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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 12-08-11, 09:54 AM   #1
S_Driver
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Jake the Snake vs Giant TCX W

Hi all! This is my first time posting on this forum and I hate to say it's because I need some advice- but that's the truth

I am a daily bike commuter looking to get a cyclocross bike in addition to my road bike. I have found two bikes for decent prices that fit me (hard to do, I'm only 5'1). The two bikes are the 2011 Kona Jake the Snake and the 2011 Giant TCX Women's specific. If I buy the JTS, they said I will need to replace the brakes because they are pretty weak for commuting. They are Kore race brakes and they recommend TRP brakes. They will put them on for no cost but they are $150! http://2011.konaworld.com/bike.cfm?c...jake_the_snake

The Giant is a tiny bit more expensive and is with SRAM rival components. I am unfamiliar with SRAM. Right now I ride a felt with Ultegra. http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/....w/7511/44133/

From anyone experience, which bike do you think is best and I wouldn't have to add tons onto it to make it a nice commuter?


Thank you SO much!
-S
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Old 12-08-11, 10:29 AM   #2
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Welcome to the forums! You will find in general that people are very helpful here.

The Jake the snake is a fantastic bike, but make sure that the one you take home has rack and fender mounts. If it is a 2011, most do not, but some do.

I believe that all of the 2012s have eyelets. This was a major oversight by Kona on the 2011 model. If your primary purpose is commuting, you want the best option for mounting racks and fenders.

As far as brakes, upgrade the pads first. I have the stock Core brakes and they work worlds better with a set of Salmon KoolStops than they did with the stock pads. I raced cross all year on the Cores and felt no need to upgrade once got the new pads.

Last edited by aggiegrads; 12-08-11 at 10:37 AM.
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Old 12-08-11, 10:33 AM   #3
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Also, I missed your point that the Giant is SRAM, while the Kona has Shimano 105/Ultegra. Some people prefer SRAM, some people prefer Shimano. Make sure that you ride both in case one doesn't do it for you.

I prefer Shimano because I have small hands, and the downshift on the SRAM was not comfortable for me. Everyone is different.

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Old 12-08-11, 10:44 AM   #4
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Fortunately this one has the mounts which makes all of the difference. The Giant doesn't appear to have mounts and that could make all of the difference. I will still "try it on". Thanks for the advice with the brake pads, that should make enough of a difference. I wasn't sure why they wanted me to upgrade the entire set and hopefully brake pads will make a significant difference. I live up in Portland so you know how rainy it can be. Brakes are this seasons "must-have".

I, too, have small hands and the shimanos work perfectly for me. I honestly am leaving heavily towards the JTS and haven't heard many people rave about the Giant. I am sure it is a nice bike though, it appears to be. I will test ride it today and let you know which one is my new love
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Old 12-08-11, 10:50 AM   #5
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Oh, you live in Portland. Koolstops should be very easy for you to find. You will want them whichever bike you choose.

Out of curiousity, which shop was telling you to upgrade the brakes on the JTS?
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Old 12-08-11, 10:57 AM   #6
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It is my neighborhood shop, Sellwood cycle. The bike is spendy as is so I really don't want to have to upgrade everything from the start! So you don't think it is necessary yet to upgrade the brakes? I also plan on using the same tires during the winter and then buying some marathons come spring/summer.
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Old 12-08-11, 11:11 AM   #7
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The only things I upgraded on the brakes ware the pads, and I also added in-line adjusters because there is no adjustment other than cable adjustment. These let me fine-tune the brakes - for instance if I needed more clearance for cross. I use these from Universal Cycles: http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...&category=1613

The guys at Sellwood know their stuff for sure, but I would upgrade the pads then decide if you need to upgrade the brakes later. It's not like you have to do it in the shop on the day you buy the bike.
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Old 12-08-11, 11:20 AM   #8
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Yeah they are pretty great there, I don't blame them for wanting to give me the entire setup. Thanks for that link, I'll definitely buy some koolstops and maybe the in line adjusters in the future. I am pretty excited to get this bike, I just need to refrain from getting talked into buying things I don't need.
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Old 12-08-11, 12:08 PM   #9
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I agree the Jake the Snake is a great bike, though personally I think the base Jake is better for commuting. I can't imagine that those guys can't make the Kore brakes work for you with good pads. It's all a matter of proper adjustment. They're probably just trying to set you up with the best performance they can provide.

Are you saying you plan to use the CX tires for winter commuting? If you're riding on pavement, slicks will have much better traction. Tires like Conti GP 4 Seasons or Schwalbe Marathon Supremes, while expensive, have great wet traction and very good puncture protection. Knobby CX tires will have neither of those.
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Old 12-08-11, 12:14 PM   #10
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The price makes all the difference between the Jake the Snake and the Jake. At the place, it is much better deal to buy the JTS with the nicer components than the Jake for only $75 less... that's the main reason why I am leaning towards the JTS.

I have never heard that about the tires! Why are the Schwalbe marathon so much better than the knobby tires? I always assumed the opposite.

They have the plain marathons for $40 there, are those not near as solid as the supremes?
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Old 12-08-11, 12:57 PM   #11
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Wow! You must be getting a great deal on the Jake the Snake. Is it used? I bought an '08 Major Jake there last winter, and it's been outstanding.

Slick tires have better grip on pavement because there's more rubber making contact with the road. Knobby tires give you better traction off road because the knobs grab irregular surfaces better. The plain Marathon is definitely as "solid" as the Supreme, maybe more so. It doesn't have as much grip on wet pavement as the Supreme, which is made with nicer rubber. The Supreme is also lighter. On the other hand, the plain Marathon will probably last longer and I doubt that it's grip is bad in any way.
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Old 12-08-11, 01:08 PM   #12
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Yeah, it's honestly a sweet deal, it's hard to turn down. I must have called at the perfect time too because it was marked down even more. No, it is not used either, just a 2011! I think I will look for a good deal on the marathon supremes and go that route. I'm sure you know- it rains often here and I care more about how the tire does on wet surfaces and how fast I can go Thanks for the responses, I don't even want to go try to Giant anymore but I don't want to always wonder "what if".
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Old 12-08-11, 01:28 PM   #13
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It looks like you can get the Supremes for about $60 at Bike Tires Direct (which has a store front out by the airport).
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Old 12-08-11, 01:33 PM   #14
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Thanks! Conveniently I have to go to the airport today so I can pick them up!

Dumb question- $60 is for two tires, right?
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Old 12-08-11, 04:01 PM   #15
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Dumb question- $60 is for two tires, right?
Unfortunately, no.
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Old 12-08-11, 05:01 PM   #16
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For $40 per tire, I would go with the Panaracer T-Serve Protex. This is one of the best all-around commuting tires. To me, this tire has the best combination of light weight, good puncture protection, low cost, and wet grip of any tire on the market. The are the shoes on my JTS as soon as race season ends.

http://www.universalcycles.com/shopp...2&category=590
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Old 12-08-11, 07:25 PM   #17
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I bought the Kona! It felt so much better than the Giant. Who knew that would be the case. I felt insanely cramped on the Giant. I haven't decided on tires or pedals yet though. They had the Kross stop salmon for the brake pads too so they will fix that. At one point she questioned why I was getting the JTS as a commuter bike... that was silly to me! I had a vision and I followed it They also are going to change the handlebar to a 38cm, I bought the new 38cm and I think they will buy back the old one for $10... I thought it'd be worth more honestly. Any thoughts?
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Old 12-09-11, 12:35 AM   #18
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I'm thinking the Sellwood crew is just coming down from a season-long cyclocross racing high. Sometimes it's hard to remember that these bikes have other uses. You should bring your Jake the Snake out to Alpenrose next year.

I'm not surprised about the stock bars. I don't know what the new ones are like, but the bars that came with my 2008 Jake were pretty meh.

Congrats on the new bike!
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Old 12-09-11, 08:33 AM   #19
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Fit is very important - it sounds like you absolutely made the right choice, and got a great deal to boot. When I bought my bike, the bars and seatpost were replaced before I left the shop. I needed wider bars with a shallower drop, and a seat post with more setback.

Just out of curiousity, do you have a long torso for your height? If so, this is likely why the Jake the Snake felt more comfortable for you.
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Old 12-09-11, 12:38 PM   #20
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Yes, Alpenrose 2012!

I must have a long torso, it only makes sense. My road bike is actually a Felt Z65 51 cm and it fits nicely. The top tube is a tiny long but I definitely am used to riding it (ride to work, ride home, repeat). This one felt like a great fit, I would've considered the 47cm if they had it. One positive thing about getting the 49cm, if I ever sell it (years and years down the road) it probably is easier to sell a 49cm than a 44cm!!

Now time to buy tires and pedals so I can actually ride the bike this weekend!
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Old 12-09-11, 02:26 PM   #21
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You definitely don't need to wait for tires to ride this weekend. Cross tires still do very well on pavement, they are just not ideal for commuting.

You can always use the pedals from your Felt. Just remember clockwise to loosen the left pedal.
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Old 12-09-11, 03:13 PM   #22
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thanks so much for all the help, both of you. I am supposed to pick up the bike this evening and they even called again to try and push the TRP brakes on me! Ah! They were supposed to just switch my brake pads to the koolstop salmon and change the handlebar. I will try the kool stop for sometime and see if its problematic (I assume it won't be) but if so, I can buy those brakes there...
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Old 12-09-11, 07:08 PM   #23
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I'm really surprised they're pushing those brakes like that. It has me wondering if I should give them a try. I know a lot people love the TRP brakes. I've tried four other sets of canti brakes and found that they could all be adjusted to about the same braking power with the right pads and none have been inadequate for commuting once properly adjusted. I had kind of concluded that the brake itself mostly determines how easy it is to set up. I guess the stiffness of the brake body makes some difference. I might have to put some EuroX's on my wishlist.
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Old 12-10-11, 11:58 AM   #24
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Yeah, I am right there with you. Wish list! The Koolstops made all the difference I needed for now.
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Old 12-10-11, 07:20 PM   #25
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Good choice, esp for the Pacific Northwest. I ride a JTS too. I found the stock canti brakes fine, with the upgraded pads and proper set up. I run a Tubus rear rack with the small Ortliebs and Planet Bike fenders. I like the bike so much I hardly ride my road or mtn bike any more. Picked up a second set of Mavic Aksium wheels at REI and I can run slicks or knobbies depending on the weather and where i will be riding.
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