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How much better is a nice bike for racing?

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How much better is a nice bike for racing?

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Old 01-09-18, 11:39 AM
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JeffOYB
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How much better is a nice bike for racing?

I'd think the most impt things for racing cross are first the fit then the tires. Once you have those two things, what's next? Does a better frame help you move up in places? I could see something like the frame having more of an effect on the hour-race dudes. They are out there a long time and subtle things could really add up. Could moderate Masters types also feel the difference of a better frame? Maybe in frame design you start to get more into preference rather than outright works better.

...Like, a sweet handmade tubie tire that matches conditions and is the right pressure is simply faster, better, in every way. It will move you up. Sure, you need to learn to ride them and take advantage of them, but they seem pretty definitely superior to me. Significantly.

Are there aspects of frames that are like that, too? Would that mostly be WEIGHT? Like moving from aluminum frame up to carbon. That's probably a biggie.

Would the next significant thing for race results be going from a 18/19-lb bike to a 15/16-lb?

Or are there design factors, angles, BB height, tubing diameter, that riders in the know can really use to their benefit? Like, do some riders consider certain tubing diameters to make a 'dead' feel that they say bogs down maybe?

Then there's moving up in components. What wd be smartest there? Upgrade anything w bearings? Or are a lot of bearings (hubs, BB) today all in a close-enough ballpark. Do the sweet shifter groups really lift a rider?

...Maybe out of the parts-race the most impt are BRAKES. Like, are riders getting a lot of gain out of hydro disks... Maybe disks let riders go faster into corners, coz they let them brake later.

Lastly, is a bike that really helps boost our racing also fun for JRA?

???

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Old 01-09-18, 12:39 PM
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My first cross mentor, when I asked this question, said a frame is a thing you hang your components on. Great advice at the time. I would rank importance of equipment in this order.

- Tire choice and tire pressure
- Brakes, hydro disc performs consistently and you can slow in the same locations each lap.
- Gearing performance. Do you have the right gearing for a course and how fast can you get into the best gear when your hands are frozen or wet.
- Pedals. How fast can you clip and start pedaling in either normal or muddy/icy conditions
- Fit and geometry of the bike. Are you a climber or cornering daredevil and does the bike fit your style.
- Small things that add up to be big things. Bottom bracket seal drag is very useful because then my cranks don't rotate on me when I drop the bike back on the ground. Are there cables in the way of where you try and grab the downtube. There are more of these...
- Overall weight.
- Saddle, is your kit hanging up on it, remounts are maybe easier with a smoother saddle.
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Old 01-09-18, 01:21 PM
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nice.

i forgot about pedals! holy crap, you need to have pedals sorted bigtime when the mud or slush or freezing gets serious. basically, my old SPDs are trash in a weather challenge. i shd change those out pronto. they've messed me up. who needs the grief? i have a set of eggbeaters...jeez, just gotta install and get used to them.

...but i'm thinking there's a chance that tubing diameters/wall thickness and the resulting areas of flex might be impt. but i wdn't know. maybe that's more a thing for folks doing longer rides and races? so far i've been using a cheap stiff soda-can frame.

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Old 01-09-18, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by ldmataya View Post
My first cross mentor, when I asked this question, said a frame is a thing you hang your components on. Great advice at the time. I would rank importance of equipment in this order.

- Tire choice and tire pressure
- Brakes, hydro disc performs consistently and you can slow in the same locations each lap.
- Gearing performance. Do you have the right gearing for a course and how fast can you get into the best gear when your hands are frozen or wet.
- Pedals. How fast can you clip and start pedaling in either normal or muddy/icy conditions
- Fit and geometry of the bike. Are you a climber or cornering daredevil and does the bike fit your style.
- Small things that add up to be big things. Bottom bracket seal drag is very useful because then my cranks don't rotate on me when I drop the bike back on the ground. Are there cables in the way of where you try and grab the downtube. There are more of these...
- Overall weight.
- Saddle, is your kit hanging up on it, remounts are maybe easier with a smoother saddle.
I can get behind this. Good tires made me much more confident and fast. I think riding SS put me in a mechanical advantage to some of the geared 4/5 folks.

And good brakes, even just better pads can help. I recently changed pad brands and I think it might have been a big part of a really bad crash I had Sunday.
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Old 01-10-18, 07:36 AM
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Interesting thread since I just did almost ALL of those things when I upgraded my CX bike a few weeks ago. I went from a AL Salsa cx/gravel bike with mini V brakes to a Focus Mares CX that is full carbon, hydro and more CX geometry

I found racing the Salsa was stable on straights but like turned a Suburban on the corners. I did not trust the mini v's to give full braking so i'd have to either go slower through stuff or brake early. The 105 shifting was perfect and the only thing i'm worried about switching to SRAM (will spend the next 9 months getting used to that). The cables are also all routed on above the top tube and the center frame area is very easy to get on my shoulder.

Tires I have good ones for pretty much any course.. Clement LAS for gravel/hard pack, Swalbe Racing Ralphs for dirt and Clement BOS for when you just want all the grip
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Old 01-10-18, 12:39 PM
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I think in cross weight actually matters more, having to shoulder a heavy bike sucks and when I'm redlined and not thinking straight a light bike is just easier to manage.
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Old 01-10-18, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by redlude97 View Post
I think in cross weight actually matters more, having to shoulder a heavy bike sucks and when I'm redlined and not thinking straight a light bike is just easier to manage.
not even just run ups.. running barriers after a few laps you're like ahh dammit this carrying crap again and even a quick suitcase carry is not fun. i'm happy about the carbon for that too.
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Old 01-11-18, 09:46 AM
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I figure the weight angle would come on for the hardcore Hour riders.

I didn't notice my 20-lb bike in my half-hour beginner races. But I noticed carrying a bottle in hot 40min races.

I've only dared one Hour race so far. Right when I got my "real" CX bike. I thought "more time is more fun." Dang! So many laps and so many barriers -- I started feeling my knees swell and stiffen more and more.

But more than weight, I'm more about frame feel and flex and if that affects performance noticeably -- that is, measureably.
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Old 01-11-18, 10:33 AM
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I did my first couple Cross races this past fall on a 23lb steel bike with Sora triple drivetrain, long reach caliper brakes, and 30mm cross tires. Both were hot dry races, so braking and traction were not a problem at all. Things I would change, in order of importance:

1. Chain retention: I have since installed a Dog Fang chain catcher, as I lost my chain off the inside once in each race. Really makes you want to go 1x...otherwise from that single incidence each time, I was happy with the drivetrain and shifting. Second race I was able to get going quickly and pass quite a few people...but the first race it relegated me to the back, only caught and passed one person.

2. Tires. My bike will only fit 30mm tires in the back due to chainstay clearance, but I may get a 33 or even wider (non-regulated races) in the front, where my fork has much more room. The second race was very bumpy and jarring.

3. Weight. I have no real intention of getting a new bike, but the weight was most noticeable on runups the first race. The second race I was able to stay on the bike and power up almost everything. Getting over hurdles was no problem.

4. Frame geometry for carrying...my steel bike has a sloping top tube, which combined with round tubes makes it awkward and painful to shoulder...I can see how the shape and feel of the inner triangle would make that a lot easier.

Fyi, if I went for an upgrade, it would be the Giant tcx advances sx, carbon with Apex 1x hydraulic geoupset...but that likely won't happen. I'm content for now.

Things that imo don't matter much:
-level of drivetrain...all the major brands stuff works, from Sora to apex.
-weight. (I know I listed it above...but for overall race performance, unless you are really competing to win, the effect of 2-3 lbs is unlikely to make a big difference. If I got a 15 lb bike, yeah, that would be very noticeable...but going from 17-18 to 15-16...I doubt it.

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Old 01-11-18, 11:43 AM
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well I raced part of the year with a cheapo univega hybrid frame I built up into a CX bike, weighed 30lbs and I more recently got a new Raleigh rx 1.0, with maybe weighs 21 or so. I wish I could say it made a huge difference in my placing, but no, the bike couldn't help my lack of race fitness lol

That said, things I do appreciate: 11 speed vs 8 speed, lighter for carrying/climbing, chain catcher (dropped my chain once with the hybrid), more comfortable geometry. With my recent improvements in overall fitness and then maybe a year where I can actually work on race specific fitness hopefully I can be way more competitive.
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Old 01-12-18, 02:32 PM
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I've raced all kinds of frames but my favorite is steel for CX. It's the most forgiving and shock absorbing frame material. It's heavier yes, and that is a downside especially compared to carbon, but it's worth it to me as I get older I'll never ride another aluminum cross frame again.
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Old 01-12-18, 09:52 PM
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Wed was Collegiate nats and junior flew out his steel bike he bought used guessing about 20# - never weighed it. I brought the MASI we build up a bit < 17lbs. Could get to 15lbs if I worked at it. this was 4th cross race so hard to make a big statement. I didn't see shouldering. Nobody I saw road over the barriers, and I think I saw 90%.
Anyway there was a bike change. The steel was noticeable. It took a bit more energy that lap. If seriously competing for a podium, I think it matters a lot. Well this race, the winner was so dominant, maybe not, but looking at the results from other races, that few seconds a bike setup makes could matter.

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Old 01-16-18, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by JeffOYB View Post
I'd think the most impt things for racing cross are first the fit then the tires. Once you have those two things, what's next? Does a better frame help you move up in places? I could see something like the frame having more of an effect on the hour-race dudes. They are out there a long time and subtle things could really add up. Could moderate Masters types also feel the difference of a better frame? Maybe in frame design you start to get more into preference rather than outright works better.

Would the next significant thing for race results be going from a 18/19-lb bike to a 15/16-lb?

???
Answer: 6.7%*

My experiment was with the purest form of cycling: Velodrome. I went from a decent steel bike (~20lbs) with normal components to a new aluminum track bike with some top shelf components (UCI min weight: 6.8kg)
The difference: It was literally like shifting gears. The weigh and responsiveness were like shifting from a 16t cog to a 15t cog.

A lot of it was weight and responsiveness. Track is such a tight discipline – the differences were easy to consistently see and measure.

For CX, the same applies – weight, acceleration, responsiveness. I think the geometry has to be pretty far off to cause a problem as people are pretty adaptable. But weight and components can make a big difference. Its just that, not riding in a paceline, its hard to see where the bike will cause me to get dropped or loose significant time.

Material:
I like steel, but find it too heavy and noodly to be effective for racing. It’s a nice ride though.
Aluminum: Stiff and light, I like racing with it. I use my tires and seat post to take a stiff responsive aluminum frame and make it cush and comfortable
Carbon: Stiff and uncomfortable used to be in fashion, but these days it’s all about vertical compliance and lateral stiffness. Makes for a nice race bike.

I don’t find carbon to be faster than aluminum per se, unless the carbon is designed to give you a steel like ride (which is hard to do with Aluminum). Still, brands like Salsa say their new AL bikes are as stiff and more compliant than their previous generation Ti bikes.

*And then there is this measurement.
Road bike vs gravel bike: 6.7% faster
Old bike vs new bike 10.1%
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Old 01-16-18, 05:11 PM
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^^^ Just watched those too. I can get lost down a rabbit hole watching fun GCN videos.

The new bike vs old bike video's climbing section seems like the most directly relatable portion considering CX and I'd say 10.1 percent is plenty to make a difference in a race – especially under closely matched competitors. I know I don't want to be dragging around 10 extra pounds.

That said, my bike is 18 pounds and I'm not stressing about dropping any weight. It seems 2 or 3 pounds could easily be made up through fitness. Tubulars and disc brakes – on the other hand – are on my mind.
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Old 01-17-18, 07:02 PM
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If racing - that is a HUGE number (6%). But I expect the difference between the bikes on the start line is more like 1% and that is still a huge number. I would think those traveling many miles, buying transportation, meals and hotel rooms could justify a lot of money for a .1% difference - (1/10 of a %).
I was surprised how many rim brakes I saw in Reno. Then I don't know where all the USA mud races are at, so maybe that works fine and it is lighter.
In my very short USA observing cx experience what is going on, on the videos, and in most USA races, with regard to mud - is different. There are not many mid races. There is little need for discs.

I could see a dry weather, rim braked sub 15lb bike, shoot - sub 13# bike (just take the current sub 12# hill bike and put the mud tires on) being used in a bunch of races in CO and CA because they are/have been mostly dry.

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Old 01-18-18, 11:55 AM
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come to New England.. Steep, wet, slippery, muddy, technical riding that you want disc and if possible hydro. I just upgraded from Mini V/canti to Hydro disc and it's much better


race i did last year

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Old 01-18-18, 04:09 PM
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People whine about rim brakes. I think most of it is BS (Unless you are racing - and I agree Hydro is very nice). Except for snow. Rim brakes and snow - that worries me (from experience).

Heck, I did my last race with fenders. Makes it easy to find me in the post race pictures, lol.

and I haden't even read Heine's latest fender myth article:

https://janheine.wordpress.com/2018/...slow-you-down/
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Old 01-18-18, 05:26 PM
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I can tell you that i've been on wet twisty downhills pretty much pulling full power and knowing that actual stopping wouldn't happen. (28mm tires Canti brakes). some setup is probably to blame but still. I have disc hydro on Mtn and CX now and it is quite nice, one less thing to think about
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Old 01-18-18, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Jakedatc View Post
I can tell you that i've been on wet twisty downhills pretty much pulling full power and knowing that actual stopping wouldn't happen. (28mm tires Canti brakes). some setup is probably to blame but still. I have disc hydro on Mtn and CX now and it is quite nice, one less thing to think about
I'm starting to feel this way. I can't imagine having brakes that work too well ever being an issue. Especially off road.
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Old 01-19-18, 03:45 PM
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Any good brake can lock up the wheel, wet or dry. Yeah, if you have cheap disks or cheap canti on cheap rims - that would be a problem.

Manufacturers can make any bike brake more powerful. Its not a matter of strength. What makes good hydraulic brakes better than canti (or cable disks) is modulation. That will make a noticeable difference in the rain.

Personally, I think if people don't need fenders they probably don't need "rain" brakes. Either your bike is set for rain or it isn't. And yes, either way - ride what is safe and makes you comfortable. And keep it in good working condition.
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Old 01-19-18, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
Any good brake can lock up the wheel, wet or dry. Yeah, if you have cheap disks or cheap canti on cheap rims - that would be a problem.

Manufacturers can make any bike brake more powerful. Its not a matter of strength. What makes good hydraulic brakes better than canti (or cable disks) is modulation. That will make a noticeable difference in the rain.

Personally, I think if people don't need fenders they probably don't need "rain" brakes. Either your bike is set for rain or it isn't. And yes, either way - ride what is safe and makes you comfortable. And keep it in good working condition.
Considering this is the Cyclocross racing forum.... not going to find your fenders here.

CX discs make the most difference when rims are submerged in mud, sand, snow etc. They are just nice to have the rest of the time. Prepare for worst. Frames have changed so mud clearance isn't an issue anymore so the biggest motivation for canti's has gone out the window
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Old 01-22-18, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by chas58 View Post
People whine about rim brakes. I think most of it is BS (Unless you are racing - and I agree Hydro is very nice). Except for snow. Rim brakes and snow - that worries me (from experience).

Heck, I did my last race with fenders. Makes it easy to find me in the post race pictures, lol.

and I haden't even read Heine's latest fender myth article:

https://janheine.wordpress.com/2018/...slow-you-down/
Jan didn't even race with fenders in our local cross series
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Old 01-26-18, 02:56 PM
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IDK, Jeff to quantify, rather than take opinions, get one and compare lap times with that .

and compare the times, with riding what ever you have, now.



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Old 02-05-18, 01:58 PM
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I think about this topic a lot. Carbon Fiber vs Aluminum frames.

My bike is a 5 year old aluminum CAADX with 105 components. I bought a set of aluminum tubular race wheels with challenge tires, which made a huge difference. I hated the stock cantilever brakes and upgraded them to mini-vs which work well in most conditions, but are not as good as hydro discs. My bike has served me well, but I've been thinking of upgrading for a few years and carbon fiber/disc brakes seem to be the obvious choice. The bike I see the most at my local series is the SuperX, so I went and test rode one at my LBS and wasn't as blown away as I thought I would be. Hydro disc brakes are an obvious huge upgrade (and it's pretty much impossible to find rim bikes in this category now anyways), but for $1500 or so difference, I don't think the carbon fiber frame made as big of an impact as I was expecting. I mean, the bike definitely felt a little lighter (due to both the frame, and a higher component spec) which isn't insignificant, but the overall ride and handling didn't seem dramatically different. I walked away thinking maybe I should just spend the difference on nicer wheels. In the end, I didn't do that either and am still just riding my old bike.

This could partially be a result of the test bike having stock wheels with clincher tires, which are definitely holding it back. And since my current bike has rim brakes, any new bike I buy would need a new set of tubular wheels regardless. Still, I can get an Ultegra equipped CAADX with hydro disc brakes for around $2k. The equivalent SuperX (Force 1) is $1500 more.

I dunno. I'm sure in a blind test with a stopwatch the SuperX is faster around a CX course, but all other things being equal, the difference in frames from a seat-of-the-pants perspective didn't feel like that big of an upgrade. Maybe I need to look at other brands or try out a friends bike at a race sometime.
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Old 02-13-18, 01:34 PM
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Sportives/events are not races. Even though a "race" usually always happens during the sportive.

Anyhow......I'm going to be picking up a cx bike for my birthday come May. I'm tired of not having a bike to do gravel with, and would like to try to race given the fitness from roadie season.

From what I'm hearing, the discs would be worth it. I'm in about the $1000 +/- change range for a used one.

So, the relevant question to this thread is.........how would you allocate that $1000?

-Would you give up discs to be able to have Ultegra 1x (or Sram equivalent)?
-Are discs important enough that you'd even go down to below 105 even if it's just for mechanical discs?
-If you go down to cantis from discs.......is 1x11 even worth it over a 1x10 bike that's carbon instead of alum? In other words......is the 2 year old aluminum 11spd canti bike better than the 4 year old carbon 10spd canti bike?

This is kind of where I am. I've been looking at used alloy 105 Crocketts, TCX's, etc... all with cantis. You can get a 105 Haanjo with discs in that price range. But the top tube slopes.

Mind you, I'd probably also use this bike for a few non-USAC endurance gravel events that award places or are just for "finishing".
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