26 Aug 2013

Cyclocross is so hot right now, the latest darling of the industry, with races on seemingly every other weekend at the moment. It’s a cool sport, a bloody tough one, and it’s capturing a lot of interest here in Australia. We’re fans of CX, but this video recently released to promote Giant’s new range of CX bikes just left me a little irked. Why?

Cyclocross was a sport that sprung out of the muddy, cold, shitty autumn and winter of northern Europe, when the road racing season was at an ebb. The classic image of a pack of mud-covered mad Belgians, slogging it up a shredded grass slope with their bike slung over a shoulder is pretty damn cool.

What’s being shown here is not cyclocross. It’s mountain biking. But on a bike that’s ill-suited to the task.

Adam Craig is a phenomenal rider, an absolute demon. But watching him here just feels awkward. On a mountain bike, Adam can tear a trail to pieces, on cyclocross bike, he can bunny hop a log. Twice. From two different angles. In mega slow-motion.

If Adam did this on his mountain bike, do you think we’d look at it twice?

Mountain biking is already becoming increasingly easy. Racetracks are tamer than ever, people bash b-lines around every obstacle they see. And now all of a sudden we’re being encouraged to take to the mountain bike trails on a bike that makes even the most basic of skills something worthy of a super-slow-mo double take? Hmmm….

I know there are folk out there who will call me a hater, so I reiterate my belief that you can ride what you like, where you like, by all means. If you want to take a cyclocross bike onto the mountain bike trails, go right ahead. There are no rules about what you can and can’t ride on the dirt.

But in a sport that already has 700 sub-disciplines and prize categories form master single-speeders to sub-junior unicyclists (seriously, have you stuck around for the presentations at a marathon race recently?) do we need to drop cyclocross into the mountain bike melting pot as well?

Can’t mountain biking just be mountain biking?