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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 01-19-11, 10:06 PM   #1
JaredSteele
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Need help with first bike purchase. Cannondale, Giant, Specialized Cross bikes

I've recently grown fond of biking over driving and have decided that it's time to invest in a good bike for commuting/enjoyment.
After researching traditional road bikes vs. cross bikes I think that a cross bike will suit my needs the best. Turns out that was the easy part. I've been reading forums, google searching, and visiting bike shops recently, and have gotten a lot of useful information however I am still very much new to all this.
I've seen a lot of talk about Bianchi, Kona, and Surly entry level bikes, but am looking to get some insight between Giant TCX, Cannondale CAADX Tiagra, and Specialized Tricross Sport.
Pretty much whatever I get will be an upgrade from the Giant Boulder MTB I ride now, but I plan on selling my car to buy whatever I get so I'd like to get the best I possibly can for my $ (my car is only worth around $1,500)
Any input/suggestions would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.
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Old 01-20-11, 07:26 AM   #2
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The Giant TCX, Cannondale CAADX Tiagra, and Specialized Tricross Sport are similar quality. I would ride all three and see which seemed to fit the best. I would also carefully consider which bike shop will support the purchase if you have after sale service needs.

The TCX 1 has Sram Rival 20 speed drivetrain with a good quality compact crankset, that is a higher level of equipment than the other bikes. I’m not sure if that is the model you are shopping. The CAADX Tiagra is Shimano 18 speed with a compact crankset, this is good quality but below the Giant. Specialized Tricross Sport is Shimano Sora 27 speed with a square taper triple crank, this is the lowest level of equipment of the three.

However, bike fit and a good quality LBS could tip the decision towards the those requirements since these are very similar bikes.

Be sure that the model you purchase has attachment points for racks and fenders. If you are becoming car-free, the bike will need to hold supplies and be ready for wet weather.

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Old 01-20-11, 10:01 AM   #3
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I'm not sure where Barrettcsv saw the specs he's citing for the Tricross Sport, but the page I looked at showed it with a full Tiagra triple drivetrain. In my mind, the fact that it has a triple sets it apart from the others for your purposes. I also like the wheels on the Tricross (Mavic CXP22 rims are very tough and 32-spokes or higher is the way to go for your uses). The Tricross also has better general purpose geometry than the TCX.

The TCX 1 does, indeed, have the best components of the bunch, but it is more of a race-oriented bike. Near as I can tell, it doesn't have points of attachment for a rack or fenders. The TCX 2 does have these in back, but I still don't see them in front. The TCX2 also takes you below the other bikes in component quality.

I don't really know much about the Cannondale.

As Barrettcsv said, riding each bike is the most important thing to do, and a good LBS should be able to talk you through the suitability of the bike to your intended uses. I'm guessing they may try to steer you toward a touring bike, but don't be afraid to assert yourself if you like CX bikes for their sportiness. A CX bike is a fine choice for light to medium hauling and they're plenty tough.
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Old 01-20-11, 10:25 AM   #4
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Not as risky to bring it up in this forum, but if you know your size/have test ridden bikes and are not adverse to buying a bike based on this instead of actual rides, Bikes Direct has the Dawes Lightning Cross for $399. Not a bad entry-level bike. I have purchased from them recently after shopping their selections for over a year, and am pleasantly surprised by the level of bike that I got for the money.
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Old 01-20-11, 11:35 AM   #5
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Thanks for the input guys. I'd like to be able to test ride the bikes but I'm running into a problem with that. I have only found one local shop that has any cross bikes in stock which was the caadx 105. I'd be okay with paying the difference to upgrade from the caadx tiagra to the 105 if I felt comfortable on the bike but the one they had was a 49cm. I'm 6'3 and 220 so I don't think I'd get a very idea on a 49 cm haha.
This may sound like a stupid question but would it be sufficient to ride the same brand's road/touring bikes which are readily available at the shops and then just order a cross? Or should I just suck it up and take a day trip to somewhere where cross is more popular and therefore a better chance of shops stocking the bikes?
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Old 01-20-11, 11:54 AM   #6
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I'd test ride a cross specific bike. Road and cross geometries are a lot different in many cases. I ride a 56cm Tricross, but a 54cm road bike. The 54cm Tricross is too small for me.
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Old 01-20-11, 12:03 PM   #7
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Yeah, this sounds like a road trip scenario. I'd call ahead and line up shops with the bikes of interest. You might have a little trouble since cross seasson has just ended. On the other hand, you might get a good price since cross season has just ended.
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Old 01-20-11, 12:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
I'm not sure where Barrettcsv saw the specs he's citing for the Tricross Sport, but the page I looked at showed it with a full Tiagra triple drivetrain. In my mind, the fact that it has a triple sets it apart from the others for your purposes. I also like the wheels on the Tricross (Mavic CXP22 rims are very tough and 32-spokes or higher is the way to go for your uses). The Tricross also has better general purpose geometry than the TCX.

The TCX 1 does, indeed, have the best components of the bunch, but it is more of a race-oriented bike. Near as I can tell, it doesn't have points of attachment for a rack or fenders. The TCX 2 does have these in back, but I still don't see them in front. The TCX2 also takes you below the other bikes in component quality.

I don't really know much about the Cannondale.

As Barrettcsv said, riding each bike is the most important thing to do, and a good LBS should be able to talk you through the suitability of the bike to your intended uses. I'm guessing they may try to steer you toward a touring bike, but don't be afraid to assert yourself if you like CX bikes for their sportiness. A CX bike is a fine choice for light to medium hauling and they're plenty tough.
I agree. If the Tricross is an all-Tiagra triple, that drive train is as-good as the Sram on the Giant for many cyclists.

Jared, I would study the manufacturer’s web-sites. Then check to see that the model in the showroom is what you are looking for. As you have already seen, Giant, Specialized and Cannondale all make multiple versions of the same model. Also, a person your size will also need to ride the largest frame offered in each model. I would look for bike with a virtual top-tube length (VTT) of 58 to 61cm. I'm 6' even and use a VTT length of 60cm.


Michael

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Old 01-21-11, 01:17 AM   #9
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One question I would ask is are you going to be locking this up on a bike rack frequently? If so I would avoid anything with a full carbon fork. My first real bike was a moto cross bike with alloy steerer and crown and carbon legs which out of dumb luck I think is this best combo or a steel fork. Living carfree for years and many bangs on the bike rack really did a number on the top of the fork legs over the years luckily that was the alloy part. I wonder how well carbon would hold up to that. My current cross bike does have a full carbon fork(I have a love hate relations with this fork) and have a leather patch where the rack touches the fork and so far has kept any gouging at bay but my cross bike is no longer my main around town bike if I am going to be locking it up I have a ss/fg for that for replacement cost reasons though I think the cross bike is a better city bike. As far as what brand ride what feels best. As far as group level buy what you feel comfortable with spending I have broke and wornout shimano and sram derailers and shifters and sure campy has the same fate if you ride it enough. Anpther feature I would look for is rack eyelets. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 01-21-11, 09:05 AM   #10
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Have you thought about the Kona Jake the Snake?
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Old 01-21-11, 08:22 PM   #11
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Yeah I've thrown that in the mix too. I just hadn't heard a lot about these 3 brands but saw Kona mentioned a lot in other forums as well as Bianchi and Surly.

Michael,
I figured I would need a decently large frame, I'm just gonna have to track down shops that stock some cross bikes I guess and hopefully like Andy_K said I can work a deal being that it's the end of the season.

I plan to keep whatever bike I end up with for a long time granted that I don't get hit by a car or the bike end up getting stolen haha. That being said, I think either way I go I'll do one step up from the base models that are offered. I know I can get the C-Dale CAADX 105 for $1,200 at one of the LBS in my area which didn't seem too bad in comparison to the $1,400-$1,500 for the upgraded models from Specialized, Kona, and Giant. I guess if there's a significant ride difference a few hundred difference wouldn't be too horrible though.

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Old 01-24-11, 07:12 AM   #12
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I picked up a 2011 CAADX 105 for the price of the Tiagra with some effort from my LBS. Its a solid ride, but if your LBS is offering you better service and better fit, I'd go with whatever brand, because they all felt very similar to me. Pluses/Minuses on all of them.
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Old 01-24-11, 10:51 AM   #13
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The 2011 Jake the Snake looks great for racing, but for commuting and light touring the 2010 model is better if you can still find one. In fact, for commuting and light touring, I honestly think the 2010 base-level Jake is better than the JTS, because of the triple crankset, and it's still a decent bike for entry-level racing. I've got a 2008 Jake that I raced for three years. I'm putting a disc fork on it this week and moving it to full-time commuting duty because I got a Major Jake, but I've been very happy with it so far.
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