Tech report: Anatomy of a cyclocross bike

jimvreeland

Endurance Guy: Tolerates most of us.
With the cyclocross season just around the corner, guys and gals are scrambling to tweak their bikes or build up something new. I get lots of people in the shop that don't really understand what cyclocross is about or what type of equipment you need to have a great time in the mud!! Here's some key things to be "in the know" like all the cool 'cross kids. However cyclocross, like mountain biking, does have a few different bike setups, this is just how I roll.

Start with a cross frame. Cross frames have wider chain/seat stays for bigger tires and mud clearance, they also have cantilever brake mounts. You can run discs if you're a newb, but they have no advantages once you're out there.
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Less is more. No need for 2 chainrings up front. Cross has one speed, fast!! Save weight and aggrivation by removing the inner ring. I run a Spot 42T SS ring with a Salsa Crossing guard and N'Gear Jumpstop. It also allows you to run a shorter chain, saving more weight and keeping drivetrain tension tight through the bumpys.
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Brakes. I've had a few different setups before I settled on this one. Wide cantis are great because they maintain a good feel even in the worst conditions and they clear mud like nobody's business. I like the Tektro 720 because they use a V-brake pad which allows for better adjustment. Also a must have, Swiss Stop green compound brakepads, you won't be sorry!! Brake setup tip: Run the brakes a little soft to prevent arm fatigue and allow for faster pit stops if you get a flat.
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Left brake lever. Save loot and weight by only getting a right hand shifter and buying some BS drop bar lever for the other side. They won't match, but who cares!! I run this Cane Creek one because it has a brake release, I can open the brake coming into the pit if I get a front flat.
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Tires. There are tons of options out there, clincher, tubular, fast, knobby, 32, 35. Just like in mountain biking you need to see what works for you. I use a clincher only so I can swap wheels from my road bike. I like a more open tread because it's fast and clears mud. But it's good to run a different tire one your pit wheels and decide which to run after you pre-ride the course
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Plug your waterbottle holes. You don't drink during cross races. Take off your cages and remove the bolts and replace them with grub screws or cover them with electrical tape. It's just one less thing to get caught on while shouldering your bike for run-ups. And it's lighter.
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FSA CX headset. I love this thing. With the built in brake stop, it allows me to run the bars as low as possible, allowing for a super-aggro position on the bike. And once again, less is more.
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So there you have it, this bike weighs in at just over 17.5 pounds as it sits, which is pretty good for a CX bike. It's also a 52cm so that helps as well. Cost to build this bike? I don't want to know but it's probably right around 3 grand, maybe a little over. You could make it much more by running pimpy deep-dish carbon wheels, you could make it a lot less by not running Dura-Ace or Bonty Race X-Lite wheels. The stock version of this bike is pretty bangin' right out of the box with a full Ultegra build.

I know there are a few other cross guys on here, so post your stuff as well and lets convert some of these fat tire guys to the dark side!!

-Jim.
 

BiknBen

Well-Known Member
jimvreeland said:
Plug your waterbottle holes. You don't drink during cross races. Take off your cages and remove the bolts and replace them with grub screws or cover them with electrical tape.

Damn son. That's a super secret tip that I had never heard of. Interesting.
 

RNG1

Well-Known Member
Alright I admit you got my attention. This year I got opened up to road riding big time and now I have to admit this looks like something else on 2 wheels I could get sucked into. I know there is a lot of running and with my injury last month I have been doing a lot of that. What is the race season like? Does it pretty much start when the mtn scene is wrapping up? Does it go into the winter? I need more info now!
 

elzoller

El Guac-Oh
damn....me too,
1st road biking (Ok I didnt have to spend the $$$ on it :rolleyes:)
and now cyclocross....
very cool post, u only missed the part on "how to justify the extra bike/$$ to the significant other?" :D
 

elzoller

El Guac-Oh
Dont I remember a while back you simply "hiding" a new bike in your garage, that Kona or something?:hmmm:

Tr00!!:D
But back them we had 1 kid and she was working....now 2 kids and she is Not working :mad2::mad2:need to watch the spendin' ;)
....I did get rid of one bike (donated it to a dude from work), so technically I have the "space" for another one:rolleyes:
 

jimvreeland

Endurance Guy: Tolerates most of us.
Alright I admit you got my attention. This year I got opened up to road riding big time and now I have to admit this looks like something else on 2 wheels I could get sucked into. I know there is a lot of running and with my injury last month I have been doing a lot of that. What is the race season like? Does it pretty much start when the mtn scene is wrapping up? Does it go into the winter? I need more info now!

Cross starts in September and runs through December. There are usually races very weekend on both days somewhere. There are a few, for some, conflicting dates between MTB and CX. For me, once cross starts I could care less about mountain biking:D

Running is actually a very small part of cross (albeit very important in higher classes). If you race in "C" class (beginner), most are new and don't yet have proper technique so it won't matter much, just go out and have fun.

I will soon be doing cross practices on Tuesdays here...

Mountain Park

-Jim.
 

jShort

2018 Fantasy Football Toilet Bowl Lead Technician
Team MTBNJ Halter's
yep, if your coming from 78 heading to "le rock", its on your right hand side. right before Pingry High School.
 

RNG1

Well-Known Member
Cross starts in September and runs through December. There are usually races very weekend on both days somewhere. There are a few, for some, conflicting dates between MTB and CX. For me, once cross starts I could care less about mountain biking:D

Running is actually a very small part of cross (albeit very important in higher classes). If you race in "C" class (beginner), most are new and don't yet have proper technique so it won't matter much, just go out and have fun.

I will soon be doing cross practices on Tuesdays here...

Mountain Park

-Jim.

Jim, You sparked enough interest that I googled and came up with this:
http://bigshark.com/page.cfm?PageID=68
Just to check it out would it be better to pick up a medicore road bike to convert? I also have my old mountain frame but it seems according to this link that it may not be allowed to ride with the size wheels even if you put a set of drop bars and skinny tires on. Maybe the obvious thing would be to try and find a pre-owned cross bike rather than monkeying around? After all the time I have spent on my road bike in the last 5 weeks I am definitely intrigued.
 

jimvreeland

Endurance Guy: Tolerates most of us.
Jim, You sparked enough interest that I googled and came up with this:
http://bigshark.com/page.cfm?PageID=68
Just to check it out would it be better to pick up a medicore road bike to convert? I also have my old mountain frame but it seems according to this link that it may not be allowed to ride with the size wheels even if you put a set of drop bars and skinny tires on. Maybe the obvious thing would be to try and find a pre-owned cross bike rather than monkeying around? After all the time I have spent on my road bike in the last 5 weeks I am definitely intrigued.

That's a cool link. The issue with a road bike is going to be the frame, there just isn't enough clearance for knobby tires with the little caliper-style road brakes and tight chainstays. You can race a stock mountain bike in most events if you just wanted to check it out, but a true cross bike is much, much, faster. Just like every other kind of bike, there are budget cross bikes out there as well, something like the Trek XO1 uses the same frame and fork I run with a full Shimano 105 10-speed group for $1,300 or a Cannondale XR6 which is a little cheaper.

-Jim.
 

jimvreeland

Endurance Guy: Tolerates most of us.
Oh Snap, isn't there some school that has like 15 soccer fields around there? That's on the way to Le Rock.

Yeah, that's the park, you pass the soccer field side of it going to the rock. On the opposite side there is a bunch of baseball fields and woods and stuff.

-Jim.
 

RNG1

Well-Known Member
That's a cool link. The issue with a road bike is going to be the frame, there just isn't enough clearance for knobby tires with the little caliper-style road brakes and tight chainstays. You can race a stock mountain bike in most events if you just wanted to check it out, but a true cross bike is much, much, faster. Just like every other kind of bike, there are budget cross bikes out there as well, something like the Trek XO1 uses the same frame and fork I run with a full Shimano 105 10-speed group for $1,300 or a Cannondale XR6 which is a little cheaper.

-Jim.

Thanks for the info I'll start looking into this...
 

ArmyOfNone

Well-Known Member
Yo son where do I find me those skull and crossbone brake carriers and cage bolts? Ill try to get some picks up of my rig this week. Which could be next month sometime. Hell just come watch me race if you want to see it!:D
 

jimvreeland

Endurance Guy: Tolerates most of us.
Yo son where do I find me those skull and crossbone brake carriers and cage bolts?

You ain't ever finding the skull son, they were made by a company called Wicked Components in the early 90's, I've searched high and low for another for the rear;) The cage bolts we stock at the shop, we rock like that:D

-Jim.
 

Glancing Aft

Active Member
I've got a newb cross question. What's a good site to go to for a schedual of races? The Mid Atlantic Cyclocross page seems to still have last year's schedual up. I'd like to go watch a race this fall to see if it's something I might want to get into next year.
 

BiknBen

Well-Known Member
What's a good site to go to for a schedule of races?

This is the official NJ schedule. Dates are posted and flyers will be added as they are made available.

http://www.njbikeracing.com/calendar/calendar.pl?month=11&month=9

This is where you will find news about the CX race that is scheduled at Mercer County Park. http://www.usgpcyclocross.com/ While I've done a few CX races I just watched the MCP races. It's kinda difficult to watch and not want to get in on the action. Be careful.
 
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