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building my first Cross bike and need suggestions(21 posts)

building my first Cross bike and need suggestionsiamkramer
Mar 6, 2003 11:33 AM
OK I'm building my first cross bike and have a ton of parts laying around.
What recommended standard or compact drive cranks.
Can I use Campi Veloci levers for an XT 8 speed derailure? What do you need in terms of wheel sets?
What would you use in terms of stem and bars.
I imagine things need to be pretty beefy.
last but not least the Frame and Fork. Recommendations.

Some suggestions...Nater
Mar 6, 2003 12:12 PM
I've been using a standard drive crankset (mountain 110/74mm) with 36/48 tooth chainrings and a 12-25 cassette. This bike serves as a commuter/bad weather road/occasional off-road bike. I've never raced 'cross but may in the future. Many racers run 39/48 tooth rings on a road (130mm) crankset. Some use a single 44 tooth chainring with a 12-27 tooth cassette.

I don't think that Campy and Shimano rear derailleurs use the same actuation, I don't think your Veloce Ergo power shifters will work with a Shimano XT rear derailleur. I'd buy some Ultegra bar-cons (8 speed) and some aero brake levers...the bar-cons work much better in the cold and muck if you plan to use the bike in those conditions.

The rest of my bike...Surly Cross-Check frame and fork. Relatively heavy but handles well, is versatile, and reliable. By versatile, I mean that you can run it as an SS (horizontal dropouts) if you so desire and with Surly's new 135mm fixed/free flip-flop single speed hub, you could do the fixed gear thing too.

I'm using Salsa's Moto-Ace road stem (yes, they're available with a 26.0mm clamp), and old set of 46cm Nitto h-bars. Salsa's Bell Lap bar is designed for cross bikes and has nice, slightly flared drops on them also.

And lastly, I'm running Shimano hubs (LX rear/105 front) on Velocity Deep-V rims with 14/15 DB spokes and haven't touched them with a spoke wrench since I built them. I'm a sometimes Clydesdale though and you might be able to get away with a lighter rim.

Good Luck with the 'Cross bike...out of the 5 that I own, it's the one that gets used everyday!
Recommended Framesetsiamkramer
Mar 6, 2003 4:09 PM
It seems I can use the older 9 speed road gear I have with some moderate changes.

I want some recommendations on Steel Frame sets. What's the most bang for the buck out there in the cross world?

Please advise..

what price range?laffeaux
Mar 6, 2003 4:41 PM
Your old road cranks will work fine. For off road use replacing the 39 with a 38 will give a little more low end. You don't really need a 52/53, and it't generally replaced with a 48.

What are you looking to spend? Give us a general price range.
Recommended FramesetsNater
Mar 7, 2003 9:33 AM
I'd say the best prices for steel framesets that I've seen are the Surly Cross-Check ($329) and the Doublecross frame made by Soma Fabrications. Go to and check it out. I'm not sure what the retail price of that frame is though.
Soma Double Crosskilimanjaro
Mar 10, 2003 10:40 AM
The Soma double cross retails for $349.95 at

Soma Double Crosssgnirts
Mar 11, 2003 9:34 PM
I have been looking for a frame for cyclocross also. I called the guys at Soma and they sounded like they had no idea what they were talking about, I even had to ask again "is this Soma bikes?". The guy did not know the head tube length or a few other basic questions...I ended up asking "who do I call to find out information about Soma bikes?", he said I should email them...NOT A CONFIDENT FEELING! On the other hand Surly was really helpfull and at least gave a detailed justification of their use of plain 4130 and why they switched from reynolds 631...The Interlock has my attention at the moment, but their ad copy reads scarily similar to Soma..they even have the same exact geometry chart (different specs, but looks the same). My jury is still out, I might just het the less exciting Surly because they seemed honest about their product and it has a good reputation...the price is very right too! I am under the impression that all three could be made at the same place in tiawan, again the interlock ad copy ready very close to soma (like the same guy wrote it!)

About SOMA and Interlocflyweight
Mar 12, 2003 10:12 AM
I wouldn't say Surly is more honest, just more organized. Soma, like many others in the bike business, isn't a manufacturer but rather a brand. The guy at Soma was really a rep at Merry Sales in SF. They own and distribute the Soma line. This is similar to how QBP owns and distributes Salsa and Surly though QBP is considerably larger than Merry which is why Surly have their own full-time staff.

The Soma bikes were actually designed by American Cyclery in SF. If you have technical questions about Soma frames you'd be better off calling Brad at American (415/664-4545, e-mail is really not a good way to go since they don't have time to check e-mail in a timely manner when the shop is open) The guys at Merry are nice people but they're not nearly as big (or organized) as QBP so I'm not surprised you got the response you received. Fortunately, they don't actually make the frames which have all been just fine.

Interloc read like Soma because they're also part of Merry and the copy was written by the same guy. All three frames come from the exact same production line in Taiwan (and the same company now handles Salsa as well) I would say the Soma frames are a bit nicer than Surly (and I've sold both). They're definitely lighter. I haven't put one on a scale but I did pick one up and also picked up a Gunnar frame and the weight difference was a whole lot less than I would have expected (maybe 1/4 in the frame) The Soma is also more versatile since it has full rack and fender braze-ons. You can also get a Soma with the Interloc carbon fork (which looks to be a rebranded Winwood) The Soma also has a bit more clearance than a Gunnar though not quite as much as the Surly. As for the Interloc, I've only seen a couple of their 2002 frames. They're very nice, I'd put them in between a Soma and a Gunnar. They haven't done very well because they're in such an odd price point. People on a budget go with Soma or Surly and those not on a budget go with Gunnar, Sycip, Steelman, Kelly, etc. (at least they do here in the Bay Area)

I'm in the process of putting together a new bike for fire road riding and fast touring and I'm going with a blue Soma because it's a bit lighter than Surly and also offers front rack mounts. Both are really nice frames, especialy for the cost. I'd say go with the Surly if:
1) you're a heavier rider or hard on equipment
2) you're on a really tight budget
3) you like the color more than Soma's green or blue

Go with the Soma if:
1) you're going to race the bike
2) you want to mount racks for touring
3) you don't like the Surly color

Next year (possibly later this year?) Soma will have a titanium frames. We've got two cross frames at the shop and also a road frame featuring a titanium fork (very cool looking but definitely not light) Way too early to say what retail costs will be on these but they look pretty nice. The consistent quality of these Taiwan frames is pretty hard to beat.
About SOMA and Interlocsgnirts
Mar 12, 2003 10:57 AM
Thank you for clearing that up, I was already pretty sure that was the case. I still find myself unable to decide...Surly just seems unexciting in its spec, Soma has the same name as an old bike company that made cheap racing bikes 20 years ago (could it be the same company?). Interlock has a nice tubing spec and could be the one...I have also been thinking about the Lemond, but the standover height on the 52cm seems rather high...who knows (Jamis, KHS, Gunnar). My price point is under $700 for a frame (ebay choices included) head is spinning with decision anxiety.

About SOMA and Interlocflyweight
Mar 12, 2003 11:20 AM
If at all possible I'd try and ride before you buy. The Gunnar and Soma frames have somewhat odd geometries on paper so it's good to actually get out and ride one. I'm 5'10" and have two 54cm Gunnar bikes, a 57cm Interloc scandium road bike, and a 59cm one-off Colnago. I'll probably wind up getting a 54cm Soma frame.

Soma and Interloc use the same forks.

Soma is a new company. The name means South Of MArket, which is the name of the neighborhood in San Francisco immediately south of the downtown Financial District.
About SOMA and InterlocSJT
Mar 13, 2003 7:17 AM
Weeks ago I asked the same questions you are asking and was just as confused on what frame to get. I was looking to build up a bike for around $1500, so of course I couldn't spend more than you want to for the frame/fork. I looked on the classified ads here for used bikes, considered the Surly, SOMA, Gunnar, etc. production frames, and looked into cheap custom frames. "Cheap custom" is generally an oxymoron, but I did find a few inexpensive custom builders that you should look into, especially if you are concerned about certain measurements on the stock frames not fitting you well. The deal breaker for me on all of those stock frames was that I eventually decided I wanted disc brakes on this bike and none of them offered a disc tab...forcing me to go custom. I'm getting a bike build up by Doug Curtiss of Curtlo bikes ( and so far the experience has been great. His prices are *really* good for the quality you will get. Also check out other custom builders such as Wanta Frames, Peyto Cycles, True North Cycles, etc. They all offer something different and at slightly different prices. But from what I have seen in pictures and from owner's testimonies, they all offer quality steel frames for great prices. Check them all out before you drop your money on a production bike.
About SOMA and Interlocsgnirts
Mar 14, 2003 8:53 AM
Thank you for the help!!!! Your guys have helped me to fine tune my direction.

Recommended FramesetsPoptart
Mar 10, 2003 11:24 AM
along the same lines of a budget steel cross frame, it looks like interloc has redesigned their $520 cross frame and named it the crossfire. it is now an 853 front triangle with 4130 stays. this is a step up from the surly's 4130/4130 and the soma's 631/4130. interloc sells 3 different cross forks: carbon, steel, lugged steel. don't know the prices of the forks.
re: building my first Cross bike and need suggestionssnwbdrhoon
Mar 6, 2003 4:55 PM
Something to consider:

It may be easier and cheaper to just find a cross bike on RBR classifieds or eBay. The same could be said for frames.

Depending on the size you need, there was someone selling Trek Xo-1 frames for around $300. I have one of those. And it works really well in all scenarios. Plenty stiff as well.
Frankenbike is okay.atpjunkie
Mar 6, 2003 7:01 PM
I own 2 cx bikes, one bought 'complete' on ebay, the other Frankenbiked from old parts/ swap meet/ ebay/ rbr /etc... I have 2 swank race bikes (used them both) and also commute on one and I have less than 2 grand invested for BOTH.
running bar cons /aeros with mostly MTB drivetrains and both bikes doing fine. Running 48/36 rings with 12-27 9 sp. and 12-30
8 sp. cassettes. Added top levers to both as well (included in investment. Building Franken Wheels right now. Ultegra Hubs on Rigida Aero Tubulars. Paln on 32 or 34 Tufo Tubies for race day.
Other Wheels are 32 H Mavic and Velocity Wheelsets. I'm 200 plus and have had little wheels trouble (though I have to run higher psi to avoid pinching.)
find a frame here (rbr classifieds or ebay and build using what you have and find. It's a fun way to go.
Price Range answeriamkramer
Mar 7, 2003 2:16 PM
I was hoping to get a frame and fork for around $350 to $450. I will definatley take the recommendation to run smaller chainrings in the Camp Cranks.

Say more about top levers? Not sure what you mean by that.

Trek XO-1 Review?iamkramer
Mar 7, 2003 2:29 PM
Any opinions on the Trek XO-1 frameset? Anybody know of anyone being unhappy with an aluminum setup for Cross?

Steel Vs Aluminum?
Top Levers and Alatpjunkie
Mar 7, 2003 7:16 PM
Top levers go between your brake levers and brakes. they "interupt" the brake cable (from the tops of the bars) so you have 2 brake positions. look at some photos and/or read the posts. I love mine, allows me two positions to ride in and are especially handy on steep descents and carving singletrack.
Have 2 Al bikes and am fine. Steel provides a more supple ride
(this will start a flame I'm sure) due to it's properties and smaller tube diameters. If you plan on racing it really doesn't seem to matter much . if you can't handle the supposed abuse of Al for a 45-60 minute race then maybe cx isn't for you. Custom Steel would be swanky and would probably give a great feel. I was suprised by the compliance of my Specialized (I'm a 'recovering' steel Nazi, I'm nowe material open) most newer Al bikes, by better tube usage and design provide a nice ride compared to older models, filling rattlers (CAAD3 anyone?) . I'd say to start, find something that fits and is affordable, regardless of material.
Build the bike and if you get hooked, save up later and build bike #2 as your super swank custom rig. In cx 2 bikes is quite handy.
If you look at what is working for the pros, our US Champ rides a handmade, lugged steel Richard Sachs while the most dominant riders (Belgians, Dutch, some Italians) mostly ride Al Empellas, Ridleys and Colnagos. Just get a deal and go. Have lots of fun. I'm counting the days 'til next season.
Trek XO-1 Review?pdg60
Mar 8, 2003 10:30 AM
I could be in deep here for admitting that I sold my Waterford X-11 and purchased a Trek XO-1 in its place. My reason for selling was legitimate in that the X-11 was too big for me. My fault.

It was a good excuse to see if Al. was stiffer than the Reynolds 531. I figured it would be and it was but not as much as I thought. I like the XO-1 for the price. I was fortunate enough to get an employee price on it. I basically swapped all parts out too. I have raced on it and I commute on it. I like the aluminum in this context as there is not as much of a chance of rusting from road salt, etc. Its a great all around bike as all 'cross bikes are.

Bottom line is, IMO, ride and race what you can afford to replace. Buy the bike that best suits your budget for now and have fun slowly upgrading. I really don't think one can go wrong with any 'cross bike. You are essentially getting at least two bikes for the price of one.

Sorry about the ramble and picture quality. Later.
re: building my first Cross bike and need suggestionsTrinlif
Mar 7, 2003 9:56 PM
Hey everyone,
First post on this forum, longtime lurker, thanks for all of the great tips and info out there.

I just completed the build on my first cross rig and will second the suggestions to check out the classifieds here and on eBay. I scored a Lemond Poprad frame, seatpost, brakeset (spookys), crankset and Time carbon pedals on eBay over a 4-month span.

Now that the rig is built I am sooooo glad to have taken plenty of time to search and wait for the parts. It turned out way awesome, light, lively, balanced and full of spunk. This bike feels alive. Oh yeah, cost effective as well.

Good luck and be patient, it's a long time til next season so don't be in a rush.
AL v. STEELsnwbdrhoon
Mar 11, 2003 8:07 AM
I'm a total AL convert. My last steel bike was an old Bridgestone mountain bike. It was sweet and supple, but I prefer the rigid nature of Al. To further confirm my decision, I was in Seattle riding with a friend for a nice road jaunt. I took out a Lemond Nevada City (in essence the same quality of a Poprad or similar level frame) and I would rather have been on my X0-1 in all conditions.

Of course his IF Crown Jewel was much nicer, but we're talking about being on a budget. I can't say any bad things about the XO-1 (I have the same frame as the one pictured here). I also know many people happy with the Lemond Poprad. It's all personal preference and what you are going to use it for... I do like that the AL won't rust.

And it's really 3 bikes for the price of 1 (depending on how adventurous you are).