I finally pulled the trigger on a cross check frameset from my LBS. I'm planning on this being my do-everything-that-my-road-bike-doesn't bike. I'll use it for commuting, light touring, and foul weather riding, but it will probably spend most of its time on the many dirt and gravel roads around Boulder, and maybe some mild singletrack. I also will use it for the occasional local cross race (I know the CC is a tank, but I just do it to have fun and to get muddy. Plus, it'll be way lighter than the mtn bike I race on now).
So my question is what crankset should I get? I'm planning on going compact as I have bad knees and prefer spinning to pushing the big gears. My budget for the crank is $200 but would be FINE with spending less (I'm a poor grad student). I'm leaning towards the Ritchey WCS Compact. Does anyone have experience with this crank? It comes as a 34/50 setup. Can I throw new rings on there during the summer when I'm mostly in the dirt and make it a 36/46 without front derailleur complications (probably will run the 105 FD I have sitting in my parts box)?
I have the Ritchey Pro Compact cranks (the step down from the WCS), and I have no problems. If you were to switch rings to a smaller size the same der. will work you just might have to slide it down just a little bit. I love the compact cranks, much less chain rub than a triple but the same effective gears.
The Ritchey crankset seems to be a popular choice. If you can swing the DA bottom bracket, the overall package is about as light as it gets in a crankset. However, most people probably go with a 105 or Ultegra Octalink bottom bracket for their simplicity.
The SRAM Rival compact crankset is another good choice. A little heavier, but has the outboard bottom bracket. I've seen it for $150 w/bb but you might be able to do better.
I have two sets running 34/46 with a 12-26 and a bad knee. Works great for me!
Cyclocross: Side effects may include but are not limited to; nausea, blurred vision, increased heart rate, and an elevation in blood pressure. Should you experience difficulty sleeping, compulsive headset repacking, frequent derrailuer adjusting, constant checking of tire pressure, or impulse bicycle parts purchasing, register for the next cross race immediately.
Dawes Kalahari, Puch Prima Super Sport, Graham Weigh 853
Sugino XD compact double. Should be under 120$, easily. Best crank ever Square taper is solid, and the bottom brackets last really well too. Lovely silver finish too. If you want to spend more, you could get a Sugino Alpina/Cospea.