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Considering a Cross Bike: Your Opinions?

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Considering a Cross Bike: Your Opinions?

Old 11-22-05, 04:04 PM
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caloso
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Considering a Cross Bike: Your Opinions?

For the past several years I've been commuting on a road bike, an REI Novara Triumpho. It's an aluminum/carbon fiber wannabe race bike. It's a fine bike, an excellent value, and I would recommend it to anyone considering an entry-level roadie.

But the more I think about it, the more I find it lacks the qualities I need in a daily bike. It's an aluminum frame with a carbon rear so I don't feel comfortable pulling the kids' Chariot with it. It has no brazeons for racks or fenders so I'm left with using a backpack and RaceBlade clip-on fenders. And the clearances are so tight I'm limited to 23mm tires. I guess this what happens when a roadie meets the Rivendell Reader.

So I've begun to take a look at some of the cyclocross bikes. I like the drop bars, strong frames, attachment points, and roadie posture of a cross bike. I'd be using it as:

1) a year-round commuter; 2) an errand-runner; 3) a kid trailer-hauler; and 4) and occasional off-roader.

The leading candidate right now is the Surly Cross-Check. It's very affordable and I like that it has semi-horizontal dropouts in case I ever decide to go fixie. On the other hand, I've heard it's quite heavy and it's never going to win a beauty contest.

Second on my list is the Soma Double Cross. Nice that it's a NorCal shop.

Other bikes I've heard might be candidates include the Bianchi Volpe and the Jamis Nova.

Cyclocross riding commuters: What do you think about these? And are there any others I ought to consider?
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Old 11-22-05, 04:13 PM
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i have one of these:

http://www.cannondale.com/bikes/06/CUSA/model-6XR8.html

i love my bike. like no man should love a bike. it's fast and agile.

never rode any of the models you have up there, but mine is pretty light. i carry it up and down 3 flights of stairs with one hand everyday.

changed the tires it came with to armadillos. probably get the nashbar studded snow tires in a week or too for those ice patches we're bound to get in chicago.
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Old 11-22-05, 04:15 PM
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I like the drop bars, strong frames, attachment points, and roadie posture of a cross bike. I'd be using it as:

1) a year-round commuter; 2) an errand-runner; 3) a kid trailer-hauler; and 4) and occasional off-roader.

Think about a touring/commuting bike rather than a cross bike. Good cross bikes are meant to be tough and lightweight, to withstand off-road use and still be carryable in competetion. They aren't made to carry more than the rider, though.
They aren't usually used with fenders, although the frame and fork might have adequate clearance for them.

ANT makes some designs that would meet your needs. It is a custom shop, so pretty much anything is possible. Others are Gaansari, and of course Rivendell.
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Old 11-22-05, 04:18 PM
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YES! - especially one with disc brakes

salsa, redline, cannondale, voodoo, mountain cycle, kinesis, etc. all have CX disc brake bikes
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Old 11-22-05, 04:19 PM
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I commute using my 2001 (green) CrossCheck and I love it.
It'll take the fattest tires, with fenders on, and keep on trucking.
I haven't attached a rack yet because I don't want to spoil the lines.
But if I tour, I'll attach it.
It may be a tad heavier than some other bikes, but it's bomber.
And before my bike has to lose weight, I do. I can drop a lot more weight than the bike can.
It's sturdy, fast, fun, green, and the price wasn't too steep. I got a good price on Ebay.
I'll never sell it.

It's as much, if not more, a tourer/commuter than a pure cross bike.
That's a large part of it's attraction - it does a lot of different things well,
rather than excelling at one.

Last edited by Lambo; 11-22-05 at 04:21 PM. Reason: had another thought
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Old 11-22-05, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by CHenry

ANT makes some designs that would meet your needs. It is a custom shop, so pretty much anything is possible. Others are Gaansari, and of course Rivendell.
Yes, a custom would be the way to get exactly what I want. In fact, if I were to go custom, I'd probably just go up the street to Steve Rex. But I'm trying to do this on the cheap and that's why the $410 msrp of the Cross-Check frame is so attractive.
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Old 11-22-05, 04:27 PM
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It is hard to go wrong with the Crosscheck. It is a great all around bike and the price is hard to beat. As far as weight goes. It is obviously heavier than many top end bikes, but since your usage list does not contain UCI Racer, the extra ounces are not going to matter.
Looks of the Crosscheck again are fine for the price. Remember that flashy euro looking bikes are a lot more tempting to bike thieves than a single color bike.
Personally, I like the Gunnar crosshairs for looks and durablilty. That being said, I ride a Redline conquest pro. So many bikes, so little understanding from our spouses.
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Old 11-22-05, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Lambo
I commute using my 2001 (green) CrossCheck and I love it.
It'll take the fattest tires, with fenders on, and keep on trucking.
I haven't attached a rack yet because I don't want to spoil the lines.
But if I tour, I'll attach it.
It may be a tad heavier than some other bikes, but it's bomber.
And before my bike has to lose weight, I do. I can drop a lot more weight than the bike can.
It's sturdy, fast, fun, green, and the price wasn't too steep. I got a good price on Ebay.
I'll never sell it.

It's as much, if not more, a tourer/commuter than a pure cross bike.
That's a large part of it's attraction - it does a lot of different things well,
rather than excelling at one.
Excellent post. Question: have you taken it off-road? I'm not talking about heavy-duty hucking, but maybe a fire trail or gravel road?
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Old 11-22-05, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by metal_cowboy
Personally, I like the Gunnar crosshairs for looks and durablilty. That being said, I ride a Redline conquest pro.
Great. Two more to check out. Thanks for the leads.

Originally Posted by metal_cowboy
So many bikes, so little understanding from our spouses.
Hah! Tagline material if I've ever read it.
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Old 11-22-05, 04:39 PM
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I'm on a Jake the Snake. Great commuter bike and use it for the cross season as well. The only downside is fender/tire clearance with my knobbies. 700x35's won't fit. I may be able to get away with 700x30's. Its extremely durable, its survived 3 canadian winter's and I've only had to replace the BB once. I shy away from discs for a commuter bike only because they require more complicated maintenance and suck when it gets really cold out.
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Old 11-22-05, 06:23 PM
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I don't think you can go wrong with a cyclocross bike. My Cross Check has taken me through more than two straight years of commuting, as well as a century ride. Unlike the Jake the Snake, the Cross check will take 700x44's (I'm told). It takes my 35 Nokkian 106 studded tires under fenders with room to spare.

When you set your budget, be sure to plan in extras, like lighting, panniers, safety gear, emergency repair tools/supplies, etc. If another bike costs $300 more than the Cross Check, get the Cross Check and an HID headlight. I have also been happier with shifting since I switched to a 105 Shimano rear derailleur instead of the Tiagra that came with the Complete Cross Check. Buying the Cross Check lets you spend more money where it will do you more good.
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Old 11-22-05, 07:31 PM
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Hello from NorCal! I don't have much to add, but I'm in the exact situation you're in, Caloso, and I've been looking at a number of different off-the-rack and custom options. Right now, I have things narrowed down to a couple of bikes:

Fuji Cross Comp - http://fujibikes.com/2006/bikes.asp?id=137

... and the Doublecross, which you cited.

I haven't yet ridden the Fuji, but from what I've read the frame is relatively compliant with the carbon fork. The SOMA I am considering over the Surly, because the steel is of a higher quality and it is lighter, to boot. All I need is a single chain ring and some 105 components and I'd be pretty happy. A couple of other bikes that I've considered: Felt F1x (http://www.feltracing.com/06/06_cyclocross/) and the '05 Poprad.
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Old 11-22-05, 07:49 PM
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I have only one bike, a Soma Double Cross. I have built it up into my idea of a commuter / all rounder, and I'm really pleased with it:

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Old 11-22-05, 08:38 PM
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I've been riding a Redline Conquest Disc-R for the past few months. I bought it for the disc brakes. It's a nice commuter.

For pulling a kid trailer I like a more upright position so I use a hybrid.
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Old 11-22-05, 08:58 PM
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Why is it so hard to find a steel Cross frame with Disc Tabs?

The Salsa looks sweet, but es muy dinero! (worth every dime, I'm sure). I've talked to Surly, and they're all fuddy duddy about no tabs on the Cross check, SOMA won't even return my emails! Any other more reasonably priced steel Disc-happy 'cross frames out there?

I'm a burly (6ft 4, 240lb) commuter; I've got to deal with hills (up and down), Vancouver rain, and a budget that will limit me to one bike for commuting, weekend road riding, and the odd fire-road tour (can't wait for the kettle lakes railway to re-open). I'm thinking about building up a set of Deore 36-hole wheels for durability. A cross is a natural fit for burlyness, but the discs would make swapping wheels a snap. Eyelets for fenders, racks fore and aft, and all the trimmings - you wouldn't think that it would be that hard to find!

I see some Alu options, but my degree in metallurgy makes that option less appealing.

Any suggestions?
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Old 11-22-05, 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Alox
Why is it so hard to find a steel Cross frame with Disc Tabs?

...
Any suggestions?
Put a disc fork on the steel frame of your choice. You only really need the good brake in the front anyway. From Nashbar, you can get a steel cyclocross disc fork for $50 and a carbon one for about $150. Redline and Winwood also have similar offerings.

There are still a couple of problems to overcome. You're right that disc brakes make it a lot easier to switch wheels, and doing the front only doesn't help for the rear wheel. Also, by the time you've bought a new fork, brakes, wheels, cables, etc., you're creeping into new-bike-price territory -- so make sure you really like that steel frame.

About a year ago I upgraded my inclement weather bike to discs. I put a new fork on the front, and for the rear I used a little gizmo called an A2Z DM-UNI that I bought on Ebay for about $30. It's a bolt-on disc adapter, and the damn thing actually works. Unfortunately, it still doesn't solve the problem of quick wheel changes, as it uses the rear axle as a connection point, so the rear wheel is no longer quick-release.
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Old 11-22-05, 09:39 PM
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I have a Cross Check and it is the most versatile bike out there. It has 132.5 rear hub spacing, so I have a set of lightweight road wheels with 23c tires for when I want to play road racer. My other set of wheels currently has cyclocross tires mounted but double as touring wheels as well. When loaded with front and rear panniers it handles the weight just fine. I've ridden it offroad as well and the steel does a pretty good job of taking the edge off. I have a set of 44c WTB Mutanoraptor tires that I can mount if I want it to be a 29er mountain bike. A Cross Check will build up about 5 lbs heavier than the Trionfo, but so what? It isn't that big of a deal if you aren't racing.

There seems to be a mistaken idea floating around that Soma builds their bikes in California. They do not. Just like Surly, Salsa, Kona, etc., their bikes are made in Taiwan. Here it is, straight from their website:

Q. Where are your frames designed and made?

A. They are designed in San Francisco. They are hand welded in Taipei. The factory we use is one of the most respected bike building factories in not just Taiwan, but the world.
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Old 11-22-05, 09:43 PM
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Regarding brakes - I run V-brakes with bar-end shifters and Dia Compe 287-V levers. This setup stops the bike way better than the cantilevers that were on a previous incarnation. I agree that a steel frame with disc tabs would be nice, but V-brakes work pretty well under most conditions.
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Old 11-22-05, 09:49 PM
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Another frame to consider.... http://www.fortframes.com/html/cxmax.htm
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Old 11-22-05, 09:58 PM
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Love my Cross Check. I began commuting on a moutain bike with slicks but moved to the Cross Check once I figured out that I wanted better hand positions and more of a road bike fit. I have taken it on gravel and hard paths and had no trouble at all. I would do it!!
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Old 11-22-05, 10:27 PM
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Rereading my original post I realize that I didn't mention that I am just looking for a frame and fork. I've got plenty of life left in the Ultegra/RSX mix I'm riding now and I would just throw that on the new frame.

I'd also like to avoid having to buy new wheels so I'd like to be able to use the Mavic Open Pros and just put on 28mm or 30mm tires. It looks like this wouldn't be a problem with the Surly and Soma. This would also facilitate wheel swapping with my go-fast bike and current commuter. And that's another reason why I discs aren't that appealing to me anyway.

Excellent input, everyone. Keep 'em coming.
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Old 11-22-05, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by caloso
Excellent post. Question: have you taken it off-road? I'm not talking about heavy-duty hucking, but maybe a fire trail or gravel road?

I haven't really taken it off road, except for some drunken late night blasts on a gravel hike/bike trail around Town Lake. It handled that just fine.
I wish there were more trails of that type around here. Most of the off road here is of the rocky limestone type that I'd rather not ride on a cross bike. I guess I'm a puss.

Last edited by Lambo; 11-22-05 at 10:37 PM. Reason: I wanna
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Old 11-22-05, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Lambo
I haven't really taken it off road, except for some drunken late night blasts on a gravel hike/bike trail around Town Lake. It handled that just fine.
I wish there were more trails of that type around here. Most of the off road here is of the rocky limestone type that I'd rather not ride on a cross bike. I guess I'm a puss.
Maybe you need to drink more!

Thanks.
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Old 11-22-05, 11:43 PM
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One more that I found this evening... advertised weight sans pedals is 18.9 lbs: http://www.motobecane.com/MBUSAftc.html

Bikesdirect has it for $795 with a mix of 105/Tiagra, but I'd want to test ride it first.
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Old 11-22-05, 11:53 PM
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Hey DCCommuter,

I've seen the disc-cross forks on Nashbar. They have a cheap Aluminium cross frame as well, but given my size, an aluminium frame of dubious provenance it may not be a wise idea. As for the Disc-Front option, while I agree that the front end is home to the major stopping power, I suspect that I'd grow tired of everyone and their kid saying "How come you got two different kinds of brakes on that thing, mister?" pretty quickly.

One of the other posters pointed out that VooDoo makes a steel cross bike with tabs, and currently that's my front runner.

See you all on the rodas,

A.
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