One of the “fringes” of 29″ers is the “monstercross” bike. Besides its fun, cartoonish moniker, what is behind the name? What does the bike you see in your mind look like when you think “monstercross”? I’m going to delve into this vague, oft discussed, and debated term for a bicycle.

What We Can Agree On: There are so many variables when it comes to this idea of “monstercross” that it is easier to enumerate the things we can identify as commonly held beliefs on the genre. Here are the few points of agreement.

1: It is generally accepted that “monstercross” is based upon 700c wheels.
2: It is generally accepted that “monstercross” is fully rigid- no suspension.
3: It is generally accepted that “monstercross” utilizes drop bars.
4: It is generally accepted that “monstercross” means larger tires will clear the frame. (40mm- ??)

Beyond this there is a lot of debate as to what is meant by the term, “monstercross” Let’s take a look at the main variants.

Surly Travelers Check

The Traditionalists Monstercross Bike: Some hold to a more traditional take on a cyclo-cross bike for their version of monstercross. The example above, the Surly Travelers Check, is based off the popular Cross Check model, arguably one of the defining rigs of monstercross. Able to “Fit Fatties Fine”, (my convenient rearranging of the words here),this rig was tailor made for slamming oversized rubber in and hitting the dirt. Sure, there are a lot of other examples I could cite, but they all have the traditional horizontal top tube, cantlever brakes, and more traditional drop bar set ups. Generally speaking, these rigs are limited to 2 inch and narrower tires.

Salsa La Cruz

Modified Cyclo Crossers: Falling out of the traditional realm, things start to get weird fast. The addition of more mountain bike related parts starts in with bikes like the Salsa La Cruz, shown above. Disc brakes and room for larger-than-ordinary cyclo cross rubber is where the category starts, but it doesn’t stop there! Geometry can start to creep away from the ordinary cyclo cross fare, and forks start to look more “mountain bike-ish”. Still we are generally dealing with a traditional looking frame for the most part. Room for anything bigger than a two inch tire is still pretty rare.

Badger drop bar 29

Everything Else!: About a year ago I did a post entitled “Who Does Monstercross?” where a comment was left by “Mike” that stated the following: “When I think monstercross, I think of a bike with clearance for 700×45C tires, drop bars, and cyclocross geometry. Change one of the first two items and it becomes something else. Change the tires to 2.1 and it’s just a mountain bike with drop bars. Change the bars to flat and it’s a hybrid.” Well, this next grouping of “monstercross” rigs defies that notion with fatter tires, mountain bike geometry, and yes, sometimes flat bars, or “alt bars”. Do these bikes belong in the monstercross genre? Some will argue that they should, but there is no doubt that in the continuum from true cyclo cross rigs to the custom Badger bike above, there is alot of variances.

Black Mountain Cycles monster cross

Whatever your definition of “monstercross” is, there is no denying that it has sparked the imaginations of a lot of people. Adventuring, back country exploring on rustic paths, and bombing along fire roads are all possibilities with this versatile category of bike. Plus, it can be a commuter, a touring rig, or just plain ol’ fun on a bike.

And that’s what it really is all about, regardless of how you categorize it!