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First CX bike ride and stem fit(4 posts)

First CX bike ride and stem fitSlacker Joe
Aug 16, 2002 8:42 AM
I recieved my Rocky Mountain Rail from Colorado Cyclist earlier in the week, took a few spins around the neighborhood but only finally managed to hit a trail last night. Even though I went to one of the easier, smoother trails in the area, it didn't take long to realize that this was nothing like my fat tired, front suspended mountain bike. The greatest surprise was how quickly and easily I could flow through the turns. I suppose this was to be expected with a steeper head angle and skinnier tires, but sweeping through the first bend was still a revelation. I was also impressed with how fast I could go, and be able to maintain the speed easily, thanks again to the skinny tires and larger wheelsize, I'm assuming (although comparing my CX wheel to that of my mountain bike with a 2.3" tire, they were very similar in diameter, so I suppose it was mostly width of tire and lack of rolling resistance that made the difference).

Drawbacks? The aluminum frame and fork are harsh! One fairly rooty decent left me cross-eyed. I was impressed how stable it felt over such obstacles though. I was contemplating building up an entry level steel frame like a Soma or Surly, or even a Poprad or Jamis prebuilt, but for some reason was led astray from the steel flock. I'm also not so sure how much a difference the frame material would make, as Sheldon Brown has argued, it's more the fork and tires that make a difference in ride quality. Still, I love the solid feeling of my steel mtb, so may swap frames in the future and have this as a rainy day/commuter bike.

Front cantilever brake also felt kind of mushy, especially once I taped the bar up (did a hideous job of this), which led to some not-so-smooth turns of the cable. There may be some cable/trimming adjustment needed here, but I do miss my v's.

This was also my first experience riding drop bars, which leads me to my thoughts on swapping the stem out. I felt stretched out, but not too much, and I know there's some adapting/streching of muscles to be done when someone first starts riding road/cross. It's a 54cm frame C-C with a 565mm effective top tube. I'm 5'11" (closer to 6') with a 35" cycling inseam. The stock stem on it is a 110mm, 6 degree rise, on a 130 mm headtube and about 2" of spacers/brake cable holder thing. This results with the top of the bars being nearly 3" below the top of the saddle, which seems too low for off road riding. I found that Salsa makes some high rise road stems in 15 and 25 degree rise. I'm contemplating getting a 100mm, 25 degree stem, which will raise the bars about 3 cm (1.2"), not much, but it's the best that could be done, and shorten the reach by about 2cm. Does this sound too extreme an adjustment?

Thanks for reading! I had some pics, but didnt upload them, maybe next time..
re: First CX bike ride and stem fitatpjunkie
Aug 16, 2002 1:24 PM
sounds fine. keep the old stem as you may want to go back after a while when you adjust. That stem will work fine and make it a little more comfortable.
As far as the ride, yes very different, and the bigger diameter wheels help in that 'roll over everything' feel.
This is what inspired the 2 Niner revolution in MTB.
welcome and enjoy
Check the Nitto Technomic stems on Sheldon's siteGlowBoy
Aug 23, 2002 11:17 AM
They have a higher rise than other stems.

I think Sheldon's right about frame materials, BTW but he's missing the point. Sure, an aluminum bike would ride as smooth or smoother than steel ... IF it were made of the same diameter and thickness tubing. Which it isn't. In the real world of actual bikes made by actual manufacturers, steel bikes generally ride much smoother than aluminum ones - not because steel is an inherently more compliant material (which it isn't) but because of how they're constructed.

- Dan
Thanks for the tip,Slacker Joe
Aug 26, 2002 9:29 AM
but I have a threadless setup, so I just put of these on with the same result:


Delta threadless stem riser

Raised the top of the bars level with the saddle and felt much more comfortable for rides over an hour, well worth the goofy look.

So now I'm even more impressed with what the bike allows me to do. Handling, stability, speed, and climbing ability are so greatly improved that I'm starting to wonder what's wrong with my mountain bikes' setups.

Yeah, I think you're right about how the material is used rather than the inherent qualities. Like when aluminum was first used it was noodly, until they played with the tubing. So only a month after purchase, I'm already contemplating a steel frame with a better ride, because this one's just murder. Still, I'll probably stick with this for a while and start to dream up a custom setup - cushy steel, plenty of tire clearance to play around with, tall head tube, maybe disc tabs.. dream on.

Thanks for the feedback guys. I'm just ranting to myself this far down the board. :)