes are necessary. Russell Burton / Immediate Media
The Crockett feels like a taut race bike, but the 72-degree head angle and 73.6-degree seat angles help it feel comfortable almost anywhere.
The low 8.6kg weight is impressive for an almost all-alloy bike and the Crockett will make you think about the relative benefits of more exotic frame materials.