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  1. #1
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    Advice? Road or CX bike?

    The short of it:
    I'm lucky enough to have 220 miles of rail trail out my back door, so ~90% of my training takes place on crushed gravel/dg paths and I do a couple of road centuries each year. So, do I go with a road bike or a CX bike?

    The long of it:
    I'm a mountain biker who's looking for some better options for training and the occasional road century than my hardtail provides. I find myself looking for some drops and finding none! I'm fit but big (210lbs). I've been racing off-road since 2001, done several 24 hour races, and last year finished my first road century in 5h 40m on my hardtail (with skinny tires). I like disc brakes a ton, but have resigned myself to not having them on this next bike (sniff).

    Test rode a Specialized Allez and found it predictable but nothing to get excited about, liked the stability of the Tricross but found it too upright, and really liked the handling and ride quality of the Bianchi Via Narone I tested, but worry about the durability of the carbon (is this unfounded?) stays and fork given the rail trail I'd be riding it on. I did really like the cheater brakes that came on it (I'm a mountain biker at heart).

    I did race cross once last season and liked it, but I figure I can always do that on my hardtail if need be. That said, I have been eyeing the Giant TCX 1, Scott Addict CX and the Redline Conquest (which has disc tabs!). I was kicking around the idea of the Motobecane Fantom Cross Outlaw due to the discs, but have discarded that as I can't test it.

    So, thoughts? I really appreciate the input!

  2. #2
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    I would look at the Jamis Nova Pro or Supernova. Both are light & tough. These will keep you happy as Century bikes and on the gravel trails.
    2014 Trek DS.1: "Viaggiatore" A do-it-all bike that is waiting in Italy
    2012 Pedal Force CG2: "Secolo Bicicletta" the modern carbon fiber road bike
    2012 Pedal Force CX2: "Carbone CX" the carbon fiber CX bike
    2010 Origin 8 CX 700: "Servizio Grave" Monstercross/29er bike
    1997 Simoncini Special Cyclocross: "Little Simon" lugged Columbus steel CX bike
    1987 Serotta Nova Special X: "Azzurri" The retro Columbus SPX steel road bike

  3. #3
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    It sounds like a 'cross bike would be ideal for you. You could budget at some point for a set of lighter wheels for century riding. I bought a Kona JTS this spring, and my road bike has been gathering dust ever since. I don't ever remember to use the auxilliary brake levers though - must be a "mountain bike thing". So far, the carbon fork has been great, but I also am suspicious of "new-fangled" materials, but aluminum is "new-fangled" in my book!

    You might also llook at a Lemond Proprad, if you have a Trek dealer with carryover stock, as they were offered with disc brakes.

    Good luck!

  4. #4
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    Sounds like a CX bike is in your future.

    You're obviously strong, fast and experienced enough to take advantage of the performance a road bike can give you... But the rail-trail is gonna be pretty tough on that kind of machine - not to mention the pounding your body will take due to the stiff frame and < 700x28c's dictated by the fork and brakes.

    A CX will have a longer wheelbase, more stable handling, a better "long distance" riding position, tire options ranging from 28c to 40+, the possibility of running discs (I do), and mounting space for fenders. You lose the instant "jump" and razor-quick handling of a road bike, and possibly a few minutes on your century time.

    Tough decision, because it sounds like you enjoy mixing it up with the fast group. But I really think you'd enjoy the CX more on every other occasion.

  5. #5
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    Tricross too "upright"? Surely that just depends on relative seat and stem height? For me, there's a 10cm vertical drop between seat and handlebars.
    Specialized Tricross Sport 2009. Giant Yukon FX 3.

  6. #6
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    I think the size was right, but there was about 15mm of stack I could have taken off the steerer tube, but wasn't sure about clearance for the brake line. It handled great and felt solid, though.

    Any experiences with the giant, scott or redline?

  7. #7
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    Have your cake and eat it too:


  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    I would look at the Jamis Nova Pro or Supernova. Both are light & tough. These will keep you happy as Century bikes and on the gravel trails.
    Those look awesome!

  9. #9
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    Justin, I may just have to give in on the Salsa and try to find one for a test ride. It's been hard for me to find much love for the La Cruz when I thought the Las Cruces was such a beautiful looking bike. I know, different frame materials, but I thought that bike was straight up HOT. (I'm all about the orange, btw.)

  10. #10
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    Bread,

    You are wise to insist on riding before you buy. The great thing about road bars / stems is that the options for each are almost infinite. You can even get negative rise stems - and can also run aero extensions if you really need to stretch out or add more hand positions.

    If a frame is close, you can make it work.

  11. #11
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    For guys our size you'll want bigger tires for gravel/dirt roads than modern road bikes will be happy with. Figure at least 28s. I'd get the cross bike set it up with some unknobby tires for road and path and go ride.

  12. #12
    All Bikes All The Time Sawtooth's Avatar
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    I own both a Giant TCR0 (road racer) and a Kona Major Jake (cx racer). Both are well under 20 lbs with racing attire. I love both and (holding position & wheels/tires constant) see little difference in performance on the road. When speeds are over 25 mph, I feel a little more capable on my TCR but that is probably all mental.

    Before I bought the cross bike, my friends said "Why would you want a bike that does nothing particularly well?" I have not found that to be true at all. My Kona does almost everything very well except for descending off road. It is a superbike to be sure. I regularly hand it to roadies on my cross bike set up with 32c michelin transworld cities and then take those same tires to the trail and hand it to mountain bikers (the Kona climbs off road like no other bike I have ridden!). I think as long as you hold position and set up constant, they are pretty similar.

    In your position, I would get the cross bike or perhaps a road bike that can handle larger tires such as the soma smoothie es.

    I have done a couple of centuries on the cross bike with no perceptable loss of performance relative to the road bike. I ride my bars fairly high with only a 2-2.5 inch drop between saddle and bars on both bikes.

    For me, the ability to take fenders (commuting must) & larger tires or even knobbies if I want (I never want to except for cross racing; even when riding a lot of trails) has really won me over to the cross bike for most applications. I only pull out the road bike for centuries or when I know I am going to get my tail handed to me on a group ride or something (but our group rides regularly see 34 mph on flats!).

    I love my Kona so much that I am strongly considering picking up a Jake The Snake Frame for a permanent fender mounted bike (Crazy, I know).
    Last edited by Sawtooth; 06-16-09 at 08:55 AM.

  13. #13
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    I'll take a look at kona. Thanks!

    Any additional feedback on the Jamis Nova Pro would be appreciated, as well.

  14. #14
    All Bikes All The Time Sawtooth's Avatar
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    On a related note, I took the Kona up a 15 mile 3,000 foot climb with some very fit roadies last night and was able to open a pretty big gap by mile 10 or so. Unfortunately, they closed that gap a mile or two from the end.
    The point: A well set up cx bike will not really hold you back on the road at all.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sawtooth View Post
    (the Kona climbs off road like no other bike I have ridden!)
    Ah, I was wondering if it was just me! When I went mountain biking recently with guys on hardtails, I really felt like I was going much better up the hills. The hoods seem to mean you can keep the front wheel from lifting up while keeping your bum on the saddle.

    On the flat and moderate descents we were pretty equal. On very steep very rough descents, my hands just couldn't take the vibration and I had to slow down.

    Steve
    Specialized Tricross Sport 2009. Giant Yukon FX 3.

  16. #16
    Wes
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    I have a Tricross Expert (yes its too expensive) and when I put road wheels and road tires on it, it weighs almost the same as my Cannondaly CADD 4. The Tricross does seem to go a little faster on the road. But, Iam really old and speed does not mean the same thing to me as it use to.

  17. #17
    All Bikes All The Time Sawtooth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevage View Post
    Ah, I was wondering if it was just me! When I went mountain biking recently with guys on hardtails, I really felt like I was going much better up the hills. The hoods seem to mean you can keep the front wheel from lifting up while keeping your bum on the saddle.

    On the flat and moderate descents we were pretty equal. On very steep very rough descents, my hands just couldn't take the vibration and I had to slow down.

    Steve
    I agree about the hoods, like they were meant for climbing on.

  18. #18
    Senior Member kergin's Avatar
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    220 miles of rail trail at your doorsteps, and you have time to post in here?!?

    I guess it depends on how you see yourself using the bike. For pure recreation on the trails, I'd say any good cross bike like the Kona JTS or MJ will be fine. If you intend to get more utility out of it (commuting & errands), get something that can take a rack, fenders, and preferably, disc brakes.

    disclaimer: I own a Major Jake, and I'm happy to say its my favorite bike.

  19. #19
    All Bikes All The Time Sawtooth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kergin View Post
    220 miles of rail trail at your doorsteps, and you have time to post in here?!?

    I guess it depends on how you see yourself using the bike. For pure recreation on the trails, I'd say any good cross bike like the Kona JTS or MJ will be fine. If you intend to get more utility out of it (commuting & errands), get something that can take a rack, fenders, and preferably, disc brakes.

    disclaimer: I own a Major Jake, and I'm happy to say its my favorite bike.
    I agree that the MJ is not the most fender friendly bike. I end up zip tying mine on at every point. Works fine but is not ideal. That said, it is not my "rain" bike and I pull the fenders off in the spring.

  20. #20
    Senior Member kergin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sawtooth View Post
    I agree that the MJ is not the most fender friendly bike. I end up zip tying mine on at every point. Works fine but is not ideal. That said, it is not my "rain" bike and I pull the fenders off in the spring.
    Thankfully I got one of the '08 framesets, which has mounting holes on the EC90X fork, chainstay bridge and seatstay bridge. Inexplicably, there are no eyelets on the dropouts, so I just use p-clamps.

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