Who Does "Monstercross"?

A Twenty Nine Inches fan photo

Monstercross, that category of bike that isn’t quite a 29″er, and isn’t really legal for “true” cross racing in most sanctioned circles. The category of big wheeled bikes that blurs the lines between road and mountain bike. If you are not familiar with “monster cross” type bikes, here is a loose definition of the breed.

A typical monster cross build could perhaps best be described as a cyclo-cross bike on steroids. Usually a cyclo-cross frame with enough clearance to fit something between 45mm and 52mm of fat rubber will get you the “monster cross” tag. (Well, if you are actually using the fat rubber, that is.)

Twenty Nine Inches wants to know, “Who does ‘Monstercross’ out there?” and why. How do you use your “monster crosser”? Should it be included in 29″er coverage?

Use the comment section and let us know what you think.


No Responses to “Who Does "Monstercross"?”

  1. Bill Martin Says:

    I want to do Monster Cross! Do you have any specific tires as an example. Are you suggesting putting 69er tires on a cross bike. Sounds good to me. What about a “Fatty” cross bike. A snow bike with 4 inch tires on a custom cross frame. It could be used to cruise the Idita sport race up yonder.

  2. MMcG Says:

    I want to find a small Karate Monkey to do such a build – but funds prevent that. 😦

  3. Guitar Ted Says:

    Bill Martin: I don’t want to put any sort of qualification to the definition of the term, but in my mind “monstercross” denotes a bit of “roadie” influence in the bike. A mixed wheel size bike, or a snow bike veer too far off the genetic code for a monster crosser to me. Others may disagree, but that is how I see the genre.

  4. Matt Says:

    My mountain bikes were stolen the weekend after the 4th of July. This left me with only my trusty Rock Lobster cross bike. I put a WTB wirebead 38c Interwolf in the rear and a Panaracer FireCross XC 45c up front. It has been my all purpose, CX, XC and road bike. I have since replaced my mountain bikes, but still like to take it out. Its pretty fun to be flying down some bumpy double trak and call on your left to someone with 4 or 5 inches of travel front and rear 😉

  5. Cloxxki Says:

    My Surly Cross-Check is most often on 2″ Big Apple tires.
    My Surly Karate Monkey is on 2.35″ Big Apples. I wish I’d have a KM a size smaller (especially shorter), as for road style handlebars, that just works out better. Oh, and an uncut fork steerer would be nice.

    Is say: look for short top tubes MTB’s, and those with slack STA’s (netts short TT). Or stick to MTB and swept bars.

  6. Mike Says:

    I’ll be doing one. http://tinyurl.com/25dnjd

  7. Klong Says:

    I think monstercross qualifies – 700c wheels off road, it’s all good. However, I think a tire over 1.9 qualifies a bike as more of a drop-bar 29er. Of course with geometries and so-on coming into play, there will always be gray areas.

    I’ve got a late-eighties Peugeot UO14 (made in Canada) in my shed that I’m planning to use for a monstercross clay-road blaster. It was built for 27″ wheels and now sports 700c’s so I have lots of clearance to work with. Just planning to swap out the tires and add dirt drops by spring.

  8. Steve Says:

    mon*strous: having extraordinary often overwhelming size

    When I hear Monstercross, I think Monster Truck.

    Did the Monstercross name exist before Willits used it for their drop-bar 29er? That’s the bike that I associate with the name, and it made sense to me that the Monster term went with something so oversized.

    All bikes are cool, but I want my monsters to be truly monstrous.

  9. Choke Says:

    I was running 42c Conti Twisters on my Major Jake and it was pretty sweet. I’m pretty sure it would have fit some 45’s, put I didn’t get a chance to try it out before it got ran over by a garbage truck.

  10. adamB Says:

    I am all for MonsterXross! I agree with Klong that one of the few “requirements” should be tires that don’t exceed 1.9″ to avoid the 29er designation. And I side with GTed that a ‘cross bike should have some form of drop bar installed.
    My favorite thing about my Cross Check is the versatility: paved or gravel roads, rail trails, single track, touring… pretty much anything out there. Most of what changes to meet the demands of differing rides is type/size of tires my bike is sporting. I am certainly of fan of bigger more volumous tires on all of my bikes.

  11. Vic Says:

    Where I live there are some guys who do a frequent Sunday ride that could be considered “Monster Cross.” It is typically an epic ride that incorporates single track, irrigation ditch banks, and single track. Some days/trails are tougher than others, but most riders do not go all the way to 45mm tires as it is a good way to get dropped on dirt roads and pavement and if your hands and hiney can take the pounding a 35 or 36 is surprisingly capable in most trail conditions. I would guess the Sunday ride is typically 65% dirt half of which is relatively technical and 35% paved.

    A compact road crank with a mtn rear hub/cassette is a great solution for this sort of riding. The small ring with a 34 gets you close to mtb gearing while the big ring keeps you in the draft when road speeds get high.

    I think if your cross bike gets too monster, it is nothing but an mtb with drop bars. I personally like the “cross” part of my cross bike and try to keep it near the middle of the gap between rigid mtb and road.

    Note: cantis are scary on steep descents when you are used to disks and V brakes.

    Should Monster Biking be on twentynineinches.com? Why not? If there can be seven milliion posts about a wheel size (650b) that represents .00002% of the market why not go with another movement that represents .00000000013% of the market? There is nothing wrong with twentynineinches.com being mainly a 29er site with a love for any alternative cycling ideas other than the insidious recumbents and the cruel Bent Pimps who wish death to all things upright.

  12. SideshowRob Says:

    What is the difference between a 29er and a Cyclocross and a Monster cross exactly ? Is it the tires size, the drop bar, the cantilever brakes, the frame geometry. For example, my Alma 29er with 32c tires and drop bar. Is it a 29er or a Cyclocross ?

  13. fritZman Says:

    Giant TCX can me made close to a Monster Cross.

    I’m running mine as a flat-bar setup (plus 1 size and added 1cm to the stem).

    The front Easton XC90X fork fits as large as Bonty 1.9 29er, and the rear current has a Ritchey Zed 42mm.

  14. brian Says:

    no cross bikes, but 29ers with 700c tires is ok.

  15. Mike Says:

    Ummm, a 29″ tire is 700C 😉

    When I think monstercross, I think of a bike with clearance for 700x45C 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.


  16. Marco Says:

    I ride a Willits Monster X and a 28incher/safety singlespeed. I use both with dropbars, Bell Laps and WTB dirtdrops. I personally think it qualifies as cross bike on steroids but also as a 29-er with dropbars. I don’t know whether it officially fits in monster cross defintions. But, I don’t care which definition it fits in. I know it rides great on all kinds of terrain and is lots of fun everywhere. I like cross bikes with smaller tires too, but for me with 2.1 inch tires or wider I can ride it everywhere from road to the most rocky terrain. My main choice is riding singlespeed or geared now.

  17. Jimbo Says:

    I have a redline and a san jose. Have never had anything bigger than a 35 on them. Both have been ridden on every trail in Boise foothills and beyond. A willits monster X is an absolute dream bike of mine. I would really like to have a bigger tire and disk brakes. Course I also need racks and fenders. This might make a monster touring bike. Yes I think you should cover monster cross and monster touring bikes. Lots of dirt to explore out there this type of bike can help cover more ground.


  18. Desert9r Says:

    I just ran across the Perfect (conversion) bike- ’08 VooDoo Agwe, what do you guys think?

  19. cyclotourist Says:

    Here’s a flickr group: http://www.flickr.com/groups/monster-cross-bikes/pool/
    It’s suppossed to be full of Monster-X bikes, but for right now, it’s pretty much just mine. The snooty 29er people won’t let me post to their flickr group, so I started my own. Nah-nah, nah-nah.

    You’re all invited to be my new BFFs and join.

  20. cyclotourist Says:

    OH, as to the original question. Monster-X is larger than UCI ruled 35mm cyclo-x knobbies, but smaller than a 29er (1.9″???). And drops.

  21. Tony Pereira Says:

    You want monster cross? I’ll give you monster cross. Just get in touch.
    -Tony Pereira

  22. Matt Says:

    My buddy Ty just put the 29er SS you built for him. I had a chance to ride it for a minute. It sure is a thing of beauty Tony. Nice work!

  23. Desert9r Says:


    Incredible work!

    ever think of a 29er XtraPear?

  24. Tony Pereira Says:

    Matt–thanks. Ty’s bike is way cool. I love that paint job.
    Desert9r–When you buy a custom bicycle from someone like myself, you are steering the ship. What are your needs? It’s my job to meet them. That’s the beauty of working with a small builder.

  25. Tim Says:

    I have a Niner MCR w/Niner fork, Midge bars and Continental Twister tires(37mm). I mainly use it for SoCal fireroad and less technical rides. Especially if I am using pavement to access the trails. Responsive, fast and lots of fun!
    I define “monstercross” a little differently. I think the “monstercross” is a 29er MTB, with all the frame/parts/wheelset durability. But by using drops and cyclocross tires you have a whole new experience. I could never have put mtb tires on my old cyclocross bikes and hammered the trails the same as the Niner. Actually, this past summer I had 2.1 Kenda SB8 tires on the “monstercross” and rode everything (including technical singletrack) as I would with my 29er Silk Ti.
    Happy trails, Tim

  26. Rob R. Says:

    I’ve been reading the monstercross threads on MTBR.com within the 29er forum. One thread includes lots of photos of monstercross bikes. If you’re interested, take a look.

    I planned to put drop bars and narrower tires on my Monocog, but it was stolen. This time, I’d like something that weighs less, but is still a bargain. Yes, I’m a dreamer.

  27. blütt Says:

    sounds fun to me, but i want a singlespeed version. as a track bike commuter, i’ve been wondering if a 29″ cross bike commuter might be on the horizon. could be my answer to chicago winters!

  28. Desert9r Says:

    Sufin’ around MTBR, I realized another reason th this site should cover MONSTERCROSS, Willits’ Monster X

    Thank You Mr. Williams

  29. Goatshell Says:

    Riding my singlespeed full time has put my geared frame to the side. I’ve been thinking of rebuilding it as a monstercross with a compact road crank and a mountain cassette. I’ll still be a cross bred Monster though. Using gripshift and riser bars witha rigid fork and maybe some SB 8’s or Nano’s. Just want a good gravel rider with some potential for singletrack. Drops may be in the future.

  30. mg Says:

    I Do!! My Salsas can fit up to a 44c MutanoRaptor, which is Monstercross enough for me. That said, I’ve been running the venerable 34c Hutchinson Bulldog/Pirana combo on my La Cruz lately, and enjoying its speed and compliant casings when grindin’ out the gravel.

    It’d be sweet if the bike had just a touch more clearance, and I could fit something like a 1.8 Jones XR in there… That’d be ultra sweet, but it’s just a little too big for the La Cruz. I need to start hoarding MutanoRaptors now that they aren’t making them anymore…

  31. Zep Says:

    The original, CA-made, Salsa La Cruz might be one of the very first of the MC species. Mine, which is a regal 10 years old, will easily fit a MutanoRapor in back, and (shock) will fit a 52c Nano in front. Heck, if the chainstays were ~ 5mm longer, I’d be able to fit a Nano in back, as well.
    What was Ross thinking back then? A CX frame that swallows huge tires, is fender-compliant, uses a wacky mix of Reynolds, Columbus, and Tange tubing (w/ a 1″ top tube), and is stuffed with clever details? Crazy bastard….

  32. MG Says:

    So true… The original La Cruz was probably a bit more of a “true” MonsterCrosser than the current iteration.

    Ross was thinking about a 29er before 29ers existed when he penned the original La Cruz, it sounds like…

  33. munge Says:

    I don’t buy the idea that monstercross needs drop bars at all! It’s not a legal CX bike anyway, and straight bars are disqualified more for tradition and, supposedly, safety rather than performance on multiple surfaces. Someone else suggested “hybrid” but that could be anything–a road bike with straight bars and cantilevers, maybe. I feel that if you’re not competing and you’re more on dirt than road, straight vs. drop is a matter of personal choice. On my Fuji Cross Pro frame I put a straight bar and 45mm tires. There’s little mud clearance, so it’s only good if the surface is dry. Wish there was a scandium frame that took 45mm in the rear, with a little clearance, but not as heavey as a true niner. And yes, I feel weight is very important, esp. for portages (so please don’t give me a hard time about losing weight).

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