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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 11-12-08, 03:00 PM   #1
jshowyin
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Kona Major Jake v. Salsa Chili Con Crosso v. Redline Conquest

Hi Guy and Gals,

Thanks for putting together such an informative forum.

A bit of background on me: 5'9" tall, 215lbs, 31" inseam. All previous biking experience has been on a mountain bike. Used to do a lot of off trail stuff back home in Australia, but since moving to NorCal about 1.5 years ago put slicks on my MTB and have been riding only on the road. Was initially looking at getting a road bike, but then came across some cyclocross bikes and started looking into them. I recently did a bit of buying and selling on eB** and ended up with a decent clincher wheelset, Ritchey bar/stem/post and full 2006 campy record group for less than $150.

My aims/requirements are as follows:
* for the next year or two, until we go back to Australia, my riding will be 100% road, so will be running skinny tires on the cx bike.
* it's easier for me to lose some weight than to pay mucho $$ to drop a pound or two, but would still like the final bike to be in the 17-19lb range when wearing "road wheels".
* don't want a frame that is a noodle, due to my weight. Would like the frame to be built tough enough to last me many years.
* looking for a frame that will still be comfortable after a metric century.
* don't want to spend more than another $1000 preferably.
* I realise that it might come down to the fit of a particular frame

The three frames in the subject line I have come across and been interested in. Buying new they all look to fall around the same mark - $900-1000 for the frame and fork.

* Anyone have any opinions as to which might be the best for me given the criteria above?
* Also, the best carbon fork for a heavier rider?
* best brakes for riding on the road when mud clearance isn't a problem?

Sorry for the long post, but TIA for any wisdom shared. Jared
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Old 11-13-08, 11:52 AM   #2
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You should be able to get the Conquest frame for well under $1,000. I just paid that for the complete bike.
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Old 11-13-08, 12:08 PM   #3
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I have a JTS. I'm 230 or so, and ride a 58. I've done several centuries with no problems (actually pretty comfy) and with road wheels it's noticeably lighter -- I've never weighed it, but I've heard that stock they run about 21 lbs. Frame not noodly under me at all -- feels stiff without being punishing. I would assume the Major would be lighter.
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Old 11-13-08, 12:33 PM   #4
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So, you'll be riding completely on the road and you want a bike that will be comfortable on long rides?

I'd say you're looking for a road bike.

While I ride my 'cross bike on the road during 'cross season, its bone-jarring stiff, and not anywhere near as comfortable as my road bike.

Road bikes aren't the fragile tooth-pick-framed machines that people make them out to be. 'Cross bikes have to make compromises in order to work off-road that make them disadvantaged on the road.

Just sayin'........
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Old 11-13-08, 02:19 PM   #5
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Road bikes aren't the fragile tooth-pick-framed machines that people make them out to be. 'Cross bikes have to make compromises in order to work off-road that make them disadvantaged on the road.
+1

That said, I love my Con Crosso. But I think getting it AND a good headset AND good canti's for under $1k would be a tight squeeze, and not putting nobbies on it would be straight up wrong.
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Old 11-13-08, 10:48 PM   #6
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Thanks for the shared wisdom guys. Just to clarify. My situation is that my family and I have moved to NorCal from Australia so that my wife can work here for a few years. I am looking after my two young daughters (best job in the world). With no family here, I cannot afford to get hurt/incapacitated. Therefore, I am comfortable riding on the road, but have no desire to tempt fate by venturing off it. This situation will only be while we are in the States (1-2 years). So the bike I choose will be used completely as a road bike for 2 years, but then as it was intended when I go home.

I was initially looking at road bikes (already have a 7yo hardtail MTB here), but came across some cross bikes and the flexibility of them got me interested in finding out more about them.

Having said all that, based on your advice I may indeed just get a road bike and keep my MTB. Just hoping to get enough info to make an informed, and hopefully the right, choice.

Thanks again for your assistance. Any other shared wisdom is much appreciated.
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Old 11-14-08, 08:10 AM   #7
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Bah.

Cross bike will be 95% as fast as a roadie, and WAY more flexible. I got a set of raod wheels and can ride with roadies all day, but i can also switch out to knobbies for fire roads. If you can only have one nice bike, they are great.

One thing, though. Not sure about the assessment that you're more likey to gte hurt off road. There tend to be fewer dolt drivers and soccer moms in mini-vans...

Also, cross bikes are buil beefier than road bikes. At our weight, that can make a difference.
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Old 11-14-08, 08:51 AM   #8
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I cannot afford to get hurt/incapacitated. Therefore, I am comfortable riding on the road, but have no desire to tempt fate by venturing off it. [...]
The worst injuries I have seen were incurred on the road, and not off it. If you don't have health insurance, well god bless you.

That said, if you already have a mountain bike and you are not interested in racing cross, a road bike seems like a more logical purchase.
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Old 11-15-08, 12:47 AM   #9
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I have a Redline Conquest Pro that I ride 'cross with. In the winter it doubles as my rain bike.

However, for the road when it's not raining I prefer my road bike (CF Specialized Roubaix) hands down over the redline. Both are fun to ride, but the road bike is much more comfortable on the road (for me anyway.)

The other reason I don't prefer the 'cross bike on the road is the canti brakes. IMO they are inferior to the side pull brakes on the road bike. I also get alot of annoying fork chatter with them and wouldn't have confidence stopping fast enough in traffic if I had to.

just my 2 cents.
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Old 11-15-08, 08:57 AM   #10
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Many people have commented that beefy aluminum framed cross bikes are not all that comfortable. Same is often said of alu road bike frames. Some also say that heavier riders like the OP find them comfortable because their weight actually flexes the frame, thereby making it more comfortable. Not sure if any of it is true as it's all just opinions. Scandium is rumored to be more comfortable. But there is far less web chatter about steel, titanium or carbon frames being uncomfortable. Go ride a Conquest as it's probably the only one you'll find in a store to ride. Make sure you have the cross tires pumped up to the maximum which will get you somewhat closer to the feeling once you put 23s on them. Actually, at your weight, I'd run 25s. Anyway, ride on crappy roads, cracks, etc. If it's OK, then you can save a ton by buying an alu/scandium frame. If not, read on.

I have a Habanero titanium frame / bike. It is my favorite bike whether I have the cross wheelset on it (19.5 lbs) or the road wheelset on it (18.5 lbs). No doubt part of the favorite feeling is that I must have it set up perfectly and the others maybe a bit off. Before the Hab, I had a Waterford Cross (531 steel). Loved that bike too until I drove it into the garage (RIP). I'm kinda glad I had the opportunity to buy the Hab, I like it a lot better. I am same height and inseam as you, I always buy 54 (virtual) top tube, though 53 feels pretty good too.

Back on topic, of the three you highlighted, I like the Salsa by a mile.
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Old 11-17-08, 02:02 AM   #11
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Thanks again everyone for your help and taking the time to comment.

Another question. If I am comparing an aluminium or scandium cross bike with an aluminium or scandium road bike am I going to notice any difference in the ride? I understand that the geometry between the two may be slightly different, but any other differences.

After reading superstator's comments I looked into the price of brakes and headsets and he/she is right. If I buy a new frame (any of the three I was interested in), then it's unlikely that I would have enough left over in my budget for the other stuff.

Therefore:
* I am reconsidering buying a used frame (and losing the warranty as a result). Can anyone tell me of their experiences with the durability/longevity of any of the three frames above?
* I have read numerous times about canti brakes not being as powerful as other options. Are the cheaper ones even "worse" - ie. less powerful or harder to adjust etc? Can anyone recommend any decent cheaper brake options?

Thanks again.
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Old 11-17-08, 08:19 AM   #12
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i put together a conquest will full 2008 ultegra for under $1000 off ebay. everything was either new or slightly used. the bike works well for off road stuff and i commute on it every day. i rode from philly to nyc on it and i had no problems. i'm 200+ lbs and i don't notice any flexing in the frame.
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Old 11-17-08, 08:05 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by jshowyin View Post
Thanks again everyone for your help and taking the time to comment.

Another question. If I am comparing an aluminium or scandium cross bike with an aluminium or scandium road bike am I going to notice any difference in the ride? I understand that the geometry between the two may be slightly different, but any other differences.

After reading superstator's comments I looked into the price of brakes and headsets and he/she is right. If I buy a new frame (any of the three I was interested in), then it's unlikely that I would have enough left over in my budget for the other stuff.

Therefore:
* I am reconsidering buying a used frame (and losing the warranty as a result). Can anyone tell me of their experiences with the durability/longevity of any of the three frames above?
* I have read numerous times about canti brakes not being as powerful as other options. Are the cheaper ones even "worse" - ie. less powerful or harder to adjust etc? Can anyone recommend any decent cheaper brake options?

Thanks again.
Tube shape makes a big difference - I think the Con Crosso has a very forgiving, even springy ride, but I think that's down to the shaping of the stays at least as much as to the material. Add variables like tires, tire pressure, and wheelset, and I personally think frame material is a pretty small slice of the total "feel" of the bike.

Longevity has been fine with mine. The top tube mounted cables rub on the paint, but that's life with a cross bike. It's got two seasons of racing on it, and I'm not a lightweight or at all shy about abusing it. I ripped the rear der off in the spokes a few weeks ago, and the replaceable hanger just bent a teensy bit until the derailleur body itself snapped. New 105 der, bent the hanger back, and it was good as new. Then again, I've done the exact same stuff to my plain jane OCR for four or five years now, and it's taken it like a champ - including the destroying of derailleurs and some inadvisable offroading.

My canti's are tektro oryx ($16 at Jenson). They have less leverage I think than calipers or nice canti's like Pauls, but they work well enough. My hands do cramp up a bit on long descents, and a technical singletrack descent is especially unpleasant. IOW, they're safe, but you'll definitely be wanting to upgrade pretty quickly.
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Old 11-18-08, 09:36 AM   #14
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RE: buying used...

I recently bought a used Salsa Las Cruces (really close to the Con Crosso) and think I really got lucky...my bike was only used as a back-up and only raced once (was ridden some otherwise), it is in really good shape. Everyone I talked to that knows about scandnium says that they get 2, maybe 3 seasons if it is being used as a race bike....maybe less if used on the northeast coast. So far, I really like my Las Cruces but can tell you it WAY stiffer than my steel Rivendell Bleriot (although a good 10# lighter!) I think if I was in your position (or buying sight unseen again), I'd look for a Redline Conquest or Kona JTS frame. I'd be really leery of a scandnium frame if you can't inspect it yourself.

I think you'd be wise to go with a cross frame though, mine rides just fine on the road with Conti Gatorskins in 25c...

BTW- I've got Tektro CR720s on my bike and really like them, great brake for the price! I did splurge on a King HS though...
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Old 11-18-08, 04:22 PM   #15
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I bought my Major Jake used about 2 years old with light use. It has been a dream to ride. I have absolutely no issues with buying used and pretty much buy all of my bikes that way.

I own both a racing road bike and the Major Jake. The Major Jake will certainly hold its own against the road bikes up to about 25 mph but after that I would have to admit that the TCR0 is just plain faster (probably due to a different position).

For almost all instances of road riding (and for most of my off roading in Boise), the Major Jake is a wonderful frame.

I also run the tektro Oryx's. I swapped out a pair of XTR v brakes for them. The Oryx stop WAY better than the v brakes did even with a travel agent. I really like them but I weigh about 170.

Last edited by Sawtooth; 11-18-08 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 11-24-08, 04:56 PM   #16
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Hello Everyone,

Thanks for all the new insights and advice. In light of Sawtooth's comments - At the moment I am nowhere near my peak fitness, but even if I was I can't forsee myself maintaining an average speed over 25mph on the flats (or in the hills for that matter . Therefore, one more question, what are the cross bikes like when descending on the road at 35+mph?

Thanks again.
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Old 02-04-09, 04:18 PM   #17
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Hello Everyone,

Thanks for all the new insights and advice. In light of Sawtooth's comments - At the moment I am nowhere near my peak fitness, but even if I was I can't forsee myself maintaining an average speed over 25mph on the flats (or in the hills for that matter . Therefore, one more question, what are the cross bikes like when descending on the road at 35+mph?

Thanks again.
Hi jshowyin...I just saw this and realized that nonbody had ever answered you....I hope this is not too late...

I have had my Major Jake up over 50 mph a couple of times on a crazy big descent here. It did just fine. Of course, at that kind of speed, you are hyper aware of everything and time seems to stand still...so the experience is kind of unreal.

In short, I have not found the cross bike to be undesireable compared to the road bike in any instance except for trying to motor along on the flats at high speed. And even then, it is a very minor difference as long as you have the road tires on.
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