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2013/2014 Nashbar Steel Cyclocross Bike Review (Complete 105)

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2013/2014 Nashbar Steel Cyclocross Bike Review (Complete 105)

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Old 04-05-14, 12:10 PM
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bombardier
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2013/2014 Nashbar Steel Cyclocross Bike Review (Complete 105)

Hey everyone,

This is my first bike review, so I don't really know what people like to hear about... haha. Let me know if you have any questions about the bike and I'll do my best to answer them.

I made a thread a few weeks back where I was tossing around the idea of getting a cyclocross bike for commuting. It was down to a bikesdirect motobecane (for $900 shipped), and the Nashbar Steel CX Bike (listed at $799+shipping). A few days after I made the thread, Nashbar had a 21% off sale, making the deal even more enticing. I actually missed ordering the bike during that sale, but called up and they still honored the discount the day after (thanks Nashbar!). I ended up getting the bike shipped to me for about $650.

Let's do some pictures first:







The bike came only a few days after I ordered it (Ohio-->New York is not far), and was packaged well. No dents, dings, or scratches on any of the components - most of the bike and components had a protective film that was a joy to peel off, haha.

The bike was easy to assemble, especially with the guidance of a handful of youtube tutorials to perfect the derailleurs. The Tektro Oryx brakes were challenging to perfect, only because this was my first time adjusting cantilever brakes. But I'm fairly industrious and just played with all of the settings until the travel felt good, there was no rubbing, and they gave me sufficient braking power. The rear wheel was a bit out of true, making adjusting the rear brake more difficult, but Nashbar offered to reimburse me for a true at a LBS.

The bike is a bonafide tank, and weighed in at about 26 lbs with my old Brooks Saddle. I am 5'10" with a 33" inseam, and chose to go with the 56cm bike. In terms of fit, at first I was concerned it was too big -- The standover height is pretty high (~32"), leaving me with only about an inch of clearance between the top tube and my gems. To try to perfect the fit, I got a bit technical and tossed the bike on a trainer and filmed myself riding. I took screen shots of the video with my pedals at each of the major positions (12 oclock, 3 oclock, 6 oclock, and 9 oclock), then used photoshop to measure the angles of my torso, legs, wrists, feet, and to check the knee vs. pedal spindle position. I used a guy's video on youtube where he went into great detail about angles that he looked at, which has since been removed . I think at this point it's about as good as it'll get, and I've been comfortable on the three 25 mile rides I've done so far.

The 105 shifting was probably the biggest selling point of this bike, and didn't disappoint - it is incredibly precise and shifts with ease. The gearing is a little redundant with a 36/46 in the front and 11-28T in the rear. I haven't quite regained my cycling legs yet, so I find myself wanting some lower gears on long, steep climbs. But I suspect after a few more rides I won't need to be out of the saddle as much as I am now going up hills. I tossed on some Candy TI pedals that I had from mountain biking, and they've been a solid addition.

The only complaints I have about the bike are it's weight and the brakes. But being that I'm going to use it as a city commuter with gear on it, the weight isn't concerning to me. And for $650, I expected these downsides. As for the brakes, I plan to swap out the stock pads for some kool stops, and hopefully that will increase my braking power a bit.

I'd like to add some fenders on the bike, but I'm not sure how I'd attach the rear fender without the hole in the crossbar between the two seat stays (see above picture). Any idea of how I might do this, without using zip ties?

Hope this helps someone else make a decision on whether or not to buy this bike - I think for the price, it's a solid deal.

Last edited by bombardier; 04-05-14 at 12:15 PM.
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Old 04-05-14, 12:38 PM
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Good review and nice looking bike. I think you were right in ordering the 56 - the geometry chart shows it has an effective top tube of 55.5 which would seem right for somebody your height. The next size down is an ett of 53 which would seem to be too small for you. You can always change the stem to a shorter one if you feel too stretched out too.
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Old 04-06-14, 09:00 PM
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I love the zero decal look. That's a sweet little bike for the price.
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Old 04-07-14, 06:52 AM
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Let us know how it's doing after a few hundred miles of commuting. It looks pretty nice.
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Old 04-07-14, 12:29 PM
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Very nice, thanks for sharing. Look forward to some updates as you spend more time with it.
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Old 04-14-14, 10:28 AM
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I've had this bike for a couple months now and I'm pretty happy with it but I do find it has some drawbacks for my purposes. I have no intention of racing it. I'll use it predominantly for city commuting and some moderate touring (60-100 mile days with minimal gear), and occasionally loading it up more heavily for bike camping trips. For the record, I'm 5'7" with relatively short legs and the 50cm frame seems to fit well; wouldn't want it any bigger. This bike is replacing the 1996 entry level Gary Fisher Wahoo mountain bike I've been riding for the last 17 years.

The main drawback for me is the gearing is high. This was mentioned in lots of reviews I read about the bike but I didn't appreciate how different it would be from my 21-speed mountain bike. I rarely used the lowest cog on that bike so I didn't think I'd mind going to a double crankset, but now I really want to find a way to get some lower gears into the mix. The existing gearing is fine for my daily commute and getting around the very flat town I live in, but now that I've had it out for a few longer and hillier rides, I definitely want to get some lower gears somehow, lest I burn out my knee grinding out the hills. On a tour last year I hurt my knee and was advised to make sure to really "spin" with a high cadence in relatively low gears, and that's just not quite possible with this bike as it's set up.

Which brings up a question: should I be looking to change out the rear cassette or the front cogs? What do I need to think about when making that decision? I did some searching around the forum but those discussions get over my head fast and it's hard to tell what applies to my situation. Any guidance on what might work for getting some lower gears onto this bike would be much appreciated.

My other gripe is I'm having a hard time adjusting to toe overlap with the front wheel. My old bike was a mountain bike with 26" wheels and it never occurred to me that this could be an issue, though I now understand it's very common for small frames and 700cm wheels. I've tried with and without my toe clips. Still an issue without the clips but much better, so I'm going to try some Power Grips pedal straps or something similar. I may look into replacing the fork down the road to create a little more space, but I hear that can cause handling issues.

Other than those two issues I love the bike. It feels very sturdy and comfortable, especially with my Thudbuster seatpost and my own seat on there. I love the steel frame compared to some aluminum bikes I test rode. I know it's heavier than many road bikes but it's definitely lighter than my old bike, so the weight doesn't bother me at all. The shifting is delightful. The braking is a bit soft but everyone seems to love Kool Stop pads, so I'll try switching to those eventually.

I was hesitant to go for drop bars and the "cheater breaks" were a selling point for me after so many years on a flat-bar bike. The drop bars are great. I adjusted quickly and I hardly ever use the cheater breaks now, though I guess I'm still glad they're there.

Those are my thoughts for now. I like the look of the bike with my Thudbuster, rear rack, and fenders added on. I'll get some pictures posted eventually.

Last edited by Walt_Uoob; 04-14-14 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 04-14-14, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Walt_Uoob View Post
I've had this bike for a couple months now and I'm pretty happy with it but I do find it has some drawbacks for my purposes. I have no intention of racing it. I'll use it predominantly for city commuting and some moderate touring (60-100 mile days with minimal gear), and occasionally loading it up more heavily for bike camping trips. For the record, I'm 5'7" with relatively short legs and the 50cm frame seems to fit well; wouldn't want it any bigger. This bike is replacing the 1996 entry level Gary Fisher Wahoo mountain bike I've been riding for the last 17 years.

The main drawback for me is the gearing is high. This was mentioned in lots of reviews I read about the bike but I didn't appreciate how different it would be from my 21-speed mountain bike. I rarely used the lowest cog on that bike so I didn't think I'd mind going to a double crankset, but now I really want to find a way to get some lower gears into the mix. The existing gearing is fine for my daily commute and getting around the very flat town I live in, but now that I've had it out for a few longer and hillier rides, I definitely want to get some lower gears somehow, lest I burn out my knee grinding out the hills. On a tour last year I hurt my knee and was advised to make sure to really "spin" with a high cadence in relatively low gears, and that's just not quite possible with this bike as it's set up.

Which brings up a question: should I be looking to change out the rear cassette or the front cogs? What do I need to think about when making that decision? I did some searching around the forum but those discussions get over my head fast and it's hard to tell what applies to my situation. Any guidance on what might work for getting some lower gears onto this bike would be much appreciated.

My other gripe is I'm having a hard time adjusting to toe overlap with the front wheel. My old bike was a mountain bike with 26" wheels and it never occurred to me that this could be an issue, though I now understand it's very common for small frames and 700cm wheels. I've tried with and without my toe clips. Still an issue without the clips but much better, so I'm going to try some Power Grips pedal straps or something similar. I may look into replacing the fork down the road to create a little more space, but I hear that can cause handling issues.

Other than those two issues I love the bike. It feels very sturdy and comfortable, especially with my Thudbuster seatpost and my own seat on there. I love the steel frame compared to some aluminum bikes I test rode. I know it's heavier than many road bikes but it's definitely lighter than my old bike, so the weight doesn't bother me at all. The shifting is delightful. The braking is a bit soft but everyone seems to love Kool Stop pads, so I'll try switching to those eventually.

I was hesitant to go for drop bars and the "cheater breaks" were a selling point for me after so many years on a flat-bar bike. The drop bars are great. I adjusted quickly and I hardly ever use the cheater breaks now, though I guess I'm still glad they're there.

Those are my thoughts for now. I like the look of the bike with my Thudbuster, rear rack, and fenders added on. I'll get some pictures posted eventually.
From my limited knowledge of bike mechanics, the main thing to look for in the front derailleur is the teeth difference between the large and small chain rings. A compact double is 50-34 = 16. Maybe you can change the smaller ring to 46-16 = 30 - that would help with hills!

Anyone knowledgeable care to comment on whether this is possible?
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Old 04-14-14, 10:47 AM
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What's the stock gearing up front? It's a 110 bcd so you could go with a 48-34 up front which is probably smaller than what you have right now. The Nashbar website doesn't have specs for the front chainring sizes so you'll have to see what number if printed on the cogs. In the rear, you have an 11-28. These are the specs: Product. 28 is the listed upper range but you might be able to get away with a 30. You should post this question on the bike mechanics forum where you will get answers. Frankly the existing gearing is pretty forgiving.

As to the toe clip overlap, this is a fact of life for roadbikes. Not really an issue once you get used to it.

This is a really good looking bike and you bought it at a very attractive price.
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Old 04-14-14, 11:00 AM
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That looks like a nice bike at a great price.
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Old 04-14-14, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by bombardier View Post
Hey everyone,

I'd like to add some fenders on the bike, but I'm not sure how I'd attach the rear fender without the hole in the crossbar between the two seat stays (see above picture). Any idea of how I might do this, without using zip ties?


Get a small P clamp. You'll have to rotate the hole to be slightly above or below the bar but you could make it work.
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Old 04-14-14, 08:43 PM
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For the brakes, changing the pads can make a huge difference.

Front derailleurs are notoriously under -spec'ed, so throwing on a smaller chainring should be easy. A triple is another option, but will require more parts.
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Old 04-14-14, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
What's the stock gearing up front? It's a 110 bcd so you could go with a 48-34 up front which is probably smaller than what you have right now. The Nashbar website doesn't have specs for the front chainring sizes so you'll have to see what number if printed on the cogs. In the rear, you have an 11-28. These are the specs: Product. 28 is the listed upper range but you might be able to get away with a 30. You should post this question on the bike mechanics forum where you will get answers. Frankly the existing gearing is pretty forgiving.
The front gearing is 46/36, so it does sound like I could easily go 48/34 or 50/34.

I'll check out the mechanics forum too.

Thanks!
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Old 04-18-14, 11:26 AM
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Quick update/summary for others like me who have minimal bike knowledge and are considering this bike or are new owners also wishing for lower gears for hills and light touring. I did a bunch of reading and talked to some people and was able to make a small change that I think will help quite a bit:

The front chainrings are 46t/36t, with a 110mm BCD (Bolt Circle Diameter, which determines what sizes of chainrings you can attach to the crankset). The smallest you can go on the small chainring with 110 BCD is 34t. Not sure what the largest is, as that wasn't a concern of mine, but it sounds like 48t and 50t are common. I was able to pick up a 34t chainring from the LBS and install it myself in less than 30 minutes. Watched one Youtube video and picked the mechanic's brain at the LBS a bit and it was very easy minor surgery. I have yet to get this out for a long hilly ride but I rode it around town a bit and the difference is noticeable for sure. I think it gets me a gear just low enough to ease my concerns about tackling hills without burning out my knees. Really heavily loaded touring would be another issue I'm sure, but again that's not what I'm looking to do.

On the back, the current cassette is 11t to 28t (largest sprocket in the back is the lowest gear btw). The derailleur that comes on the bike is not designed to go over 28t, so there's not much flexibility there. I have read reports of some people going up to 30t with this derailleur, so it may be possible, but my LBS guy said he'd be very reluctant to try it. So 30t might be an option to get the gearing lower still, i.e. an 11-30 or 12-30 cassette, but it's kind of a try at your own risk situation. Anything beyond that would definitely require a new derailleur, and that's where costs can really start to add up as you might have to replace the cassette, derailleur, and chain. However, if you are willing to switch derailleurs, you could get significantly lower gears like a 34t in the back.

Finally, another option to get lower gears without changing the rear derailleur is to replace the whole front crankset instead of just the chainrings. There are cranksets like this one that have two different BCD sizes, so you can go even lower, i.e. 46/30. If going to a 46/34 as I did doesn't get you low enough, I'm not sure, all things considered, what would be preferable between replacing the crankset to go 46/30 or replacing the rear cassette and derailleur as described above.

I'll update again after a good long weekend ride. For now I'm optimistic that this small change from 36t to 34t in the front is just enough to make the difference I was seeking.

Last edited by Walt_Uoob; 04-18-14 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 04-21-14, 08:01 AM
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Weekend ride went well. 30 hilly windy miles so I spent a lot of time in those low gears. I would still like to have a couple lower gears and at some point I might try to get a second opinion on whether I can use a 30t ring in the back with the current derailleur, but this setup is definitely workable.
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Old 04-21-14, 09:56 AM
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Nice looking bike and a great value for the price. BTW, I am running 50-34 compact doubles on both of my cross bikes, using standard reach Ultegra front and rear derailleurs. My touring bike has a Sugino 50-34-24 triple crankset, and I am using an Ultegra triple front derailleur and a Shimano XT rear derailler with 12-34 cassette. The triple obviously will gear down much lower, but you could use a 12-34 or 12-36 cassette on your bike if you also changed to a mountain bike rear derailleur.

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Old 04-21-14, 10:25 AM
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A new 105 rear derailleur is $40 + shipping:

Shimano 105 Black (5701) 10 Speed Rear Derailleur, DERAILLEURS REAR

That's only rated for a 28-tooth cassette max, so it may not work. The Tiagra 4600 RD is rated to handle a 30t cassette max, and would almost certainly work fine with a 32 and probably even a 34. Shimano is notoriously conservative - if they say it'll work per their specs, it pretty much WILL.

If you want to go to a MTB RD to get the 34 or 36, you need to get a 9-speed Shimano MTB RD. The ten-speed ones don't work with road shifters. In my experience, the shifting using a MTB RD won't be quite as good - some gears will need "coaxing".

$20 for a 12-30 cassette:

Shimano 10 Speed Tiagra 4600 Cassette, Cassettes, CASSETTES

$30 for an 11-34 or 11-36:

Shimano 10 Speed HG62 (Deore) Cassette, Cassettes, CASSETTES MTB

That's a LOT cheaper than any halfway-decent crankset, if you wanted to replace the front end.

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Old 04-21-14, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by achoo View Post
A new 105 rear derailleur is $40 + shipping:

Shimano 105 Black (5701) 10 Speed Rear Derailleur, DERAILLEURS REAR

That's only rated for a 28-tooth cassette max, so it may not work.
Unless that's new old stock the latest 2013+ 105 RD is rated for a 30T low gear on SS (short cage) or 32T on the GS (mid-cage) derailleur.

On a side note, I'm not a big fan of the big jumps on these wide range cassettes. This is my favorite 12-28 cassette, it gives you 1 tooth jumps from 12 to 17 and a generous 34-28 granny gear. SRAM cassettes are fully compatible with Shimano.

SRAM PG-1070 Cassette - Mountain | Backcountry.com

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Old 04-23-14, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by puckett129 View Post


Get a small P clamp. You'll have to rotate the hole to be slightly above or below the bar but you could make it work.
When I went to find P-clamps awhile back, a Lowe's employee didn't know what I was talking about. I started out looking in the plumbing department. If anyone looks for these at one of the big stores, head to the electrical department.
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Old 04-23-14, 04:28 PM
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I would have thought that cantilevers would be better than dual side pull brakes... is this not the case?
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Old 04-23-14, 05:04 PM
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note: shimano mtb rd from deore on up are no longer compatible with road shifters.
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Old 04-23-14, 07:03 PM
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Nice review. The price had me seriously considering that bike but could not get myself to pull the trigger. I appreciate your pics and your comments. Thanks for posting.
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Old 05-11-14, 01:43 PM
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Do you by chance happen to know what size post they sent with the frame? Just wondering if its a 300-350, I bought one of these to get into some cross but its on back order till 8/22. Trying to pick up any little odds and ends I might need along the way!
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Old 05-11-14, 05:46 PM
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I got the 2011 version several years ago. Although it's a bit heavy, it's been a solid bike for about 5,000 miles now. I got it for commuting just as OP did. I did group rides and even a century on it before getting a better bike for recreational riding. This bike has already paid for itself in gas savings.
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Old 05-13-14, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by ian0789 View Post
Do you by chance happen to know what size post they sent with the frame? Just wondering if its a 300-350, I bought one of these to get into some cross but its on back order till 8/22. Trying to pick up any little odds and ends I might need along the way!
Seatpost is 27.2mm. I had to ask Nashbar so I could get a shim for my thudbuster.
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Old 07-03-14, 02:18 PM
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I wanted to update this thread, now having ridden about 500 miles on this bike. Here's a picture of how she looks now:



As you can see, I swapped out the stock tires with Gatorskins (28mm), put planet bike fenders on, and swapped the stock pads with Kool Stop Salmons. I'm thoroughly pleased with every upgrade and wouldn't have done it any other way in hindsight. The stopping power with the new pads, in particular, was significantly increased -- definitely a 5+ star purchase and worth every penny.

The bike itself still rides great - the 105 shifting still works great, though I think I need to readjust the derailers again to get it back to the shape I had it in out of the box. That said, I just rode 35 miles today and did just fine with it shifting in its current condition. Being that I've been using this bike for commuting, I've leaned it up against things, left it out all day in sun/rain/elements, and it's held up great - the finish isn't easily marred. The wheels have taken quite a beating (buffalo roads suck, especially after this last winter!) and still seem to be true and running well. The DC-19s are heavy, but weight isn't really a primary concern with a steel bike.

Nashbar has since increased the price of this bike $50, but it's still a reasonably priced option compared to other comparable bikes (Raleigh Roper comes to mind). Hope this helps someone out if they're considering buying this bike--- after many months and many miles, I still would recommend it to anyone!

PS. sorry about the "dirty" picture. Hah!
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