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Cross/Adventure Bike for City and Surrounds (~$1500)

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Cross/Adventure Bike for City and Surrounds (~$1500)

Old 04-21-15, 09:35 PM
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Cross/Adventure Bike for City and Surrounds (~$1500)

Hello!

I am looking for a new bike. Two years ago I bought a cheap secondhand Diamondback hybrid for commuting around Washington D.C. while finishing up grad school. It was alright and got the job done, but after I started working (still in D.C.) I decided I wanted a nicer ride. Which was just as well, because my old hybrid was stolen last weekend. I was going to sell it to my housemate, but clearly that is no longer an option, oh well...

So, I am a fairly experienced rider but have never had a nice bike.

Although I really like riding, I only want to own bike, so I have been looking at cross bikes. I will be using the bike as my main form of transportation (I don't own a car) and primarily as a daily commuter on roads (with lots of potholes and traffic) and around the city. My daily commute is around 5 miles but that will probably go up to 10 miles in the not too distant future. That being said, I also like to do 25-50 miles rides on the weekends with more varied terrain (trails, more hills, etc.). I currently do not and have no intention of using this bike for racing.

My budget is around $1500 and I did a pretty wide survey of bikes that might my needs, which are:
1. drop bars
2. clearance for 35c tires
3. brifters (I don't like bar end shifters)
4. fender capable
5. disc brakes (would like this, but isn't absolutely necessary)
6. rear rack mounts (nice but not absolutely necessary)

I did a pretty wide ranging survey and narrowed it down to aluminum and steel cross/adventure bikes including:
1. Surly Cross-Check
2. Surly Straggler
3. All-City Space Horse
4. All-City Macho Man Disc
5. Cannondale CAADX
6. Felt F65x
7. Felt V85
8. Kona Jake (and Jake the Snake)
9. Trek CrossRip Elite

After riding all of the above except for the Konas, I eliminated the Trek, Felt F65x, CAADX. The only aluminum bike I rode that I liked nearly as much as the steel bikes was the Felt V85, which is a more upright and less race oriented Felt 65x (or so it seems to me).

I decided I was set on getting a steel bike after initial test rides, which also dropped the Konas, leaving the All-City and Surly lineups.

All of the All-City and Surly bikes rode pretty similarly and I liked the Space Horse a lot except for the lack of disc brakes, which made a noticeable difference and which I would like to have. This kind of eliminates the Cross-Check and Space Horse and leaves the Macho Man Disc and Surly Straggler.

I fell in love with the Macho Man Disc frame color and the orange Macho Man Disc model was discounted at my LBS to $1500 from $1800. After I dismounted from my test ride I thought that was the bike for me, but then learned that it doesn't have rear rack mounts which put the Surly Straggler back in the running despite its weight and heavier feel.

I found this Carradice saddlebag and accompanying saddlebag supports which attach to the seatpost and saddle, which could be a way to make the Macho Man Disc work. The $300 cheaper Macho Man Disc would mean it would be comparable price wise to the Straggler with no rack or pannier, but is it worth trying to make an option like that work or should I just give up on the Macho Man Disc because it doesn't have a rear rack?
I won't be doing any touring on this bike, but always need a bag when commuting or out and about, but don't want to have to wear a backpack and get a sweaty back ever time I ride in the sun. Would getting the MMD be setting me up for a hard to handle bike with saddlebags and/or disappoint later down the line?

Are there any other steel dropbar cross/adventure rear rack capable disc brake bikes I should look at or does it seem Straggler vs. MMD is the decision?
Does anyone have any experience with Carradice bag/support systems or saddlebags in general?

Thanks in advance for any help.
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Old 04-21-15, 10:15 PM
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I just test rode a Specialized AWOL, and had an excellent first impression. At least look into it.
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Old 04-22-15, 05:59 AM
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Originally Posted by DaDitka
I found this Carradice saddlebag and accompanying saddlebag supports which attach to the seatpost and saddle, which could be a way to make the Macho Man Disc work. The $300 cheaper Macho Man Disc would mean it would be comparable price wise to the Straggler with no rack or pannier, but is it worth trying to make an option like that work or should I just give up on the Macho Man Disc because it doesn't have a rear rack?
All you need to mount a rack to a frame without braze-ons is a handful of p-clips (Tortec P-Clips | Evans Cycles) and a little patience (or an LBS that likes to show off their skill). I've heard nothing but good things about Carradice bags, but I've never used one myself. Depending on how much space you need, the eoGEAR RandoBag (eoGEAR RandoBag Series (seat bags)) might also be an option. They have them in sizes up to 9 liters and the mounting system keeps them from swaying (one of the problems with large saddle bags).
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Old 04-22-15, 06:38 AM
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Have you looked at the Salsa Fargo 3 or Vaya 3? The Fargo is a little more trail oriented, where the Vaya is biased toward rough roads. Both have steel frames and disc brakes. I rented a Fargo last year in Alaska, and I really liked it. Had I not recently bought a new bike, I would definitely be looking at one of these two.
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Old 04-22-15, 08:53 AM
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I went through a similar decision process recently. Also considered the Kona Rove and Niner RLT 9 Steel.

I ended up with an All-City Space Horse. I decided I did not need the extra complication, weight, and expense of the disc brakes. If you are not riding through mud, I don't really see the benefit.

The Space Horse has all of the rack mounts you could want, clearance for huge tires (I am running WTB Nano 40c, could fit Bruce Gordon Rock 'n' Roads and other 43-45 tires), and a lower bottom bracket than cross bikes for stability on descents.



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Old 04-22-15, 08:55 AM
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I went through a similar decision process recently. Also considered the Kona Rove and Niner RLT 9 Steel.

I ended up with an All-City Space Horse. I decided I did not need the extra complication, weight, and expense of the disc brakes. If you are not riding through mud, I don't really see the benefit. That said, you can't really go wrong between the MMD, Rove, or Straggler. I see a bunch of each of those around here for gravel and all-around riding, and $1500 for the MMD is a screaming deal.

The Space Horse has all of the rack mounts you could want, clearance for huge tires (I am running WTB Nano 40c, could fit Bruce Gordon Rock 'n' Roads and other 43-45 tires), and a lower bottom bracket than cross bikes for stability on descents.



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Old 04-22-15, 10:10 AM
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Another vote for the Space Horse - I love mine. Super comfortable bike, very capable on both roads and gravel. Great ride, and lots of braze-ons for racks, fenders, and a frame pump. The stock brakes (Tektro CR720's) are very powerful when set up properly and equipped with Kool-Stop pads.

A nearly identical bike (geometry-wise) to the Space Horse, with disc brakes, is the Raleigh Tamland 1, which costs around $1,600. I think discs are completely unnecessary unless you plan to ride often in the rain or mud, but some folks do like them.

You sound like you would really benefit from a rear rack, which does greatly increase the utility of your bike. I wouldn't bother with any of the offerings that do not include a rack mount. Also keep in mind that the racier bikes (like the Straggler) have pretty short chainstays, and you may get heel strike when panniers are on the bike. The Space Horse and Tamland (and the Vaya, which was also mentioned) all have 440-450 mm chainstays, which should be long enough to avoid heel-strike with most riders. I commuted on a short-chainstay CX bike for a couple of years and really hated the heel strike (but I have big feet).
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Old 04-22-15, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by DaDitka
...Are there any other steel dropbar cross/adventure rear rack capable disc brake bikes I should look at...
Double Cross Disc | SOMA Fabrications
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Old 04-22-15, 12:05 PM
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Thanks for the replies everyone.

dgodave, the AWOL looks interesting. I'll look into it, local Specialized dealer doesn't stock them normally though.

Kopsis, Good to hear about p-clips, that is an option. The eoGearRando bag also looks like an option for a saddlebag if I go with the MMD.

Pompiere, the Fargo looks a little more trail oriented than I need (and I couldn't figure out if it can take racks). The Vaya 3 looks like it would work. Couldn't find anyone who stocks them for a test ride, but my LBS can order them. I'd rather not buy a bike without test riding it first. Is the Sora groupset not a big step down from 105 Tiagra though for the comparable bikes I am looking at for $1500?

jtbadge, Yeah, the Space Horse was fantastic when I rode it. Before I rode the Macho Man Disc, I was heavily leaning towards the Space Horse. I won't be riding in the mud much at all, although I will be commuting in the rain, with some downhill riding in the rain too. I also liked the noticeably quicker (at least to me) braking of discs for being in traffic. Seems like a good safety feature. If the Macho Man Disc had racks or the Space Horse had discs, my decision would already be made (although if they both had those features, I would have to go with the awesome Orange on the MMD).

DirtRoadRunner, Good point about the racier bikes and heel strike. Seems I have moved toward Macho Man Disc vs. Space Horse. As they are both $1500 for me, the price is the same. The MMD gets me more bike (Shimano 105 vs. Tiagra and disc brakes) but the Space Horse has more utility with rack mounts. Not unimportant (at least to me), I also like the orange better than the green paint job as well. But really though, its discs vs. rack mounts for these two as the main decision.

justin1138, Interesting frame. I want to buy a complete bike, which I see Soma Double Disc also make. Seems like it might cost a bit more (any idea what the MSRP for the complete bike is) but I'll ask around at some LBS to see if they have any I could test ride.
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Old 04-22-15, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by DaDitka

jtbadge, Yeah, the Space Horse was fantastic when I rode it. Before I rode the Macho Man Disc, I was heavily leaning towards the Space Horse. I won't be riding in the mud much at all, although I will be commuting in the rain, with some downhill riding in the rain too. I also liked the noticeably quicker (at least to me) braking of discs for being in traffic. Seems like a good safety feature. If the Macho Man Disc had racks or the Space Horse had discs, my decision would already be made (although if they both had those features, I would have to go with the awesome Orange on the MMD).

DirtRoadRunner, Good point about the racier bikes and heel strike. Seems I have moved toward Macho Man Disc vs. Space Horse. As they are both $1500 for me, the price is the same. The MMD gets me more bike (Shimano 105 vs. Tiagra and disc brakes) but the Space Horse has more utility with rack mounts. Not unimportant (at least to me), I also like the orange better than the green paint job as well. But really though, its discs vs. rack mounts for these two as the main decision.
In that case, I'd definitely recommend finding a Raleigh Tamland to ride. It is basically (geometry-wise) a Space Horse with discs, and rack mounts (and slightly better steel). Not as easy on the eyes as a Space Horse, though.

Raleigh Bicycles - Tamland 1
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Old 04-22-15, 08:54 PM
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How about considering the Trek 520? Just over a grand and a tried and true "all rounder"
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Old 04-23-15, 05:06 AM
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Maybe this?

Volpe Disc | Bianchi USA
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Old 04-24-15, 10:39 PM
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Hi,
an AWOL by Specialized sounds great for you. I LOVE mine. It grows on one.
Tom
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Old 04-25-15, 10:00 AM
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The 520 only comes with barend shifters and he wants STI shifters. I was eyeballing the Surly 650b disc straggler. It kind of checks off everything your looking for...decent supply of braze ons, disc brakes, clearance for chunky rubber and it's steel.
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Old 04-25-15, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Drtmw
Hi,
an AWOL by Specialized sounds great for you. I LOVE mine. It grows on one.
Tom
Which version of AWOL do you have?
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Old 04-25-15, 05:43 PM
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Anybody know if the tamland is sold as frame only?
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Old 04-25-15, 07:49 PM
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Man, I wish.
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Old 04-25-15, 10:02 PM
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Another bike you may consider is the 2015 Masi CXGR. Steel frame, Shimano 105 drivetrain, fender mounts, good disc brakes. Currently retailing for a little under $1400. The bar tape is kinda hideous, but thats what new bar tape s for. I rode one a few weeks back and was impressed enough to consider it though I'm not really in the market. Here's a review by a local guy who found himself really liking the bike.
Morgan Pease ? 2015 Masi CXGR - couple month review. I?ve been...

I have not ridden one yet, but have heard decent things about the Bianchi Volpe Disc. I have long been a fan of the basic Volpe- it just works well. It's not often that a bike stays in a company's lineup for 25 years without huge changes.

Let us know what you find and choose!
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Old 05-12-15, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by dgodave
Which version of AWOL do you have?
I have the basic model. I imagine the better tubing model is even better but I have joy ridden one to see.
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Old 05-12-15, 04:33 PM
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I'd like to recommend the bike I purchased recently, the Motobecane Fantom CXX-100 from bikesdirect.com.

Free Shipping* Save up to 60% off new Cyclocross Road Bikes - Motobecane Fantom CX Clearance

It's new this year with 11 speed 105 and includes all your requirements except for the disc brakes. The geometry is identical to the Surly Cross Check with the major difference being that it comes with brifters. I absolutely love mine, and prefer it to my much lighter weight road bike in many situations. I found it to be a great value and used some of the money I saved, mostly upgrading the Tektro Oryx brakes to CR720's. The bike has plenty of tire clearance; I'm currently using Clement X'plor MSO 40's and there's still plenty of room to spare. Weight is about 23-24 lb. If you have any additional questions I'd be happy to answer them



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Old 05-13-15, 12:44 PM
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Fuji Touring https://www.fujibikes.com/bike/details/touring+ Genevalle Shifters: CX Shifters for Road Derailleurs & Short Pull Brakes - Gevenalle = Win
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Old 05-13-15, 04:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Pompiere
Have you looked at the Salsa Fargo 3 or Vaya 3? The Fargo is a little more trail oriented, where the Vaya is biased toward rough roads. Both have steel frames and disc brakes. I rented a Fargo last year in Alaska, and I really liked it. Had I not recently bought a new bike, I would definitely be looking at one of these two.
I bought a very expensive P clip type of rack for my purefix last year, it was $150 and made in Japan. I had a very bad experience with this....and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. It came with 4 p clips, and the blaze one that mounted where my rear brake would normally go. The p clips were notorious for slipping and sliding and the rack would rub my tire and.....that rack ruined more than a dozen morning commutes before I finally took it off.

Not sure if you ever owned one, just my .02

as much as I want to say go for the Macho Man I know how important it is to have a rear rack....they really do t come with braze ons for a rack?!?!?

Last edited by That__guy; 05-13-15 at 04:54 PM. Reason: duh
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Old 05-13-15, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by That__guy
I bought a very expensive P clip type of rack for my purefix last year, it was $150 and made in Japan. I had a very bad experience with this....and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. It came with 4 p clips, and the blaze one that mounted where my rear brake would normally go. The p clips were notorious for slipping and sliding and the rack would rub my tire and.....that rack ruined more than a dozen morning commutes before I finally took it off.

Not sure if you ever owned one, just my .02

as much as I want to say go for the Macho Man I know how important it is to have a rear rack....they really do t come with braze ons for a rack?!?!?
I'm not sure what you are referring to. The Salsa bikes have rack mounts on the frame.
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Old 05-14-15, 07:13 AM
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I spent all night racking my brain trying to figure out what the heck you were taking about, lol. But what it comes down to is I meant to quote Kopsis, not you. Had a few brews last night and I guess I clicked quote on the wrong member

see he I just tried quoting you now amd it didn't work....I gues my computer doesn't like you pompiere lol sorry

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Old 05-14-15, 08:20 AM
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Maybe I'm missing something, but the Macho Man Disc looks like it has a pair of eyelets on the rear dropouts. Couldn't you just use those and with some p-clamps up on the seat stays to attach a rack? You could then mount p-clamps to the rack itself to attach fenders. I do a similar thing on my GT Grade (only one pair of eyelets), except I use a seat post collar with eyelets for the struts.
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