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  1. #1
    Junior Member Leopard_Wrasse's Avatar
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    Cycle Cross with road shocks?

    Hey all,

    I'm looking to purchase a new ride and think a cycle cross bike is the way to go for me. It's mostly for everyday use like commuting, but I will be doing some open road riding as well. I'd rather spend decent money on a single bike than spread my money across several different bikes. Now the problem... I weigh in around 285lbs. I expect this to drop with the more riding I do, but for now it is what it is. Therefore, I'm concerned about the abuse this bike will take. I am under the impression that if the bike had a front shock it would ease the abuse. Any truth to this? If so, are there cycle cross bikes with front a front shock, or could it be an aftermarket addition?

    TIA,
    LW

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    Cannondale used to offer a cross bike with a headshok. And there are many 700c/29" suspension forks available.

    Unless your commute involves significant potholes and curb hops or rocky singletrack, I think you'll find that suspension is overkill. You'll lose significant pedaling energy to the shock, and you aren't so heavy that you couldn't ride a well built steel or carbon fork.

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    antisocialite dirtyphotons's Avatar
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    yeah i always recommend picking the bike based on the type of ride, not the rider. if you find you prefer the feel of shocks then great, but most people like the increased efficiency of a rigid fork when on the road or light trails. i sell full carbon bikes to guys your size, none have had any problems (p.s. i don't recommend a carbon bike for normal riding, but that's because bikes get banged around, not because of rider weight)

    try em both and see which you find comfortable. you can always switch out the fork if you want to try something different.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sheldon Brown
    Because when fashion conflicts with function, I vote for function.

  4. #4
    Senior Member telebianchi's Avatar
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    At your current weight, you might do more damage to a road bike suspension fork than to the bike itself. The road bike suspension forks I've seen have not been nearly as robust as a good mountain bike suspension fork. There could definitely be exceptions, but these road bike suspension forks tend to show up more on the lower-to-mid priced hybrids for people taking short Sunday rides to the coffee shop. Nothing wrong with that, but a less demanding use than what it sounds like you're looking to do.

    Larger tires with lower PSI would probably be an easier way to smooth out your ride a bit. That's a nice benefit of the CX frames compared to a dedicated road bike frame.

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    Don't know what your fitness level is or how hard you ride or what you ride over and into, but as a fellow large mammal, though a full size down at a 235 max (now down to 210) I can fully abuse equipment. Even large, I'm fit and ride very aggressively (with the occasional podium to prove it) so I feel qualified to comment.

    Springs and shocks spare you more than the bike. They are actually one more thing to break or wear out so they won't save wear and tear on the machine. Bike damage has much more to do with how you ride than with your weight. A 160 lb kid with no sensitivity to the machine and a bad attitude busts up a lot more parts than I do. So will a large guy who plants his butt on the saddle like dead weight and just plows into stuff, or trusts indexed shifting to change his gears no matter how he's pedaling. That sort of behavior is what breaks parts, not being big and riding hard.

    I don't think you need to look for anything special in a bike, just wide enough tires, something like a 38 or so and have a care for the bike. Soft pedal the up shifts. Get your ample arse up out of the saddle and shift your substantial weight going over obstacles, keep enough air in the tires to avoid pinch flats and don't do anything stupid or crazy. Or at least do stupid and crazy with a plan B and a care for the bike's survival.

    For the most part exotic materials are wasted on us, but here's a guideline: Carbon and titanium and such are stronger than steel POUND FOR POUND but weaker inch for inch. So where the designer can take more room for a part these materials are every bit as strong or stronger. Forks and frames are a good example, for all but the raciest, lightest and most expensive ones titanium and CF forks and frames tend to be seriously over built. Parts where the size is constrained by the need to fit other standardized components are substantially weaker. Things like ti saddle rails or CF stems and handle bars are to be avoided. Of course that's a generalization but, well, generalizations are generally true.

    The parts we endanger the most are the wheels. Good 36 spoke wheels preferably with some section to the rim and butted spokes with brass nipples tensioned well are the way to go. You can go with less, say 32 spokes and box section rims, but must be well built of good materials and you should be careful about what you try to run over (I'm guessing bunny hopping isn't going to happen so much). Again, technique is everything. You don't have to be nifty on the bike but you do have to get out of the saddle and use your legs for shocks coming off curbs or jumps and don't "stomp" the bike into the ground on the landings.

    Like I said, even at 230 and riding trails hard on a cross bike, I don't break stuff and good 32 spoke wheels hold up and stay true for me. But it's more about how you ride than anything else. If you're staying on paved stuff and avoiding jumps and drops you shouldn't have anything to worry about. These machines have enjoyed about 140 years of evolution and the combined efforts of some of the smartest inventors and engineers on the planet from the Wright brothers on down. Ride and enjoy.

    If you really want to stay conservative on the sturdiness side, get an ancient mountain bike, like from the 80s. Steel, rigid and solid but light, put smooth tires on it and ride the hell out of it. If you say more about your bike experience and riding intentions, we can get specific.

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    I think your idea of getting a cross bike is spot on.

    Air in your tires is the best form of suspension, and is free.

    I recommend the Surly Cross-check, because it has the most tire clearance of any cross bike of which I am aware. Sturdy 4130 steel tubing. And the complete bike comes with actually a pretty nice and sensible complement of parts, for the price. For street and road, I would replace the knobby tires with a good slick like the Panaracer Pasela TG 700x32C or Avocet Cross II 700x32C.

    Another bike that I like is the Bianchi Volpe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronsonic View Post
    Like I said, even at 230 and riding trails hard on a cross bike, I don't break stuff and good 32 spoke wheels hold up and stay true for me. But it's more about how you ride than anything else.
    I am a believer in 36 spokes after spending a year of Saturdays riding my Surly Steamroller at Oak Mountain on 32C tires. They stayed true after quite a bit of abuse.

    My problem wasn't the wheels, but pinch-flatting. But I was playing around with how low I could set the tire pressure.

    That said, it's very rare to find 36 spokes these days. 32 is fine. Important thing IMO is that they are properly tensioned, and that you have a big enough tire with enough air so you can run reasonably low pressures, not bottom out, and not pinch flat. For what the OP stated I think 32C is good, for rooty and rocky trails he'd want to go bigger of course, and the cool thing about the Cross Check is you can go significantly bigger.

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    Junior Member Leopard_Wrasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by justinb View Post
    Cannondale used to offer a cross bike with a headshok. And there are many 700c/29" suspension forks available.

    Unless your commute involves significant potholes and curb hops or rocky singletrack, I think you'll find that suspension is overkill. You'll lose significant pedaling energy to the shock, and you aren't so heavy that you couldn't ride a well built steel or carbon fork.

    What about having a shock with a lock-out feature. Seems like th ebest of both worlds... shocks for rough terrain, or no shocks for everyday riding.

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    Junior Member Leopard_Wrasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by telebianchi View Post
    Larger tires with lower PSI would probably be an easier way to smooth out your ride a bit. That's a nice benefit of the CX frames compared to a dedicated road bike frame.
    Well that is actually something I would like to avoid. I would prefer faster tires with higher pressure if possible. I'm not overly concerned about my ride comfort. Just concerned with A) the bike holding up to the pounding it will recieve from my wieght, and B) going fast

  10. #10
    Junior Member Leopard_Wrasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ronsonic View Post
    Don't know what your fitness level is or how hard you ride or what you ride over and into, but as a fellow large mammal, though a full size down at a 235 max (now down to 210) I can fully abuse equipment. Even large, I'm fit and ride very aggressively (with the occasional podium to prove it) so I feel qualified to comment.

    Springs and shocks spare you more than the bike. They are actually one more thing to break or wear out so they won't save wear and tear on the machine. Bike damage has much more to do with how you ride than with your weight. A 160 lb kid with no sensitivity to the machine and a bad attitude busts up a lot more parts than I do. So will a large guy who plants his butt on the saddle like dead weight and just plows into stuff, or trusts indexed shifting to change his gears no matter how he's pedaling. That sort of behavior is what breaks parts, not being big and riding hard.

    I don't think you need to look for anything special in a bike, just wide enough tires, something like a 38 or so and have a care for the bike. Soft pedal the up shifts. Get your ample arse up out of the saddle and shift your substantial weight going over obstacles, keep enough air in the tires to avoid pinch flats and don't do anything stupid or crazy. Or at least do stupid and crazy with a plan B and a care for the bike's survival.

    For the most part exotic materials are wasted on us, but here's a guideline: Carbon and titanium and such are stronger than steel POUND FOR POUND but weaker inch for inch. So where the designer can take more room for a part these materials are every bit as strong or stronger. Forks and frames are a good example, for all but the raciest, lightest and most expensive ones titanium and CF forks and frames tend to be seriously over built. Parts where the size is constrained by the need to fit other standardized components are substantially weaker. Things like ti saddle rails or CF stems and handle bars are to be avoided. Of course that's a generalization but, well, generalizations are generally true.

    The parts we endanger the most are the wheels. Good 36 spoke wheels preferably with some section to the rim and butted spokes with brass nipples tensioned well are the way to go. You can go with less, say 32 spokes and box section rims, but must be well built of good materials and you should be careful about what you try to run over (I'm guessing bunny hopping isn't going to happen so much). Again, technique is everything. You don't have to be nifty on the bike but you do have to get out of the saddle and use your legs for shocks coming off curbs or jumps and don't "stomp" the bike into the ground on the landings.

    Like I said, even at 230 and riding trails hard on a cross bike, I don't break stuff and good 32 spoke wheels hold up and stay true for me. But it's more about how you ride than anything else. If you're staying on paved stuff and avoiding jumps and drops you shouldn't have anything to worry about. These machines have enjoyed about 140 years of evolution and the combined efforts of some of the smartest inventors and engineers on the planet from the Wright brothers on down. Ride and enjoy.

    If you really want to stay conservative on the sturdiness side, get an ancient mountain bike, like from the 80s. Steel, rigid and solid but light, put smooth tires on it and ride the hell out of it. If you say more about your bike experience and riding intentions, we can get specific.
    Thanks for taking the time to reply.

    I'm not too in condition for this honestly, but that *will* change. I'm not exactly a blob of goo at 285lbs, either. I'm an ex-college football athlete that at one time was in optimum conditioning, and have since slacked for about 10 years. The muscle base is there, and I'm mentally aware of what it takes to return to said fitness level. I will consider myself back to "near-optimum" when I reach 250lbs or so. I played at 250 with 5% body fat - thus I'm a big boy regardless of my conditioning level. But 250, for now, is a dream. I'd be happy just to see the scale going down to 270 for now.

    As mentioned above, I hope to be riding the thinnest tire possible at my size. Although my riding style will take some perfecting, I'm quite aware of my need to "ride soft." I'm beating up an older mountain bike currently, hopefully learning this trait. Knock on wood, but I haven't had the older bike complain yet. For the most part my riding will be pavement. I will go off-road, but when I do I will have the proper tires for such an adventure, and i won;t be going crazy. My off trail riding will never get to the competitive levels... just a day in the woods looking for good photography possibilities. I'll guesstimate my riding to be over 90% pavement though. My commute to work will likely be under 10 miles round trip. Naturally that takes me over diverse road grades, but still pavement. I will guess that most my riding mileage will take place on open country roads where I prefer to be "hammer down."

    I was aware of needing a good set of wheels. It is not an avenue I have researched yet, but once I'm closer to the point of purchase I will then look towards my wheel set. I don't expect to go cheap here, realizing that my weight simply won't allow it long term. I expdect tohav eseveral sets of wheels and tires, too. One for general commuting, one training, one for off-road, and yet another for spiked tires in the winter.

  11. #11
    Junior Member Leopard_Wrasse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flargle View Post
    I think your idea of getting a cross bike is spot on.

    Air in your tires is the best form of suspension, and is free.

    I recommend the Surly Cross-check, because it has the most tire clearance of any cross bike of which I am aware. Sturdy 4130 steel tubing. And the complete bike comes with actually a pretty nice and sensible complement of parts, for the price. For street and road, I would replace the knobby tires with a good slick like the Panaracer Pasela TG 700x32C or Avocet Cross II 700x32C.

    Another bike that I like is the Bianchi Volpe.
    That is the exact bike I have been considering most recently. My local shop can order it for me at a great price, but that also means I won't see it nor ride it prior to purchase. Any info you can pass along regarding this bike would be greatly appreciated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leopard_Wrasse View Post
    That is the exact bike I have been considering most recently. My local shop can order it for me at a great price, but that also means I won't see it nor ride it prior to purchase. Any info you can pass along regarding this bike would be greatly appreciated.
    I can't tell if you mean the Volpe or the Cross Check, but both bikes come with pretty sturdy 32-spoke wheels, which is a good thing. Componentry for both bikes is sensible IMO. The Volpe comes with a triple chainring, which IMO is a good thing, but the Cross Check gearing goes plenty low, as well.

    There is something about the Volpe I find very appealing, but it might just be the Bianchi mark. I prefer this older color scheme to what I've seen on more recent models, but that's strictly a personal thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leopard_Wrasse View Post
    Well that is actually something I would like to avoid. I would prefer faster tires with higher pressure if possible. I'm not overly concerned about my ride comfort. Just concerned with A) the bike holding up to the pounding it will recieve from my wieght, and B) going fast
    For my commute and JRA fun bike, I'm running 32mm tires and they're plenty fast for that type of riding. One thing to note is that too narrow a tire and too high a pressure starts increasing the rolling resistance. A softer tire swallows small obstructions (e.g., bad road surfaces, pebbles) a harder one creates a micro-hill to climb taking more energy. Anyway, I don't see a problem for you on any cross bike that fits and isn't race specific.

    Have fun, I don't think you've got anything much to worry about in the hardware department.

  14. #14
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    The crosscheck would be perfect for you. Volpe is another good option, as stated.

    The volpe, if it'slike most normal 'cross bikes, should be able to take arear tire up to about 40mm. The crosscheck can take tires that are almost int he mountain bike range (1.8 inches or so). While you may not want that wide of a tire, it's a good option to have. Also, consider this: If I, who ranges between 145-150 pounds can use 35mm tires at 40-50 PSI and 20/24 spoke count wheels, it would make sense to increase those numbers for someone your size. The IRC MYthos CX slicks are a great, fast roling tire and come in 700 x42. Like I said, they are fast, but have some volume. they also come in a 35mm version, which I've used. The 35s actually run kind of narow, more like 30-32.

    Sorry if any of those numbers are daunting, just my two cents.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leopard_Wrasse View Post
    What about having a shock with a lock-out feature. Seems like th ebest of both worlds... shocks for rough terrain, or no shocks for everyday riding.
    Zinn recently wrote an article about road suspension:
    http://www.velonews.com/article/75037

    At least two Paris-Roubaix were won using suspension forks in the 90s, so the idea isn't without merit. Gary Fisher sells a line called "dual sport" that uses short-travel suspension forks that have lockout:
    http://www.fisherbikes.com/bike/series/dualsport

    I somehow suspect, though, that these Fisher bikes wouldn't satisfy your "need for speed" in the same way as a cross bike, and I believe you'd be paying a significant weight penalty.

    AFAIK there is no suspension fork on the market that you could use with a standard road or cross frame. You'd have to build around a 29er or custom frame.

  16. #16
    old and in the way grueling's Avatar
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    I put an older Manitou 700c fork on my cross bike. After racing with it (too heavy and not needed) and road riding with it (fork dive while cornering at high speeds) I removed it and went back to a steel fork. CX bike works well on the road. I run Ritchey Speedmax 30s which are semi slicks and fairly quick on the road, but do well on gravel, dirt etc. The Mythos 35s are GREAT tires, but I wouldn't run them on the road, due to speed penalty, weight, and fast wear of knobbies on pavement.

    IMHO you will not want the weight and motioin of a suspension fork when you are riding mainly road. A cross bike does farily well off road, almost like riding MTBs in the late eighties before suspension.

  17. #17
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    I have a CrossCheck and its served me well. I have weighed up to 265 and carry a backpack that can get up to about 20-25 lbs or so. I couldn't keep the stock wheels true even after having the stock rim relaced with double butted spokes by the LBS so I had to upgrade to 36 spoke Mavic A719s that I got from Ebay.
    I live in a hilly area and find the stock gearing doesn't really go low enough.
    It's spec'ed as a cyclocross bike, not a touring bike.

    The Volpe has a triple so gearing on it, at least in stock form, its got a wider range of gears.
    I believe it also has 36 spoke wheels, so for a larger guy it'd be a better bet.
    In fact, and don't let my bike hear it, I think a Volpe would have been a better bet for what I need.
    I really like the GangGreen colored bikes. This year's model is some weird gold color.

    Lambo
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