CX Bike Set Up - Changes from Road Set Up

Is there a rule of thumb or general guide to setting up a CX bike compared to your road position? Currently mine are set up identical, however that is because my CX bike was last used for gravel which I find I like essentially the same fit as I do no the road. I took it out for some CX fun and felt like perhaps shortening the stem up a bit might give me a little more control. Of course it’s a little hard to tell since I had the wrong tires and way too much air pressure in them so handling was horrendous.

Anyway, just curious how folks set up their CX bike compared to their road bike.

Higher bars (relative to seat height) helps with the steeper ups and downs. A bit like an MTB setup but obviously not the same extreme.

I sometimes run shorter stem or bar reach are my preference, to give a bit more ability to get off the back and not feel as stretched out.

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Yeah, I definitely run a shorter stem, seems to ride much better.

You are right, demoing with the wrong tires/pressure can really skew your opinion. I agree with higher bars. Easiest way to test that is to just rotate the bars up in the stem a bit, I always do that rather than adding more spacers. I’ve got mine set so if I hold the hoods, my wrists/forearms are sitting on the bars parallel to the ground. Good powerful (possibly aero) position.

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Agreed. Higher bars, shorter reach, rotated up hoods. Optimized the hoods riding position as the primary. Aero is way less important and you will be using lots of core and back that will tire you out compared to the road and your form will go to shit if you’re trying to hold a low position and your core fails. Cross-back is a thing that almost everyone eventually will succumb to during a season so try to limit that through fit and lots of core work leading up to and during the offseason with lots of focus on recovery and stretching/rolling.

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I have saddle a bit lower, bars a bit higher and rotated up a little. Reach to the hoods is a touch shorter

Id love to have the saddle even a little lower for those steep drops, but makes the pedalling a bit painful in the quads

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Saddle a bit lower is fine. I find myself hovering over the saddle a lot anyways to absorb bumpy terrain

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I run shorter reach (stem or handlebar reach) for low speed cornering, slightly flared handlebar so that the width in the drops is wider (for unruly descents) than I have on my road bike. Hoods tipped up a bit on my previous Ultegra 6800, but the newer R8020 hoods have a good hook for your palm so not needing that so much anymore.

I have a dropper post so no need to raise the bars or lower the seat in the pedaling position.

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You use that dropper a lot during races?

I use it for a series of slow speed corners or a sketchy downhill - not a whole lot in CX races to be honest. It is however great for riding trails, which I also love to do on this bike.

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