The season is upon us, where we transition from sandals and sandy beaches, to cyclocross mud, snow and depraved fun in the colder winter months. With days running short on time, getting your bike workout in ends up changing a bit. Short intensity is the name of the game! To start things off, we will show the best cyclocross bikes under 2000, like our top pick the Colnago World Cup.
When we talk about Cyclocross (CX), we normally refer to a special type of road bike. This type of road bike now sports disc brakes, and fairly wide tires as opposed to cantilever brakes and skinnier tires from decades ago. Cyclocross bikes are fun to ride, and can go nearly anywhere, and helped spawn gravel riding. In comparison, a gravel bike is a less aggressive cyclocross bike. But, the two can easily be interchanged.
My first pick for a tried and true brand is a surprise value in Colnago. Colnago is a traditional Italian bike, and a mainstay of riders throughout the world. Bikes like these have won every single major CX in the world. The Colnago World Cup is incredible value at $1200!
Top Pick: Colnago World Cup
The Colnago World Cup is an ample bike to race on, or just have fun. It is equipped right for just about any use. At a $1200 price point, it is hard to go wrong picking this bike, and was a no-brainer inclusion in our best cyclocross bikes under $2000 list.
The World Cup features a full Shimano 105 groupset with mechanical disc brakes. The mid compact drivetrain gives a wide range of gears as well. This bike is a very flexible CX setup, and runs two chainrings in front. This allows for use of the bike on the road, in the mountains and all over since the gear ratios wont let you down.
The Avid BB-7 brakes are super easy to adjust. The braking is reasonable with them, but you may want to experiment with rotors and brake pads to get a feel that you will grow to love. The frame and fork feature post mount, so adjustment and braking quality can be maintained easily.
The wheels are a great starter set by FSA who also supplies the crankset. The Kenda tires are excellent, but you may want to try others out. Tires are not a one size fits all proposition. Different geographic regions require different compounds and patterns, not to mention weather issues. Some tires are just plain better in mud.
When you look at the Colnago World Cup, it may not be a carbon uber bike, but at this price point, that is hard to do. However, this is the same frame design in a more affordable aluminum version. The design isnt an afterthought. The front end is very accessible for carrying, with an added tube to help fit onto your shoulder better. No other brand does this.
Best High End: Diamondback Haanjo Trail
As you will find in CX bikes, expensive doesnt necessarily make it better. A $6000 bike is not significantly better than a $2000 version. On a more expensive bike, you are paying for carbon wheels. So with a reasonable rationale, buy a economical bike, and then upgrade the wheels when you require it! That will save you a ton of money.
A great way to get there is to start with a Diamondback Haanjo Trail bike. This bike is the epitome of great bones, and the wheelset isnt too bad either.
Unless you intend to race on an elite level, the Shimano Ultegra drivetrain on the Haanjo is an excellent choice. Even if you are racing on a high level it would take some convincing to spend more money. When it gets muddy, and with inevitable crashes, derailleur and shifters get damaged. Sometimes they can be repaired, but why spend 3x the cost of an Ultegra for something that will get damaged anyway?
The Diamondback Haanjo also features hydraulic disc brakes. When you go hydraulic you wont want to use anything else. The braking power and modulation is unmatched.
The HED wheels on this bike are a great mid level wheelset. They are fairly light, and with some slight modification could go tubeless. The cool thing is that this is front and rear thru axle on this bike. That makes the bike stiffer, and more sure handling. The carbon fork also helps with shock and vibration absorption.
Most Affordable: Gravity Liberty CX
This category is open for debate, or qualification. What makes for affordable? Part of this determination is the end result of the bikes usage. If we are looking at competition, it changes the picture a bit. If we look at enthusiast level, we get a bit different of a choice.
One of the cheapest bikes that I saw in a CX style was the Gravity Liberty CX bike. While this bike could work for someone looking to get their feet wet on this type of riding, I would argue against the bike a bit. The sub $500 price is interesting though.
So this aluminum frame is an ok start. It has Shimano Sora, with dual control brake and shifters. Tektro cantilever brakes on it as well. There is good value at this price point.
Ok, here is where there is some issues. The rear end of the frame is made wrong. With cantilever brakes, the posts need to be a specific distance as a minimum apart. Otherwise they do not pull at the right angle and you get decreased braking power. The gear ratios are totally wrong for this bike type. It needs to have a 30 or 32 large cog on the gear cluster. The front chain rings should be smaller as well.
Great Alternative: Tommaso Siena
If you step up to the $500 level the Tommaso Siena is a great choice for those on a strict budget. The Siena comes in 5 sizes to fit most every rider. It is well equipped for the price level as well, that is why it is included on our list of best cyclocross bikes under $2000.
The Siena features an aluminum frame and a steel fork at this price point. Spend a bit more and you can upgrade the fork and gain comfort. The bike runs Avid BB5 disc brakes which are easy to adjust and maintain. As you have seen, it is easy to get upgrades on CX bikes that are meaningful. On this bike a few dollars makes a big difference, and the same goes to jump up from here.
It is amazing how just a few dollars more make for a better made and engineered bike. Unfortunately, there are a number of bikes on the market that need help. From bad crank arms that repeatedly fall off, to other poor quality parts. The Tommaso Siena doesn’t have these issues.
Old School Cross: Retrospec Bicycles AMOK-16
For some riders, there is a certain purity to riding cyclocross. New fangled brakes, or shifting systems ruin the simplicity of riding in a park on a fall day, carving around in the grass, running up hills in search of a great workout.
Without breaking the bank the Retrospec Bicycles AMOK-16 is a modern throwback to a traditional cross bike. This steel framed, cantilever braked bike is as traditional as they come.
Again, at this price point, it is difficult to have upgraded wheels, drivetrains and the like. The Amok goes for $450. But if you are one for upgrades, and want to pursue that vintage cross style, this is a great start point. Also, there are tons of parts to upgrade this bike with.
This bike is put together well. The frame is designed properly for cantilever brakes, so you will be able to skid a rear wheel when you need to without having a crack walnuts with your bare hands grip strength.
The drivetrain is ample, but could have a better rear cluster to have a wider ratio of gears. The wheels are nothing special. But the problem with that, is you would have to add a good $200 or more to significantly upgrade the rims to lighter and faster options. That kills the nice price on this bike.
Cyclocross, whether racing, or just looking for a winter workout is an excellent activity with much to gain. The cyclocross scene is full of great people, and most egos are checked at the door. Riding on muddy courses have a tendency to equal out skill levels.
The cool thing about cyclocross is that you don’t have to invest a ton of money in a whole new kit to go and have fun. A proper bike is usually the only consideration. Special clothes, helmets or whatever aren’t really needed. A good bike makes a huge difference.
A real surprise is the Colnago World Cup. Normally Colnago makes very expensive bikes, and few for the masses. This bike is the exception. What the Colnago will do for you is respond. When you need to shift at the last second, it will do that. Need solid braking? It will do that too. This is where a good bike helps you out. Cyclocross normally features short courses about a mile long, with short steep climbs and features that test your bike handling and grit. The Colnago is a great choice that wont hold you back.
Not everyone is like me with a dozen bikes of different sorts, and special uses hanging around at home. These days, it is easy to find some flexible use bikes, especially if you aim to ride gravel. An excellent choice is the Diamondback Haanjo or Haanjenn. While not a perfect CX bike, they can be depended upon, then used to ride the next gravel grinder.
Manufacturers are really responding to riders needs with great models. These are just a few of the best cyclocross bikes under $2000 that are available.