I want to try CX racing, and I happened upon an extremely cheap schwinn criss cross. The frame is lugged steel, and it has canti brakes. It's even pink. The seat tube is 22" which is great, but the top tube is 24"!! WTF? This brings me to my question...
I'm not sure what to do about the handlebars. It has flat bars with bullhorns. I have extra drop bars and stems (if the stems will even fit) however they seem like they would interfere with the front brake. Also, the top tube is a good 2" longer than what I have on my road bikes so I'm not sure if drop bars will even be usable. What bars I use will determine what kind of shifters I'll use I guess. Will I get laughed out of a race if I use flat bars? Will the aerodynamic disadvantage make it not worth attempting?
Also, do you guys think the stock wheels will hold up for long? They're pretty cheap but I was thinking about trying to true them and servicing the axles before looking into replacements. I want to use a 1xN gear setup I think, I doubt I'll need the granny gear or big ring.
Right now the bike needs a full servicing, tires, etc... so any other suggestions are appreciated. I know this isn't ideal and that it will end up being fairly heavy (~24lbs?) but I'm mostly just concerned with having a bike that won't hold me back much.
Go over the bike. Pull the bull horns off. You can't use them. Flat bars are fine and in some cases preferable. They don't seem to hold the XC guys back. Stick some good tires on it. If you want to run 1 sprocket on the front, fine, but honestly, I wouldn't put the work in on that back to do that. The weight is nothing and the gain is minimal. Stick new brake pads on it and probably new der. and brake cables and housings.
Now you're ready to go. Run the hell out of it. It's all about your legs. When you decide you're going to race a lot of cross, then you can stick money on a real CX bike.
The crankset on there has steel chainrings and I have an extra (lighter) crankset with a 39 on it, I just figured it would be easier than dealing with the shady triple shifting. Thanks for the advice though, I guess I should just start off with tires+brakes and getting the bike sorted.
I run a single front, so it's not like I think it's a bad idea. The problem with it is that it can be finicky and throw the chain. Getting that sorted takes a little time. You're probably better off just running the triple and not shifting to the big ring.