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  1. #1
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    Cyclocross bike for brevets?

    I've read a lot of threads on randonneuring bikes and gotten a lot of useful points - thanks to all. I'm about ready to upgrade my too-small mid-eighties Centurion (I love it and I'll keep it) to a bike I'll use for commuting, centuries, 30-milers with friends, and brevets... with the goal of doing a 1200km in 2007. If I'm going to finish a 1200 I need to gear this purchase toward that goal. I can stomach something in the range of $1200.

    Obviously the best bike for randonneuring is a randonneuring bike. But in my price range, I cannot escape cyclocross bikes. I've accepted that I'll make a bit of a compromise buying a cyclocross bike primarily for brevets, but it seems like a very minor compromise.

    I have a chance to buy a new 2004 Redline Conquest Pro (105 shifters) for $1050. I'm partial to steel (this frame is aluminum), but I'm inclined to think I can make this bike work very well for me and ride a 1200km without regretting my purchase.

    My questions: 1) Am I wrong in thinking cyclocross bikes are the best thing that could have happened to randonneurs who share my price range? 2) Setting our love affairs with steel aside, will I be making a terrible mistake to buy an aluminum cyclocross bike for the express purpose of riding a 1200km brevet? (I might make a few gearing and accessory modifications. I suppose I can buy a Surly Cross-Check frame and treat the Redline like a bargain-priced build kit.)

    Forgive me if this post is a repeat. Thanks.

  2. #2
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Cyclocross bikes can make great rando bikes... clearance for fenders, wide tires, etc... maybe eyelettes for a rack...

    I'd shop around and get into a cross check - as my limited riding of aluminum was fairly harsh - and my guess is the the Redline is probably lower end aluminum. I've seen Cross Check builds done for as little as $950 - and with the right components it would make a great rando / all purpose bike.

    People ride all sorts of bikes for these events - CF racers (I did all this year), touring rigs, "sport touring" bikes, ti dream machines, recumbents, Rivendells, and fixed gears. Quite a few folks are on older steel frames that have been updated with new components and drivetrains...

    Your primary goal should be all day comfort - so it the fit is right, almost any bike will do.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike
    I'd shop around and get into a cross check - as my limited riding of aluminum was fairly harsh - and my guess is the the Redline is probably lower end aluminum. I've seen Cross Check builds done for as little as $950 - and with the right components it would make a great rando / all purpose bike.

    Your primary goal should be all day comfort - so it the fit is right, almost any bike will do.
    +1 x 2 for Mike's points. Harris Cyclery, near where I live, sells a complete Crosscheck for $930. The frame has rear rack eyelets, so you have the option of either doing the rear rack+rack trunk route or the more fashionable Carradice seatpost bag + seatpost clamp combo

    The general rule of thumb that I've given to friends who are getting into randoneering is to plan on spending at least $300 to outfit a bare-bones bike for randoneering. At least $50 for the bags (though Carradice bags with enough capacity for a brevet load start at ~ $90), $35-50 for a rack (Blackburn or equivalent rear rack), $30 for fenders, $75-100 for lights (halogen front light, led headlamp, one or two red taillights), $25 for reflective gear.

    Of course, this assumes that you have some of the more basic bike accessories (pump, computer, bottle cages). And it's a rather bare-bones randoneering rig. You can certainly spend more for better lights, bags, etc.

    Then budget for a repair kit (at least two spare tubes, patch kit, fiber-fix, multi-tool, etc.), food (depends on physiology) and general consumables for stuff like lube, cleaning supplies, etc. The consumable stuff will vary, but I tend to figure on about $150 per brevet season, plus entry/registration fees for each specific event.
    Last edited by spokenword; 08-18-06 at 11:22 AM.

  4. #4
    Tweaker-Tinkerer Lotum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nodward
    Am I wrong in thinking cyclocross bikes are the best thing that could have happened to randonneurs who share my price range?
    While the fact remains that long-distance cycling can be done on almost any type of bike, and that dedicated Audax bikes exist, it is also true that most people use a standard road bike for the PBP. One can (possibly) conclude from this that the consensus is that a road bike is very well suited for this ultimate randonnee. If you can find a 105-equipped cyclocross bike in your price range, you should also be able to find a road bike with at least an equivalent group set in that range. Just add lights, SKS Race Blades, and a Carradice saddlebag, and you're in business.
    "There is nothing, nothing, nothing wrong with spending money on a bike."--Richard Ballantine

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lotum
    While the fact remains that long-distance cycling can be done on almost any type of bike, and that dedicated Audax bikes exist, it is also true that most people use a standard road bike for the PBP. One can (possibly) conclude from this that the consensus is that a road bike is very well suited for this ultimate randonnee. If you can find a 105-equipped cyclocross bike in your price range, you should also be able to find a road bike with at least an equivalent group set in that range. Just add lights, SKS Race Blades, and a Carradice saddlebag, and you're in business.
    a standard road bike might not have clearance for 28 or 32 mm tires with fenders, and both tend to be useful brevet equipment. cyclocross bikes do have this, and if the original poster states that as his preference, I see no reason to dissuade him from it. do you have an argument for how a cyclocross bike might be an inferior choice to a similarly priced road bike? my impression was that a cyclocross bike is essentially a standard road bike with cantilevered brakes.

  6. #6
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spokenword
    a standard road bike might not have clearance for 28 or 32 mm tires with fenders, and both tend to be useful brevet equipment. cyclocross bikes do have this, and if the original poster states that as his preference, I see no reason to dissuade him from it. do you have an argument for how a cyclocross bike might be an inferior choice to a similarly priced road bike? my impression was that a cyclocross bike is essentially a standard road bike with cantilevered brakes.
    There's nothing wrong with using a cyclocross bike. My randonneuring bike is built on a cyclocross frame and works fine. However, regular road bikes also work well. I see plenty of riders on road bikes. The main thing is that the bike fits you and is set up for a comfortable ride. Beyond that, tire width, racks, fenders, etc. are secondary and may depend on where you ride and the route.

    For example, in Texas, rarely do you see anyone with fenders (we've heard tales of rain but few have actually seen it). Most people are riding normal road bikes, some with, some without rear racks. Our routes usually provide short enough distance between convenience stores that you don't need to carry a lot of food unless you wish to do so.

  7. #7
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    Aluminum is not so bad (if you think it's bad to begin with) riding on cross tires.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by nodward
    Obviously the best bike for randonneuring is a randonneuring bike. But in my price range, I cannot escape cyclocross bikes. I've accepted that I'll make a bit of a compromise buying a cyclocross bike primarily for brevets, but it seems like a very minor compromise.
    Actually, the best bike is the one you are most comfortable on. This year I rode a complete brevet series on my Trek 5000. I hung a Carridace Barley Bag under the seat and wear a Camelbak Mule. This allows me to carry everything I need. I feel people get too hung up on labels when it comes to bikes. If you find a CX bike that's comfortable use it.

  9. #9
    No one carries the DogBoy
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    I used a modified Jake the Snake as the bike I did a 200 and 300 km brevet this year. I turned it into a triple, put 700-28 road tires on it, put a brooks flyer saddle on, added fenders and a rack and it worked very well. Its about 10 lbs heavier than my road bike, but its pretty comfy for tooling along at 14-15 mph.

  10. #10
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomM
    Actually, the best bike is the one you are most comfortable on. This year I rode a complete brevet series on my Trek 5000. I hung a Carridace Barley Bag under the seat and wear a Camelbak Mule. This allows me to carry everything I need. I feel people get too hung up on labels when it comes to bikes. If you find a CX bike that's comfortable use it.
    +1 on comfort. That is key...

  11. #11
    Senior Member The Octopus's Avatar
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    I've seen a guy ride 424 miles in 24 hours on a cross bike. Same guy went on to finish RAAM this year (not on a cross bike, of course!).

    Go with what works for you. If you weigh what's comfortable for you and what gives you confidence against objective measures like weight, geometry, and material type, the subjetive comfort and confidence factors will win out big time, every time.

  12. #12
    noodly appendage
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    For your price range, you should be able to pick up an 06 LeMond Poprad. 105 group and steel frame. I got one last week and I like it. It was on sale because the 07s are coming out.

  13. #13
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    I wound up going with a new Surly Cross-Check complete bike. I thought I was committed to STI shifters and higher-end components, but in the end I couldn't get past the versatility of the Surly and all the gushing reviews I read of it. What's more, I saved enough compared to some of $1000+ bikes I'd considered to spare some breathing room for upgrades if the bug bites further. I trust it will.

    Thanks all. I'll let you know how it goes.

  14. #14
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nodward
    I wound up going with a new Surly Cross-Check complete bike. I thought I was committed to STI shifters and higher-end components, but in the end I couldn't get past the versatility of the Surly and all the gushing reviews I read of it. What's more, I saved enough compared to some of $1000+ bikes I'd considered to spare some breathing room for upgrades if the bug bites further. I trust it will.

    Thanks all. I'll let you know how it goes.

    What components did you end up getting?

  15. #15
    Senior Member humbug's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nodward
    What's more, I saved enough compared to some of $1000+ bikes I'd considered to spare some breathing room for upgrades if the bug bites further.
    The best reason of all!!!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmike
    What components did you end up getting?
    Apparently the Cross-Check is the only bike Surly sells as a built bike, and I bought (through my LBC via QBP) the standard build they offer. The details are at http://www.surlybikes.com/bikes.html but the short version is:
    - Bar-end shifters
    - Tiagra derailleurs
    - 48/36 chainrings (with threads for a granny)
    - Deore hubs, 32-hole Alex rims
    - An assortment of other mid- to low-end parts that, honestly, I think I'm completely satisfied with for now.
    I got the bike last night and rode it for the first time. No disappointment--I love it, even with the knobbies on. Smooth, quiet, feels sturdy... and since it's an upgrade, it feels pretty zippy to me, even at 24 pounds (according to Bicycling Magazine). I may add a third chainring, I'll change out the tires and seat, add fenders... but until I find myself deeply dissatisfied with something I'm planning to ride it about as-is (less the decals... sorry, Surly). I even like the bar-end shifters. Different bikes catch different folks, but this one caught me (and my wife, who'll also ride the brevet series, and is also astride a brand new Cross-Check). Thanks for your interest and input.
    Nathan
    Louisville, KY

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