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  1. #1
    Senior Member flammenwurfer's Avatar
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    Want a cross bike for an all around use, not racing. Can I do it under $600?

    I've been a classic and vintage guy before now, but I want a new(ish) bike that is faster and more modern...and will handle anything I throw at it like roads, bike paths, grass, gravel, some mtb trails etc... It will probably see more road than anything else, but I want the freedom to do any of those other things.

    I'm doing research and reading the forums a lot, but I still don't feel like I have a great grasp on what makes a cross bike a cross bike. From what I can tell it's mainly canti brake bosses, wider knobbier tires, and an extra set of brake levers?

    I'm going to go by my LBS and look, but based on the time I've been in there, I doubt I'll find anything I can afford. I've built a few c&v bikes up from scratch so I'm fairly comfortable doing my own work/assembly. I'll try to summarize my questions into a short list:

    1. What makes a cross bike a cross bike?
    2. How can I find out what is adequate components if I were to build a bike from a frame? and how cheap could I do it?
    3. Would a Bikes Direct cross bike be adequate for my current needs and be worth upgrading to better components in the future if I wanted to?

  2. #2
    Senior Member User1's Avatar
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    I'm by no means an expert in XC, but I'll give you my 2 cents on some of the stuff you ask. I'm sure there will be others that can help you more. BTW, I'm pretty much in the same boat as you. Keep an eye out on craigslist too.

    OK
    1. What makes a cross bike a cross bike? - fatter tires with knobs, some like the middle levers, other don't, different brakes on the bike, and different measurements usually on the frame tubes than a road bike.
    2. How can I find out what is adequate components if I were to build a bike from a frame? and how cheap could I do it? - read, read and read $600 is a doable mark
    3. Would a Bikes Direct cross bike be adequate for my current needs and be worth upgrading to better components in the future if I wanted to? - Not crazy about BD bikes but I do keep an eye on what they're doing. I do like Nashbar frame and carbon fork. Bout a $250 option right now. Does go down if you watch for it.

    Good luck on what you are doing and I wish you the best.

  3. #3
    Delusional Laserbrain Germanicus's Avatar
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    Under $600 will be tough. Cross bikes are not as common as road or MTBs so there are less surplus to be found.
    I think It will be cheaper to buy the bike outright then to try to build it yourself. Manufacturers get steep component discounts that you or I don't get. I would only build it yourself if you want a bike with specific component/ frame combination that is not offered or you just enjoy tinkering.

    Nashbar CX-1 at $625
    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...89_-1___202403

    Otherwise try Ebay.

  4. #4
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Lots of bikes for commuters have as their wheel type 700c 35 wide wheels and tires.
    Id look at your LBS, its a popular setup across the brand/importers catalogs.

    go in the flesh to the bike shop..

    at $600 the components already on the bike will do the job.

    you probably don't need jewelry level components, to flash-bling your mates.

  5. #5
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    If you want to buy local, the Redline Conquest Sport might work. They stopped making them this year, but if you could find a 2011 around, the price might be good. Not quite as much clearance as a full CX bike, but decent (as shown in the pictures)

    http://www.redlinebicycles.com/archi...conquest-sport
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  6. #6
    Green Tea Lemonade Oil_LOL's Avatar
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    I feel like, if you're not racing, for under six hundred, there's a lot of interesting options. I mean, because you're not racing, you don't really have to care about weight, and you can use bar-end shifters. You might be good with a touring bike, even, but I can totally understand the want for sporty geometry. I personally feel like you'd be fine with a bikesdirect bike, if you know what you're looking for, and know to take care of your bike and get it built up right. There's a couple good options on bikesdirect for cross bikes under six hundred dollars.
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._cross_cx2.htm
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/..._cross_cx3.htm

    The first of these two has a double crank, the second has a triple crank. If you're interested in touring, get the triple, if you want some weight savings, get the double. Bikesdirect also has cross bikes with disc brakes, but, imo, in your price range, they aren't nice enough to justify the extra cost of the disc brakes.

    Another option for you, if you're willing to tinker, and not go totally new, is to purchase an old touring or mountain bike off of craigslist, and turn it into a 'cross bike. With a touring bike, find one with cantis, and stick on knobby tires. It won't do for racing, but if it's nice enough, it'll do for recreation. If you're converting a mountain bike, you can put on a new stem, drop bars, and bar-end shifters. A suspension fork is doable, but not ideal. You should try to purchase a rigid fork of of the internet if you go down that road and only find suspension forks. Then again, you aren't racing, and you're doing this on a budget. In my opinion, the definition of a cyclocross bike can be very wide. I have seen people race on all sorts of bikes, with varying results. It's all about what you can afford to do, and what you think will suit your needs best, especially considering this is for all around recreation.
    Now, I don't know where you live in Kansas, but here are some interesting options I saw on the Wichita cl.
    http://wichita.craigslist.org/bid/2999798805.html - the schwinn
    http://wichita.craigslist.org/bik/2969055542.html
    http://wichita.craigslist.org/bik/2978837526.html

  7. #7
    Senior Member flammenwurfer's Avatar
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    Cool, this is very helpful. I'm looking at the Dawes Lightning Cross on BD and the Nashbar CX-1 that Germanicus suggested. Is one better than the other, besides the Nashbar having a carbon fork?

    Oil_LOL: Very good info and some ideas I hadn't really thought of. I'm in Topeka, so the Topeka, Lawrence and KC craigslist sites are the ones I peruse most. While I'm not fixated on weight, I would still like it to be light and quick at least compared to my heavy and slow c&v bikes. I would also like it to use modern components. I have a Raleigh Technium 480 with a stripped bb and a Raleigh Grand Prix with cottered cranks kicking around in the basement but I didn't think they would be good candidates for a cross bike.

    It seems a lot of the cheaper cross bikes on BD are triples, while the higher end ones are mostly doubles. I'm a big fan of simplicity and I think a double is more than enough for me. Is it feasible to just take a ring off a triple and convert it to a double or even a single?

  8. #8
    Senior Member flammenwurfer's Avatar
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    Basically, what I'm looking for as a minimum performance-wise is to keep up with my girlfriend on her road bike. She's in good shape, but not a speed demon and just upgraded to a Specialized Dolce. I don't need to be a speed demon, but want to be able to ride together and explore off-road and can't afford to buy more than 1 bike.

  9. #9
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    I can pretty much vouch for the Nashbar CX-1 since I basically own the Performance (owns Nashbar) version of this bike (Scattante X-330). The components are nearly identical and the frame is the same frame and is made by Fuji.

    I've recently upgraded my wheels but for $625 it's a nice bike (I got mine for $599). The frame is actually quite nice. It's strong and responsive and very stable on the descents. It's a stiff frame but handles great. Overall, I feel the frame is worthy of better components and such an investment would not be a waste of money in the future.

    The carbon fork is a nice touch in this price class. I like having the cross top lever brakes when in traffic. I'm not crazy about the Sora shifters and will be upgrading mine very soon.

    Quote Originally Posted by flammenwurfer View Post
    Basically, what I'm looking for as a minimum performance-wise is to keep up with my girlfriend on her road bike. She's in good shape, but not a speed demon and just upgraded to a Specialized Dolce. I don't need to be a speed demon, but want to be able to ride together and explore off-road and can't afford to buy more than 1 bike.
    The geometry of the bike is pretty comfortable. Handling is it's strong suit with the speed being nothing special nor anything too slow. You'll have more fun on it when the road offers some turns and abrupt elevation changes. It gets bored on the flats.
    Last edited by knobd; 05-15-12 at 03:09 PM.
    2012 Pinarello FP Due,2010 Scattante X-330(Cyclocross),1988 Fuji Sagres SP (Road Bike)

  10. #10
    Senior Member WickedThump's Avatar
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    My cross bike is being built from parts. A Kona Jake the snake frame, wheels from a specialized Crossroads, drive from an 88 diamondback mountain bike. I have a little over $300 invested, but should get some of that back when I sell off unneeded parts.

  11. #11
    Green Tea Lemonade Oil_LOL's Avatar
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    Yeah, if you're willing to go with a double, go with a double.

  12. #12
    Senior Member flammenwurfer's Avatar
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    So I'm seriously thinking about going with the Nashbar CX-1. I like that it's a double not a triple, and the components seem like they are maybe slightly better than the BD bikes and it has a carbon fork. Plus, they are have a 20% off sale right now and I can get the bike and some other odds and ends for under $600 including shipping.

    Can anyone help with sizing or point me to a good place to figure that out? I'm 5'10", 150ish lbs. From what I have read I think a 56cm would be my size, but the cx-1 goes from 54cm to 57cm. Not sure which would be better for me.

  13. #13
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Can anyone help with sizing or point me to a good place to figure that out?
    Going to your local bike shop and test riding bikes on the floor
    should give you a size idea..
    Now with the popularity of sloping top tubes, in frame design,
    the horizontal measurement of top tube lengths is virtual,
    rather than actual.

    slze as a seat tube length is shorter when the top tube slopes,
    then the virtual top tube dimension will be most useful..

    Cross racing bikes often use a double, a 44t or 46t big ring,
    and a 38/9, 34 or 36 inner ring..

    cassettes going down to 11t cogs, a 4:1 high should be sufficient..

    out of the box compact doubles use a 50t outer, then aftermarket swaps of outer chainrings drops the excessively high ratio,
    no mortals need a 114+" gear ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 05-16-12 at 11:57 AM.

  14. #14
    Longing for a Tail Wind Stickney's Avatar
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    If you are patient you can score one of those Nashbar bikes with a 15% or 20% discount. Also, the prices on Nashbar constantly change. For example, I bought this bike (http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...2_526536_-1___) -- which was then priced at 749.99 with a 20% off coupon ($600). It has arguably better components.

    Both the Nashbar and BD bikes are solid bikes. I have a BD bike myself (the Nashbar bike is my wife's).

    There is a Nashbar coupon for 20% off now which works with bikes, but you would need to buy 4 other items (buy 5 things get 20% off -- the code is 59273 -- it is good today and tomorrow). Those 4 other items could be 4 tubes or something cheap though.

  15. #15
    Senior Member flammenwurfer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stickney View Post
    If you are patient you can score one of those Nashbar bikes with a 15% or 20% discount. Also, the prices on Nashbar constantly change. For example, I bought this bike (http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...2_526536_-1___) -- which was then priced at 749.99 with a 20% off coupon ($600). It has arguably better components.

    Both the Nashbar and BD bikes are solid bikes. I have a BD bike myself (the Nashbar bike is my wife's).

    There is a Nashbar coupon for 20% off now which works with bikes, but you would need to buy 4 other items (buy 5 things get 20% off -- the code is 59273 -- it is good today and tomorrow). Those 4 other items could be 4 tubes or something cheap though.
    Yes, that's kind of why I'm so interested in the CX-1 right now. It's $625 but I can pick it up with that coupon along with some shoes and a couple other small things and total out under $600.

    I think I'll swing by the local shop after work and have a look and maybe a test ride. I know that's frowned upon by some since I probably won't buy from them. I just can't afford anything they have.

  16. #16
    Senior Member flammenwurfer's Avatar
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    So I pulled the trigger on the Nashbar CX-1 yesterday. Should come sometime next week.

    Does anybody know how assembled the bike will come? Just wondering how much I'll have to do and what tools I'll need.

  17. #17
    Longing for a Tail Wind Stickney's Avatar
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    The Nashbar bike I ordered for my wife required installation of:

    *front wheel (easy)
    *saddle/post (easy)
    *bar/stem (moderate)
    *front brake/brake cable (moderately difficult)

    It also didn't come with pedals (took some off another bike).

    I needed to consult some online photos and some videos (park tool site) to make sure I lined up the cabling correctly when I attached the bar/stem.

    Tools:
    *4 mm and 5 mm Allen wrenches
    *cable cutter for front brake cable
    *cable tensioner or vise grip pliers to aid in tensioning front brake cable
    *grease (for stem/bar, seatpost, bolts)
    *pump for tires

    Remember -- it is not rocket science, but you can mess it up. As with nearly everything nowadays, repairs are SO MUCH easier with the proper tools. If you aren't comfortable with repairs, pay the LBS. If you are a bit mechanical, spend the money on a book (Zinn) and the proper tools.

  18. #18
    Senior Member flammenwurfer's Avatar
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    Cool, thank you. I'm comfortable doing all that work myself. I've built wheels and built up whole bikes before. They have all been older bikes though so I'm more concerned with whether or not there are any tools I'd need specific to newer components.

  19. #19
    All Bikes All The Time Sawtooth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flammenwurfer View Post
    Cool, thank you. I'm comfortable doing all that work myself. I've built wheels and built up whole bikes before. They have all been older bikes though so I'm more concerned with whether or not there are any tools I'd need specific to newer components.
    Modern tool-specific repairs include bottom bracket work and cassette/hub removal. Most of the rest can be handled with standard basic/old school tools.

    ALTHOUGH: I would probably never part with my park cable/housing cutter. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000OZBINY I honestly cannot believe that I ever built bikes without this tool. WORTH EVERY PENNY!

  20. #20
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flammenwurfer View Post
    Cool, this is very helpful. I'm looking at the Dawes Lightning Cross on BD and the Nashbar CX-1 that Germanicus suggested. Is one better than the other, besides the Nashbar having a carbon fork?

    Oil_LOL: Very good info and some ideas I hadn't really thought of. I'm in Topeka, so the Topeka, Lawrence and KC craigslist sites are the ones I peruse most. While I'm not fixated on weight, I would still like it to be light and quick at least compared to my heavy and slow c&v bikes. I would also like it to use modern components. I have a Raleigh Technium 480 with a stripped bb and a Raleigh Grand Prix with cottered cranks kicking around in the basement but I didn't think they would be good candidates for a cross bike.

    It seems a lot of the cheaper cross bikes on BD are triples, while the higher end ones are mostly doubles. I'm a big fan of simplicity and I think a double is more than enough for me. Is it feasible to just take a ring off a triple and convert it to a double or even a single?
    The weight difference between a double and a triple is meaningless unless you're running in competition against other people with bikes and their shoulders. Doubles are ideal for cross racing, but remember that cross racers RUN up steep offroads. A triple will give a lot, lot more offroad capability for hardly any extra weight. Remember that offroad rides often combine poor traction and steep gradients.

  21. #21
    Senior Member JohnnyCyclist's Avatar
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    Late to the game here, but FWIW in case anyone ever refers to this thread in the future:

    I've got the $579 BD triple and am happy with it for what I use it for: road riding in **** weather. I ran the stock knobbies until they were worn out, then replaced them with cheap 700x28 road tires (I also have 700x32's I will use if the roads are really crummy). I replaced the stock clip-and-strap pedals with cheap SPD clipless pedals. I also replaced the Tektro Oryx cantilevers with a better set from Shimano (don't remember the version number, sorry), but only because I got them dirt cheap.

    Note that the bike comes full-fender ready, should you decide you want fenders. Having seen what last winter did to the bike when I tore it apart for a "complete overhaul", I ordered fenders earlier this week.

    Other than that, barring normal maintenance and wear part replacement, the bike is stock and works fine for what I want it to do. I don't live in San Diego, so my pampered road bike isn't always an option when I want to ride.

  22. #22
    Senior Member nayr497's Avatar
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    A bit late too, but I'll contribute what I can in case it could be of help to the OP/others.

    I race cross and have a darn nice bike for that which I picked up used. Van Dessel G&T, very nice components, awesome wheels, etc. I got that bike and realized I was riding it all the time, for everything. Cross riding, groceries, to the bar, etc. What?! I can't be locking this thing up!

    At the time my rain bike/lock-up bike/winter bike was a nice steel road bike. Too nice to beat up & also could only run 23s with full fenders. Silly to run such narrow tires for a do-it-all bike.

    Enter the nashbar cross. The price is awesome, the bike is solid. Just the 105 10-s shifters 5700 with the hidden routing are about half the total bike. I LOVE it because with the plain finish it doesn't look steal-worthy, or at least isn't flashy. I have some full fenders on mine, which makes it great for rain rides, winter training, etc. Also running some 30mm tires, nice and cushy for the potholes in town. I pulled off the wheels, bars, stem, seat pillar, saddle but just because I had nicer, lighter ones in my parts bin. The bike is awesome. ALSO has mounts so I'm getting a rack and panniers and doing my first touring this summer.

    Assembly required - phew, I think you just need to put on the bars and mount the front brake cable hanger? If you've built a bike from the frame up you'll definitely have the skills/tools. No worries.

    Cross bikes have changed my cycling life. Used to be a full-on roadie. Now I can hit the trails when traffic or the weather is bad. Or, just ride my NB cross since I have full fenders. I seriously think I'd keep my G&T and use it for everything if I was forced to keep only one bike.

    A cross bike with two wheelsets, one for cross, one for road riding, is basically the do-it-all awesomeness bike. I actually rode my first official (don't always have cyclometers on my bikes) imperial century on my cross bike because my road bike was under-the-weather.

    Enjoy yours!

    PS - I don't mind winter riding either, not snow or rain or cold...but full fenders and wider tires are just much, much nicer when it's cold and wet. Saves the bike, keeps your chamois dry. Plus, crudding up my mid-level cx bike is much easier on my emotions than doing that to my nice road bikes. CX bikes are work dogs!
    Last edited by nayr497; 05-25-12 at 11:47 AM.
    Deda Newton Anatomic bars/40cm
    Pls. PM me if interested, trying clear out parts bin!

  23. #23
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    Signing on since I am a fan of cross bikes as well (love my soma cross) and I'm thinking of getting one of the BD or Nashbar cross bikes for other family members. They both look like killer bikes for the price. I have some concerns about Bike Direct though since it does not seem that straightforward to contact anyone there other than via e-mail. I could be wrong but that is my one concern whereas I know that Nashbar is responsive to phone calls.

    Edit: @ flammenwurfer: I made a similar move that you are thinking about from older road bikes to cross bikes and have never really looked back. Modern gear works well with them, they ride great, and fat tires are fun on a road bike.
    Last edited by bikemig; 05-25-12 at 12:07 PM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member flammenwurfer's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone for all the input. I haven't had a chance to put a lot of miles on the CX-1 yet, but got a ride in the other night. Then I rode my 1969 Raleigh Sports that has been my main bike for a while...MY GOD, it felt so slow after riding my new bike!

    The nashbar bike was super easy to put together. I think most of the time was actually getting all the packaging off. After that it was just putting the handlebars, seat, pedals and front wheel on, hooking up the front brake and making some adjustments. I'm really liking the bike so far. I may be easily impressed coming from my vintage bikes, but the CX-1 feels really smooth and rides fast and easy.

  25. #25
    Senior Member RGNY's Avatar
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    Ha! enjoy. i also came from vintage/cruiser (ex: Giant Simple Single and '46 Western Flyer).

    i wanted a CX for my road/gravel/dirt commute to work and went with the Nashbar steel / 105. about 50mi/week on it and it's been great. now, thanks to you, i'm considering the CX-1 as a backup bike and maybe make it a little more road oriented while still having some access road ability (Rando 32's and a lighter wheelset)....

    *sigh* n+1

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