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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 05-24-10, 08:40 PM   #1
a1rabbit
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Do you think a Cyclocross is for me?

Hey everyone, I'm new to this forum, especially the Cyclocross area of it.

I'll try to keep this short (Yeah right) while allowing you to get an image of what I need.

My story is that I'm 31 and need a new bike, I just started riding again after a 15 or so year hiatus and I'm sporting a too-small 1986 Panasonic DX-3000 that was given to me by the original owner (family friend). Nice bike, just too small for me, by a lot... but it got me out of the house.

My plan was to get the Surly LHT to start touring with this summer. The thing is I only plan on doing weekend trips, possibly a single week long tour. Eventually I'd like to cross Canada on bicycle in a few years time.

When I'm not touring (which will be most of the time) I'll be riding around town, mostly on paved roads but with the desire to be able to spot a trail or a scenic unpaved stretch and do it without worry. I miss mountain biking a lot, I don't expect to do the same crazy things I did when I was a teen but a trail would be nice now and then. My rides will range from 15-100km stretches per day with rests to eat.

My son is five and is starting to really enjoy riding with me on his little bike that still has training wheels attached, I want to be able to take him down the gravel kid-friendly trails we have near here without worry as he likes them more than the paved ones. My road bike sucks for this, I expect a flat every time my 120psi 25's touch the rocks!

I never had a road bike before and I'm enjoying it a lot. I like the drop bars and the speed I get that I never remember reaching on my mountain bikes. But I miss being able to hop a curb and ride a trail!

I have about 1000-1500 to spend (Canadian, less the better), the LHT I can get for 1500 even from the local shop, it's way more in Canada than the US. I've been doing research for months on touring bikes and was convinced it's all I wanted, it had the gearing I wanted, it's decent on the road and great for touring which is my ultimate goal. I could even take it on a trail though it might handle a bit slow.

The more I look at it though, the more I realize how little I'll be touring compared to riding around here, or with my son, or to the store. The touring bike is seeming less perfect for me and my current goals.

I just want a "good" bike for me, that's in my price range and able to do what I want now, not in two years. Does that make sense?

I've been looking at the Kona Jake, seems like a good choice for me with its ability to take rear racks and fenders, etc. Price is great at about 1k new. I'm sure this bike would allow me some weekend or week long trips while getting me in shape for a longer journey later. It would allow me to comfortably ride down some trails without worry, or on the road just as easily.

I think I'd like to swap the gearing a little bit, I'm not in the same shape I used to be in and this ten speed I have now kills me on some of the steeper hills around here. (52/42 cr with 14-28 fw) But I'm not sure how much I could change the gearing without changing a lot of the components. Lowering the gearing would also make touring a bit nicer. I'd still like to keep some top end speed for the road.

I feel like the cyclocross can do it all. It's not a road bike, or a mountain bike, or a tourer, but it can do them all in it's own right. It won't be as fast as a road, as robust as a mountain or as smooth as a tourer, but it can do it.

Then again, so can the LHT for a couple hundred more and I won't have to buy another bike later. I just don't think it will do the road or trail as well as the cross.

What do you think?

Last edited by a1rabbit; 05-24-10 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 05-24-10, 10:18 PM   #2
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Maybe look at something that's more of a combo of a touring bike and a cross bike. A light touring bike would be a good alternative. Something like a Surly Cross Check or Bianch Volpe comes to mind. Up there in Canada you have the Norco brand that has several options apparently. Now there is some cross bikes that have front rack eyelets, but none come to mind other than my Specialized Tricross. I think the Sport model still has them, but the Comp and above now don't.

Personally, I'd stick with a Sport touring bike instead of the cross bike.
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Old 05-25-10, 07:27 AM   #3
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surly cross check. I liked it so much, I bought a second one.

On the cross check, you can buy a granny chainring and bolt it right up as the cranks that come with it is a triple but they ship it without the granny gear.
Only other thing you would need is a triple front derailleur and you are good to go. The cc comes with a medium/long cage rear derailleur.

CC comes with 700c and i think the LHT comes with 26"??
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Old 05-25-10, 08:57 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by bluenote157 View Post
surly cross check. I liked it so much, I bought a second one.

On the cross check, you can buy a granny chainring and bolt it right up as the cranks that come with it is a triple but they ship it without the granny gear.
Only other thing you would need is a triple front derailleur and you are good to go. The cc comes with a medium/long cage rear derailleur.

CC comes with 700c and i think the LHT comes with 26"??
You may have to change out the bottom bracket also. The one that comes with it may not be wide enough.

The LHT comes in 26" wheels if below 56cm I believe. 56 and above uses 700c.
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Old 05-25-10, 10:21 AM   #5
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Personally, I think the Kona Jake is perfect for you. I've got nearly 6000 miles on mine, and I love it. I've used it for commuting, centuries, cyclocross racing and an occasional recreational trail.

The triple crankset gives you a pretty good range of gears to begin with, but if the 30-25 gear isn't low enough for you, you can swap the cassette and get a 12-27 or maybe even 12-28 without changing any other components except the chain. I wanted more range than that on mine, so I swapped the Tiagra rear derailleur for a Deore and installed an 11-32 cassette. Your LBS might even do it as an even swap at point-of-sale.

It sounds like you can get a Kona for about the same price there as you can in the US. When I was reading your price on the LHT, I wondered if you had considered a road trip to Seattle or Portland. Here in Portland, you can get an LHT for about $1100 US with no sales tax. I don't know what issues you might have at the border.
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Old 05-25-10, 10:31 AM   #6
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I have a Kona Jake (2009 model, got it this year), and I'm loving the bike. I'm planning on doing a week long (although supported..) tour on it this summer, and have regularly been taking it for long rides as training in preparation for the tour.

I've put fenders & a rack onto it, and it carries along my racktop-bag and panniers just fine, works great as my beat-around-town commuter bike, but also holding up on long rides and is fairly comfortable.

I have road tires on it now so I'm sticking to paved trails, but when I had the stock cyclocross tires on it - I felt comfortable taking it onto dirt trails / gravel / etc.

If you can find a 2009 model, they are going for under $1k in Canada so you save on some of the tax (PST I think? or is it GST.. I forget)
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Old 05-25-10, 05:01 PM   #7
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The Kona will probably work, so would the Cross Check or the Tricross. I have a Cross Check and use it for an all around bike; commuting, touring, camping, centuries, trails.... It works great just needed U bolts to mount a low rider front rack. The Tricross Sport would be slightly better because it can take front and rear racks from the factory. I use my Tricross SS as a mountain bike and it is holding up good so far, if it had gears it would be as versatile as my Cross Check.
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Old 05-25-10, 05:09 PM   #8
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Also check out the Masi Speciale CX which has slots for rack and fenders and it's steel like the Cross Check. I personally love the old school color scheme of the Masi over the Surly.

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