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  1. #1
    aaw
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    Best carbon cross bike for road racing

    Ok, I know what you are going to say, but I have my reasons, and I understand the drawbacks. A carbon cross bike will be a HUGE upgrade over my current cross bike and according to a Strava'd test road ride on a poorly fit, too small Specialized Carbon Crux Pro (with a very nice road wheelset), a pretty durn good upgrade on my road bike too. I see people discussing this in the forums, but it tends to be about BB drop or non-carbon frames or other. I'm looking to understand which fairly common brand carbon cross bike is going to ride pretty well as a road bike. I get that I may want to change out cranks and need to adjust brakes and have less road braking power. I'm looking at relatively common brands because I'm going to be looking for something used to maximize groupo for buck and so I can then afford a nice second set of road rims. And no, I can't really go test them. I live in a smallish city where most stores only carry a couple of cross bikes and often not in my size (my current road and cross bikes are 54 cm). The bikes I usually see for sale are Redline Conquest Pro Carbon, Specialized CruX Pro Carbon, Lapierre Carbon, Trek Cronus Carbon (sometimes), Orbea Carbon, Cannondale Cross X Carbon. Anyone have some somewhat objective stance on which framemaker is going to replicate a fairly aggressive road geometry? Or maybe just any nice carbon cross bike that has been professionally fit will do it?
    Thanks for any input!

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    In general I think lower bottom bracket and shorter wheelbase is what you want. Cannondale has 67mm (?) drop which I think would be fine. Might want to get some mini-V brakes, which would also allow you to use shorter stack on the stem. Good chainring combo might be 50/38 on the compact crank that came with the bike. (I'm pretty sure 38t 110bcd rings are fairly common.)

    Switching from "road-mode" to "cross-mode" might be as simple as swapping out tires, and flipping over the stem.

  3. #3
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    now there are Disc brake road bikes too.. Colnago makes them ... not many cost more so It must be Best.

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    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    I use my Carbon Fiber Cyclocross bike primarily on the road, and on very bad pavement it's as fast or faster than my road bike.

    What would work "best" for road racing is very difficult to answer without knowing many details.

    What tires will you use?

    What type of pavement do you expect?

    What are your expectations concerning racing?

    If you want to become an elite racer, chances are you want a road bike. Have you considered something like a Specialized S-Works Roubaix? It accepts 28mm wide tires but is a real race machine.
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    Interesting topic, which I hope I'm not stealing the thread. I do Sag touring, and at end of each segment, there is always light hearted duel of wheels. I'd be looking at 25mm tyres.
    Specialized S-Works Roubaix
    Now that's an extreme recommendation.you have set my heart on fire with desire. I'd change the cog set to 12-32 and be done.
    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bik...red-disc#specs

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    The Redline Team from a few years ago had little sales because of a crazy frame spec, you can find the frame for as low as $750 retail. If you're willing to invest in a weird wheel spec (130mm disc), you can have a disc geared, disc single speed, or canti rim brake bike all on one wheelset. It's also got BB30, which is the same as both my mountain and road bikes. I can swap multiple cranks.

    Overall in terms of just being versatile my Redline is easily the best bike I own, and like many of you, my n bikes leave for a lot of choices. I always pick this one.

    This is a good example picture. This was on a 220km day tour (and a big bag was removed off the top tube) and I had my beefy disc wheels with 28mm Gators on. It's also geared 1 x 11 here.

    On mine the stem's slammed, and with 23mm wheels and a double crank it's basically a road bike with canti brakes. You can quibble about a few mm of chainstay or BB or wheelbase difference, or three tenths of a degree of angle blah blah, but it's a better road bike than my Colnago Master, even though that seems like a sin to write that.

  7. #7
    aaw
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    @flargle - thanks for the great info. That would be my hope - a relatively fast swap since in a summer week I might easily do both a cross and a road ride. @fietsbob - I had steered away from discs, even though all the cross bikes are going there, because I was worried I wouldn't be legal in any road race. But when I think about it, the only road races/tris that I race tend to be local races, so it likely doesn't matter. AND, rumor has it road bikes are heading that way anyway (and UCI may soon sanction). I wonder how much of a "penalty" (speedwise) one would take for riding road with discs? Seems like a disc would be a lot easier to feather in the peleton than a canti. I plan to use my current cross bike (it's just a Jake) as my commuter, but I do worry about stopping in the snow/sleet/nastiness that I live in from November-May. So, perhaps just going disk *is* the answer. In general, I find my canti's terrifying either while racing, riding with friends and avoiding deer and potholes, and commuting. @Barrettscv - the plan would be to get a wheelset for cross and one for road, with an appropriately entry- to mid-level set of rims and tires for each effort (currently, my rims on both my cross and road bike are pretty low-brow, I ride RacingRalphs on cross, and whatever cheap tire is on my road bike). But the goal is certainly not to be elite. Honestly, I almost never race road. I race in triathlons, so when I win the lottery, I hope to buy a tri bike (yes, gasp, I do not follow the rules that riding should never be preceded by a swim or followed by a run). But for now, I do train on road and mainly want some hope of not getting immediately dropped. And I am planning some races that require you stay in the peleton to survive. So, my goals are something like a) bike a lot! b) have fun! c) podium now and then in cross; d) keep up(ish) on road rides; e) have a bike to ride in triathlons whereby I can not suffer horribly until I can afford my N+1 tri bike... I'll add that I think one reason I was faster on that last road ride on the carbon cross bike was because I live in a state that is the love child of Kentucky and Alaska, and the roads can be downright atrocious and any loop almost always requires a bit of dirt. @wheelinthai - I sat on a Roubaix last time at the LBS and it seemed sweet. I didn't ask at the time, but I'm not sure that could handle a real cross race!? Does it take wider tires? @TommyBing - That looks about perfect. I didn't get what you meant about disc wheels - but without the discs? I like the idea of starting with cantis and then upgrading eventually to disc. Is that a 2012?

    I appreciate everyone's input...

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    Quote Originally Posted by TommyBing View Post


    The Redline Team from a few years ago had little sales because of a crazy frame spec, you can find the frame for as low as $750 retail. If you're willing to invest in a weird wheel spec (130mm disc), you can have a disc geared, disc single speed, or canti rim brake bike all on one wheelset. It's also got BB30, which is the same as both my mountain and road bikes. I can swap multiple cranks.

    Overall in terms of just being versatile my Redline is easily the best bike I own, and like many of you, my n bikes leave for a lot of choices. I always pick this one.

    This is a good example picture. This was on a 220km day tour (and a big bag was removed off the top tube) and I had my beefy disc wheels with 28mm Gators on. It's also geared 1 x 11 here.

    On mine the stem's slammed, and with 23mm wheels and a double crank it's basically a road bike with canti brakes. You can quibble about a few mm of chainstay or BB or wheelbase difference, or three tenths of a degree of angle blah blah, but it's a better road bike than my Colnago Master, even though that seems like a sin to write that.
    Yup, what he said. I have the redline... is as snappy or more than my Fuji SST road bike, and loads more comfortable

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by aaw View Post
    @TommyBing - That looks about perfect. I didn't get what you meant about disc wheels - but without the discs? I like the idea of starting with cantis and then upgrading eventually to disc. Is that a 2012?

    I appreciate everyone's input...
    Mine is a 2012. I have two disc bikes, one in 130mm and another in 132.5mm spacing. I'm probably one of the only people in the world with three disc wheelsets with zero 135mm rear hubs. I've built up three rear 130mm disc wheels using WI hubs. So usually I just ride with the disc hub wheels with no discs. They are the only wheels I have with Campy hubs. They aren't the lightest hubs (310g +/-) but roughly half the size of what Phil Wood has to offer. I built these all before the industry settled on the 135mm standard. That's why this frame is so inexpensive now compared to what is out there.

    It takes me about 90 minutes to go from cantis to discs, there's a fork change, the rear brake cable gets pulled, and the front cable is removed. Wrap and re-wrap the bars as well. I used to run BB7s, but now I used the HY/RD mech-hydraulics, and it's very fast to zip-tie that through to the back and the front is super easy to set up. It takes about the same time to go from discs to cantis, depending on how long it takes to feed the rear cable through the internal routing. Sometimes that's not so easy.

    No one will buy 130mm disc wheels on eBay, so this will be your bike for life unless you want to take a big loss on it.

    Or you could just run it with great road wheels, keep the stock fork, and never run discs. It's really wonderful as a road bike. It's the best handling bike I've ever ridden, and it's the only bike I've got where I can ride 21mm or 35mm tires, and certainly the only one that I can swap between disc and rim brakes.

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    aaw
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    At the risk of sounding (demonstrating that I am) obtuse and definitely demonstrating that I am lazy, how hard would it be to build/obtain a set of road and cross wheels (one of each) with the disc? I would *never* swap disc and cantis back and forth. If I went to disc, I'd stay there. It's all I can do to clean my bikes and pump up the tires. I would be happy to have this be my forever bike for cross and road (again, someday buying a tri bike for racing in triathlons). Would I ever be able to really build a light, nice road wheelset with discs (and would I want to)?

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    aaw
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    Maybe it's about the brakes...

    Given everyone's recommendations, I am ogling three bikes (my best estimate at specs on a 54 cm bike)
    Redline Conquest Pro Carbon (BB drop 70mm, weight 1230 grams, SRAM Rival/Apex Groupo)
    Specialized Crux Pro Carbon (BB drop 69mm, weight 1000 grams, SRAM Rival Groupo)
    Cannondale SuperX Carbon Rival (BB drop 67 mm, weight 1400 grams, SRAM Rival groupo)

    For brakes, what would be your ultimate recommendation for using on 2 sets of wheels:
    Disc wheelsets for both road and cross riding
    Just keep a good canti for both
    Upgrade to a mini-v brake for both

    Which would
    a) take the least amount of dealing when changing wheelsets?
    b) be the best compromise for mud clearing in cross races and feathering when drafting on a road and just generally being able to actually stop the bike (unlike my current cantis)?

    Or, I wonder, if I could just swap tires, and cross race on a decent set of road rims (I weight 140 lbs)?

    Again, thanks for everyone's input!

  12. #12
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aaw View Post
    Given everyone's recommendations, I am ogling three bikes (my best estimate at specs on a 54 cm bike)
    Redline Conquest Pro Carbon (BB drop 70mm, weight 1230 grams, SRAM Rival/Apex Groupo)
    Specialized Crux Pro Carbon (BB drop 69mm, weight 1000 grams, SRAM Rival Groupo)
    Cannondale SuperX Carbon Rival (BB drop 67 mm, weight 1400 grams, SRAM Rival groupo)

    For brakes, what would be your ultimate recommendation for using on 2 sets of wheels:
    Disc wheelsets for both road and cross riding
    Just keep a good canti for both
    Upgrade to a mini-v brake for both

    Which would
    a) take the least amount of dealing when changing wheelsets?
    b) be the best compromise for mud clearing in cross races and feathering when drafting on a road and just generally being able to actually stop the bike (unlike my current cantis)?

    Or, I wonder, if I could just swap tires, and cross race on a decent set of road rims (I weight 140 lbs)?

    Again, thanks for everyone's input!
    Cantilever brakes will require you to have two identical wheelsets if you want to change from Cyclocross to road tires in 10 minutes or less. If using identical hubs, and nearly identical cassettes, the rear derailleur should not need adjustment after changing wheels. If the rims are the same, the brakes should not need adjustment.

    Disc Brakes still require identical hubs and nearly identical cassettes, but the rims do not need to match after changing wheels. The brakes will not need adjusting, assuming both wheels have the same disc. The rim design on a Disc brake bike can be specific to road or Cyclocross.

    You could also just switch tires using one wheelset. 23mm wide rims, like the HED rims or the Velocity A23 can fit any tire from 23mm wide to 40mm wide.
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  13. #13
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    I usually always ride my cantis with disc wheels sans discs. I built my wheels with CK/WI hubs on regular Mavic Open Pro rims. They are the standard road rim with a brake track. One disc wheelset is very versatile. I've even had the front on my 29er with a 203mm disc and it's still as true as the day it was built.

    But recently I built a road tubeless wheelset, and I've spent a lot more time with those on the bike.

    In my opinion the cantis are better than the discs, because of available options. And more so, for serviceability. I went on a couple 500km weekend tours this past Summer, and both times, in very remote locations, I had serious mechanicals. Hopped a razor shop piece of fallen granite on a sketchy fire road downhill, caught 2mm of the rock, didn't even hit the frame, and severed the rear hydraulic line beyond repair. That was 40 miles to a bike shop for a very generous late Saturday fix. The next time another rider came across, very Freddily unaware, and destroyed two spokes. I luckily had one spoke, and even with 27 of 28 spokes, the disc had a lot of play and was just terrible. That was a Sunday. Tried to make it but wheel went out of true and was useless after an hour of easy riding.

    But these are all stupid anecdotes from my life. But that's my opinion, cantis first, but discs are much better, look cool, and play like a video game. Cantis practical. Discs awesome.

    Also, don't dissuade yourself from going back and forth between disc and canti. But keep in mind there are only some frames with that provision.

  14. #14
    aaw
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    Thanks again for everyone's thoughts. I pulled the trigger on a Cannondale Super X hi-mod carbon frame that comes with some nice tubular cross rims. The Redlines were hard to find as a full bike, and I just didn't have the time for such a project. The Specialized were not as good of a deal. I also looked into (longed for) a Focus Mares, but they were out of my price range. In the end, I went with the Cannondale for a) price point (which also allows me to spend a bit of money on a nice set of road rims), b) ease of finding them used, and c) a slight preference for cross performance (because I do plan to ultimately add a tt/tri bike to the stable for triathlons). Also, based on what I was reading, the Cannondale seemed to have the best geometry for my body build (long legs and relatively short torso). In case it helps others, I'll come back and let you know how it all goes once I get out on the bike in both a cross race and a hard road ride. I'm going to consider changing over to a set of mini-vs from the stock cantis depending on how it rides in a cross race. If it is like my Kona Jake, I'll definitely be doing something different in re brakes. Hopefully, I won't (too strongly) regret not having discs a year from now.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Was going to suggest Ridley , the Belgian based company has a distribution deal with QBP in the states .

    So getting the LBS to special order them is straightforward .

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    Cannondale makes great CX bikes, I am sure you will be pleased. Not carbon, but I happen to have one CAAD9 CX as well as a CAAD9 road bike, but could have easily gone with a second set of wheels and used my CX on the road (and may do so in the future). The geometry and feel is very similar.

    Quote Originally Posted by aaw View Post
    Thanks again for everyone's thoughts. I pulled the trigger on a Cannondale Super X hi-mod carbon frame that comes with some nice tubular cross rims. The Redlines were hard to find as a full bike, and I just didn't have the time for such a project. The Specialized were not as good of a deal. I also looked into (longed for) a Focus Mares, but they were out of my price range. In the end, I went with the Cannondale for a) price point (which also allows me to spend a bit of money on a nice set of road rims), b) ease of finding them used, and c) a slight preference for cross performance (because I do plan to ultimately add a tt/tri bike to the stable for triathlons). Also, based on what I was reading, the Cannondale seemed to have the best geometry for my body build (long legs and relatively short torso). In case it helps others, I'll come back and let you know how it all goes once I get out on the bike in both a cross race and a hard road ride. I'm going to consider changing over to a set of mini-vs from the stock cantis depending on how it rides in a cross race. If it is like my Kona Jake, I'll definitely be doing something different in re brakes. Hopefully, I won't (too strongly) regret not having discs a year from now.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by aaw View Post
    Thanks again for everyone's thoughts. I pulled the trigger on a Cannondale Super X hi-mod carbon frame that comes with some nice tubular cross rims. The Redlines were hard to find as a full bike, and I just didn't have the time for such a project. The Specialized were not as good of a deal. I also looked into (longed for) a Focus Mares, but they were out of my price range. In the end, I went with the Cannondale for a) price point (which also allows me to spend a bit of money on a nice set of road rims), b) ease of finding them used, and c) a slight preference for cross performance (because I do plan to ultimately add a tt/tri bike to the stable for triathlons). Also, based on what I was reading, the Cannondale seemed to have the best geometry for my body build (long legs and relatively short torso). In case it helps others, I'll come back and let you know how it all goes once I get out on the bike in both a cross race and a hard road ride. I'm going to consider changing over to a set of mini-vs from the stock cantis depending on how it rides in a cross race. If it is like my Kona Jake, I'll definitely be doing something different in re brakes. Hopefully, I won't (too strongly) regret not having discs a year from now.
    I too was on the same boat. Was looking at a specialized and/or Giant. I went with the Cannondale!

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    My Wilier Carbon cross (available from Competitive Cyclist in the states is a fantastic off season/rough season road bike, as well as a good cross. It's pretty new, and I am questioning the purchase as it doesn't have discs, but the discs just seem like too much hassle for something that gets a lot of road time too. The fit is almost identical to my Wilier Cento uno road bike, with a slightly higher BB of course, but nimble and fast as anything on the road. Comes standard with a pretty good Sram groupset, reynolds wheels, and Easton components, so not a bad set up right outta the shop... http://www.competitivecyclist.com/wi...-complete-bike
    IMG_1650.jpgIMG_1651.jpg

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    aaw
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    Well, I gotta say, I love the Cannondale SuperX in cross races! Man, what a difference. I don't feel the need to vomit on the second lap from being so bashed up on the aluminum frame, and I've gone up a racing level for sure.
    Thanks to everyone for their input!
    For anyone thinking about this, here's my specs, and I'm very, very happy:
    Cannondale SuperX Hi-Mod carbon frame
    Sram Rival groupo
    SRAM Red compact 46/36 crankset
    I gave my hubby the nicer tubular rims that came on the bike (because I don't want to deal with tubular - indeed, he blew a wheel on his third race) and am running the wheels off his bike: DT Swiss CX1300 with Shimano 105 11/25 cassette and Racing Ralph tires
    Some low-end Fizik saddle off my old road bike but I like it.
    Now, to figure out using the bike for road... I will post a question about gearing options in a different spot - I've read Sheldon Browne, many posts, etc., but I remain a bit confused on that front...

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    aaw
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    I forgot to say two other specs:
    Brakes: the Cannondale bike has FSA SL-K cantis on it and I stop just fine and can feather onto someone's wheel in a cross race. Not sure I can work in peleton with them, but we'll see. But a world of difference from my old Jake's death-brakes.
    Stem: the bike came with a 120mm stem on it -way too long for me. It was semi-carbon but the LBS through on the stock Cannondale 100mm stem and it was a) lighter and b) works great.

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    Don't forget that the bottom bracket height will drop automatically when you put narrower tires on.

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    Same boat

    I am in the same boat- looking at a cross nike that could double as a crit, road race bike. I know that this isn't the optimal solution but it likely won;t be the limiting factor for me either.

    AAW, where did you get those posted frame weights? Cannondale claims that both carbon models are less than 1500 for the frame AND fork


    Everyone still happy with their Super X, Willier, and Redline?

    Thanks all


    Quote Originally Posted by Rhodabike View Post
    Don't forget that the bottom bracket height will drop automatically when you put narrower tires on.

  23. #23
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Paris Roubaix sees an occasional CX bike used for the day , so as to let them run bigger tires.

    so many brands want your money .. back to what bikes are in your favorite shop ?
    Last edited by fietsbob; 04-24-14 at 11:13 AM.

  24. #24
    aaw
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    I said I would come back and report on my carbon cross bike set up after some road rides and triathlons. I've been riding my Canondale Super X for not quite a year. I freaking love this bike. I've MUCH improved in cross races. And it has proved to be much faster for triathlons as well. In the last 2 triathlons I've raced, no one on a road bike came in ahead of me (just TT bikes). I clamped on some Profile Design Stryke carbon aerobars and it works great. The other modifications I make between the two set ups:
    Cross Racing - 38/46 front rings with a 11/25 rear cassette on a pair of average DT Swiss rims (and Racing Ralph tires).
    Gravel griding - swap out the rims for a pair of Rev30 rims (Revolution wheelworks) with a 11/28 cassette (and some cheapo cross tires)
    Triathlon and road rides - use the Rev30 rims (with decent road tires), pop on aerobars (for tris), and change out the stock carbon seatpost with a set back (and my Selle Italia Diva saddle) for a Thompson Masterpiece straight post with an Adamo Prologue saddle (which, when pushed forward, puts me in pretty good position for the aerobars).
    So, there you have it - with two sets of rims (each with a different cassette), two seat posts and two saddles, this one bike serves me VERY well for 3 purposes.

  25. #25
    aaw
    aaw is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bonafide505 View Post
    I am in the same boat- looking at a cross nike that could double as a crit, road race bike. I know that this isn't the optimal solution but it likely won;t be the limiting factor for me either.

    AAW, where did you get those posted frame weights? Cannondale claims that both carbon models are less than 1500 for the frame AND fork


    Everyone still happy with their Super X, Willier, and Redline?

    Thanks all
    I think I got the weight off of their website? Maybe weight weenies? I don't remember. Whatever the weight, my bike is darn light, and it works great for road, cross, and triathlons.

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