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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 02-22-09, 02:49 PM   #1
Bucuresti
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Help - Beginner - Need some advice

As the header says - I would be a beginner. I haven't bought a bike yet - been doing some research. I've looked at a few - Trek XO-1, Jami SuperNova and Cannondale, etc. Not sure what kind of bike per say I would need. Here is why: I am overweight - 5'9, 200 but active. I used to play rugby and still go to the gym 3-4x week and swim 15 miles a week. For me, I love activity and would love to pick up cyclocrossing b/c of the biking aspect as well as the endurance factor. Unfor, b/c of my commute, it's a sport that I would only be able to do on the weekends - riding 50 miles on a weekday is impossible, so I guess like the saying goes, I would be more of a weekend warrior. I have a few questions and hopefully it doesn't sound too stupid:

1. Based on my frame, if there a brand that kind of sticks out for us overweight guys?lol

2. Should I invest in a cyclecross bike or road?

Is there a decent brand between 400-1k? I've checked LBS and of course what they sell is the high end and I'm not in the mood to pay 2k for a weekend bike. I realize that fit is critical.

3. I would like to eventually get into some competition and not sure if there is a clinic or training camp in the midatlantic area. Does anyone know of one? How would one learn the basics besines reading a book?

Appreciate any feedback
George
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Old 02-22-09, 06:50 PM   #2
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others will surely chime in with more direct answers to your first question (i'm a newb to cx myself, so i don't have much to say about frames) but i wanted to say that even riding 5-10 miles a couple nights during the week can be helpful. you don't have to do 50 to better your riding fitness. i rarely do long (30+ mile) rides, mostly because i get bored easily, lol. anyway, my point is to just ride, ride, ride. if you are just getting into biking, don't worry about how far or fast you ride, just get on the bike.

as for #2, if you want to ride 'cross, get a 'cross bike... you can ride them on the road just fine, and if you have the $$$ you can get a 2nd set of tires (or even wheels, which would be simpler but more $) and swap them out for long road rides. i would say a cx bike is much more nicely adapted for road use than vice-versa

where in the mid-atlantic are you?
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Old 02-23-09, 09:29 AM   #3
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imho, it doesn't seem 200 pounds is too much for any given frame, per se. if you're concerned about anything, it should be your wheels. lots of the bladed spoke fancy pants wheels have weight limits, which you would want to be aware of. stick with something 32 or 36 spoke to be safe.

if you plan on eventually competing, you should invest in which ever bike is required for which ever competition is most interesting to you. obviously cross racing is the best and super fun, but not for everyone. i've only raced track and cross, but the general attitude at a cross race is much more laid back and more fun oriented.

i'm sure if there is cross racing in your area, there are clinics and practice days and so forth. perhaps there are also group road rides of your caliber from a lbs, which would be a great way to meet other riders, learn good routes, etc. throw some slicks on a cross bike and you pretty much have a road bike!

if you're on a budget, you could consider buying used or picking up something from www.bikesdirect.com. however, as you are aware, fit is critical. you may want to get a general idea of your fit by going through one of the various fit calculators. this one is good:
http://www.competitivecyclist.com/za...LCULATOR_INTRO

a lbs can help fit you to your new bike, which helps justify the higher cost. also, if you're a beginner, bicycle mechanics may be quite challenging, aside from requiring tools. a used bike may require some tweaking. a bikesdirect bike requires some assembly and tuning. either situation could also mean a trip to your lbs for help, which would be a hidden cost. a lbs would have your bike ready to ride and can be a point of contact for future repairs and so forth.
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Old 02-25-09, 08:56 AM   #4
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Well, as a fellow n00b, I'll tell you what I've learned. I'm 5'9'' and 170lbs, so we're similar for the most part. I ride a 54cm frame. I use a Motobecane Fantom CX, which you can get on sprtymamabikes.com or bikesdirect.com. Apparently the two sites are related. Anyway, it's about a third of Motobecane's suggested retail price. Granted, it will require some assembly, but nothing serious. Pretty much just attaching the handlebar, the front wheel, the brakes, and the pedals. I love my bike, it holds up great, and it's added about 7mph to my average speed since I switched from my old MTB. If you're planning on getting SPD pedals (you should), get something that is easy to get in and out of, and sheds mud easily. I'd recommend anything CrankBros. I've got the Eggbeater SL's but, since you sound like a bigger guy, you might want to get the Candy SL's. They're essentially Eggbeaters with a platform on them. My Eggs are so great. Easy to clip into (they're my first pair of clips) and easy to get out of. And they hold up great. With those pedals you'll want mountain bike shoes. I've got a pair of Specialized that I got at my LBS for $90. Probably much cheaper online, but you'll want to try them on. They should have spikes like football/baseball cleats. That'll help with running in the mud. Also, Cx is a fall/winter sport, so make sure you have some gloves and a long sleeve jersey or under armour cold gear to wear under your jersey.

In terms of training, my average ride is about 20 miles, +/- 5. I try to ride as much as possible...but its cold in Jersey, and the cold sucks. Plus, I don't have much time. However, as soon as my school fencing season is over, it should be warm and I'll have a lot of time; I'm planning to do 20mi every day. So ride a lot, and run a lot. From what I hear, running will kick your ass in a race. Drink shakes (bananas, strawberries, yogurt, milk, protein powder...yum!) and eat lots of red meat. Watch some videos to perfect your technique for dismounting, etc. Find your local park to train in, that ought to be a good place.

Finally...remember to have fun!
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Old 02-25-09, 09:44 PM   #5
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If you are going to buy local, new is going to push your budget. The Kona Jake and Surly Cross Check are good choices. If you are confident doing your own setup go for the Motobecane like Monty said. Remember to budget for pedals (egg beater SL's are great), shoes, tools, and a tire pump.
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Old 02-25-09, 11:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monty93 View Post
Well, as a fellow n00b, I'll tell you what I've learned. I'm 5'9'' and 170lbs, so we're similar for the most part. I ride a 54cm frame. I use a Motobecane Fantom CX, which you can get on sprtymamabikes.com or bikesdirect.com. Apparently the two sites are related. Anyway, it's about a third of Motobecane's suggested retail price. Granted, it will require some assembly, but nothing serious. Pretty much just attaching the handlebar, the front wheel, the brakes, and the pedals. I love my bike, it holds up great, and it's added about 7mph to my average speed since I switched from my old MTB. If you're planning on getting SPD pedals (you should), get something that is easy to get in and out of, and sheds mud easily. I'd recommend anything CrankBros. I've got the Eggbeater SL's but, since you sound like a bigger guy, you might want to get the Candy SL's. They're essentially Eggbeaters with a platform on them. My Eggs are so great. Easy to clip into (they're my first pair of clips) and easy to get out of. And they hold up great. With those pedals you'll want mountain bike shoes. I've got a pair of Specialized that I got at my LBS for $90. Probably much cheaper online, but you'll want to try them on. They should have spikes like football/baseball cleats. That'll help with running in the mud. Also, Cx is a fall/winter sport, so make sure you have some gloves and a long sleeve jersey or under armour cold gear to wear under your jersey.

In terms of training, my average ride is about 20 miles, +/- 5. I try to ride as much as possible...but its cold in Jersey, and the cold sucks. Plus, I don't have much time. However, as soon as my school fencing season is over, it should be warm and I'll have a lot of time; I'm planning to do 20mi every day. So ride a lot, and run a lot. From what I hear, running will kick your ass in a race. Drink shakes (bananas, strawberries, yogurt, milk, protein powder...yum!) and eat lots of red meat. Watch some videos to perfect your technique for dismounting, etc. Find your local park to train in, that ought to be a good place.

Finally...remember to have fun!
I have the same size frame too. Awesome bike.
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Old 02-26-09, 01:14 AM   #7
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I just got my CX bike this winter, so I'm super newb, but I figured I'd chime in. I don't know why you would go for a road bike over CX really - there's practically no drawback. Like the above poster, I got a Motobecane Fantom in 54cm. I'm just shy of 5'11" and it feels perfect to me. Based the numbers on the bikesdirect website, I seemed closer to a 56cm, but after closely measuring my old bike, the 54cm seemed to be the winner. I'd suggest having your shop size you up if you are unsure. I was definitely a bit nervous about the fit, but ultimately happy that I didn't go for the 56cm. I also had the local shop set the bike up so I could be confident that it was all squared away. I bought my pedals there too, so I didn't feel too guilty about not giving them my business.

It seems to me like bikesdirect is the way to go if you're on a budget, and the LBS stock is out of your price range. My Fantom is the Outlaw model, which has the Tiagra shifters/front derailleur and 105 rear derailleur. Shifting is snappy and enjoyable. The carbon fork is a lot smoother riding than my last bike's aluminum fork. I'd suggest going the tiagra/105 and carbon fork route. Of course, I'm in love with the disc brakes too, but thats another story.
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Old 02-26-09, 01:50 AM   #8
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Another for the moto, I have no clue how many thousands of miles I have on my fantom cross. Though not sure what to tell you on sizing, I have a 58 and I am 6ft and 170lbs.
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Old 02-26-09, 05:45 AM   #9
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What about brakes? i notice alot of people discussing them. are one set better over another?

i've been to a few LBS in my area and maybe b/c of the economy, but I feel like they're not taking the time and are desparate for a sale...as a newbie i'm not going to spend $5k..lol.

also are there any training camps etc in the NE for newbies in cyclocrossing?

Thanks for the all replies - it helps a lot
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Old 02-26-09, 07:59 AM   #10
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some cyclocross bikes you may like

drop bar, discbrake, 700c, off the peg
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Old 02-26-09, 09:02 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Bucuresti View Post
What about brakes? i notice alot of people discussing them. are one set better over another?

i've been to a few LBS in my area and maybe b/c of the economy, but I feel like they're not taking the time and are desparate for a sale...as a newbie i'm not going to spend $5k..lol.

also are there any training camps etc in the NE for newbies in cyclocrossing?

Thanks for the all replies - it helps a lot

When it comes to brakes you've got two options for cx: Cantilever or disc. Cantilever brakes are pretty much your standard brakes. They go on the outside of the rim and compress to stop the bike. Disc brakes are like on motorcycles where theres a disc on the wheel that runs in a caliper. The caliper compresses and stops the wheel from turning.

Personally, I prefer cantis because they shed mud and are easy to repair. That being said, I haven't tried discs so you might want to get another point of view. The Motobecane Fantom CX comes with cantis. You might want to research the brakes, though. I'm no mech so I don't know a TON about them. And, personally, you'll want to aftermarket some parts on your bike. Heres why:

There are two main frame manufacturers in the bike industry - Giant and someone else (Idk their name). Giant makes most of the frames. If it's made in Taiwan its made by Giant. Therefore, its not the frame that makes bikes cost more. Its the components. Shimano is probably the biggest manufacturer of components, but there are other companies. Higher priced bikes have better components or its a special company that makes its own frames. If you can find a low priced bike and a place to get good components at low cost, you can save some good money.
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Old 02-26-09, 02:58 PM   #12
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OP, refer to this thread

Attention Outlaw, Fantom Cross and Cyclo Owners
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Old 02-26-09, 11:54 PM   #13
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Regarding brakes:

At the risk of sounding like a zealot, I have nothing but praise for discs. I would highly suggest you take a long hard look at the Fantom Outlaw if you go for a Motobecane. markhr's list of disc-equipped CX bikes is also excellent and a good place to start researching your options. Certainly a few bikes on that list I would consider for my next advancement in the bike world.

Discs just plain work. All the time. It's gratifying everytime I stop. Come flying downhill towards a stop sign/intersection/backed up traffic, and you just know that you will be able to stop predictably and with a promptness that I imagine must alarm on-lookers who think you're headed for disaster. It's fun to stop aggressively, because you know you always can. "On a dime" would be the phrase. I've ridden through plenty of snow and freezing rain this winter and they haven't faded on me or given me any reason to lack total confidence in them. The pads adjust by turning a thumbwheel that clicks into detents. Super simple to dial them in. Once set, there's no need to fiddle around with them.

The only thing that might be a 'gripe' is that they sometimes make noise. It seems to be when you first brake after they get wet, or if the rotors are coated in road salt residue [winter slop]. It is a good idea to wipe the rotors down with rubbing alcohol from time to time. Since the snow is gone around here and I'm not dealing with salt, I can't remember the last time I wiped them off. I've also heard that 'brake-kleen' works even better, and can be beneficial when applied to the pads as well. So far this winter I haven't removed or otherwise serviced my pads at all. No problems.

I think it would be weird to go back to a finnicky braking system whose performance is dependent upon weather/road conditions. Old school.
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