Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking - Another Newbie - please advise bike type
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I know all you pros get tired of us BUT really a forum like this is the only spot to get usefull info. I currently have a Schwinn and want something a little better suited for the road. 90% of my riding is leisure and on the road. I have a mile of dirt/rock, gravel riding from my home to the asphalt. I'm 65 years old so I'm not a hard core rider.
Schwinn is a Mesa MTB. Weighs in at 34# as dressed. Have been looking at Trek, Specialized and Cannondale MTB bikes that are lighter than the Schwinn. Then a shop showed me the CycloCross stuff. I think it's the best of all worlds for me.
It looks like Fuji Road Cross at $1200 or the Bianchi Axis at $1400 are two descent choices of CycloCross bike.
Please give me your opinions.
Thanks for taking the time to respond.
Also I have a ThudBuster seat post - which is one of the best $'s I've spent. I spend all my time on the seat - so BUTT comfort is primary.
Thanks to all of you that are taking the time to respond. I'm going to take your suggestions and my check book to the bike shop next week.
04-23-03, 10:14 AM
I'd say the 'cross bike is a good idea, if you want an all around bike that's higher quality than your average "hybrid" bike. I just got a Surly Cross Check cyclocross bike for use as an all around road bike. It'll mostly be used for commuting, with occasional road rides on paved and unpaved roads. I'm very impressed with the feel of the chromoly frame; it's comfortable on long rides, and is fairly light (although not as light as aluminum). Cost was around $1300 equiped with Shim 105, Open Pro Rims, and decent components. I also demo'd the Bianchi Axis. It had a nice feel, but I didn't like the Shimano wheelset, and the fancy paint job; just a personal thing though. Have fun, good luck.
04-23-03, 12:14 PM
tlippy, a 'cross bike could be an excellent choice for you. It will handle the road and the dirt/gravel with equal aplomb, and give you whatever degree of aero positioning for road riding that you desire. Some considerations:
 Gearing: Most 'cross bikes have double chainrings and cassettes of modest range. This will yield higher gearing -- the "low gears" will be higher than your MTB. Make sure the gearing isn't too high for you, and if it is discuss with the bike shop the possibility of swapping a triple crankset, and/or a wider-range cassette.
 Bar height: Modern threadless headsets make it difficult to raise the handlebars once the bike has been fitted and assembled. To the extent it can be done, it's accomplished by swapping out the stem for one with a steeper rise angle. If bar height is an issue -- if a bar position significantly lower than the saddle height is going to be a problem -- discuss this with the shop. A new bike usually comes from the factory with the steerer tube uncut, so the shop can wait for your fitting session to determine the height at which the cut should be, so you can have the bars positioned as high as you want them.
My feeling with drop bars is that you should set the height so that you can ride comfortably with your hands in the drops (otherwise, why have drop bars at all?). The tops of the bars will then just end up at whatever height they end up.
The Fuji and the Bianchi are both fine bikes. So's the Surly, and Trek XO1, and several others. Even my ti Airborne Carpe Diem can be equipped as a 'cross bike, although mine is set up as a tourer/commuter. 'Cross frames are quite versatile. Make sure it has rack braze-ons and eyelets if you ever might want to carry panniers and such.
You can, of course, put robust wheels and 'cross tires on other types of bikes, notably touring bikes. In fact, my touring bike actually came with Avocet CrossK tires, which work quite well as commuting tires and last forever.
04-23-03, 12:39 PM
You also might want to look into getting a Jamis Nova if there is a dealer in your area. They are reasonably priced at about $1000, have Shimano Tiagra parts, and have triple chainrings and braze-ons for racks in case you want to do some light touring or commuting with it. It's a very versatile bike and has some nice parts on it for the money.
Please don't be offended by this post. You state that you are 65. Both the bikes you are thinking about have aluminum frames which generally give a little harsher ride, although both bikes have carbon fiber forks which will help smooth things out a little. You may want to consider looking at a steel framed CX bike which will likely be a little easier on your... ahem... experienced bones. ;-)
I'm fairly new to cyclocross, but I have been riding MTB for a long time and my comment regarding frame materials probably holds true for CX bikes as well. As I'm still a newbie I will let others here recommend steel framed CX bikes (that is if anyone is in agreement with my comments).
I own the Fuji cross bike, it actualy gives a very comfortable ride. I picked up a 2003 on e-bay for $750, I was truly surprised at how comfortable a ride it has despite being aluminum. The rear triangle is aluminmum, main tubes they call x-fusion not sure what that is really, and a carbon fork. I would suggest you take one for a test ride see how you like it.
04-23-03, 02:02 PM
i think in central oregon a cx bike would be great.
one cx bike i've ridden and liked is the kona 'jake the snake'. i believe it's somewhere near the price range of the other bikes you're considering.
i agree that steel will probably produce a more comfortable ride.
04-23-03, 02:05 PM
You might also want to look at touring bikes. Very good all around bikes that can be used for many things. You might not need a cyclocross if you are only ridding one mile on the dirt road. I have Bianchi Voelpe that I have ridden on many dirt
roads with no problems. You might want to ask your LBS to show
you some touring bikes so you can ride and compare.
Whatever you get good luck and post back with your final choice.
Just wanted to thank all you who responded to my plea for bike advice. I pick up my Fuji Road Cross tomorrow. I did change out the drive train for a three ring front. Just happened that the shop I bought from had a guy buy a bike that he took off the 105 three ring stuff for a two ring SO i got his BB, Chain ring and derailers. Thanks again to all those who took the time to respond. It's a really cool bike and I'm going to be a proud rider !!!!!!!!!
I think you madea good choice, I have fuji cross. I have not tried it on any trails yet, but I feel it is a very comfortable bike to ride. I swapped out most of the drive train with my campy chorus components (except crankset). So far just been ridden on the roads pulling a tag-a-long bike with my son. Hopefuly will try it on the trails soon. Give us a review of it when you get it and take it for a ride.
04-27-03, 08:53 PM
Contratulations, I'm sure you'll be satisfied with the Fuji, especially since you got a triple. Keep us posted!
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