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Cyclocross for commuting

Old 03-13-11, 04:28 PM
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Cyclocross for commuting

So I had another thread going a while back: Recommendations for flatbar road bike / commuter?

I have done some thinking, some testing, and some research, and I am thinking I might actually want to cross over to a drop-bar style bike.

In looking at what I want:
- Disc brakes
- eyelets for rear rack
- eyelets for fenders

And what I am basically going to use it for:
- Commuting with a computer in side bag (in rain)
- Anual ride from Seattle to Portland ("STP")

I have thought that maybe a cyclocross bike would be my best option. This would be much faster than a converted mt bike, and I am never going to actually race. At the same time, it will handle bigger tires, fenders and rack. Plus, I have been interested in possibly trying (casual) cyclocross riding as they have races near me (in Seattle), though I would never be competitive.

What I am currently looking at are:

Marin Lombard
Trek Portland

So, with the Marin, I can find only scant reviews. And those only "ho-hum" in thier praise.

The web is filled with gushing praise for the Portland. The problem is the Trek is about twice the Marin ($800 vs $1,600).

So, I feel confident that I would like the Portland. What I am hoping to find out is:

A) Would the Marin be that much worse, or would I be happy with it.
B) Are there other alternatives to the Trek (that have disc, and eyelets), but that would be more affordable?

Thanks!
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Old 03-13-11, 04:58 PM
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I was at a LBS and found a good Trek commuter (can't remember the name) for about $700 and thought of getting it. But, I didn't. I can't see you as someone who would need to spend a massive amount of money on a bike (sorry, newbie sign). I actually commute on a old steel 10 speed with a rear rack with some clips that are hose grabbers with silicone wraps that go around the frame and bolt the rack on. You don't need a new or expensive bike to bike. I say go to a LBS, Trek preferred, and tell them what you need and have them set you up. Say you have $700-$1000 and need the entire package, helmet, locks, BIKE, rack, panniers, and what else you might need. It's also more essential that you get a good fit to a bike then a more expensive bike.
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Old 03-13-11, 05:08 PM
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Also, you can usually build a bike new or used for a lot cheaper then to buy from a retailer. Bike brands are just compiling parts to a frame and slapping their name on it most the time. Go for a older but light road bike frame, with pair fork, then choose any parts you might want and get a LBS to assemble is they would do it for you. Make sure they or you use grease, anti seize (you will thank me), and some light lube on everything.
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Old 03-13-11, 05:41 PM
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Surly Cross Check. (Fart noise.)



I like the looks and prices of the 2 $1100 steel bikes posted earlier, a good middle ground price wise and they don't look to offer much less than the portland where it matters.

I think that marin looks a little cheesy personally, and from the looks of it the spec is pretty bottom of the barrel.

Last edited by kludgefudge; 03-13-11 at 05:49 PM.
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Old 03-13-11, 05:51 PM
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they're all Asian imports , compare components , a frame is a frame , and forget carbon forks
made somewhere they went because the bid was lowest.
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Old 03-13-11, 07:57 PM
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I was looking at going that route for a commuter too, I would have done a vassago fisticuff or a gunnar crosshairs (I had a full xtr kit ready to move) but my LBS convinced me I don't need gears for commuting, they were right (and yes I do have topography to deal with). I started by converting an old Motobecane, but I was so badly infected with FG fever it only lasted a year before I had to build one up from rubber to bar tape.

Before you make the jump to a cyclocross commuter bike hop over to the SS/FG forum and ask the same question...it could save you some big coin and provide huge grins.
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Old 03-13-11, 08:53 PM
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I just got a Trek XO-1 cyclocross bike. It rides wonderfully but is about as easy to ride as my Trek 7000 hybrid ($1200 vs $350) but makes up for it in hills and off roading if I want it to. Plus there's something to be said about feeling like a real "cyclists" on the road with dropped handlebars. idk drivers harass me less? Yes I know you all will throw a tid-bit about my use of cyclist but for me I used to get so envious of the roadies in their spandex or base layers. The XO really helps me moral-wise
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Old 03-13-11, 09:55 PM
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I did 7000 miles last year, including a couple of centuries, STP in one day and Cycle Oregon on a Soma Double Cross. Meets all your specs, eyelets for rack and fenders and disc brakes.
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Old 03-13-11, 10:04 PM
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[QUOTE=cyclist5;12356613]I just got a Trek XO-1 cyclocross bike. It rides wonderfully but is about as easy to ride as my Trek 7000 hybrid ($1200 vs $350) but makes up for it in hills and off roading if I want it to. Plus there's something to be said about feeling like a real "cyclists" on the road with dropped handlebars. idk drivers harass me less? Yes I know you all will throw a tid-bit about my use of cyclist but for me I used to get so envious of the roadies in their spandex or base layers. The XO really helps me moral-wise[/QUOTE

Is Spandex Envy infectious? Hope not. Glad your XO1 is working out.
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Old 03-13-11, 10:18 PM
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The only problem with my XO-1 (not necissarily cyclocross bikes in general) is that it officially does not take a rear rack. There are eyelets near the quick release for fenders but officially no rack is recomended. Well the lbs owner didn't know that when he sold it to me as a commuter bike vs a Trek 2.1 so he had it installed (took 30min) with adapters and though it is a little crooked upwards, it works.

And maybe spandex envy is contagious. I see racers popping up now and the price tag on outfitst being $70 clearance here, I envy them.

Also I'd like to add I used 3M Reflective tape (1yr x 2in or 5cmx0.9m = $5) to cover all my markings and logos. Maybe it'll be less prone to being stolen if it's covered in reflective tape and stickers? I don't have the heart to "scruff" it up to make it look old...I just bought it this week. The tape works miracles. For 3 rolls I decked my bike but will note that thin strips work better than giant pieces covering up the huge TREK logos on the frame. It doesn't look like a new racing bike anymore, but functionality over cosmetics, right?
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Old 03-13-11, 10:57 PM
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I pick up my Salsa Vaya on Saturday. It's about the same price as the Portland and meets all of yours and my requirements. Although technically not a cross bike, it is very similar to that style. Plus, it's teh awesome looking.
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Old 03-13-11, 11:00 PM
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Raleigh Sojour fits. I'm sure it could handle light cross racing.
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Old 03-13-11, 11:29 PM
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Kona Sutra, it isn't technically a cyclocross but fits the other criteria, plus, since you are so interest in disc brakes you'll be interested to know that it uses bb7's. The other bike that jumps to mind is the Spot Mod, but you'll have to pay extra for disc brakes. Someone else has a review of their bike that they custom ordered with disc brakes and it's super sweet. The belt drive is slick. I'm also not quite sure about fender and rack appoinments, but Spot seems to be cool with customizing anything you need if you're willing to pay for it. The Civia Bryant is another kinda fits the bill bike. It's built to be a drop bar commuter. Brifters, alfine, belt-drive, disc brakes (they say the spec is BB5's, but I think the website is wrong and they're BB7's, call and ask), and drop bars. Not technically cross, but otherwise it fits.
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Old 03-14-11, 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by pyze-guy
Raleigh Sojour fits. I'm sure it could handle light cross racing.
Definitely more touring than cross. I have one of the first gen ones, and it's great for what I use it for, which is slower speed rides with the wife, hauling the kid, the very rare snow. Between the weight and geometry, trying to ride it too fast sucks all the fun out of the ride.

There are some threads around here listing disc brake road bikes. Not sure if they're current. They don't seem to stay in production very long.
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Old 03-14-11, 03:54 PM
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The Trek Portland looks nice, but I couldn't even begin to think spending that much money... on anything. I searched craigslist for a couple of months & eventually found a cyclocross bike for $400. If price is not an issue, go for it, but if it is... you can find something cheaper & turn it into whatever you need.
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Old 03-14-11, 04:46 PM
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Let me start by saying that if you're even toying with the idea of cyclocross racing, you absolutely must do it. It's insanely fun. In my first race, I got lapped by everyone else in the beginner field, including the last guy who rode past me with a flat tire with 100 yards to go in the last lap. I couldn't wait to do it again. Two and a half years later, I have 3 CX bikes and instead of looking forward to summer like everyone else who bikes, I can't wait for fall! And I'm still crazy slow.

If you hadn't mentioned CX racing as a distant possibility, I would have said the Salsa Vaya was a good bike for what you're looking at. Either way, I would also say that the Soma Double Cross DC is worth considering. I don't know if the Portland is worth twice the cost of the Lombard, but if you have the budget for it, I'd definitely look for better components than the Lombard offers. You should be able to find something with Tiagra or maybe even 105 components somewhere between the price of the Portland and the Lombard.

Another possibility is to put a disc brake on the front but use a cantilever in the rear. This would save you some weight while still giving you the all-weather stopping power of discs. I did this on my Kona Jake and couldn't be happier.

Speaking of the Kona Jake, I don't know what you'll find in Seattle, but Sellwood Cycles down this way is offering 2010 Jakes for $750. I've done several centuries and commuted for 3 years on mine, and I'm still smitten with it.
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