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Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

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Old 01-09-08, 12:00 PM   #1
D-Fuzz
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Decisions, decisions...

I seem to have narrowed down my choices for my first cyclocross bike. Living in a smaller city limits the choices, especially if you want to buy from a LBS. I am going to be using the bike for commuting, light touring and general family activities, so nothing too hardcore. Here are my choices, in no particular order:

1. Giant TCX - good component set, no "mystery meat" stuff in the drivetrain (those were the words of the LBS), Al frame/carbon fork, compact geometry.

2. Kona JTS - well-proven, good components, Al frame/carbon fork.

I also looked at a Norco CCX. It' a good Canadian company, has really nice components (105/Ultegra), a bunch of Ritchey stuff (bars, stem, headset, seatpost), disc brake compatable and the price was great, but it is a Norco. I feel like a bike snob but am I wrong? I called my friend after I looked at it and his response was "But it's a Norco." I also looked at a Devinci Tosca but it seemed to be a bit overpriced for what it offered, really nice frame and fork but Tiagra/Sora parts. The Kona Jake was a better value, IMO.

I have looked at some other bikes available online (Jamis, Surly, etc). There are some nice bikes at good prices but I would have to buy without being fitted and where do I take it if something goes wrong? Seems like a bit of a risk just to save a few bucks.

So, what do you think?
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Old 01-09-08, 01:32 PM   #2
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I'd get the Jake. I'm not a fan of compact CX bikes.
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Old 01-09-08, 05:01 PM   #3
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I'm not a fan of compact CX bikes.
Why?
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Old 01-09-08, 06:20 PM   #4
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I have shoulded a couple of the compact frames. They just do not seem to come up easy like a traditional frame.
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Old 01-09-08, 06:34 PM   #5
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You'll be happy with the jake...... the surly's are very good also..... though i just sold mine, you should consider the redline we were talking about a few weeks ago.

If you are good with bikes..... order online.....otherwise go to the lbs.....
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Old 01-09-08, 07:04 PM   #6
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Unless your massive like Chuck Norris you should have no problems shouldering the Giant. But really, how many events are you actually going to compete in?
I would get the Jake. I like the traditional "old school" look of its geometry.
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Old 01-09-08, 08:07 PM   #7
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No competing for this guy. My body says I am too old for that stuff. As far as working on bikes, I have no problem with that. I worked in a bike shop for a while when I was in university. It is just warranty stuff I am concerned about with when buying online. I'd just hate to be out a bike and out of pocket to send something back to have a warranty issue dealt with.

With a compact frame, do you end up with a bunch of seatpost sticking out like a MTB due to the sloping top tube? It just seems that the more I look, the more I keep coming back to the JTS. Maybe it's a sign.
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Old 01-09-08, 10:22 PM   #8
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I got the Giant TCX to commute on early last year mostly because i came across a deal on EBay i couldn't ignore. Also, i'm already familiar with Giant compact sizing (i already have a Giant TCR road bike) so i didn't have to worry about researching geometry to see what size i'd need. It's been a great bike so far though i have yet to try and shoulder it (mostly because it's outfitted for commuting).

And yes, i was looking for a JTS and a Surly Crosscheck at the same time. All 3 were on the list, it's just the TCX showed up at the right time, in the right size, and at the right price.
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Old 01-09-08, 11:26 PM   #9
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I kind of like the Jamis Nova, mainly because of the steel frame. It would be a online purchase though. Every bike I have looked at locally is aluminum. My favorite MTB of all-time was a steel Rocky Mountain Hammer. Took it to Germany one summer and ended up selling it to a guy I was working with. Man, those were the days....LOL. I read some of the comments about aluminum frames being stiff and harsh, and I think, "Man, maybe I am too old for that *****." It is great to be able to take a bike to get sized and see if you like the handlebars, minor stuff like that, but there aren't many LBS that will give you a bike for a week to see how it really feels. I worry about what the bike is going to feel like at 6AM when I am stiff and achy and have to ride to work. I just don't want to buy a bike, ride it for a month and decide it doesn't feel good. I guess that is my apprehension toward aluminum.

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Old 01-10-08, 09:44 AM   #10
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Meh, if you get wider tires (which a CX bike can easily accomodate, up to 30mm usually) you can increase comfort dramatically to compensate for the "harsh" aluminum without sacrificing much speed if any.
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Old 01-11-08, 04:36 PM   #11
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Does anyone know if the Jake and the Jake the Snake have the same frame. Both say 7005 Butted Aluminum. I know the forks are different. The Jake is about $400 cheaper, which would allow for some decent upgrades. And with a 8spd cluster, would it allow for the use of a mtb derailleur? Or would the JTS with 10spd 105 end up being a better choice?
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Old 01-12-08, 07:05 PM   #12
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From what it sounds like, the OP cannot go wrong with either of the two main choices he made. Since he doesn't sound intent on racing it, he should be more concerned about the ability to mount racks and fenders on the bike, and otherwise, as long as either choice fits and he likes the ride, the Giant and the Kona will both work for him.

My advice to the OP: ride both bikes, see which one feels better, and then buy it from a LBS where you can be properly fitted to the bike.
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Old 01-12-08, 08:12 PM   #13
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From what it sounds like, the OP cannot go wrong with either of the two main choices he made. Since he doesn't sound intent on racing it, he should be more concerned about the ability to mount racks and fenders on the bike, and otherwise, as long as either choice fits and he likes the ride, the Giant and the Kona will both work for him.

My advice to the OP: ride both bikes, see which one feels better, and then buy it from a LBS where you can be properly fitted to the bike.
Get them to mount them both on a trainer and ride. You will be able to compare them side by side. That's what I did when I was choosing the size on my new Rocky.
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Old 01-14-08, 06:30 AM   #14
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Does anyone know if the Jake and the Jake the Snake have the same frame. Both say 7005 Butted Aluminum. I know the forks are different. The Jake is about $400 cheaper, which would allow for some decent upgrades. And with a 8spd cluster, would it allow for the use of a mtb derailleur? Or would the JTS with 10spd 105 end up being a better choice?
Some people might tell you to save the 400.00 as you are commutting mainly and the 8 speed is a little less touchy than the 10 speed.
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Old 01-14-08, 10:33 AM   #15
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Sora is 9 speed, as is Tiagra. The Jake in 2007 and previous years had Sora, for 08 it has Tiagra. This seems to be a common misconception, I guess because Sora only recently changed to 9 speed.

For what it's worth Tiagra was drastically improved for 2007. I'm pretty sure it's about where 9 speed 105 was a couple years ago. I do think the Jake is a slightly better option if you want to do extended off road climbs or something, as it's built pretty burly and has a triple. I can't remember if the Jake the Snake has seatstay eyelets for a rack, either, if that's important to you.
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Old 01-14-08, 10:53 AM   #16
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The LBS has both an '07 & '08 Jake, an '08 JTS and '07 & '08 TCX. In the Jake, I think the '08 would be the better bike as it seems to have better components (Tiagra throughout). It is only an 8spd, but does have a triple vs. 9spd (TCX) and 10spd (JTS). Parts such as the stem, bars, seatpost, wheels, etc. aren't likely the highest quality (ie. Kona in-house stuff) but isn't that stuff kind of like bike candy anyway? Then there is a chromo fork vs. carbon, but again that stuff can be upgraded via Ebay.

Right now, I am kind of leaning toward the Jake. With the $400 I save, I can buy another set of wheels/tires for slicks, or some other bike candy. I think the JTS might be overkill, kind of like buying a 911 to drive back-and-forth to the grocery store. I guess I will have to see how each of them feel before I decide though.
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Old 01-14-08, 10:59 AM   #17
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Are you sure the Jake is 8 speed? Tiagra has been 9 speed for years.
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Old 01-14-08, 11:54 AM   #18
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That is what the catalogue says. It says it has a 8spd Alivio rear cassette.
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Old 01-14-08, 12:07 PM   #19
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I just looked at Kona's website and it says the Jake has a 9spd Deore cassette. Seems to be some contradicting info. I guess I will have to check it out at the LBS to see what it really is.
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Old 01-15-08, 12:57 PM   #20
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I went into my LBS today and got fitted to both bikes. It was a good thing I did because I ended up with a smaller frame than I would have thought. Had I ordered a bike online, I was looking at a 54cm. It turns out that likely would have been too big. I got fitted to a 52cm JTS and a 50cm TCX. The effectual cockpit measurement (from seat post clamp to handlebar) was 62cm on both bikes. I guess the difference in frame sizing is due to the compact frame on the Giant. When it was all said and done, I liked the feel of the Giant better than the Kona. Coming from the mtb world, I liked the extra clearance that the Giant gave me. I really didn't like "touching" the top tube on the Kona. Everything else as far as fit between the bikes was pretty comparable.

After being fit, the bike shop guy and I spent quite a while discussing components and value between the Jake ($900), the JTS ($1400) and the Giant ($1100). I put a lot of stock into what he had to say as his family has owned the shop for 3 generations and he is a pretty hardcore rider himself, so I am confident in his opinions.

For the extra $200 with the Giant over the Jake, I would get a carbon fork, Tiagra/105 drivetrain, Shimano crank, CF seatpost and he will change out the Aero wheels for a set of Mavic wheels. When I looked at the jump from the Giant to the JTS, I just didn't feel I was getting that much more, other than a full 105 drivetrain. So, in the end, I chose the Giant. I still need to go back with my shoes and pedals to have the bike set up for me, but until some of this snow melts, there is no rush for that to happen.
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Old 01-15-08, 01:07 PM   #21
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Congrats on the new bike. Get pictures up too
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