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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 01-03-10, 04:40 PM   #1
gordholio
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Cyclocross suggestions for reasonably fit 52 year old?

Just looking for a few opinions from people more knowledgeable than I. I'm 52 years old, but in pretty good shape. 5' 9", 160 lbs. I've been riding an inexpensive, old mountain bike for years, but that's just because I've been too cheap to get what I really want. I do about 75% roads (including a few big hills), 20% trails, and maybe 5% moutain bike terrain. When on the road, my rides can be anywhere from 10 miles to 40, and I like to move as fast as I can. One other thing - I'm in Vancouver, Canada, so I wouldn't mind being able to bike in the occasional rain shower. I want a bike more suited to my style, and I think a cyclocross is it.

I can't justify spending much more than $1000 on a bike. I'm ultimately going to go to a couple of the reputable nearby bike shops to get properly fitted, but I thought I'd ask here first: Given my physical makeup and riding preferences and conditions, price point, etc., is there anyone out there who might be able to suggest a bike that would really work for me. Have been considering the Kona Jake, Norco CCX2, Surly Cross-Check amongst a couple others. Any knowledgeable opinions would be most welcome. Thank-you in advance.

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Old 01-03-10, 07:09 PM   #2
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I've got a Kona Jake and a Surly Cross Check. I love them both. If I were going to get just one for your situation, I'd probably go with the Kona. The triple crankset is very handy for the hills, and I like STI shifters better than the Surly's bar end shifters. Some people like bar ends better. The 48-34 crankset on the Norco would give you most of the gearing range of the triple without the extra maintenance hassles, but otherwise the components on the Norco are lower-end than the Kona at a higher cost, so I think the Kona is a better value. I don't have first hand experience with the Norco, though, so I'm just basing my opinion there on reading the spec.

I don't think a cyclocross bike is right for a day at the Whistler Bike Park, but it's perfect for the rest of what you described and you can always rent a bike at Whistler if you're feeling adventurous, because you can't get a bike that is right for that for under $1000 anyway, and even if you did it would be terrible for road riding.

You'll probably want to get a set of slick tires for road riding, whatever you decide, but keep the 'cross tires for trail days.
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Old 01-04-10, 09:17 AM   #3
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Thanks Andy. Funny, my bike shop tells me the Jake has great shifters but mediocre components otherwise. This is obviously going to take a little more investigation on my part. :-)

I was there yesterday and was liking the Rocky Mountain Solo CX too. And the Cross-Check seems to be really popular on the Reviews section of roadbikereview.com. It appears that I have a lot of good choices thus far.

Hey, is your avatar a pic of Monument Valley?

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Old 01-04-10, 10:12 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by gordholio View Post
Funny, my bike shop tells me the Jake has great shifters but mediocre components otherwise.
Kona has to meet their price point one way or another. Tiagra isn't "great", but it's great for what it costs (because of Shimano's economies of scale and trickle-down product development).

If you like the shop, then get the Jake. If you don't like the shop, take your business elsewhere.
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Old 01-04-10, 01:38 PM   #5
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I'm 65 and recently picked up a 2009 Kona Jake. Works great for my off-road rides. If the component quality worries you, get a Jake the Snake.
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Old 01-04-10, 02:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gordholio View Post
Thanks Andy. Funny, my bike shop tells me the Jake has great shifters but mediocre components otherwise. This is obviously going to take a little more investigation on my part. :-)
I think the basic pecking order breaks down like this:

Shimano road components:
Sora < Tiagra < 105 < Ultegra < Dura-Ace

FSA road components:
Vero < Omega < Gossamer < Energy < Team < SL-K < K Force

SRAM road components:
Rival < Force < Red

Opinions seem to vary when you compare across companies, but it seems like a lot of people think SRAM Rival is better than Shimano 105 and possibly even better than Shimano Ultegra, though I suspect this has as much to do with whether or not the person opining likes Shimano as anything, though the mechanism for shifting is different, so those who like SRAM's double-tap are likely the ones putting Rival above Ultegra.

Personally, I've only used Tiagra and Ultegra. There's a sizable gap there in terms of shifting quality, but the Tiagra stuff isn't bad in any way. Ultegra is just really nice. If you step down to Sora, the shifters work differently, which is probably why your LBS said the Jake had nice shifters.



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I was there yesterday and was liking the Rocky Mountain Solo CX too. And the Cross-Check seems to be really popular on the Reviews section of roadbikereview.com. It appears that I have a lot of good choices thus far.
The components look pretty similar between the Rocky Mountain Solo CX and the Kona Jake. The biggest difference is the compact-double versus triple crankset. I hate maintaining triple shifting and the compact double gets you most of the range. Even so, these two bikes are close enough that I'd definitely ride them both and buy whichever feels best.


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Hey, is your avatar a pic of Monument Valley?
Yes, it is.
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Old 01-04-10, 04:17 PM   #7
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I prefer a triple because it allows you to use a closer ratio cassette, for the exact ratios you will want for normal riding. Choose the gears for the normal riding, not just the extremes.
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Old 01-05-10, 07:55 PM   #8
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Thanks Andy. Funny, my bike shop tells me the Jake has great shifters but mediocre components otherwise. This is obviously going to take a little more investigation on my part. :-)

What's wrong with "mediocre"? Mediocre components work almost as well as much more expensive ones. At the Jake's price its a good deal and it will get the job done 99.9% as well as a bike with Ultegra or Dura Ace.
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Old 01-06-10, 12:24 AM   #9
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Kona Jake is a fine value.
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Old 01-06-10, 02:05 AM   #10
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My first cross bike had tiagra I eventually wore out the springs but it they worked great until then, I then replaced with ultegra while much smoother they both did the job just fine. I currently run rival drive train again works great but all shifted when I needed to. I try to stick to whatever my budget allows would not be hesitant to use sora or bar end or dt shifters. I rented a bike once with sora and they worked just fine to. I say if budget allows for upgrade go for it but don't stress it they all seem to break and or wear out anyway. My rival shifters are acting up so I might be looking at replacing those soon, seems like I can't keep shifters more than a couple of years in cross condition without issues starting, seriously considering the cheap shimano stuff or maybe campy.
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Old 01-06-10, 07:39 PM   #11
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I like the ride of steel vs. aluminum. And for a steel bike with STI shifting, I say the Masi is one of the best deals. See here: http://www.masibikes.com/steel/speciale-cx/

Even the colors look cool
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Old 01-11-10, 09:23 AM   #12
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I want to thank everyone for their comments. There seems to be a lot of fans of the Kona Jake here. And you know, coming from a $500 mountain bike with big fat tires and low-end components and having very little knowledge of anything else except the "ten speed" (that's what we called 'em back in the day) that I rode thirty years ago, I'm not even going to notice the difference between "mediocre" and semi-high-end shifters and brakes etc. It's *all* going to seem like heaven to me. :-) So I'll definitely take the Jake for a spin before I buy anything.

Thanks again!
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Old 01-12-10, 12:48 PM   #13
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My vote goes to the Surly, mainly for the fact that it's so versitile. Fenders, panniers, covert to single speed, geared, etc. I believe it also has the most tire clearance out of the bikes mentioned. Also, you will appreciate the more supple ride of steel vs. aluminum. When you go out for the test ride, take it over some bumps. You'll see what I mean. Had an aluminum Klein and Motobecane, and it was a jarring ride, even over some rougher pavement. All of my bikes are now steel (and one CF) and it's much better.

Good luck.
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Old 02-01-10, 11:23 PM   #14
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I'm 52, not so fit, and looking for a bike. I was thinking hybrid. After research, a lot on this forum, and 3 months of riding an entry level upright hybrid, I started thinking cyclocross. I plan on riding the streets and any dirt paths I may come across. My lbs, who carries 7 different brands, suggested the Jamis Aurora. Steel, drop bars, kinda a cross between touring, commuting, and cyclocross. I rode it and thought it felt GREAT with the exception of the seat. http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebik...10_aurora.html Might suit your needs.
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Old 02-01-10, 11:48 PM   #15
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Just bought me a Scattante from Performance. Delivery in the next week, pictures and ride reports promised. The deal was too good to pass up.
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Old 02-02-10, 12:13 AM   #16
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I will be recieving my Kona Jake this friday Feb 5th. I have only heard good things about kona, and this thread just backs that up. Thanks for posting gord. Hope you enjoy your new ride, which ever you choose.
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Old 02-02-10, 08:58 PM   #17
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I'd save up for a Marinoni Fango.... but if you can't, do make sure that you can fit fenders to both the fork and the frame. That way, you'll be able to ride in the rain without messing up the bike and getting wet and cold.
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Old 02-23-10, 08:54 PM   #18
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marinoni Fango or devinci tosca if you can afford either one
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Old 02-23-10, 09:33 PM   #19
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Performance Bike sells Fuji Cross bikes at a great price.

Assuming you hit them on a sale day, your $1000 will buy you:

- Fuji Cross Bike - 105 shifters, 600 rear deraileur, good components everywhere else.
- Shimano 520 SPD Pedals
- Shoes
- Spare wheelset with road tires

Basically everything you need to get going.

I picked this up for the bride for X-Mas. It a great deal.

-Z
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Old 02-24-10, 01:35 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gordholio View Post
I want to thank everyone for their comments. There seems to be a lot of fans of the Kona Jake here. And you know, coming from a $500 mountain bike with big fat tires and low-end components and having very little knowledge of anything else except the "ten speed" (that's what we called 'em back in the day) that I rode thirty years ago, I'm not even going to notice the difference between "mediocre" and semi-high-end shifters and brakes etc. It's *all* going to seem like heaven to me. :-) So I'll definitely take the Jake for a spin before I buy anything.

Thanks again!
Great, let us know if you got the Kona Jake! I'm from Vancouver too, thinking now to buy a cyclocross bike instead of a road bike. The best LBS I have been so far in this area, with the greatest service and nices people, sell Kona Jake bikes. Maybe I will test one next week. Same thing, like to do some trails, roads, and dont want to be limited to just pavement.
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Old 08-29-11, 09:27 AM   #21
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So I know this is a really, REALLY late reply and thank you. We ended up selling our home and moving not once but twice since I posted this question. I should have followed up earlier but, obviously, didn't.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who replied and took time out of their day to give advice. I ended up buying a stock Jake the Snake, on an end of season clearance last summer. It was more than my $1000 budget, but not much more.

I'm no bike expert, but this has been a wonderful bike for me. I've found as time has gone on and I've ridden more often that I really do prefer pavement over trails. I like riding long distances on little-used roads.

I had them slap on an extra set of brake levers, and am glad I did. I really like changing up my grip as I ride (better for my back!), and having access to brakes in every grip is great.

One thing I didn't know when I did this is that my mountain bike had several gears that were quite a bit lower than the Snake. It had a "granny" gear that the new bike does not have. I've sued the bike for quite awhile now and have gotten stronger, but still I miss the ability on severe hills to gear WAY down. I'm not sure if I'll change the gears on the Snake.

Otherwise, for me, it's excellent. Thanks again for all assistance!
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Old 08-29-11, 10:23 AM   #22
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pretty much a wash.. all 105 component picks [for example] sets a price point.
as Shimano sells the components to building companies for a given rate..

rare to not have TW building the frames
and shipping the boxed bikes to dealers, via various importing wholesalers.

it's their product managers and designers sending specs to the big contract
filling bike factories that makes them look a bit different..

Hit the shops and test ride a few..
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Old 08-29-11, 11:03 AM   #23
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If you do decide to change your gearing, you can get a 34-tooth small front ring for under $20 (for instance, the Ultegra 4750) that will make a small difference for a small amount of money. For around $70 you can get a cassette with a cog as big as 28T that will work with your current derailleur. The new 30T 10-speed Tiagra cassette may even work. If you really want to get low, you could replace your rear derailleur with a Shimano MTB rear derailleur and get an 11-32 or 11-34 cassette, but at that point the expense really starts adding up.
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