Every fall, mountain bikers and roadies alike hang up their bikes and race cyclocross. The beauty of this hybrid sport — you race timed laps like a criterium, but on a wide, grass or dirt path — is that anyone can jump in and try their hand, says six-time national cyclocross champion, Tim Johnson. “It’s challenging and fun. I know lots of folks that have been exposed to it by friends and are still doing it years later.”
To join them you’ll need a cyclocross bike, which we recommend over attempting to convert a road or mountain bike. “A true cyclocross bike will allow you to go faster, turn better, and will most likely be lighter than anything else you’ve ridden off-road,” Johnson says. “Look for a bike that fits well and looks good enough that you’ll want to wash it after muddy rides.” Here’s our guide to finding the perfect bike, from entry-level options to the super-high-end. No matter who you are or what you hope to accomplish, there’s a bike for you.