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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 08-03-08, 09:00 AM   #1
jonnojohnson
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Budget Cyclo-cross Bike Questions

Hi,

I've very recently discovered cyclo-cross bikes and I'm thinking it might be the right kind of bike for me. I need a very general purpose bike (good for the odd commute or trail) that won't be too slow for the occasional triathlon. Probably my biggest problem is going to be the price. I think I can stretch to about $700. From looking at other threads I figure this limits me to the following new bikes: Redline Conquest Sport or Motobecane Fantom CX from bikesdirect. I'd really like to get a bike from a lbs but I've yet to find one that has a Redline in stock. I did take a look at a Surly Crosscheck and Kona Jake yesterday ($930 & $850 respectively) as these were the cheapest cx bikes they had in stock at the lbs's. Not sure if I could spring that much cash. Does anyone have any ideas or tips for where to look for an older year model or used? One lbs said they could order a Redline Conquest Sport for me for $700 which is nice since I would have the support of the lbs etc but I would really like to test one first.

Having barely ridden a bike at all in the past decade I noticed quite a few differences in the Jake & Crosscheck.

1. Extra brake levers on top. What are the pro's/con's of these? Since my bike will be very general purpose and not used for road racing (but the odd tri) would these likely be useful or pointless? Also I used a hybrid bike with aero bars for my first tri and I found it really helped my comfort and power generation. With a cx I will be in a lower position naturally so I guess the power is not so much an issue but what about the comfort of resting arms? Having never ridden drop bars, would the aero bars help?

2. Shifters. The Crosscheck has the ones on the end of the drop bars, the Jake has the flippers behind the lower brake levers. Any pro's/con's to either of these? For example is one more suited to racing vs touring?

3. Steel vs Alum. I guess it's rigidity vs weight. I figure I don't care too much about weight. In the end I'll probably just get whichever bike is cheaper if it comes down to a choice. But just how much difference would I feel when bouncing around on a trail?

Are there any other considerations?

Cheers,

Jonno in Austin, TX
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Old 08-03-08, 09:26 AM   #2
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1) for general purpose, i suppose crosstop brakes might be semi useful. i have them on my cross bike. i use them because they're there. but i don't miss them when i'm on my roadbike. overall, totally unecessary...but offers a small amount of convenience at times. i don't think they're useful AT ALL for racing cx or tri.

and yes...definitely get clip-on aero bars for the roadbike/cx-bike for tri's. they'll help get you more aero. and if you're doing a long tri, it should be more comfortable than trying to stay aero by being in the drops for 100 miles.

2) the bar end shifters are lighter and supposedly more durable (fewer mechancial issues) than sti style shifters. BUT...you'll see the fast majority of people using STI style. it's just faster and more convenient. go with the STI's.

3) this is just my opinion and i got FLAMED in various forums for this opinion...but i don't think frame material matters that much. comfort is dictated more by fit, geometry, seat, seatpost, handlebars, tires, wheels, and airpressure than frame material. my aluminum cx bike is WAY more comfy over chip seal roads than my carbon roadbike.
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Old 08-03-08, 03:48 PM   #3
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Thanks celerystalksme. Your points make sense to me.

Today I called one lbs who was supposedly a Redline dealer and he was ticked that Redline still listed him as a reseller. He had stopped selling them a year ago due to some issues with warranty coverage. Hmm, not a good sign. I found one other thread on here where someone had had issues with Redline warranties.

I think the Jake had a tapered handlebar in the center. Seems like that would make it difficult to mount the aero bars on.
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Old 08-03-08, 03:54 PM   #4
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Today, Performance Bike Shop had a 15% off coupon for anything in the store/web site including bikes. They had a Fuji Cross Pro that was 1130 out the door for an Ultegra/Dura Ace combo. The Fuji Cross Comp was around 850 out the door (including all taxes) for a full 105-equipped cyclocross bike. I know it's a bit late to let you know about that, but that's a great bike from an LBS....Since you're in the Central time zone, you may still have time to hit a PBS bike shop before they close.....
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Old 08-03-08, 04:03 PM   #5
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i've said this a lot and i'll say it again here...

if you're on a budget and know pretty well how to fit yourself, get a used bike. i got a ultegra and xero lite equipped Blue CX6.5 bike that had been ridden on one traing ride. bike was in factory new condition. $810. and $2k+ that someone rode once for $810? i'll take that, thank you very much.

just scour craigslist, ebay, and the classified section of as many bike forums a possible...
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Old 08-03-08, 10:55 PM   #6
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Yeah I'm definitely up for a used bike. Guess I need to be patient and watch craigslist. I'm a bit hesitant on ebay since I won't get to try the bike out.

kokomo61 I called my local performance store (before I saw your post) and he said the cheapest cx bike they had was $950. I guess he wasn't factoring in the discount.
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Old 08-03-08, 10:58 PM   #7
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Btw I'm guessing that building a bike generally costs more than buying a new one.

Also I saw a Redline on Austin cl (posted yesterday) but it was a 54cm frame. I'm 6'1" so I figure I need 56cm at a minimum.
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Old 08-04-08, 09:39 AM   #8
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What would you say a used 2004 Bianchi Axis is worth btw?
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Old 08-04-08, 10:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kokomo61 View Post
Today, Performance Bike Shop had a 15% off coupon for anything in the store/web site including bikes. They had a Fuji Cross Pro that was 1130 out the door for an Ultegra/Dura Ace combo. The Fuji Cross Comp was around 850 out the door (including all taxes) for a full 105-equipped cyclocross bike. I know it's a bit late to let you know about that, but that's a great bike from an LBS....Since you're in the Central time zone, you may still have time to hit a PBS bike shop before they close.....

The Fuji deals may be over, but if you're willing to go the Performance route, you can get a Tiagra/FSA equipped K2 Enemy (2007) for a cool $740. S and L only.
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Old 08-04-08, 11:19 AM   #10
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Yeah I saw that deal. On the positive side it's a new bike with lbs support. On the negative there's tax and a charge to ship to the lbs taking it to $838 plus the delivery is estimated Aug 25th.
How would you compare that with a 2004 used $700 Bianchi Axis (no tax/shipping, available immediately but of course used).
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Old 08-05-08, 02:13 PM   #11
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For what it's worth I have a Redline Conquest Sport. It has the Sora-level STI shifters and the secondary brake levers which I do use occasionally during my commute.

My LBS actually started carrying Redline CX bikes because of the good responses they've had with warrantee claims. They've carried the Redline BMX line for years and expanded the line because of the good claims history. I think the warrentee issues have as much to do with the brand's local rep as anything else. My LBS actually stopped carrying Specialized for this warrantee claims reason (this is according to them - I've had no experience).

I narrowed my choices (similar budget) down to the Kona Jake and the Redline Conquest Sport. The Kona had marginally better components, but was $150 more. If I was knew I was going to race I might have sprung for the Kona Jake, but I figured I was 99% commuting so I saved the $150 for lights and fenders.
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Old 08-05-08, 06:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
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Btw I'm guessing that building a bike generally costs more than buying a new one.
If you pay retail - yes. If you use craigslist and ebay to buy new or barely used you can save huge. I just finished building one for 55% of what I would have paid retail when it was all said and done.
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Old 08-09-08, 10:59 AM   #13
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Sounds like the Motobecane Fantom CX is your best bet. You can pick it up for about $550 on BikesDirect.com. (shipping included) Your LBS can put it together for way under $150 which gives you some play money. I saw a few negative posts about BikesDirect recently but I've had two good experiences with them. Additionally, I try to keep in mind that unsatisfied customers will always post stuff in the forums. The thousands of satisfied customers usually just get the bike and go on with their life. They offer the bike in a nice looking matte slate gray. BD does appear to have the most bike for the buck anywhere so if you're budgeting they are the way to go.
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Old 08-16-08, 10:34 PM   #14
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ExtremeSelf, are you Mike from BD in disguise?

jonnojohnson - BEWARE of buying from BD. You may get a better price than your LBS, but you are potentially going to get zero customer service and difficulties resolving problems with your order. If you know that up front and are willing to accept that risk, go for it.
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Old 08-16-08, 10:37 PM   #15
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My friends that have BD bikes don't go around slamming BD on the interwebs. Just because you chose to go with your LBS doesn't mean BD is crap.
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Old 08-18-08, 06:38 AM   #16
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ExtremeSelf, are you Mike from BD in disguise?

jonnojohnson - BEWARE of buying from BD. You may get a better price than your LBS, but you are potentially going to get zero customer service and difficulties resolving problems with your order. If you know that up front and are willing to accept that risk, go for it.
BD opinions range widely, but buying from your local LBS doesn't equate with good future service either. Mine announced they were closing their doors 2 weeks after I bought my bike. Their last day is mid-September. After that I will be doing my own work or visiting other shops no differently than a BD customer.

My recommendation is get a good fitting. Pay for it! LBS's are small businesses and if you take 45 minutes to be fitted, they deserve something even if you don't buy a bike from them. Once you know what size bike is correct for you (not just stand over height, but top tube length, etc) you can intelligently research your options. Once you've narrowed down your options you can select based upon price, local support (if needed), components, brand, etc.
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Old 08-19-08, 02:34 PM   #17
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Slam? I didn't say anything that isn't true. The guy has a choice, and he needs to make an informed decision. I'll probably buy my next one from BD, and now that I know what to expect (possibly), I'll be better prepared.

You're right about the LBS. Service may not be as good as you expect. I know that too.
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