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  1. #1
    Senior Member JeffOYB's Avatar
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    How much better are modern-era CX bikes? What's a good value used bike/wheels?

    How much better are today's CX bikes than older styled bikes? If a crosser was to try a good 80's or 90's bike, say, would they place a lot worse? What would be the major breakthru areas? (I'm guessing carbon compact frames -- anything next-most relevant? I'd guess a light alum compact frame...)

    Is there a good value bike and wheelset that keeps the great performance of modern gear while being available on 2nd-hand market at an affordable price?

    I was thinking maybe a Giant TCR with deep dish bladed spoke sewup wheels (don't know what brand).

    I'm looking to get as much bang for buck as I can in, say, a lightly used early-oughts bike/wheelset.

    Thanks!
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  2. #2
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    The biggest advancements have been braking, then shifting. As far as frames, hydroformed aluminum and carbon. You'll see a fair number of 20 year old tubular wheels at a cross race. The main advantage of tubulars is the tires themselves, not deep section rims.

    As long as your bike shifts reliably (if multi-geared and even that isn't a must) and brakes semi-predictably and won't explode you're good to go.

  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    want STI or the SRAM shifters you might as well just get a New Bike
    Felt, and Redline are OK, the OEM deals on the Parts are better by the truckload
    than each Pricing to rebuild something old into New.

    Hydroformed aluminum to make that Run Up carry, shoulder under the Top Tube
    is a big comfort improvement over a round 1" tube.


    But if you are thinking Single speed , given there are not many parts
    in the first place ,
    then Bodging together an old touring frame may be OK.

    just have to get off and run a bit more often.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 11-01-12 at 04:47 PM.

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    There is a big performance increase when you turn the corner and finally say, Yes, I love this sport and it's worth a little bit more of my time, energy, and money to me. When you can enjoy the response and feel of a reliable, stiff, light bike, without getting all creepy and obsessive and gram-countie about it.

  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Since QBP sells Ridley bikes they are widely available..

  7. #7
    Senior Member JeffOYB's Avatar
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    Is the main thing weight? The bike I'm using now is a '76 Nishiki converted. It's fun but weighs 25 lbs with sewups.

    I could see brifters being a fairly big deal, considering our turny local courses. Not so much brakes -- I recall the winner of our local races saying he only brakes once each lap. I need corner skill like he has and to lay OFF my brakes. I'm halfway there with that. I need to learn more so I can go faster thru corners.

    I was really wondering how much difference an 18-lb bike might make, say, in all the reaccelerations. Never tried one. I'll have to see about that.

    Anyway, if a good 'crosser tried using my 25-lb old bike would he find himself way off the back? It used to be, on the road, that "it's not about the bike." But new-era bikes really matter. You need to get into that 18-lb ballpark with aerowheels to keep up with peers of same fitness. Is the same thing true in CX? If it's just weight I can work on that. If 'fancy' wheels aren't needed, very cool! I have my fat light old sewups. I like em a lot. I didn't know how much diff a 10-yr set might make compared to my 20-yr set.

    So maybe I'm just looking for a cheap light 'cross frame that flooded the market 5-10 yrs ago.

    Also, maybe I'll look into this SS angle. Our local course might not need gears so much -- I notice I don't shift that much. That's a way I could shed weight. I'll probably being doing the C races, against geared riders. Then again maybe I should be shifting more, via brifters -- maybe that helps the speed.

    (We have pretty popular C fields, 50 riders. At 50 I'd be among the older riders and am not a specific bike lifestylist but stay fit and am enjoying building up the skill side and so tend to finish a little better than I should. I really like looking for Secret Weapons. But I have nearly zero budget, so need to rely on generic, undervalued gear. And if I can use my old parts box, all the better. Like, I have some older Ergo brifters I could poach off another bike if they'd really help, if not, I'd rather not bother.)
    Last edited by JeffOYB; 11-02-12 at 09:42 AM.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member ColonelJLloyd's Avatar
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    I'm wrapping up a build right now. I found an older Voodoo Wazoo (853) cyclocross frame (no fork) last year for $75. I'm about to finish it and I suspect I'll be really happy with it, but with all the components I will have spent over $1,000. I've built many bikes around vintage frames and I always end up with great results, but never cheaper than a comparable, second hand, complete bike.

    I have a couple of your re-purposed bags, Jeff. Good stuff.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member JeffOYB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColonelJLloyd View Post
    I'm wrapping up a build right now. I found an older Voodoo Wazoo (853) cyclocross frame (no fork) last year for $75. I'm about to finish it and I suspect I'll be really happy with it, but with all the components I will have spent over $1,000. I've built many bikes around vintage frames and I always end up with great results, but never cheaper than a comparable, second hand, complete bike.

    I have a couple of your re-purposed bags, Jeff. Good stuff.
    Thanks, glad you like the bags! : )

    My old parts box is pretty deep. I figure if I get the most relevant items I can supplement with old stuff to end up with something that's in the game rather than off the back. But I'm trying to get my bearings first. ...What makes the most diff. What should I look for. Biggest bang for buck.

    Maybe once I get my skills down the weight issue isn't so huge. Maybe the C-class speeds aren't hot enough to make aero much of an issue either. If so maybe I could contend on my old bike. Maybe it's not about the bike. I really would like to hear from someone who's used both old and new era gear and has a feel for the diff's.
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  10. #10
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    Last year I entered my first cx race with a road bike I got off the side of the road for five bux. I put indexed DT shifters on it and raced it with some 27" kenda kross tires. Worked awesome, took 2nd place in the C race. I'm sure it wasn't that heavily attended of a race, but I had a blast. This year I built a kross bike out of an old nishiki mnt bike, using 700c tires and 8 speed integrated shifters. Comes in right around 28-29 pounds! The shifters are very nice to have, love em. Would've liked a 10 sp setup but 8 is what I could afford without dismantling my road bike and using it's parts..

    Anyhow I think the extra weight is and isn't noticeable. If you're doing alot of carrying or climbing then you'll notice an extra 8 pounds I'm sure. But you say you don't live the bike lifestyle, so maybe it would be cheaper to lose ten pounds of you than of bike.

    I've done two gravel road races this year with my frankenbike, both with alot of rollers in them which did take a tool on the legs. I would've loved an 18 pound carbon beauty at that point. I've got about 450 other general miles on the bike, most dirt roads, singletrack, and grass trails. Love it in the singletrack, love it in flat gravel, and it's great in the grass which pretty much sucks power no matter what you're riding.

    Hoping to find a nice aluminum cross frame over the winter and building up a lightweight 10 speed crosser for next year. To me it'll be worth it. If you have integrated brake/shifters available I would certainly put them on if they work properly. Definately a luxury that's worth having, especially if the only investment into getting them is some labor.

  11. #11
    Senior Member ColonelJLloyd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffOYB View Post
    But I'm trying to get my bearings first. ...What makes the most diff. What should I look for. Biggest bang for buck.
    I don't yet race, so take this with a grain of salt. That said, I do ride a good deal and I'm a good bike mechanic.

    I would say the most biggest advantages you'd notice are integrated brake/shifters and lightweight wheels with high quality tires. Start researching Shimergo. Personally, I've found that Veloce 10s Ergopower shifters, a Shimano 6-10s RD (excluding pre 9s Dura Ace) and Shimano/SRAM 8 speed cassette is an excellent combination. Just plug and play.

    Here are a couple of my setups.



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  12. #12
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    the aero rims come to a point, so dont have a shelf to hold mud..
    other than that , old sewup rims are fine.. light , resilient..

    I note, if there is no wheel sponsorship with something to prove,
    the team mechanics bring out the 32 hole 3 cross sewup wheels, for Paris Roubaix.

  13. #13
    Senior Member ColonelJLloyd's Avatar
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    If you're not in a time crunch, just do your research and keep an eye on eBay and other sources of second hand components. I recently bought a wheelset of Ultegra hubs laced 3x to MAVIC CXP30s (tubular) with DT Revolution spokes for under $100.

    I bought the new Veloce 10s Ergos with cables for ~$100 plus shipping from Ribble.
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  14. #14
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    want STI or the SRAM shifters you might as well just get a New Bike
    Felt, and Redline are OK, the OEM deals on the Parts are better by the truckload
    than each Pricing to rebuild something old into New.

    Hydroformed aluminum to make that Run Up carry, shoulder under the Top Tube
    is a big comfort improvement over a round 1" tube.
    I don't necessarily agree. Doing a build with used parts is a viable option if you're savvy and have the mechanical skills. Doing this will eliminate the problem of paying for heavy/junk OEM parts and wheels. If you already have a healthy parts stash you can use it.

    Ebay and craigslist are full of takeoff components. It's cross, so who cares if the bits are a little scuffed up?

  15. #15
    Senior Member JeffOYB's Avatar
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    Hmmm, haven't gotten as far as I'd like with this one.

    So any experienced crossers out there who've tried both old and new bikes? I'm still wondering if there's such a big diff. ...And where the biggest diff is.

    Brifters do seem like a good idea. But is weight an even bigger deal?

    Has anyone out there switched back'n'forth lately between a traditional steel diamond frame CX bike and a compact alum/carb frame?

    It sounds like my ol' sewups will do me fine so I'm cool with wheels. See, in road racing the wheels seem to matter more due to the speed and accelerations so it's still an area I'd be interested in improving on my road bike. Sounds like I can neglect it in my CX in terms of modernizing, anyway.

    I'm fit enough and getting there on my skills. Just trying to get a sense of how critical it is to both fun and results to get away from my 25-lb'er old bike. If it's really not the relevant thing, then great! I'll keep using it. Recent improvements are a big deal in some sports but maybe not as much in others.

    I do plan on do my own comparing when/if I can. Just thought it might be a neat topic here.
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  16. #16
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffOYB View Post
    Hmmm, haven't gotten as far as I'd like with this one.

    So any experienced crossers out there who've tried both old and new bikes? I'm still wondering if there's such a big diff. ...And where the biggest diff is.
    I've raced on:

    -2008 Kona Jake 3x10 and 2x10 (~23 pounds)
    -2009 Surly Cross Check 3x10 (~25 pounds)
    -1977 Gitane Gypsy Sport, singlespeed (~24 pounds)
    -2008 Kona Major Jake 2x10 and 1x10 (~20 pounds)

    On average, I would say that my results have been indistinguishable between these bikes (uniformly bad). It's much more fun on the Major Jake though. The gears make a big difference on some courses. The weight makes a big difference in how the bike feels and is probably a factor in fatigue toward the end of the race. I don't think weight makes much of a difference in acceleration.

    I may be a bad test case, because I'm just slow. I'm certain, however, that the guys at the top of my category could beat me even if they were riding 35-pound Schwinns and I were on a tricked out carbon Ridley. The number one guy in a given race would probably drop a few spots if you put him on a heavier bike, but he'd still be very good.

    I do think brakes make a very big difference, in spite of claims that the top guys don't brake much. They do. The trick with turns, for instance, is to carry as much speed as you can as long as you can and then brake quickly to the speed you need for the turn before you start turning. Good brakes make that happen. On some turns you can scrub enough speed just by backing of the gas, but a lot of times you need the brakes.

    Probably the biggest difference between a modern CX race bike and an old sport touring bike that you can press into CX service is the geometry. The way a bike handles is all about the geometry. A bike that's built to be comfortable for hours and hours of riding along paved roads isn't going to slither through a chicane nearly as well as a bike that's designed for slithering through chicanes. Again, a good rider can make it work and a bad rider can make it look hard on the best bike, but either one benefits from not having the bike working against him.

  17. #17
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    I have raced both CX and the road ( no longer race road, only CX). While it seems everyone wants the lightest road bike possible, they are willing to accept a few add grams even pounds on their CX bike. I couldn't disagree more. When I first started racing CX I was under the impression the bike needed to be built proof. With all the crashes, mud, water etc I wanted to keep the bike as inexpensive as possible. My bike build concentrated on durability (read heavy) components. After racing a few years I realize what a mistake that was. If ever I wanted to be lighter and have a lighter bike it is while CX racing. The constant acceleration is where the lighter bike wins! Not to mention the need to carry or shoulder the bike. While most people might argue you only carry your bike a small percentage of the time. CX is all about maximum effort, so any way you can save a little energy is going to help you in the end. Now is a 25 lbs bike vrs a 18 lbs bike going to make the difference between 1st and 50th? I seriously doubt that!

  18. #18
    or tarckeemoon, depending marqueemoon's Avatar
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    Light is definitely good, but durability is also good. Considering what the parts are subjected to cheap is also good. During cross season when I'm spending $300+ in race fees I don't have much left over for major component replacements.

    I'd say 20ish lbs/$1Kish (a build done with quality used parts) is pretty much the sweet spot for a cross bike.

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