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Thread: CX or MTB ?

  1. #1
    Keep calm, Cycle on Panza's Avatar
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    Fall/Winter CX

    Hello friends,

    I got a promotion at work and I'm supervising now. This means more computer time for forums and more money for bikes I don't need but want. As an added bonus, I no longer have to drive clients to locations so I can finally bicycle to work. It's been my dream to be able to bike to work and it's finally coming true. Winter is coming and New England weather can be tough.

    I'm interested in a CX or a MT bike but I'm unsure of which is a better choice for myself. Any opinions on CF vs Al? I read this forum while I travel.

    Current Line up of Bikes:
    - Dedicated carbon road bike for group rides and races
    - Vintage road bike for commuting and pleasure
    - Beater Hybrid bike with baskets for errands and groceries

    Price point: $2500

    Purpose: Harsh weather rider & unpaved adventure bike

    Terrain: New England Fall/Winter
    Rainy wet days
    Interested in local CX

    Thanks for your input guys : )! I check this thread every few hours from my phone. Im very active on the hunt.

    Day 1 8/14 : Research online spam, MTB test rides; trek, specialized, cannondale
    Day 2 8/15 : MTB test rides with friends; Trek, k2. CX test rides, specialized crux, (I have local CX courses 10 minute bike rides away from me!?)
    Day 3 8/16 : Currently devoting this day to test riding CX bikes, bringing my bag of test ride goodies hunt Felt, Ridley, carbon or al?

    Quote Originally Posted by Panza View Post
    Went to several bike stores.

    Tried out several bikes of makes and models over 4 hours today. XRide 52,54, Raleigh 54, XFire 54, Felt 65. Settled on the XRide 54 because it was reasonably priced felt good in the turns, but not as good or quick as the XFire.

    CX felt more natural than MTB's to me. Here are pix because you all helped.







    Pedals are Shimano PD-M540 SPD Pedals.



    Sorry for iPhone4s quality. iPhone6 hit stores already please ...
    Last edited by Panza; 08-16-14 at 05:33 PM.
    Your bike reflects your attitude and your personality.

  2. #2
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    I'm using a monstercross bike with two wheelset for winter riding. I wanted a bike that would take 700x45 tires and full fenders. When ice is on the road, I have studded tires and when the roads are 95% free of ice or snow, I have a semi-slick tires on a second wheelset. The bike is also a good loaded touring bike if I use touring tires.

    Winter commuting is all about tire choice and fenders. A rigid mountain bike or a monstercross bike are good choices, if they have room for large tires and attachment points for fenders.
    Last edited by Barrettscv; 08-14-14 at 08:16 AM.
    2014 Trek DS.1: "Viaggiatore" A do-it-all bike that is waiting in Italy
    2012 Pedal Force CG2: "Secolo Bicicletta" the modern carbon fiber road bike
    2012 Pedal Force CX2: "Carbone CX" the carbon fiber CX bike
    2010 Origin 8 CX 700: "Servizio Grave" Monstercross/29er bike
    1997 Simoncini Special Cyclocross: "Little Simon" lugged Columbus steel CX bike
    1987 Serotta Nova Special X: "Azzurri" The retro Columbus SPX steel road bike

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    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Either a hardtail rigid fork MTB or cross bike should work brilliantly. I wouldn't spend $3000 though - a Kona Jake or a 90's MTB like a Zaskar (maybe converted to drops) would be ideal. Winter bikes should be tough workhorses rather than expensive lightweights - the grit used on icey roads does horrible things to powertrains. So either use something with cheap gear cassettes or an internal hub. Disc brakes, if only for the front, would be nice.

    If you buy a crosser, make sure it can take at least 40mm tyres and has a relatively relaxed position. And have a spare set of cheap wheels with snow tyres handy. And do not skimpy on a breathable shell - I'd buy either a Paramo (probably the Velez Light) or something using Palartec Neoshell. Test the hood design carefully - you need protection and side vision. When it isn't snowing, then run high grip rain tyres like Marathon Supremes. Also: spend on quality merino baselayers.


    Most of all, talk to people on the Winter Biking forum!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    Winter commuting is all about tire choice and fenders. A rigid mountain bike or a monstercross bike are good choices, if they have room for large tires and attachment points for fenders.
    Fenders = excellent point. Carry racks are also nice: stuff on your back reduces breathability of your shell - and you do NOT want moisture build-up.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
    Either a hardtail rigid fork MTB or cross bike should work brilliantly. I wouldn't spend $3000 though - a Kona Jake or a 90's MTB like a Zaskar (maybe converted to drops) would be ideal. Winter bikes should be tough workhorses rather than expensive lightweights - the grit used on icey roads does horrible things to powertrains. So either use something with cheap gear cassettes or an internal hub. Disc brakes, if only for the front, would be nice.

    If you buy a crosser, make sure it can take at least 40mm tyres and has a relatively relaxed position. And have a spare set of cheap wheels with snow tyres handy. And do not skimpy on a breathable shell - I'd buy either a Paramo (probably the Velez Light) or something using Palartec Neoshell. Test the hood design carefully - you need protection and side vision. When it isn't snowing, then run high grip rain tyres like Marathon Supremes. Also: spend on quality merino baselayers.


    Most of all, talk to people on the Winter Biking forum!
    I wasnt aware we had a winter biking forum, wow, thank you!

    I was in awe at beautiful Wilier CX and Yeti MTBs so I figured winter commuting would be a valid excuse to warrant one. Perhaps a cheap beater is the way too go and I can just rethink the mtb/cyclocross for another purpose? My apartment is running out of space to hang and mount things off my walls and ceilings.
    Your bike reflects your attitude and your personality.

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    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panza View Post
    I wasnt aware we had a winter biking forum, wow, thank you!

    I was in awe at beautiful Wilier CX and Yeti MTBs so I figured winter commuting would be a valid excuse to warrant one. Perhaps a cheap beater is the way too go and I can just rethink the mtb/cyclocross for another purpose? My apartment is running out of space to hang and mount things off my walls and ceilings.
    Winter is hard on a bke. And to be honest some of those old MTBs are probably better than almost all of the $3000 hype bikes. You can buy a nice Zaskar or a Lava Dome for $300 if you're lucky and careful... but these are still some of the best handling bikes ever created for the conditions you're talking about and the quality of frame building is off the charts. Take one of the classic frames and put a cheap reliable power train on it, a disc fork, and maybe something like flipped Mar Bars:

    CTC Forum ? View topic - Flipped trekking bars or on-one mary?

    ..and I don't think that a better solution is possible. They were optmized and race tested for conditions not too far from those you're talking about, and they're cheap but of amazing quality. Modern MTBs are designed for even tougher conditions, but trade away a lot of speed on lighter stuff.

    I'd also suggest that putting drops - wide ones with Salsa Bell Laps - on one of these old MTBs would work well:

    http://www.retrobike.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=94356

    ..Modern monstercrossers are just very expensive re-creations of these bikes with a slightly larger tyre.

    But I'd go with bar cons or "retro shifters" for shifting:

    Gevenalle - Cyclocross

    ..for their added toughness and reliability. If you must have brifters, then go for a Campag powertrain (or a Shimano MTB one that is campy compatible - some are.)

    Oh - and if you go for a steel bike, have the frame treated with frame saver!
    Last edited by meanwhile; 08-14-14 at 09:42 AM.

  7. #7
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    This will save me some money too. Thank you for the well thought suggestion!
    Your bike reflects your attitude and your personality.

  8. #8
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    Question though, why a hardtail and not a full suspension bike for winter?
    Your bike reflects your attitude and your personality.

  9. #9
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panza View Post
    Question though, why a hardtail and not a full suspension bike for winter?
    To much lost motion with a full suspension mountain bike, unless the suspension is locked. Also, salt is going to corrode the system. Simpler is better.
    2014 Trek DS.1: "Viaggiatore" A do-it-all bike that is waiting in Italy
    2012 Pedal Force CG2: "Secolo Bicicletta" the modern carbon fiber road bike
    2012 Pedal Force CX2: "Carbone CX" the carbon fiber CX bike
    2010 Origin 8 CX 700: "Servizio Grave" Monstercross/29er bike
    1997 Simoncini Special Cyclocross: "Little Simon" lugged Columbus steel CX bike
    1987 Serotta Nova Special X: "Azzurri" The retro Columbus SPX steel road bike

  10. #10
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Here is my monstercross winter bike build

    Origin 8 CX700 3x9 Monster-cross build

    The Origin 8 CX900 frame was ideal for my budget Monster-cross build. With room for 700x50 tires, disc or cantilever brakes, Road or MTB rear drop-out spacing. The rear-entry horizontal rear drop-outs will permit single-speed, IGH and derailleur drivetrains. The frame-set is a bit heavier than a Surly Cross Check, the rear drop-outs and the fork are extra strong & heavy and a little overbuilt.

    It took a few weeks of searching, finding a frameset wasn’t easy. These sell out quickly and are prices at about $200 for both the frame & fork. I finally found one on eBay in December. The geometry in the largest size is a good fit for me. The frame arrived and I was surprised at the quality. The tube-set is 4130 aerospace standard. The welds are skillfully done, but less smooth than my Soma. The paint was very good, with good color and as tough as most automotive finishes.

    I wanted to keep costs low, so I decided on cantilever brakes. The Tektro 720 brakes are good performers at a great price. Rim-brake touring wheels are also budget friendly, I found a new set of 40 spoke Velocity Dyad on Formula high flange hubs for about $130 delivered. Disc brakes would have been nice, but they limit racking options, add weight and would require a pricier wheelset.

    I was hoping to use a Shimano 105 triple crank-set and build a 3x10 drivetrain, but the arms on road crank with external bearings won’t clear the chain-stays. So I installed a Shimano Deore “Trekking” crank-set with 48, 36 and I installed a 22t small chainring. This was matched to a 12-27 nine speed cassette. Tiagra STI “brifters” and a front derailleur for triple were installed. A Deore SGS rear derailleur completes the drivetrain.

    The handlebars needed to fit the off-road personality of the build, Salsa Moto-Ace Woodchipper handle bars improve rough surface stability and work well with STI levers. A Thomson Elite seat-post is held by Surly seat-post clamp.

    To save some weight and to add mid-blade fork rack mounts, I replaced the Origin 8 fork with a new Surly Cross Check fork. The fork is much lighter, looks great and should provide a more compliant ride. The practical tire clearance is a good match for the frame, with room for 700x45 or larger tires & fenders both front & rear.

    This build project is best compared to other touring bikes. It's off-road-touring tough but also touring bike heavy. The weight is within 1 pound of a Surly Cross Check using the same build items. The bike is lighter than a stock Surly Long Haul Trucker, Salsa Vaya or Fargo.







    2014 Trek DS.1: "Viaggiatore" A do-it-all bike that is waiting in Italy
    2012 Pedal Force CG2: "Secolo Bicicletta" the modern carbon fiber road bike
    2012 Pedal Force CX2: "Carbone CX" the carbon fiber CX bike
    2010 Origin 8 CX 700: "Servizio Grave" Monstercross/29er bike
    1997 Simoncini Special Cyclocross: "Little Simon" lugged Columbus steel CX bike
    1987 Serotta Nova Special X: "Azzurri" The retro Columbus SPX steel road bike

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    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    To much lost motion with a full suspension mountain bike, unless the suspension is locked. Also, salt is going to corrode the system. Simpler is better.
    ..You also pay a potential handling penalty for a suspension bike on the road without getting any of the benefits. And good suspension costs an awful lot of money. And you add weight.

    Gorgeous bike, btw, barret. In a "Dark Knight dates Wolverine" sort of way. Those bars look very nice. You're not tempted to do something mad like, I don't know, putting some orange bar tape on?

    Wait - those are black pads in the brake arms! You're not running Kool Stop Pinks??? Oh - wait; you are! We forgot to tell our the OP - if you use rim brakes in the Winter or Autumn, fit Pinks! They work better in the wet. Much better.
    Last edited by meanwhile; 08-14-14 at 10:31 AM.

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    I would think you could get both a cyclocross and mountain bike at that budget.
    Last edited by Jas556; 08-14-14 at 11:38 AM.

  13. #13
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
    ..

    Gorgeous bike, btw, barret. In a "Dark Knight dates Wolverine" sort of way. Those bars look very nice. You're not tempted to do something mad like, I don't know, putting some orange bar tape on?

    Wait - those are black pads in the brake arms! You're not running Kool Stop Pinks??? Oh - wait; you are! We forgot to tell our the OP - if you use rim brakes in the Winter or Autumn, fit Pinks! They work better in the wet. Much better.
    I actually installed Koolstop Thinline Salmon brake pads. The bike is heavy duty and faster than expected for such a tank.
    2014 Trek DS.1: "Viaggiatore" A do-it-all bike that is waiting in Italy
    2012 Pedal Force CG2: "Secolo Bicicletta" the modern carbon fiber road bike
    2012 Pedal Force CX2: "Carbone CX" the carbon fiber CX bike
    2010 Origin 8 CX 700: "Servizio Grave" Monstercross/29er bike
    1997 Simoncini Special Cyclocross: "Little Simon" lugged Columbus steel CX bike
    1987 Serotta Nova Special X: "Azzurri" The retro Columbus SPX steel road bike

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    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    I actually installed Koolstop Thinline Salmon brake pads. The bike is heavy duty and faster than expected for such a tank.
    I don't see why the bike shouldn't be fast; the aero looks good.

    Btw: that looks like exemplary work on the front canti! It's completely squeal free?

  15. #15
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
    I don't see why the bike shouldn't be fast; the aero looks good.

    Btw: that looks like exemplary work on the front canti! It's completely squeal free?
    With 700x40 Vittoria Randonneur Hyper tires, it rolls well :-)
    2014 Trek DS.1: "Viaggiatore" A do-it-all bike that is waiting in Italy
    2012 Pedal Force CG2: "Secolo Bicicletta" the modern carbon fiber road bike
    2012 Pedal Force CX2: "Carbone CX" the carbon fiber CX bike
    2010 Origin 8 CX 700: "Servizio Grave" Monstercross/29er bike
    1997 Simoncini Special Cyclocross: "Little Simon" lugged Columbus steel CX bike
    1987 Serotta Nova Special X: "Azzurri" The retro Columbus SPX steel road bike

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jas556 View Post
    I would think you could get both a cyclocross and mountain bike at that budget.
    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
    ..You also pay a potential handling penalty for a suspension bike on the road without getting any of the benefits. And good suspension costs an awful lot of money. And you add weight.

    Gorgeous bike, btw, barret. In a "Dark Knight dates Wolverine" sort of way. Those bars look very nice. You're not tempted to do something mad like, I don't know, putting some orange bar tape on?

    Wait - those are black pads in the brake arms! You're not running Kool Stop Pinks??? Oh - wait; you are! We forgot to tell our the OP - if you use rim brakes in the Winter or Autumn, fit Pinks! They work better in the wet. Much better.
    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    Here is my monstercross winter bike build

    Origin 8 CX700 3x9 Monster-cross build

    The Origin 8 CX900 frame was ideal for my budget Monster-cross build. With room for 700x50 tires, disc or cantilever brakes, Road or MTB rear drop-out spacing. The rear-entry horizontal rear drop-outs will permit single-speed, IGH and derailleur drivetrains. The frame-set is a bit heavier than a Surly Cross Check, the rear drop-outs and the fork are extra strong & heavy and a little overbuilt.

    It took a few weeks of searching, finding a frameset wasn’t easy. These sell out quickly and are prices at about $200 for both the frame & fork. I finally found one on eBay in December. The geometry in the largest size is a good fit for me. The frame arrived and I was surprised at the quality. The tube-set is 4130 aerospace standard. The welds are skillfully done, but less smooth than my Soma. The paint was very good, with good color and as tough as most automotive finishes.

    I wanted to keep costs low, so I decided on cantilever brakes. The Tektro 720 brakes are good performers at a great price. Rim-brake touring wheels are also budget friendly, I found a new set of 40 spoke Velocity Dyad on Formula high flange hubs for about $130 delivered. Disc brakes would have been nice, but they limit racking options, add weight and would require a pricier wheelset.

    I was hoping to use a Shimano 105 triple crank-set and build a 3x10 drivetrain, but the arms on road crank with external bearings won’t clear the chain-stays. So I installed a Shimano Deore “Trekking” crank-set with 48, 36 and I installed a 22t small chainring. This was matched to a 12-27 nine speed cassette. Tiagra STI “brifters” and a front derailleur for triple were installed. A Deore SGS rear derailleur completes the drivetrain.

    The handlebars needed to fit the off-road personality of the build, Salsa Moto-Ace Woodchipper handle bars improve rough surface stability and work well with STI levers. A Thomson Elite seat-post is held by Surly seat-post clamp.

    To save some weight and to add mid-blade fork rack mounts, I replaced the Origin 8 fork with a new Surly Cross Check fork. The fork is much lighter, looks great and should provide a more compliant ride. The practical tire clearance is a good match for the frame, with room for 700x45 or larger tires & fenders both front & rear.

    This build project is best compared to other touring bikes. It's off-road-touring tough but also touring bike heavy. The weight is within 1 pound of a Surly Cross Check using the same build items. The bike is lighter than a stock Surly Long Haul Trucker, Salsa Vaya or Fargo.
    I must proceed to clean this embarrassing stain from my pants now after seeing such a beauty. The forum had me shifting to a 29'er and you just have to try to pull me the other way. I'm back in the middle of the road again.

    Also, for this build, I'm probably going to go disc brakes. I miss having the consistent stopping power.
    Your bike reflects your attitude and your personality.

  17. #17
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panza View Post
    I must proceed to clean this embarrassing stain from my pants now after seeing such a beauty. The forum had me shifting to a 29'er and you just have to try to pull me the other way. I'm back in the middle of the road again.

    Also, for this build, I'm probably going to go disc brakes. I miss having the consistent stopping power.
    I agree about disc brakes, especially in hilly locations with rain and snow. Chicago is as flat as a pancake, so Cantilever brakes get by here.

    This is my most aesthetic bike, but it's used only on dry roads or on some of the local gravel.















    Last edited by Barrettscv; 08-14-14 at 03:16 PM.
    2014 Trek DS.1: "Viaggiatore" A do-it-all bike that is waiting in Italy
    2012 Pedal Force CG2: "Secolo Bicicletta" the modern carbon fiber road bike
    2012 Pedal Force CX2: "Carbone CX" the carbon fiber CX bike
    2010 Origin 8 CX 700: "Servizio Grave" Monstercross/29er bike
    1997 Simoncini Special Cyclocross: "Little Simon" lugged Columbus steel CX bike
    1987 Serotta Nova Special X: "Azzurri" The retro Columbus SPX steel road bike

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    Either type of bike would work fine but as others have said, don't spend that much on it. My suggestion would be find an older Specialized Tricross. You can pick up a Comp model for about $500-600. I had a 2006 Comp model that I really wish I hadn't gotten rid of. It was truly a do-it-all bike. Front and rear racks, fenders huge tires, GREAT riding bike. If I didn't have a Moots, I'd be looking for one of those again.
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    Thanks for the help guys, I'm just going to go with a sub $1000 MTB, while my need for speed is enduring, many of my friends have mountain bikes which would give me further excuse to get my friends into the world of cycling. I'll probably do another post about sub $1000 MTBs in the MTB section and after a lot more research. You guys helped a bunch : )
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    Quote Originally Posted by knobster View Post
    Either type of bike would work fine but as others have said, don't spend that much on it. My suggestion would be find an older Specialized Tricross. You can pick up a Comp model for about $500-600. I had a 2006 Comp model that I really wish I hadn't gotten rid of. It was truly a do-it-all bike. Front and rear racks, fenders huge tires, GREAT riding bike. If I didn't have a Moots, I'd be looking for one of those again.
    Disagree. Winter bikes should be spill proof and forgiving: the Tricross uses too much carbon fibre and there's no way of knowing if it has delaminated after a minor bang. (Remember you're falling on tarmac not grass or mud.) It's not a big enough problem that it would stop me from riding a Tricross in winter if I had one, but if you're buying a specialist tool it makes more sense to get one that's right for the job - and lots of bikes do everything the Tricross does. Maybe I'm conservative, but CF using utility bikes don't make sense to me, and winter ones least sense of all.
    Last edited by meanwhile; 08-15-14 at 05:22 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post

    This is my most aesthetic bike, but it's used only on dry roads or on some of the local gravel.
    ..Black really is the new black for you, isn't it? You know, you could go over those pink Koolstops with a black sharpie..

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    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
    Disagree. Winter bikes should be spill proof and forgiving: the Tricross uses too much carbon fibre and there's no way of knowing if it has delaminated after a minor bang. (Remember you're falling on tarmac not grass or mud.) It's not a big enough problem that it would stop me from riding a Tricross in winter if I had one, but if you're buying a specialist tool it makes more sense to get one that's right for the job - and lots of bikes do everything the Tricross does. Maybe I'm conservative, but CF using utility bikes don't make sense to me, and winter ones least sense of all.
    And I disagree with you. The seatpost and fork is carbon. They are over built and VERY thick. The bike was designed to be used for cyclocross but not necessarily a cross bike. One good thing about the carbon and aluminum is it's not going to rust. This bike wasn't designed for quite the same use as a race level road bike so I really don't think it'd be a concern.

    But I may be a hypocrite as my cross bike is Titanium with a steel fork.
    Demented internet tail wagging imbicile.

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    Double post deleted.
    Last edited by meanwhile; 08-15-14 at 10:47 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by knobster View Post
    And I disagree with you. The seatpost and fork is carbon. They are over built and VERY thick.
    You have no idea whether they are "overbuilt" are not, because you haven't seen a stress analysis. What you know is how the marketing people wanted them to look, which is butch. And, again, tough is not the problem. The problem is that if a CF structural component is pushed too far then instead of being visibly damaged it may delaminate. Which means it will look fine but can snap at any moment thereafter. And, really, why take the risk? The world is full of bikes that don't have this problem, and CF doesn't actually confer any advantages on a utility bike the way it does on a racer. Well woven CF (most is mediocre to crappy - and the Tricross probably is at the mediocre level, where using CF isn't harmful but is mostly done for marketing reasons) is a superior material in every except for visibility of damage and failure mode.

    I love the Tricross design and think it's generally an excellent bike - I'd just consider it as having drawbacks for winter use or courier work, or other uses where Tarmac Impacts are likely.

    One good thing about the carbon and aluminum is it's not going to rust.
    The UK is full of steel bikes that have survived decades of rain and little care. Rust isn't a problem to sensibly worry about with a bike for winter use unless you buy something very overbred and behave very stupidly for a very long time.
    Last edited by meanwhile; 08-15-14 at 10:50 AM.

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    No offense, but how do you know what I know and what I've seen? That very presumptuous. I have however, seen a Tricross fork cut in half and it's quite a bit thicker inside than a typical road fork. No idea if this makes any difference or not but it certainly looked stronger.
    Yes, it's typically not the frame that rusts, but all the things attached to it. They do rust though but this depends on where your located more than anything.

    I agree though, there are probably better bikes for nasty Winter weather, but my answer still remains if the OP wanted one bike. I would be more than happy on a old MTB in the Winter with studded tires in a place where it snows like NE. But I'd hate it in every other season. The Tricross can take some quite large tires and you could run studded tires on it and do quite well in the snow on it. Then in other seasons, it'd be a great ride with a simple change of the tires.
    Demented internet tail wagging imbicile.

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