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almost completely ignorant - looking for advice(18 posts)

almost completely ignorant - looking for advicefunhoggin-gal
May 9, 2003 2:34 PM
It seems most folks that post thoughts here have a great deal of technical knowledge that I lack. Maybe someone out there can help me out with info/advice. I'm looking for a truly multi-functional bike, and it seems like cyclocross may be right for me. I commute to work via bicycle and want to get into long weekend rides on back roads. I used to mountain bike fairly technical stuff (years ago), but I tore my elbow up, and am now limited to fire roads, carriage trails, and fairly tame back woods trails. Bicycles have always managed to be the best friends I've had, and I'm ready for a new one. I'm hoping to get a bike that is some combination/compromise of road bike speed for paved commuting and playing, mountain bike tough for off-road playing, and touring bike capable of rigging for carrying gear for long back road (paved and un-paved) exploring trips.
Is cyclocross my answer?
If yes, or even partially yes, I am stuck with questions about brands, fit, components, frame composition, trustworthy shops, etc. I have been looking most closely at Bianchi, but I am so completely open-minded, you wouldn't believe it! I am weary of going to a shop for answers first, as they will likely have a primary goal of selling one of their bikes. I have up to about $3k to spend, but I would prefer to keep it under $1.5, and since I'm not racing or anything, I probably don't need the BEST - I just want really great quality, a good fit, and a bit of longevity.
Any suggestions, comments, ideas, opinions? THANKS
re: almost completely ignorant - looking for adviceatpjunkie
May 9, 2003 4:43 PM
yes, cx is your answer. You have to be careful though, many cx bikes are pure race steeds and lack tour friendly things like bottle and pannier mounts. A great cheap into would be the Jamis Nova, you can get for about 600 bucks. Look into Salsa or some of the other Steel Mfrs as they have multi purpose cx rigs. But yes you have found the swiss army knife of bicycles
second the Jamisrockbender
May 12, 2003 8:24 AM
I was thinking the same thing as atpj. While I don't own a Jamis nova, I was strongly considering one during my own search. Nice comfy steel frame, very usable component group, and full braze-ons for tons of touring fun. On my test rides I was impressed at how stable and confidence inspiring the ride was. Check it out, and if you like it try to get a 2001... gotta love the bright orange!

You have a lot of options in the sub-$1500 range that are all great bikes. Ride a lot of them and have fun with your decision!
Third the Jamistxcross
May 12, 2003 10:43 AM
I have the 2001 Jamis Nova and it's a great ride. I've logged about 1700 miles since Nov. and it is holding up very well. For under $1000 I was able to get the bike and a second set of wheels/tires for road riding.

I highly recomend...
second the Jamisatpjunkie
May 12, 2003 11:17 AM
Performance has the orange ones on sale for $499. I think for most entry level riders this is a hell of a value. I can't see dropping huge $$ on a cx bike before I knew I loved it.
Where is that?lanpope
May 12, 2003 5:23 PM
I checked Performance's website and could not find the Nova. Where did you see it for $499? What a deal! Please post the link or the store location.

Thanks,
LP
Where is that?atpjunkie
May 12, 2003 7:09 PM
most San Diego locations. Adams Ave has a 57 for sure.
Yep, cyclocross is the ticketTWD
May 9, 2003 9:47 PM
A cyclocross bike is a great option. Definitely the best option if you can only have one bike and want to do it all.

As atpjunkie mentioned, be carefull to stay clear of the race oriented cyclocross frames, which typically lack rack/fender mounts and maybe only have one bottle cage mount.

The biggest technical questions that usually come up with cross bikes are related to drivetrain/gearing and what brakes to use. You'll get many varied opinions on both of these subjects, but you need to decide for yourself based on what type of terrain and conditions you'll be riding in. If you want a do anything go anywhere bike, I would really recommend a triple ring setup unless you live in a really flat area. This may not be spec'd on alot of the cross rigs, but a good LBS should work with you on swapping out components to suit your needs.

I don't think you need to spend anywhere near $3K to get a decent setup. Shoot closer to the $1.5K mark or less and upgrade components selectively if you need to. You'll find a wide array of different component specs between different manufacturers, it's my opinion Shimano 105, LX and XT stuff all work fine. Anything more than that is probably overkill if you're not racing, and just more expensive stuff to replace when it breaks if you do race. But hey, if you have the money and like nice stuff, go for it if it makes you happy.

Finally, I think the greatest amount of versatility in a cross bike comes from the wide range of tires you can use. If you do have the extra cash burning a hole in your pocket, I think your best bet is to put it into an extra wheelset so that you can run different tires. I run some heavy duty 700x28c commuter tires on one wheelset for my daily commuting, nasty weather road rides, and touring. If I plan on hitting the trails, I swap to my other wheels which have some really aggressive 700x38c knobbies.

Hope that gives you a starting point. Don't be afraid to ask more specific questions once you get things narrowed down.

Good luck, and let us know what you decide on.
Yep, cyclocross is the ticketD_man
May 12, 2003 5:12 PM
I just built up my first cross rig. I'm not really planning to race and was looking for a great all-around bike. It's a Gunnar Crosshairs with Ultegra bits. So far I couldn't be happier. It's lots of fun on singletrack and fireroads, and after years on mountain and BMX bikes, it really hauls on the road! I put in a little over 2K, but you could certainly do one for less is you avoided some of my extravagances (King headset, Brooks saddle, etc).

People complain about the paint on the Gunnars, but you can get a premium paint job at no extra charge if you go for one of the colors of the month.
Yep, cyclocross is the ticketfunhoggin-gal
May 14, 2003 4:36 PM
Right on, D_man . . . I was looking at the Gunner Crosshairs before I saw your reply . . . did you ever see this review in dirt rag magazine?

http://www.dirtragmag.com/articles/article.php?ID=400&category=stuff_reviews

Sounds like a great bike!
Yes! Yes!GlowBoy
May 13, 2003 11:55 AM
Since you're taking truly technical off-roading out of the equation, I would say the answer is a cyclocross bike, hands-down. They're real road bikes (especially if you put skinny tires on them), one of the best choices for commuting once you get used to the handlebars and braking, and do as well or better than MTBs on fire roads and light to moderate singletrack.

Once it gets fairly technical the advantage goes to MTBs because the 'crosser will beat you up too much, and the
"livelier" handling of the 'cross bike can make it very hard to follow your chosen line through the obstacles. But even on moderate singletrack the 'crosser may still have the upper hand in terms of speed and stability. Sometimes my Volpe beats me up off-road, but I'm constantly amazed how much better the big wheels roll over trail obstacles, and how much more stable the bike is at speed. Sometimes I'll hit something hard enough that I know I'd go down if I was on my mountain bike, but somehow the 'crosser stays upright and plows forward.

As others have said, watch out for full-on race bikes. Redlines in particular are notoriously harsh-riding and not well suited to all-around use. Bikes to look at would include the Jamis Nova ($850 MSRP, maybe cheaper at some Performance stores, love the orange color of the 2001s!), Bianchi Volpe (also $850, triple chainrings), Surly Cross-Check (yes, also $850, heavier frame than the Nova or Volpe but people that have them really swear by them), or Lemond Poprad ($950, cheap Sora components but a frame that is fully worthy of upgrading all the way to Dura-Ace or Record).

I'm sure there are some other nice bikes in the $1000-1500 range too (Fuji Cross comes to mind), but if it fits you the best option might be to get a Poprad and upgrade some of the components. The frame is head and shoulders above everything else in its class, and at $950 you'd have $500 left over for some nice upgrades.
Yes! Yes!The Walrus
May 13, 2003 3:52 PM
GlowBoy is obviously partial to the Volpe, but I'd suggest also considering the "other" Bianchi, the Axis. Check around for local dealers who might have NOS '00-'02 models they'd like to move. One LBS had an '01 that he'd discounted by over 1/3 from the original price, down to $900--unbeatable deal, with 105, LX, XT and RaceFace bits and the mellowest aluminum frame (with rack and fender mounts!) I've ever ridden.
Good point -- in that price range, Axis is better choiceGlowBoy
May 14, 2003 12:44 PM
Yep, I'm always pushing the Volpe because it's Bianchi's great-value "ugly duckling" and not even marketed as a 'cross bike ... I'm so used to pushing that angle that I forgot about the Axis! Yes, in Tahoe Gator's price range, the Axis would be a much better way to go. Sweet bike.
Yes! Yes!funhoggin-gal
May 14, 2003 4:07 PM
Thanks! I've been looking at Bianchi . . . Do you know anything about their newest (Cross Concept)? It's about $700 more (completely outfitted) than the Axis, but looks like a better bike. Any opinions?
Cross Conceptatpjunkie
May 14, 2003 7:32 PM
I read your post above. this rig may be too racy and lack other amenities you are looking for (geometry etc...) see my reply above
Yes! Yes!funhoggin-gal
May 14, 2003 4:03 PM
Thanks GlowBoy.

I just posted another discussion and then saw your reply. I have not looked at the Lemond Poprad. I'll check it out asap. I'm mostly leaning toward the Airborne Carpe Diem, Bianchi Cross Concept or Fuji Cross. I am trying to get as informed as possible regarding geometry and frame materials before going on a serious test-riding spree (see my discussion posted today). Maybe I'll have more to report soon . . . .
Yes! Yes!arctic hawk
May 17, 2003 5:35 AM
Hello,
Just my $0.02 worth of opinion. Have you looked into a Trek XO1? It's a great ride! I just bought one off ebay for $540 & the money I saved will go towards upgrades!
re: almost completely ignorant - looking for advicepawistik
May 13, 2003 3:33 PM
GO CX!

I damn near bought the Kona Jake the Snake (with the Jamis being my 2nd choice), but I found a used 2002 C'dale Cyclocross Ultra with upgraded components. It's been great & I love the cyclocross bike. I ride on the road to work (fast as hell - compared to my old commuter), then head out in the river valley to ride some (not-too-technical but pretty fast with some steep climbs) trails at lunch. This bike handles the trails way better than my old rigid mtn bike & seems to climb better too. So far, it's been the best of both worlds with no compromises evident. Other than commuting, it doesn't have too many road miles on it yet. Tomorrow evening I'm heading out with a local road riding club (www.horizon100.org) for a 50 km ride. So I'll know better how it performs in that arena by tomorrow night.

Cheers & have fun on whatever you decide.

Bryan