After riding my Moots Psychlo X RSL cyclocross bike for 9 months, including the Death Valley Double Century, as well as lots and lots of singletrack time intermixed with asphalt to and fro— the Moots Psychlo X RSL has proven to be a wonderful investment in my cycling enjoyment.
This autumn, I rode the Psychlo X RSL a lot more than my mountain bikes. It’s just a lot of fun, and lighter and quicker and with a mix of pavement and dirt, it can go almost anywhere and is much faster on pavement, and faster than an MTB on a lot of singletrack.
As my skill in handling a cyclocross steed has increased, I find I can track down and pass many mountain bikers descending, and going uphill— well they’re like stumps or something— “on your left” and gone.
The funny thing about a cyclocross bike is that I can ride it faster on many singletrack sections than I can with my mountain bike. But when the trail starts to get rough, then the mountain bike is naturally faster as it can soak up rapid-fire “hits” which the rigid front end of the cyclocross bike cannot deal with easily (and not without hand discomfort, especially if some braking is needed).
I prefer cyclocross tubular tires at ~40-45 PSI for rough downhill sections, so I often ride up a long grade or asphalt approach at ~55-60 PSI, then bleed off some air for the descent.
A cyclocross bike develops nuanced offroad skills; balance, fine points of traction, braking and getting off the brakes at just the right time, unweighting the bike on certain types of bumps, etc— from what I see, most mountain bikers have crude “banger” skills with zero finesse on the balance or brakes, so I’d recommend cyclocross to any mountain biker looking to be a more skillful rider.