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  1. #1
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    Picking the right cyclocross (for a non-cyclocrosser)

    I've been researching purchasing a new bike for some time now, and have more or less decided to get a cyclocross [See my other thread: New Bike: Road vs. Cyclocross

    As mentioned in my previous thread, the reason I want a cyclocross bike is for riding long distances on gravel trails that would be a tad bit rough for a pure road bike with skinny tires. However, I also plan to use the bike for long rides on pavement (50+ miles), so I would like something that is also built and geared almost like a true road bike for those long rides. I'm not really interested in cyclocross racing with the bike, just recreational riding.

    The original bike I've been eying is a Kona Jake the Snake. However, it has been brought to my attention that the JTS has a carbon fork, which may not be durable enough for years and thousands of miles of use on pavement and gravel. The normal Jake has a metal fork and a 3-ring crank, but seems to have slightly lower-end derailleurs. Although, spending $500 less than I had planned on a bike would be nice.

    How do carbon forks fare during years of long rides? I'm fine with pushing more weight down the road if the fork is considerably more durable. Other bikes I've been looking at include the Specialized Tricross Sport Triple, Raleigh RX 1.0, and Fuji Cross Comp. All seemed to be spec'd similarly to the Kona JTS...including carbon forks. In fact, the Jake is the only one I've seen so far with a metal fork. Which bike would you recommend for someone who just wants a reasonably quick road-ish bike that is still rideable on gravel trails? I'd like to spend less than $1500.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    I'd not be afraid of lower end components on a bike for the use you describe. Shimano stuff works, the lower end stuff might be a bit heavier, or the shift feel may be not as good, but everything I've seen that carries their name is dependable.

    A few other bikes, in the lower price ranges, have metal forks, Giant TCX 2, Redline Conquest Sport and Classic, and Surly Cross Check to name a few.
    2009 Motobecane Fantom CX
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  3. #3
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Carbon forks ARE highly durable under regular wear. The problem is accident damage - they're more vulnerable to it, plus if they fail as a result later it can be very sudden. A damaged fork can look fine, except to a very knowing inspection, then crack while you're riding. It wouldn't stop me from having one if I was racing, but I don't see the need on a fun/training bike - especially as you have to pay more to get them.

    Re the difference in component level - it really won't show. Mid range components are excellent and last for literally decades. If I was going to worry about components the question I'd ask myself is whether I wanted SRAM, Campag, or Shimano for the power train. Imo that's the order of desirability, but I'm basing my opinion of SRAM on this -

    http://velonews.com/article/9723

    Ben Jacques-Maynes of Team Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada, was an early adapter, first riding the group at the national criterium championships in Downer’s Grove last season. He developed a technique for sprinting that he calls “trigger shifting.” He hooks his right forefinger around the shift lever and pulls it back to the handlebar and holds it there, since it, like Campagnolo’s cable-pulling lever, pivots back toward the bar. While holding tightly to both the drops of the bar and the lever, he can simply twitch his forefinger inward to cause upshifts. “I was a Campy guy, and Campy riders tend to play with the lever behind the brake lever, since it flips back toward the bar,” he explains. “I was just playing around with this lever that way one day and discovered this way to shift. I called up SRAM immediately, and they thought it was cool, too. With Campagnolo, to get my thumb on the lever and shift, my power in a sprint drops by over 400 watts when shifting, from up around 1300 watts to under 900 watts. With Shimano, I lose even more; I practically have to sit down, shift, then stand up again and restart my sprint. With SRAM, though, my power in a sprint drops by only 40 watts
    - rather than having ridden an SRAM bike.

    But a very big factor in component choice should actually be how comfortable the brake/shifter housings feel when your weight is on them, because that's how you'll ride. I think Campy are better than Shimano, but that could because of my hand shape/size rather than any inherent ergonomic advantage.

    The Raleigh has SRAM. I'm not sure what JTS level bikes in the US have Campag - maybe someone could suggest one?

    Final advice: when you test ride bikes the saddle and tyres will have a big effect on your perception of the bikes. Try to filter these out - they're easy to change. If you don't like a bike's saddle, have the saddle changed and test ride again.

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