I’ve wanted a rugged Cyclocross bike for off-road and winter use for a couple years. I already have a Soma Double Cross as a Century bike, but with a Carbon Fiber fork and road bike wheels and gearing, the Soma was might not last much longer if exposed frequent use on dusty trails and salty winter roads. What can a Monster-cross bike offer that a Cyclocross bike doesn’t already provide? I expect that a Monster-cross bike will deliver improved tank-like durability and a more forgiving ride on rough trails & roads.
I finally took the plunge and purchased an Origin 8 CX700 frameset after noticing a review on the road bike forum, see: http://www.bikeforums.net/recreation...ent...The-Tank.
The frame was ideal for my budget Monster-cross build. With room for 700x50 tires, disc or cantilever brakes, Road or MTB rear drop-out spacing. The rear-entry horizontal rear drop-outs will permit single-speed, IGH and derailleur drivetrains. The frame-set is a bit heavier than a Surly Cross Check, the rear drop-outs and the fork are extra strong & heavy and a little overbuilt.
It took a few weeks of searching, finding a frameset wasn’t easy. These sell out quickly and are prices at about $200 for both the frame & fork. I finally found one on eBay in December. The geometry in the largest size is a good fit for me. The frame arrived and I was surprised at the quality. The tube-set is 4130 aerospace standard. The welds are skillfully done, but less smooth than my Soma. The paint was very good, with good color and as tough as most automotive finishes.
I wanted to keep costs low, so I decided on cantilever brakes. The Tektro 720 brakes are good performers at a great price. Rim-brake touring wheels are also budget friendly, I found a new set of 40 spoke Velocity Dyad on Formula high flange hubs for about $130 delivered. Disc brakes would have been nice, but they limit racking options, add weight and would require a pricier wheelset.
I was hoping to use a Shimano 105 triple crank-set and build a 3x10 drivetrain, but the arms on road crank with external bearings won’t clear the chain-stays. So I installed a Shimano Deore “Trekking” crank-set with 48, 36 and I installed a 22t small chainring. This was matched to a 12-27 nine speed cassette. Tiagra STI “brifters” and a front derailleur for triple were installed. A Deore SGS rear derailleur completes the drivetrain.
The handlebars needed to fit the off-road personality of the build, Salsa Moto-Ace Woodchipper handle bars improve rough surface stability and work well with STI levers. A Thomson Elite seat-post is held by Surly seat-post clamp.
To save some weight and to add mid-blade fork rack mounts, I replaced the Origin 8 fork with a new Surly Cross Check fork. The fork is much lighter, looks great and should provide a more compliant ride. The practical tire clearance is a good match for the frame, with room for 700x45 or larger tires & fenders both front & rear.
This build project is best compared to other touring bikes. It's off-road-touring tough but also touring bike heavy. The weight is within 1 pound of a Surly Cross Check using the same build items. The bike is lighter than a stock Surly Long Haul Trucker, Salsa Vaya or Fargo.