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  1. #1
    wildjim
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    CycloCross Bicycle Purchase - Help

    I am considering the Kona Jake The Snake and Bianchi Axis.

    Also is the Bianchi Cross Concept worth the extra money as a general racing bicycle than the two above.

    What are the opinions of these bicycles for racing and general riding.

  2. #2
    human velocipedio's Avatar
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    i race a 2001 kona major jake frame with no stock parts. having said that, most of my teammates ride jts's [we were sponsored by kona this year]. i think it's an amsolutely amazing race bike. with the upgrade to a carbon fork [to save weight rather than for comfort], it is well-nigh the perfect amateur race rig.

    the things i like about the axis: 1. it has a nice steep head and seat angle, very racy. 2. it has a carbon fork 3. i like the colour.

    the things i don't like about the axis: 1. the crankset. it is ****e. (a) it is a triple, which is useless in a race and more specifically, a distinct liability when the going gets muddy. (b) it uses a square-taper bottom bracket that will flex and break in race conditions. (c) it is extremely low-quality. 2. the bike has insane gearing for a race bike. it uses a mtb rear derailleur and an 11-32 cassette. in a race, if you need a gear smaller than what you can fet with a 27t cog, you're better off on foot. the upshot is that, with the mtb gearing, your derailleur has to throw a whole lot of chain, making for sloppy shifts, particularly in the muck. 3. i doubt whether the wheels are up to the rigours of racing.

    in contrast, the kona has road gearing and a really nice 38/48 truvativ cyclo-cross double crankset with a splined bottom bracket.

    in my opinion, you'd have to swap out too much on the axis to make it as effective a race bike as the kona. i think it's a bit pricier, too.

    nb: this is a race opinion.
    when walking, just walk. when sitting, just sit. when riding, just ride. above all, don't wobble.

    The Irregular Cycling Club of Montreal
    Cycling irregularly since 2002

  3. #3
    wildjim
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    velocipedio:

    Your statement is very near to reading my thoughts and concerns about the Bianchi Axis. I also like the celeste color.

    I will take "another" closer look at the Kona JTS. I've read reviews and most riders describe it as amazing.

    Thank You,
    Last edited by wildjim; 03-03-05 at 12:56 AM.

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    The only owner of an Axis that I actually know runs ONE ring for racing.
    He lost his chain over and over and got lapped in his first race, he learned.
    That being said, I like the Axis a lot, but run one 44 up front or maybe 38-48 double or even, if you can put one together, a 36-48. I know FDs can shift this, though it's not a standard item. BTW check out the new Centaur compact FD! Take a look at it in person, it's so much like a MTB derailleur, it's amazing. Haven't ridden that yet, no one I know is biting.

    About wheels, yeah, it annoys me to see things like paired-spoke wheels stock on cyclocross bikes.
    This just shows how the marketing of cyclocross bikes is getting away from what works on the track.
    Maybe stock triples are also a symptom.

  5. #5
    wildjim
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    I am leaning towards the Kona JTS.

    What price should I expect to pay?

    Is the Kona JTS available online?

    I have a great dealer in my area "Pedal Pushers" but I would like to get an idea of how much I should offer for a 2005 model.

  6. #6
    human velocipedio's Avatar
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    the jts srp is $1100. dealer cost is about $770. you won't get anything lower than about $975, and i think a fair price at this time of year is $1000. you can't buy new, complete kona bikes online [and i wouldn'r recommend it even if you could]. try the bike. make sure it fits.

    typically, you want a cyclo-cross frame to be a little smaller than your road frame, but this is a reference point, and not a hard-and-fast rule.
    when walking, just walk. when sitting, just sit. when riding, just ride. above all, don't wobble.

    The Irregular Cycling Club of Montreal
    Cycling irregularly since 2002

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    I had to pay full retail for my 2003 JTS. It was not in stock at the local LBS and had to be ordered. Same with the Axis. LBSs here do not stock cross bikes and insist on charging retail prices for anything that is special-ordered.

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    That's ********, imo, you should get a discount on anything that is custom ordered as the shop doesn't have to deal with the bike sitting on their floor.

    Regarding the original question, I love my 05 JTS! Alas it's been decked out with 23mm slicks and only used for indoor training during the winter, can't wait to get the knobbies on there and go tear up the town once the temps start to rise.

    The only complaints I have with the bike are:
    1) I was shocked to discover that the stock tires are wire bead and quite heavy. Light tires and tubes would save almost a 1/2 a pound.
    2) the stock peddles (shimano 505) suck, I have 515's on my XC bike that are way nicer. Unfortunately one is seezed on so I can't switch them onto my JTS.
    3) the stock saddle is way to mushy and heavy, right now I've got a Serfas ARC on there, I might get a Flite for it if I like the one I just put on my XC bike.
    4) the stock Avid brake pads blow, before I get back out into the real world on my JTS I'll upgrade to some Kool Stop or MEC pads.

    On the upside:
    1) the frame looks and rides great
    2) the P2 fork rides super, I was amazed at how well it soaks up bumps and vibrations
    3) the wheels are still quite true despite giving them a beating. I expected them to be destroyed in no time
    4) the drivetrain works perfectly
    5) I can keep up with the roadies with slicks on my JTS!

  9. #9
    wildjim
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    Quote Originally Posted by velocipedio
    the jts srp is $1100. dealer cost is about $770. you won't get anything lower than about $975, and i think a fair price at this time of year is $1000. you can't buy new, complete kona bikes online [and i wouldn'r recommend it even if you could]. try the bike. make sure it fits.

    typically, you want a cyclo-cross frame to be a little smaller than your road frame, but this is a reference point, and not a hard-and-fast rule.
    Thank You for all your help and tips.

    I am sure of my Bicycle size(53cm) and the JTS size 52cm seems perfect.

    If I buy it locally I will purchase it from Pedal Pushers in Severna Park Maryland as the owner(Rod) is "always" so helpful to me and everyone I feel obligated to purchase a bicycle from them.

    He always says he will give me a good deal as I browse the store and Kona is the main line carried.

  10. #10
    wildjim
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    velocipedio:

    Thank You again for your insight and help. . .

    I've ordered the Kona Jake The Snake for $1050 on the street, course or trail. I should receive it by next weekend.
    Last edited by wildjim; 03-18-05 at 02:33 AM.

  11. #11
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    Congrats Jim

    Don't let them cut the steerer tube on that fork until you are certain that the bars will be at a comfortable height for you.

  12. #12
    wildjim
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbobby
    Congrats Jim

    Don't let them cut the steerer tube on that fork until you are certain that the bars will be at a comfortable height for you.
    I doubt that they could cut it too low for me as I like the bars a bit lower than the saddle. But Cyclocross bicycles seem to be setup near level.

    I will take your advice and talk with them this weekend about the setup as it will be another week before the JTS arrives.

    I am open to all suggestions - Thank You

  13. #13
    human velocipedio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KrisA
    That's ********, imo, you should get a discount on anything that is custom ordered as the shop doesn't have to deal with the bike sitting on their floor.
    special orders always cost the shop more. typically, a dealer will get a volume discount on a large booking that does not apply to single orders.
    when walking, just walk. when sitting, just sit. when riding, just ride. above all, don't wobble.

    The Irregular Cycling Club of Montreal
    Cycling irregularly since 2002

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by velocipedio
    i race a 2001 kona major jake frame with no stock parts. having said that, most of my teammates ride jts's [we were sponsored by kona this year]. i think it's an amsolutely amazing race bike. with the upgrade to a carbon fork [to save weight rather than for comfort], it is well-nigh the perfect amateur race rig.

    the things i like about the axis: 1. it has a nice steep head and seat angle, very racy. 2. it has a carbon fork 3. i like the colour.

    the things i don't like about the axis: 1. the crankset. it is ****e. (a) it is a triple, which is useless in a race and more specifically, a distinct liability when the going gets muddy. (b) it uses a square-taper bottom bracket that will flex and break in race conditions. (c) it is extremely low-quality. 2. the bike has insane gearing for a race bike. it uses a mtb rear derailleur and an 11-32 cassette. in a race, if you need a gear smaller than what you can fet with a 27t cog, you're better off on foot. the upshot is that, with the mtb gearing, your derailleur has to throw a whole lot of chain, making for sloppy shifts, particularly in the muck. 3. i doubt whether the wheels are up to the rigours of racing.

    in contrast, the kona has road gearing and a really nice 38/48 truvativ cyclo-cross double crankset with a splined bottom bracket.

    in my opinion, you'd have to swap out too much on the axis to make it as effective a race bike as the kona. i think it's a bit pricier, too.

    nb: this is a race opinion.
    Hey- while I agree with your preference for the Jake over the Axis for racing, theres a couple of points that should be questioned as they sound like absolutes. There are few absolutes in life, and fewer in cyclocross racing. People successfully race cross with all kinds of rigs. A triple crank isnt useful in a race. But a bike used for touring, singletrack and racing in the american amateur ranks can have a triple setup without any real disadvantage. You might want to block the front deraillerur only shift double to prevent overshifting/chain drop from sloppy shifting but otherwise, why not (other than fred-factor)? Square taper bottom brackets snap off in race conditions? Better tell that to all the pro's who race campy, and better throw away all those other square taper BBs used for mountain bike racing. The Axis extremely low quality? What does that mean exactly? I didn't know Bianchi was competing with Huffy... And someone better tell all the MTB manufacturers that MTB rear derailleurs don't shift in the muck. And wheels not up to the rigors of racing? What does that mean- given that lots of very light road rims are used in cross- like open pro's , heliums, even zipp carbons. Anyway, this sounds flameish but not meant to be really. But this forum is filled with newbies looking for help on a cool sport- misinformation doesnt serve anyone well. You got the part about the color right-

  15. #15
    Senior Member Surferbruce's Avatar
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    all that crud was written by someone who must not own an axis.

  16. #16
    wildjim
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbobby
    Congrats Jim

    Don't let them cut the steerer tube on that fork until you are certain that the bars will be at a comfortable height for you.
    I spoke with the shop owner on Saturday and the Kona JTS is shipped setup by Kona.

    As I re-visit my decision and read the advice here I am very pleased the Kona Jake The Snake overall. My other considerations are Empella, Ridley, or Bianchi Cross Concept. The Bianchi Axis's do all design is what steers me away from it and most likely gives it such a loyal follwing from others.

    Thanks again to Velocipedio for the racing insight. . .

    I also purchased a Giant XTC; which I rode to the shop. Nice MTB. . . I now know of Rapid Rise. . .
    Last edited by wildjim; 03-21-05 at 03:39 PM.

  17. #17
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    I have an empella with an Alum fork. Nice bike, but only for racing. Too stiff to be comfortable for long rides, and no bottle mounts. But good geometry- steep angles combined with longish chainstays, high bottom bracket. The flat bottomed top tube is great for carrying, really does make it easier. It's also quite light- the fat downtube is stiff, but very thin walled and prone to dents. I have a couple in mine after 4 years of racing it, no big deal, but still... I dont know about the ridley, but it looks pretty much the same. I think it might not have a replaceable derailleur mount like the empella. Check it to see- that would be the dealbreaker for me on that one. My other cross bike is a Columbus EL steel thing from a local builder with a Winwood carbon fork. Nice bike too, but doesnt feel quite as "dialed in" for racing as the Empella. Hard to describe but just not as confident on places like off camber muddy slopes although it seems to climb a little better (shorter chainstays, maybe?). If I could, I'd build a bike using the Empella geometry with some kind of oversize modern steel tubing. I'm just not a fan of Aluminum frames, especially for cyclocross. I got the Empella used and cheap, no complaints but steel is rea... crap I hate that saying. whatever, just a preference. Before you buy, you might want to take a road trip to check out College Park bikes- they have several cross models including a steel Lemond Poprad that is worth checking out.

  18. #18
    wildjim
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    I have already sealed the deal on the Kona Jake The Snake; which should workout for now. I may go custom next year. I have built a few bicycles so that is an comfortable option.

    What are your thoughts about pedals?

    I like Crank Brothers and use them on all of my bicycles.

  19. #19
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    Crank brothers. good choice, l have several sets of eggbeaters and candies. Go with the eggbeaters on the cross bike, easier to get in/out and shed mud better than anything out there.

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