So here's the story. I want to take up cyclocross as it looks like a lot of fun. I do XC rides with a local mountain bike club but think that I am a crude masher. Unfortunately the XC runs don't lend themselves as an opportunity to spin and keep a high cadence.
This is where cyclocross comes in. Having a CX bike means that I can swap tires and go out for road rides and work on my cadence and speed. I also love the entire conept of cyclocross. I intend to enter events this year on my hardtail. I have a heavy hardtail but I think it will be fine to get my feet wet in the sport. I even contacted Arctic Hawk for info on going to the local races as he is local to me (Montreal, Canada). As an aside, anyone know of any Cyclocross clubs in the Montreal area? Artic Hawk doesn't belong to a club but I always find it worthwhile to join a club.
Anyway, my goal over the winter is to build up a CX bike. This is where I need some help and input. The reason why I want to build up the bike is because I managed to purchase a number of Shimano Ultegra groupos that I will be reselling on Ebay. I've decided to keep one groupo for myself and build up a bike with it. I have been lurking and reading through the archives so I've learned quite a bit but I am far from knowing all the answers.
Since I only got into mountain biking last year I am only familiar with mountain bike components and disc brakes. This whole V-brake, Canti thing has me confused. The Shimano groupo I have has some dual-pivot brakes. I know they are not cantilevers, so what are they? Can I use them for CX applications? Can they be installed on a given CX frame? I am used to my Avid BB7 brakes so if I could go disc, i may just do that but I see that not every frame, fork or wheelset is disc capable. I think I'll let my choice of frame dictate whether or not I go disc or not.
As for the frame. I would like to limit my initial choices to the brands my LBS carries. I have a great relationship with my LBS and would like to get a frameset through them. Below is the list of frames/bikes that are CX related. What are your thoughts and experiences on what you see below. Here is a summary chart as well. Now, I am not 100% sold on building up the bike or even sold on the frames below but I figured I'd start there. Also note that the "best prices" are USD prices found on the web. I havne't visited my LBS yet but I suspect the prices will be much higher due to inflated exchange rates set by the distributors.
So, what should I be looking for in a frame? I have seen some discussions on steel vs. aluminum. I don't think one or the other will be different to me as I lack the finesse that more experienced cyclists have. What about the frames with carbon bits, are they worth it?
The "Best Size" column is what I believe to be the best size for me. I went to WrenchScience.com to punch in the figures for myself and got a recommended height of 54/53 cm. When looking at the various bikes I found many that had 52cm or 55cm bikes so opted for the one just below my recommended size and not the one above it.
I will follow through in this thread with more questions as they come up. Thanks.
For a cross bike you'll want cantilever or disc brakes. The ultegra caliper brakes that you already have will not provide enough clearance for cross tires. The ultegra brake levers will not pull enough cable to use v-brakes unless you also use travel agents.
Be careful on the sizing of the lemond bikes as they are measured c-c while most other bikes nowadays are measured center to top. For example, a 49cm lemond will probably fit close to a 52cm other frame.
Cyclocross has tons and tons of tradition. That's why, while MTBs with flat bars are accepted, just about everybody who loves the sport runs drop bars. There are other reasons why drops are better off-road, but modern drop bars are little more than tarted-up road bars. real CX bars would look more like old "randonneur" bars... little bit of flare, little bit of sweep. (See On-One's superior "Midge" bars)
Discs are not legal for UCI sanctioned races. You can run them, but you just won't qualify. This only matters if you're serious about a racing "career".
STI levers are not compatible with linear-pull brakes ("v-brakes") without an adapter. Stick with "old-fashioned" cantilevers. Avid makes some excellent models. Make sure to use Kool-Stop's superior "Mountain Pads" brake pads-- the dual-compound type.
Personally i think steel presents a better ride. I have three bikes and two are Cannondale-- one road and the other MTB. Both are aluminum, natch. My 2006 LeMond Poprad rides really nicely-- bumps aren't as harsh as with my F700 mountain bike. I ride the same trails on the Poprad and F700 so i'm comparing "apples to apples" and the difference isn't in my head!