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NZier 02-20-14 02:27 PM

Help Me Finish Building my Gravel Grinder/Entry Cross Bike
Hey, I recently was on ebay and impulsively started bidding on a 2009 Blue CXC. I maxed out my bid at $450, and it's not a complete bike.... so I have a lot of work to do to finish it up, and don't have a lot of money. Here's what I have:

Just to clarify: I am not asking for handouts, I am not asking to buy parts... I'm asking for build suggestions and insight from those who are more knowledgeable than myself.

Blue Competion Cycle Cyclocross CXC 55cm frameset
Aerus 42cm bars,
Aerus 110cm Stem,
Aerus headset,
Aerus 400cm seatpost,
Aerus seatclamp,
FSA waterbottle cages,
Sram Avid Shorty 4 Brakes and all cables.
Shimano 105 front derallieur,
FSA ISIS Bottom Bracket 68
SPD style mt bike pedals.
Kenda Kwick 700X28 tires, Hutchinson Pro Series 700X30 tires Schwalbe Kojak Road Tires 700X28 115psi tires, (really just a bonus)

So... Here's what I'm left feeling I need to finish the build... can someone verify I'm right:

Rear Derailleur
Crank set

I'm trying to do all of this for around $400 so I can keep the whole bike and build around $900. Any good recommendations? I'm thinking Aksium wheels if I can snipe a pair for cheap on the ebay.

Any good recommendations on what kind of crank/rear derailleur/cassette might be best?

Any feedback would be great!


shelbyfv 02-22-14 07:10 AM

8 or 9 speed Shimano with bar end shifters and a compact Shimano crank and BB. Ditch the FSA BB. 105 or even Tiagra will be fine for a bike that's going to get dirty. I got a nice pair of Aksiums on CL for $75 and they work well with 35s. You need to think about how easy you need the gearing to be. If you have steep hills you might want a triple crank or mtb cassette/RD or both. Kool Stop pads:beer:

NZier 02-24-14 07:10 AM

I'm not sure about the hills. I have no clue where to start with comparability unfortunately. Was considering buying used 105 parts to finish the build. I can get shifters, rear d, cassette for around 250. Then I would just need to slap a chain on it and it should run.

What are the gearing differences in MTB Cassettes? Would it require a long cage rear derailleur?

Erik_A 02-24-14 08:47 AM

Just buy a used bike on Craigslist for $400 that has the parts you need. Strip them off and then sell the leftover frame on eBay. That is way cheaper than buying parts individually (even used).

thenomad 02-24-14 12:07 PM

Cut down that seatpost, 400cm is HUGE! ;)
Yes to buying 105 stuff used.
Yes to trying to find a used bike with all the parts on it (and it'd provide a ton of misc spares).

Andy_K 02-24-14 01:15 PM

Erik_A's suggestion is pretty good for keeping within your budget if you can find the right donor bike, preferably something with a frame that you could get something for in resale. Don't worry too much about what wheels are "strong enough" for CX and gravel grinding. Any well built wheel is up to the task. Any poorly built wheel will have problems. Use whatever wheels you can get in budget and check the spoke tension.

Aksium wheels are decent and you can usually find them in near new condition for around $150.

Used STI type shifters are always a gamble. You never know how much life they have left. Often they work great for a long time. Once in a while they are near the end of their useful lifespan. It's impossible tell just from looking at a picture. An alternative is a new set of Retroshift shifters, which are great for CX and gravel grinding and have that magic combination of being cheap, light and strong.

I wouldn't worry about component level for the cassette. You frequently see new bikes spec'd with 105 drivetrains and a Tiagra cassette or Ultegra drivetrain with a 105 cassette. There's a minor weight difference between levels of Shimano cassettes. The biggest difference is finish, which is just about irrelevant after one ride.

The bottom bracket you have is a bit of an albatross. You may be able to find a decent ISIS crankset cheap on eBay (be sure to measure the spindle to verify that you'll get the right chainline), but you may be better off just replacing the bottom bracket to open up your options. Either way, at your budget, I'd go cheap for now and plan to maybe upgrade later if you think you need to. A good crankset would eat most of your budget and if you're going to cheap out you may as well go really cheap.

Don't forget room in your budget for cables. A good set of clean cables makes a bigger difference in shifting and braking performance than an upgrade in component level.

NZier 02-25-14 09:36 AM

Thanks for the good feedback. I know I'm trying to cheap out of this. I didn't intend to, but I ended up with two bike frames instead of one, and can't seem to sell or trade my current road bike, can't sell my fishing gear, can't sell my trainer (I hate riding in my basement).

Craigslist in Kansas City is poor for good deals on bikes; it's a relatively big CX market. I'm trying to get a hold of a guy about some parts (he seems to have everything I need at reasonable prices) but he's not responding. Probably has his account set up funny, or has sold the items and is just ignoring posts.

I've been "playing" ebay for parts. Trying to get things cheaper than I can find them elsewhere. That's not really been working either. I guess I have a bit of time; I'm not in that huge of a rush. I want to have this bike operational by May, until then my road bike will work.
@thenomad you're right; 400cm would be a HUGE seatpost!

Thanks for the feedback; I'll keep my eyes peeled for used CX bikes or road bikes with reasonable parts at the price point I'm looking for as well.

Andy_K 02-25-14 02:21 PM

You could always use your current road bike as a parts donor.

Erik_A 03-03-14 10:44 AM

Just get this for $400 w/ free shipping: it should get the job done.

NZier 03-03-14 10:13 PM

Noob question: A Jagwire Road Kit should work for my CX build right? Worried about brakes and brake line..... Is there a better kit for CX bikes?

fietsbob 03-03-14 10:37 PM

Better , may involve a bit deeper pockets.. :innocent:

I read of Pro builds using Gore Ride-on gear cable sets, chosen due to their better sealing out mud, in races..

but if this is a 'gravel grinder' . maybe it to will speed your briftering.. too

or ..
Nokon and other segmented aluminum sleeve and bead housing
is said to be more flexible, low compression , and lighter.

NZier 03-04-14 11:32 PM

Briftering? What's this.....

Gore Ride On is no longer a cable system as of December, 2012, or so says their now defunct website.

I'm down to needing wheels. Any recommendations for a cheap set of entry CX tires which could stand a first race or two.... and a 230lb rider?

fietsbob 03-05-14 04:04 PM

Brake+shifter , those levers that do both , get's called a Brifter as a result of being both.

Andy_K 03-05-14 06:14 PM

I use Jagwire cables. On my CX race bike I use the Ripcord (compressionless) outer brake cable housing, which makes a distinct difference in braking performance. Their regular kits are OK though. I like to buy the housing in 20 foot rolls, because I have a lot of bikes. Your LBS can probably hook you up with just the length you need for one bike.

For tires, I'm a big fan of Clement's clinchers. I've got a set of PDX Crusades which I've used extensively for the past two seasons. This is designed as a mud tire, but in these parts anything that isn't seems like a specialty tire. The PDX does OK in dry to mixed conditions, but if that's mostly what you expect it may not be the best choice. I recently picked up a set of Clement LAS (file tread), which I've so far just used for gravel rides, and Clement MXP, which I haven't used at all. The MXP is meant as an all-arounder.

Right now seems to be a good time to buy CX tires. Western Bike Works has the Clement line on sale for a touch under $37 each right now.

The truth is that for just trying out CX racing anything that fits will do. If you have a decent CX community in your area, maybe ask around and see if anybody has some used tires they'd be willing to pass your way. CX racers tend to obsess over tires, so they're constantly trying new ones and therefore accumulating spares they don't use.

Leebo 03-06-14 09:17 AM

The isis bb is old school with not much choices around. Get some modern cranks with a bb. External bearings. Thinking about a compact crank? 30-48 front chainrings and a mountain cassette that goes to 36 with a matching deraillieur seems to have a good range. 105 brifters? That's what I use on my crosscheck.

NZier 03-06-14 02:19 PM

Yeah, that's kind of what I've been finding out. It's kind of where I'm stuck at right now. I've got a set of Aksium wheels on their way which I'm going to lace up with some clincher tires just to get the bike running and trail riding. They were on sale for like $160 bucks, so I figured what the heck. Here's kind of where I'm at

Everything initially listed...

Prologo Kappa Evo Saddle
Force 10 speed Shifters
Rival Rear Derailleur
11-28 Cassette
PC 1051 Chain
Mavic Aksium (brand new, only cost $164) they are brand new though... actually bought a set for both bikes, so $356 for two sets... that's cheaper than one set at the LBS.

I'm going to be building the bike with my cousin on the 18th, I'll make sure to post pictures up.

I still need to pick up some handlebar tape and some brifter cable then I think I'm good.

NZier 03-06-14 05:31 PM

I mean... I'm feeling like I should run some Gold handlebar tape on this frame! Would that be too ridiculous?

Andy_K 03-06-14 06:06 PM

I can't imagine you not being over budget at this point, but it sounds like a nice build.

You can get a Shimano CX50 crankset for around $120 and a suitable bottom bracket for another $25. Of course, you can probably get something just as nice for less money if you buy used.

Andy_K 03-06-14 06:08 PM


Originally Posted by NZier (Post 16555344)
I mean... I'm feeling like I should run some Gold handlebar tape on this frame! Would that be too ridiculous?

Probably. If it didn't match the frame it would be displeasing, and it won't match the frame once it's dirty (unless both are completely covered in mud, in which case you're good).

NZier 03-06-14 08:23 PM

I think where I stand now... I'm sitting right around $1100. I have a crankset on the way, I think it's the right fit.. if it's not then I wasted $30 and I'll sell the BB and the Crankset and buy something that works. So I'll probably end up about $200 over budget. Which isn't bad, the other bike I built came in right on budget.

$400 Cannondale Carbon Synapse 11
$750 Ultegra 6800 Complete w/ SL-K Crankset and Campy cables
$160 for Mavic Aksiums...

I was looking to build that bike for right around $1300 and I think I went $10 over. Now to start repaying my savings.

NZier 03-09-14 09:34 PM

So, the last thing I have to buy is some handlebar grip tape. I've been thinking about what kind of tape might be best for the bikes purpose. I eat through cheap handlebar tape on my road bike and can only imagine how it is on a gravel or cyclocross bike. That being said,

What would you recommend if cost was not important?

What would you recommend if I want decent cheap tape?

oleritter 03-12-14 09:00 AM

Prologo makes good cheap tape. I want to try their better tape, prob on the road bike this year.

The ESI silicone tape is out now, with generally good reviews, but maybe slippery when wet??

fietsbob 03-12-14 10:13 AM

I use Black because that is what comes off the chain onto my hands ,
when I fix a flat-tire, and then onto the tape.

NZier 03-12-14 08:19 PM

Arundel Gecko Bar Tape | Competitive Cyclist

I'm thinking about giving this a shot on the cheaper end of things. The reviews seem to indicate that it's decent for the price and is good in weather.... which what is cross other than "in weather"

NZier 03-18-14 06:27 PM

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