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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

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Old 12-06-06, 01:36 PM   #1
heliumb
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Old Road Frames for Cross?

I've had trouble searching this, so I'm starting a topic:

Which older steel road frames are established as being good cyclocross candidates?

I have an old Centurion I'd like to put some cross tires on, but I doubt there is enough clearance.
Also, it doesn't have cantilever bosses, but I imagine that's only necessary for muddy terrain.
If this frame won't work, I'd rather save some money & get a used frame to try this out on.

Thanks.
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Old 12-06-06, 03:03 PM   #2
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I had an old Trek 4 hundred and something (420 or 460) from the mid-80's that I used in a cross race once.

It had tire clearance, but no cantilever bosses. I used dual-pivot road brakes, which gave me plenty of stopping power. Not much tire clearance on the brakes, though - had the course been muddy, I would've had a problem, but the course was dry.

I think you've got to look at the frame, and maybe even try to fit the wheel/tire in it, before you buy.
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Old 12-06-06, 07:38 PM   #3
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Ya mean like this old 80 something Bianchi?


I lurked e-bay, craigslist, thrift shops and garage sales for months till I found (and won at a decent price) just the right bike (well most of a bike anyway). I run 32s on it now, but can go wider. She's lighter than my Bianchi road bike, weighing in at only 21lbs without the fenders. Even though she ain't got a pretty paint job, she's my favorite bike.
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Old 12-06-06, 09:05 PM   #4
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OK, you CAN convert most of the bikes from the 70's though there's quite a bit of work. You can also convert a large percentage of bikes from the early to mid 80's as well. Again it's quite a bit of work.

Or you can purchase any one of the readily available frames on the market such as the Soma Double Cross and end up with a much better cross bike for about the same cost as a REAL(tm) conversion of an older road bike.

Since I've made these conversions believe me when I say that to do it right will cost more than buying a cheap cross bike such as the Surly, LeMond or Trek.

For instance, I bought a Gitane Tour de France and converted it into a Cross bike. It looked great and it didn't cost me a WHOLE lot. $150 for the frame. $75 to have it shipped from Canada. $100 for a new fork with sufficient clearance for cross tires and with cantilever lugs on it. Another $50 to have cantilever lugs brazed onto the rear triangle. I painted it myself so it only cost me about $25. It had a French bottom bracket so I had to find one of those pretty rare things - I ended up finding a Campy for about $75 though I could have paid double that for a Phil Wood. Luckily the new fork used an American headset so it only cost me $25 for cheap one. The wheels I had laying around though I had to pay $100 each for the knobby tubies to go on them. Another $50 for the bar ends. A good stem and bars were only about $80 at that time. The cranks were laying around. The brakes of course had to be purchased and they were Suntour for about $40 per end. The odds and ends probably added up to another $50 or so.

So I got a converted Gitane for about $1100.

And what did I have? I had a bike that was designed to be a road bike. The rake and trail worked OK offroad but were not great. What's more - the bottom bracket height had been designed for 1" tires and now it had 2" deep tires. That extra inch may not sound like much but it make the bike feel oddly top heavy and awkward feeling though it really didn't have any effect on the speed you could ride - it just felt like crap.
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Old 12-07-06, 08:38 AM   #5
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Oh well, not too encouraging. I'll just put some knobby tires on my current bike & wait for a cheap frame to put my components on. There's a race this weekend, so I'll lurk around & scope out their rides.
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Old 12-07-06, 08:55 AM   #6
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how cheap is cheap? aside from ebay, i've found a few sources for new cheap cross frames when i was looking for a cyclocross frameset for my wife.

i ended up getting her a soma double cross frameset for just under 400 shipped from here. they're asking 309 for just the frame, before shipping. it's the best intarwebz price i found for the soma.

spicer cycles sells this aluminum frame for 350.

chucksbikes.com has an aluminum 'cross frameset with an integrated carbon fork for 250, in small and large sizes.

i also think there is a cheap-o aluminum nashbar one with 135mm rear spacing.

i agree with cyclintom that you might be a lot better off just buying a 'cross specific frame, rather than spending all that time and money and effort to make a road bike sort of look like a 'cross bike that still doesn't handle like one...

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Old 12-07-06, 09:11 AM   #7
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Thanks for listing those. I'm too cheap to buy a new frame, but I'll keep my eyes peeled for a decent used cyclocross frame for <200 when the season is over.

I kept hearing that old road frames have enough clearance, so I assumed it was a common practice to build them up.

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Old 12-07-06, 09:35 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heliumb
Thanks for listing those. I'm too cheap to buy a new frame, but I'll keep my eyes peeled for a decent used cyclocross frame for <200 when the season is over.
What size road bike do you normally ride and what's the top tube length?
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Old 12-07-06, 09:42 AM   #9
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I'll pm you.
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Old 12-07-06, 11:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isotopesope
chucksbikes.com has an aluminum 'cross frameset with an integrated carbon fork for 250, in small and large sizes.
That looked too good to be true. I guess it was:

"The unfortunate thing with brand and model names is that when businesses do not protect a name and make it their own with any specific legal or registration process it makes it tough on consumers and businesses alike. A company out of Los Angeles called Chucks Bicycles markets many Asian produced products under a Tsunami name. There is also at least one bicycle shop which is located in Oregon that also uses the Tsunami name as well. The folks at Chucks Bikes see fit to sell their products on Ebay and it seems that is their main outlet. Let it be known that Tsunami Bikes, formerly located in San Diego, California and now currently located in Phoenix, Arizona is not affiliated by any means with Chucks Bikes or their own branding."

Probably not a bad ride, just not what you might think it is.
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Old 12-07-06, 11:17 AM   #11
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Cynikal (he usually hangs out in the SS/FG forum) has a very nice SS cross bike that he built from an older light touring bike. I think it's a Nishiki or Fuji. That's what you want to look for since tourers have space for wider tires and many of them have cantilever bosses.
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Old 12-07-06, 11:28 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caloso
Cynikal (he usually hangs out in the SS/FG forum) has a very nice SS cross bike that he built from an older light touring bike. I think it's a Nishiki or Fuji. That's what you want to look for since tourers have space for wider tires and many of them have cantilever bosses.
I like that idea. Mine will also be SS, at least for a while. It's very flat around here.
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Old 12-07-06, 01:08 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thatguy
That looked too good to be true. I guess it was:

"The unfortunate thing with brand and model names is that when businesses do not protect a name and make it their own with any specific legal or registration process it makes it tough on consumers and businesses alike. A company out of Los Angeles called Chucks Bicycles markets many Asian produced products under a Tsunami name. There is also at least one bicycle shop which is located in Oregon that also uses the Tsunami name as well. The folks at Chucks Bikes see fit to sell their products on Ebay and it seems that is their main outlet. Let it be known that Tsunami Bikes, formerly located in San Diego, California and now currently located in Phoenix, Arizona is not affiliated by any means with Chucks Bikes or their own branding."

Probably not a bad ride, just not what you might think it is.
interesting. is the arizona-located tsunami making their frames in the usa? i'm not familiar with them.

i've heard chuck's bikes buy frames with paint mistakes from taiwan factories and re-badge them as tsunami, though they might've been a high end or low end frame prior to the mistake. i was under the impression they had no influence on the frame design, etc... they just re-badged stuff.
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Old 12-07-06, 01:29 PM   #14
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Frames from the 70's designed around 27" wheels often have plenty of clearance for wide-ish 700c. I've rebuilt a couple recently and with 1 1/4" 27" tires on them there's maybe 15-20mm on either side, I think a 32 would fit fine with enough clearance. And those bikeboom bikes all came with centerpull brakes which work pretty well and give a good amount of clearance too. Those 70s 10-speed frames are tough and versatile and can be converted to a lot of purposes.

I've considered doing this myself but haven't just because the wheels are a sticky issue. I feel comfortable riding 30-year-old wheels on the street, but I don't think I'd want to put knobbies on them and do any aggressive stuff off-road. And the spacing on them is usually 126 so it just complicates upgrading a little bit. If your centurion has 700c wheels I'll bet it's 126mm spaced. If you found like an old nishiki complete for cheap you could potentially just combine the two to make a cheap cross bike.

What's better though, and still cheap to do, is converting a hybrid from the 90's. Someone made a thread here about their specialized crossroads they converted and it turned out cool. You can sometimes find those 700c wheeled hybrids for pretty cheap. I have 2 now. I paid a little too much for them ($50 each) but they're both chromo steel frames with semi-relaxed geometry, lots of tire clearance and cantilever brakes. I figure once I'm done with one I'll have maybe $200- $250 total into it.
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Old 12-16-06, 06:24 PM   #15
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- down here on the Gulf, pawn shops are best for older bikes... somehow all the good bikes seem to disappear when they hit the Salvation Army or Goodwill donation centers (rats!)...

- see my sig for one conversion possibility (paid $100 for the bike in its 6-spd incarnation)...

- i guess conversions are cheaper if you have spare parts?

- good luck!
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Old 12-16-06, 06:32 PM   #16
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Here's something to think about. I was down at the local bike shop and a guy came in with a Schwinn World in absolutely perfect condition. He had just bought it down at the Salvation Army for $35. It even had an upgraded Brooks saddle and a top end aluminum seat post added to it and new tires.

And I mean the condition was perfect - it was better than original show room condition. Everything was clean and polished. There wasn't so much as a scratch on it. Whoever owned it must have just kept it in his living room as an object d'art.
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