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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 : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

I need a new cross bike

Old 09-03-04, 04:04 PM
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I need a new cross bike

I'm lookin' for a new cross bike. I should state, first off, that I will be using it mostly for commuting. A guy at one LBS told me that they sell way more cross bikes for commuting than racing. I hope that does rattle the hardcore cross racers too much. Anyway, I've been to about every bike store in town and ridden a few bikes. The only opinions I have to go on are some internet reviews (which are often for another year's model... and I think that's kinda worthless) and those of the people trying to sell me bikes, which I distrust a little bit.

Oh, probably some details about what I would be using it for would help. I commute to work just about every day, it's about 6 miles each way if I take the shortest route. It's mostly bike path, but I ride through the winter too and it gets mucky. I don't race yet, but doing cross races would be fun and I think I could. I'm 6'2" and weigh about 200lbs and have big, wide feet. Buying shoes is gonna be tons of fun. Right now I ride a trek hybrid that's too small for me. I like to ride as fast as my lungs and legs will take me, and I like to ride in crappy weather.

Here's what I've been looking at:

Bianchi Axis '04 - I rode a 58cm at a LBS. I liked it a lot, very light, good components, nice wheels, good crankset. The price was $1150, which is reasonable. The 58cm seemed a tiny bit small for me, but after adjusting it, it would probably be just fine.


Jamis Nova - I have yet to ride one. A store in town is going to be getting the '05 models in early October. I don't want to wait, but I've heard lots of good things about this bike. Nice crankset, same components as the Axis, the Conquest Pro, and the Jake the Snake. The 'o5 has eggbeater pedals, which seem nice, though I've never used them.


Redline Conquest Pro - No local stores have this, but I found an online store with a 58cm one for $1100. There is a LBS with a plain ole' conquest from '04, which has lower grade components, but it's $1000, which seems a bit high. Nice store, though.


Kona Jake the Snake - Haven't found anyone in town with it, so it's kinda out by default unless it's the best bike ever and blows away my other options.
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Old 09-03-04, 04:40 PM
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Go look at Soul. For a fully built bike they are in your price range; They even helped me pick the componants if you aren't too up on them. https://www.bikeforums.net/cyclocross-gravelbiking-recreational/64349-2005-soul-monk.html

That's my bike; About as much as that Bianchi after tax.

www.ridesoul.com
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Old 09-03-04, 04:41 PM
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Man, you want to pay $1000+ for a COMMUTING bike? I have a fleet of bikes, including 2 high end cross bikes that I use for racing and winter training. But for the daily commute nothing beats my trashheap frankenbike (spraypainted Schwinn LeTour baby!) fixed gear. Aside from the fact that its really just a blast to ride, its perfect for year round commuting my short 8 mile trip each way.
1) I wont cry if it gets stolen, and built from old recycled parts, who'd really want it except maybe a messenger type- and if they want it bad enough, take it, I'll just build another.
2) With only 1 gear and 1 brake, its light, and low maintenance (once a month oil the chain, and thats about it)
3) Good training that doesnt feel like training 'cause it's just fun, but my spin is much better, and rolling over the few short hills to work in a higher gear than normal makes me stronger without thinking about "training"- I'm just cruisin'
4) Handles better than a freewheel bike in slippery/icy conditions, and no worries about getting it wet cause like, it's recycled junk. Spray paint and axle grease in the bearings.

For commuting every day, keep it simple- you dont wanna be constantly tinkering/cleaning/adjusting/pampering a bike you paid real money for. Find an old frame in your size with horizontal dropouts, and have at it. Put on some cheap fat rimmed wheels to eliminate flat tires. Heavy wheels make you stronger- really! Most bikeshops have junk parts bins you can rummage through, or just watch the Fall-cleaning sidewalk sales in any suburban neighborhood- it's amazing what people throw away. I gotta admit that I did splurge and installed a pair of original eggbeaters on mine though- they are fantastic, easy to get into/out of, light, low maintenance. I race cross on them too- no more Time or spd pedals for me!


Pics of fixed gears for inspiration: https://www.fixedgeargallery.com/
How to build one: https://www.sheldonbrown.com/fixed/index.html
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Old 09-03-04, 04:52 PM
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I'm getting a nice cyclocross bike for commuting simply because I don't want to ride on a franken-bike, I want the mild offroad capabilities of a CX with the speed (or near) of a road bike, and because if I were willing to ride anything to work I'd ride my hardtail.

Also, just because it's my commuting bike doesn't mean that's all I will do with it.
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Old 09-03-04, 05:29 PM
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Ah well. The frankenbike is NOT just ANY bike! Among the other cross options you listed, Ive ridden an Bianchi Axis and a Redline conquest. The conquest is a spine-beater, I'd go for the Bianchi. I have a custom steel and an Aluminum Empella. The Empella is a spine beater too, a race-specific frame. But still, the fixed gear is cheap, and FUN. You could have a cross bike and the commuter-beater Cheers dude, both are better than a car!

Last edited by ZenNMotion; 09-03-04 at 05:38 PM.
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Old 09-03-04, 05:35 PM
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Any pics of this Franken bike? I'm intrigued.
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Old 09-03-04, 06:02 PM
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Take a lok at the Gunar Crosshairs......Reynolds 853 nice and lite with a smooth ride. I use mine for the occasional race, but more often training and commuting.
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Old 09-03-04, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by ZenNMotion
Man, you want to pay $1000+ for a COMMUTING bike?
Yeah.
I have a fleet of bikes, including 2 high end cross bikes that I use for racing and winter training. But for the daily commute nothing beats my trashheap frankenbike (spraypainted Schwinn LeTour baby!) fixed gear. Aside from the fact that its really just a blast to ride, its perfect for year round commuting my short 8 mile trip each way.
I'm only gonna have two bikes, possibly just this one. My sister wants the bike I have now, and it would fit her better. I will use this bike for commuting, but also for long rides. I want something faster than what I have now, something that will last. If I had a fleet of bikes, I'd probably have a frankenbike, too. But I'm gonna have one bike, and I'd like it to be a kinda nice one.
1) I wont cry if it gets stolen, and built from old recycled parts, who'd really want it except maybe a messenger type- and if they want it bad enough, take it, I'll just build another.
2) With only 1 gear and 1 brake, its light, and low maintenance (once a month oil the chain, and thats about it)
3) Good training that doesnt feel like training 'cause it's just fun, but my spin is much better, and rolling over the few short hills to work in a higher gear than normal makes me stronger without thinking about "training"- I'm just cruisin'
4) Handles better than a freewheel bike in slippery/icy conditions, and no worries about getting it wet cause like, it's recycled junk. Spray paint and axle grease in the bearings.

For commuting every day, keep it simple- you dont wanna be constantly tinkering/cleaning/adjusting/pampering a bike you paid real money for. Find an old frame in your size with horizontal dropouts, and have at it. Put on some cheap fat rimmed wheels to eliminate flat tires. Heavy wheels make you stronger- really! Most bikeshops have junk parts bins you can rummage through, or just watch the Fall-cleaning sidewalk sales in any suburban neighborhood- it's amazing what people throw away. I gotta admit that I did splurge and installed a pair of original eggbeaters on mine though- they are fantastic, easy to get into/out of, light, low maintenance. I race cross on them too- no more Time or spd pedals for me!
That's cool. Someday I might do that, make a frankenfixed gear bike. But right now I want something good, something I can take to work all year long, and something that I can take out on the road or a trial for a long ride too.

Feel free to tell me I'm wrong... I actually think this post of yours has been the most helpful so far. This is good dialogue!
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Old 09-03-04, 07:07 PM
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I have the jamis nova and really love mine. It's the only cross bike I've seen so my opinion isn't worth much.
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Old 09-04-04, 12:40 AM
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I commute on an '03 Bianchi Axis, and it works very well for me. My ride is 15 miles each way, and the bike goes with me into my office where it sits behind my desk. I live in Los Angeles, so I don't have to deal with bad weather except when it rains, and even then it is not terribly cold. I have a pair of clip-on Zefal fenders, which provide some splash protection, but whose best feature is they go on and off the bike in seconds with no tools. I use a Nite Rider lighting system with head and tail lights. I carry my stuff in a backpack. My model year did not have braze-ons for a rack. I belive I could mount one, but I rather prefer the backpack because its more convenient than panniers.

I also use the bike on fire roads, etc., for more recreational pursuits, and intend to race it soon.

When I bought the bike, I left the knobbies on the original wheels with the rather wide gear cluster at the back. (My year had only a double up front, which I prefer slightly to the triple it appears to come with now.) I got a second set of wheels with smaller, slick tires (Continental Gatorskins (28s?)), and a narrower gear cluster for my road riding. I can change the wheels in minutes. (It should be seconds, but I have to adjust the rear deraillier just a tiny bit every time I change, because the distances on the two sprocket clusters vary just slightly, apparently.)

The brakes and shifters are Shimano 105 and Deore LX(?) on the back, which I am completely satisfied with after several thousand miles.

I use Speedplay frogs on SIDI mountain bike shoes, which give good performance on or off-road and allow me to walk (recessed cleats) when I get to my office.

I can't give you comparative information, because mine is the only cross-bike I've ever ridden. I believe the Axis does give good value for the money, though. I does seem light to me, and the carbon fork makes the frame much more cushy than any other aluminum bike I've ridden (which also has not been very many).

At any rate, I think your overall approach is good -- a cross bike as a very fine all-arounder. You may want to consider the second wheel set if you switch often between off and on-road, particularly if your commute is of significant length. I would not enjoy riding the stock knobbies daily on my 15 mile commute, but I love having them for light mountain-biking type fun.

Feel free to ask if you have any other questions that you think I might be able to help you with.

Edit -- just re-read and saw you live in Madison, Wisco, and you normal ride might be about 6 miles or so. You might well be completely satisfied with the stock tires and wheels, and in any event you could certainly get a second set devoted to road use later.

Last edited by Big Helmet; 09-04-04 at 12:44 AM. Reason: edited to add something
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Old 09-08-04, 10:17 PM
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The Nova is the best bang for your buck bike in that line up. We sell atleast 3 a week if we have them in stock-- which is hard to do because we sell so many! Steel, good solid build up with parts, and the price is such a good deal.
The Conquest Pro if I remember right is aluminum?? If I had the choice I would stick with steel for commuting.
Jake the Snake- I was looking at as well about a year ago when I was building up my cross bike...
but again the IMO is a better spec'd bike for what you are getting.
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Old 09-09-04, 05:20 AM
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At 200 lbs, go with the Jamis or the Kona. Low spoke count on the other wheels scares me.
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Old 09-30-04, 07:25 PM
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In case anyone was wondering, I eventually found a really great deal on a Gunnar sport (Ultegra components, ritchey post and stem, nice bike) for about $600, so I got it. I love it.
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Old 09-30-04, 08:16 PM
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From all the bikes that you've listed Kona is my favorite. Nothing against Bianchi and others, but Kona will be simply an excellent choice ofr commuting and with a little upgrade you can race it (it's very good for entry level racing). Plus it's cheaper than others. I see many of them all over the town here. Peple love them. Redline and Bianchi appear to be more race oriented but I'm not impressed with either one. Beware of Jamis frames - they have a design flaw in the frame - downtube cable adjusters are way to close to the headtube so the cantilever brake cable keeps hitting the adjusters and this way the turning radius is limited.
As far as comuting goes I use a Kronan World War 2 Swedish Army bike - it's big, heavy, comfy, and not so fast but great for 10mph cruising to work and back. I ride it daily for at least 10 miles. Often I put 20-30 miles on this heavy rig.
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