Hey folks, I've done some research and have some ideas, but I thought I'd run them by the crowd first. So I have a 1996 Bianchi Reparto Corse cyclocross frame. Double-butted lugged steel. A really nice frame that fits me well, maybe a little heavy and old-fashioned for today, but I'm far from an expert so I don't care about that. I thought about getting into cyclocross but never did (had a couple kids shortly after getting the bike) and I've run it as my commuter / daily driver. I got a Ritchey WCS compact crank (50/34), moustache bars, a 9 speed Ultegra rear end 12-25 and ran it as road bike with bar end shifters. It's never been off-road to speak of. So I was getting ready to make it even more road worthy with drop-bars and Campy Ergo levers etc, and then I got smart and scored a deal on a nice old custom road bike with all that stuff already on it.
So now I have the freedom to make this into more of the cyclocross / trail bike it was supposed to be. Maybe I'll try a beginner level cross race this year and do some moderate trail riding - gravel path / fireroad / gentle singletrack. The bike has been heavily used and in need of refurbishment. Many of the parts are worn out / damaged. So in the spare parts bin I have:
Late 80s Deore XT rear hub M-730 from an old mountain bike. Famous quality, 36H for strength and it's already 130mm OLD to fit my Bianchi frame. Bearings still good. It has a 6 speed Uniglide freehub body. I'm thinking of having a nice rear wheel built on this and transplanting a hyperglide freehub body on to it. I'm thinking of going 7 speed b/c that won't require me to respace the axle and,
I have some old Deore XT 7-speed SIS thumbies, again these are semi-famous and sought after for quality (and I dislike rapidfire and *hate* twist shifters). My feeling is that 7 speeds are plenty for 'cross and may even be better in terms of being more robust (thicker chains etc) and less likely to clog with mud (wider cog spacing). Yes I'm thinking of going flat bar so I can use these XT thumbies and just to try something different. I'd be a newbie on the cross course and for trail riding it would be fine. My understanding is that many people rarely if ever use the drops in 'cross so if I set the bar up where the grips are approximately where the hoods would be, then Bob's your uncle. If anybody has any mountain compatible bar recommendations, I'm all ears. I'm thinking of something a little more swept back than your typical mountain bike flat bar. Needs to be 25.4 or 26mm clamp because I'll be running an older style quill stem with this frame.
For a crankset I could stick with the Ritchey WCS, but I'm having a hard time finding the new rings for it. The rings are worn and the 50T is bent and too big for what I want anyways. Problem is Ritchey's aren't made anymore and they have a non-typical chainbolt pattern with a "hidden" fifth spider behind the crank arm which has the anti-chain drop pin. FSAs and other 110 BCD rings have the chain drop pin in the wrong position for this crank. I'm running a Dura Ace 7700 Octalink V1 BB. It's in good shape and these are the serviceable type with the needle bearings. More finicky but better quality and lower weight than an Ultegra or other cartridge BB.
So the crankset is where I'm having the biggest dilemma. As I see it here are my options:
- Keep the Ritchey WCS and keep searching for a 46T big ring. If I can't find a old Ritchey there are options without chain drop pins or I could get a FSA and remove the pin. This would be the easiest option.
- Get some other compact crankset 46/36 or 34 and be prepared to swap out the BB too. I don't know what options are possible with my older frame.
- Get an older XTR triple crankset. These are lightweight and high quality, I think they're 46/36/XX so if I just remove the granny ring - voila I've got a cyclocross crankset. These came in an Octalink V1 pattern so would bolt on. I'm guessing I could run it on the existing Dura Ace BB (which is intended for a double) without the granny and the chainline would be fine, but am I right about that? Would the chainline still be too far outboard because the crank is intended for a 135mm OLD rear wheel? I'm also thinking I could have the option of running a triple, possibly with a different BB and then I've got basically a light, rigid mountain bike for longer cross country, not too technical rides. I could still use it for 'cross of course I would just stay out of the granny and maybe even use the lower limit screw on the FD to block it out. I have an older XT front derailleur to match the XT thumbies. Not the ideal 'cross set up, but I'm an older guy thinking of doing his first low level race so meh? I normally ride a 170 or 172.5mm crank arm, being a mountain crank these are most commonly found in 175mm. Shouldn't be a problem I guess. I suppose the Q-factor is probably higher too.