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Enhancements for wife's CX/gravel bike?

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Enhancements for wife's CX/gravel bike?

Old 03-20-17, 02:47 PM
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Enhancements for wife's CX/gravel bike?

Back in 2011-2012, I bought my wife a steel Nashbar CX bike - came with 105 components and a carbon fork. She's been happy with it and is mostly riding on the gravel and paved roads around town. We have a toddler seat attached to the rear rack (Blackburn CoPilot system) for Little Man to go for a ride as well.

One concern we had was her dropping off the pavement to the soft gravel shoulder if she was ever forced off the road. I was able to squeak a 700x40 tire into the frame and that has improved her comfort and confidence 10x. The only thing I wished the bike had was the option to run disc brakes; I like using and working on them much better than rim brakes. Plus with the added weight of the kid and the possibility of getting caught in the rain, I would like to her to have the disc braking.

I've abandoned the idea of running a disc brake on the rear of the existing frame. Between adapters, the existing non-disc rack, and the seatstay design (not sure if even a 140mm rotor would fit), it isn't worth the effort. One option is to just run a disc brake up front. Has anyone done this and liked it? I would need a disc fork (wait for the Nashbar carbon disc fork to go on sale), a BB7 Road caliper/rotor, and either a new disc wheelset or rebuild her existing front wheel with a XT disc hub (I could do the build myself relatively cheap; don't love the idea of reusing the "econo" Alex DC19 rims but if I'm trying to do it cheap...).

The other option is a new/used disc frame/fork and I swap everything over, plus calipers, rotors, and wheelset. I've tried looking but unless I'm willing to spend $500+, I find very few 50-52cm, steel, disc-ready frames with rear rack mounts. She likes the ride of the steel frame enough that I don't dare flirt with aluminum. I'm watching Ebay but are there any brands/models I should be looking for? A frame similar to small Surly Straggler or disc touring frame for $250 or less is what I'm thinking. With the growth the CX/gravel/adventure bike category is seeing, I'm surprised Nashbar has not offered a budget frame like this.

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Old 03-20-17, 03:01 PM
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I looked into the "front disc only" thing a while back (for the same frame, actually) and it seems like I found a number of people who had done that, especially in the MTB world. Makes sense, since most of your braking is up front anyway. There's nothing wrong with doing it, as far as I can tell. I ended up going in another direction with my project, but I wouldn't rule it out.

As far as another frame, there's a FB group called Midwest Velo Swap that frequently has some pretty good deals. It's the internet so buyer beware, but as long as you do your homework it seems like a decent option. It's a closed group so you have to send a request.
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Old 03-20-17, 04:01 PM
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I had built my Ti distance bike with a "front only" disc brake. The Avid BB7 Road brake gets the job done.
It now has about 4k miles on, and I ride it literally everywhere.
I use the Nashbar CX disc CF fork.
The rear does not need to be a disc brake as I seldom use it.

As to waiting for this fork to be "on sale" - it is always "on sale", but today particularly Nashbar has an extra 30% off, so if you act quick you can get it for $84 shipped. It won't get any cheaper than this.
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Old 03-22-17, 02:23 PM
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If you're just looking to improve front braking (or front braking adjustability), I'd suggest mini V brakes, such as the Tektro 926 for ~$13. It's way easier to work with than cantilevers and provides more consistent stopping power. Koolstop salmon pads are a good bang for the buck, too, for wet braking.

Yeah, upgrading to a front disc brake isn't too big of a project -- new fork, front hub/wheel, brake, brake cable, housing. The benefit is negligible for the riding you've described. I've weighed out the same considerations on 5 of my own road/cyclocross/gravel bikes, and so far I've only bothered to "upgrade" one of them from rim brake to disc brake -- it needed a new front wheel anyway. In my opinion, the biggest advantages of road disc brakes are that you can quickly switch between 700c and 650b, and they allow the use of cheap carbon rims without impact on braking performance or durability.
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Old 03-22-17, 02:33 PM
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I'd suggest keeping the current bike and investing instead in a Burley (or similar quality) bike trailer for the kid, if safety is the main concern. Then upgrade her bike when you find the perfect disc brake-equipped replacement.
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Old 03-22-17, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by OneIsAllYouNeed
If you're just looking to improve front braking (or front braking adjustability), I'd suggest mini V brakes, such as the Tektro 926 for ~$13.
+1 on the Tektro 926.

If the Nashbar frame the OP has came with the same cantis that mine did -- Tektro Oryx -- they're just slightly better than dragging your foot on the ground, even with Kool Stops.

I converted to the Tektro 926AL mini-Vs and and even with the stock pads I nearly sent myself over the handlebars the first time I tested them out.
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Old 03-22-17, 07:04 PM
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well, when messing around like this, I find that sometimes people do more harm than good. You want your fork to to be the same length and offset, and you want your brakes to have the same feel and pressure front to rear.

I've ridden a 500lb bike at speed with canti's. They work fine if done right (like any other type of brake). If you like disks, go for it. But you don't need it.
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