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not as ignorant - but still oh so much to figure out(25 posts)

not as ignorant - but still oh so much to figure outfunhoggin-gal
May 14, 2003 3:49 PM
I'm still doing work to ID the CX bike for me. Thanks for all your advice and input! Here are some of my most recent thoughts - I hope some of you will be willing to chat a bit more - I really appreciate the help!

Regarding the Jamis: I got lots of recommendations for it, but I notice that the reviews for pre-2003 models are relatively sub-standard . . . did they really improve that much this year?

I am mostly focused on frame geometry and material right now. I imagine my next obsession will be components. Regarding geometry: I am a relatively tall girl-person (5'8.5"), so my base frame size is about a 55 or 56. Most of my height comes from my legs (about an 84cm (33") inseam). So, I want a relatively short top tube to reduce upper body strain. But I don't want to go too short (desire aerodynamic capability and downhill stability). It seems to me I need to find a happy medium where my top tube length and head tube angle combinations leave me with enough of a wheelbase to give me downhill stability and a less twitchy ride, while shortening everything up enough that I avoid upper body strain and have some performance when accelerating. One piece of advice I've received so far is to avoid a head tube angle of greater than 72 (for stability), but some of the bikes that look really good to me in the rest of their geometry (e.g., Bianchi and Gunner) have a 73 degree head tube angle. I realize I need to start test-riding a bunch of bikes at this point, but does anyone have any input regarding geometry?

The other thing I'm thinking of right now = frame material. Any advice regarding aluminum vs. aluminum + scandium vs. titanium vs. carbon fiber vs. steel?

I guess both geometry and materials can depend a lot on use. I will have many uses for the bike, in this order of priority: 1) road commuting and joy riding, 2) fire roads and mild single track, 3) touring trips ("backpacking" on my bicycle - what a joy!).

Finally . . . the CX bikes I'm looking most closely at right now = Gunner Crosshairs, Jamis Nova, Fuji Cross, Bianchi Cross Concept, Airborne Carpe Diem, and Aegis Shaman (more than I really want to spend). Any thoughts regarding these bikes?

Thanks y'all!
re: not as ignorant - but still oh so much to figure outtodwithoned
May 14, 2003 6:28 PM
I own an Aegis and love it. Picked it up used a few months ago, so the sticker shock wasn't quite as bad. She is a sweet ride, nimble and way smooth. I use her for my long commute and will race this fall. One problem you might have is the Aegis doesn't have rack mounts. Kinda hurts the touring. If you order direct from Aegis, they may do it on a custom basis.

I also own an older redline team issue. Definitely not as smooth as the aegis (scandium v carbon). The redline is screaming fast, though and way cheaper. (bought that one used as well)

If you can afford the Aegis, or find one used (it took me two months) I'd go with that

Good luck, and try them all
May 14, 2003 7:25 PM
for what you describe I would suggest steel. to save $ try to find a used Steel Salsa, Kelly, IF, Steelman or Ibis that fits. Of these I'd lean to the ibis or salsa as they are more relaxed and tour ready. Steelmans, IF's and Kelly's usually are more race ready, less amenities. Finding a fit may be tough in the used market, you most likely need a 54. If you have the money go custom, steel with all the necessarry braze ons and geometry. If I was you, I'd call the guys at SoulCraft. Their cross bike is a little more relaxed, they make women specific geometry and are quite friendly. They are some of the ex staff of Salsa (including Sean the framebuilder) before they were purchased. Great guys, great bikes, custom and not over the top expensive. Otherwise if $ is an issue most Italian cx bikes run a tad short on the TT. Good luck.
re: not as ignorant - but still oh so much to figure outjm3
May 14, 2003 8:40 PM
I agree with atpjunkie on steel. I also think you should talk to some frame builders since you have the knowledge to describe what you want. Any good frame builder will take the time to listen and produce the exact frame you're looking for. Why compromise on a production frame that doesn't suit your needs?

FWIW, I've always heard good things about Don Ferris at Anvil Bikes. I've never owned or even ridden an Anvil, but people who have dealt with him seem to become instant devotees and love the bikes he builds for them. The ones I've seen are very well made, and I believe his prices are pretty good too.

If Soulcraft already makes frames with the geometry needs of women in mind you can bet they'll understand your needs. Sounds like they'd be worth talking to for sure.

Good luck.
I am currently having...msmootsiemartin
May 15, 2003 6:05 AM
Don Ferris at Anvil Bikes build me a cross frame which will be used for general winter riding, fire roads and self-supported motel touring. Actually the bike is being painted now and I should have it for Memorial weekend. I have been happy with everything so far and would recommend talking to him. I am hoping to post pics and a report. I can't wait to get the's going to be a sweet "little" ride!
geometry concerns...Steve_O
May 15, 2003 5:15 AM
If geometry is a big concern then I would focus on the Gunnar... They offer the option for custom geometry. Their base price for a frame is fairly reasonable ($600-Range). You could add in the custom geometry and still come in cheaper then some of the other frames you are looking at.

Curtlo is also another steel manufacturer that prices out about the same as the Gunnar and does custom steel. I'd favor steel over aluminum for lengthy touring and singletrack. Custom carbon and Ti are going to be $$$.
re: not as ignorant - but still oh so much to figure outThe Walrus
May 15, 2003 12:31 PM
I think for what you'd be using the bike for, the Cross Concept is overpriced--I doubt the Scandium offers a significant advantage over the Easton UltraLite of the Axis, and definitely
i not
$700 worth of benefit. The Axis' drivetrain also sounds more suitable for your application, especially for touring use. I'm also not sure that the Ksyriums are that great a wheel for off-road use.

This might all be moot, though, given your description of the fit you'd need--the Bianchis are pretty generous with top tube length (which is one reason I love 'em), and you might be too stretched. If you can find a local dealer, though, you still owe it to yourself to test ride one.
re: not as ignorant - but still oh so much to figure outsnwbdrhoon
May 15, 2003 2:01 PM
Depending on your budget...

The Nova and the Fuji Cross are the best deals... (this year's Fuji Cross looks awesome)

I think that Ti would be great for softening things up on your touring trips and mild single track...

I would stay away from the aluminum if you have the $$$ to get something nicer. If you're willing to consider Airborne or Aegis (Aegis has sweet Customer Service) take a look at Independent Fabrications ( or Seven Cycles ( A steel bike from either will be very accommodating as they make them custom to fit your needs.

The Gunnar is also a good more moderate steel frame or a Kelly would be great too.

Good luck. Cross bikes are the best ever! Mild singletrack? They pretty much can go whereever your mtn bike can.
Bianchi Nuts.....atpjunkie
May 15, 2003 6:03 PM
I love you guys. Does the axis/ concept have touring, pannier braze ons? How about relaxed geometry?. She's looking for a little bit more than that. You seem to love your Celeste machines so much you suggest it without paying attention to what a person actually desires. I ride Al cx bikes but use them for racing and fun rides, I wouldn't plan on riding long epics on them, I'd choose steel that is why I didn't suggest a Ridley or Empella to her. God Bless your loyalty but jeez does it have to make you so myopic?
May 16, 2003 8:49 AM
I'm not sure I understand where you're coming from? The original poster mentioned that she was considering Bianchi"most closely" and in her second post she specifically mentioned that she was considering the cross concept.

I read both threads over again, and it didn't sound to me like anyone was trying to push the Bianchis. Actually, some of the "bianchi nuts" were trying to talk her out of the Cross concept. Sounded to me like they were just addressing her interest in Bianchi.

FWIW, the Axis does have braze-on's for racks, fender mounts, two bottle mounts, the geometry is pretty nuetral, and I don't find the aluminum frame to be all that harsh. The gearing also has a pretty wide range as well.

I wouldn't recommend the cross concept though, since I think that is a more race oriented bike.

P.S. The house that I rent is painted Celeste Green (though I had nothing to do with that) 8-)
from her original threadatpjunkie
May 16, 2003 12:01 PM
to quote her
"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?"

I checked Bianchi's website and neither bike looks too oriented to this. They do have bottle mounts but I couldn't see tour racks/pannier braze ons at all (both forks are Carbon). I know she suggested the Bianchi but had she said Ridley (which I own and am very proud of) I would have steered her away as not 'right for her". but quotes like "you owe it to yourself to try the Axis" is myopic. Just because she's interested (but admittedly uninformed) means you should steer her away from choices she may regret. I would never suggest Al for Long back road trips with (off and on road) loaded with gear. She specifically mentions Touring which the axis or concept is not really suitable for. From Biachis site.

This no-compromise cyclo-cross bike is a long-time favorite, both for racing and for fun on and off road. For 2003, it gets the new top tube profiles, chainstay yoke and integral headset of the Cross Concept. Also available as a frameset with fork.
An advanced new concept in cyclo-cross bikes. Radical tube profiles of the Scandium frame are formed specifically for the rigors of cyclo-cross, including a broad, flat profile at the bottom rear of the top tube for comfortable portaging. Also available as a frameset with fork. 52 cm frame weighs only 1,195g.

where in these descriptions does it seem to fit her needs?
Seriously I dig Bianchi's (and their fans) but I'm not going to suggest a cheeseburger to a lactose intolerant, vegan on a lo carb diet.

from Soul Crafts Site
Whether you are a cyclocross fanatic or groove on all-day adventure rides, you know the value of a bike designed for the task at hand.  The Groundskeeper is a true cyclocross frame and fork design that handles the best a true cyclocross course can throw at it, yet won't sit in your garage until Sunday because it's no fun to ride.  Freedom Of Choice Custom Fit and the unbeatable combo of the handcrafted frame and fork make for a compliant, stable ride that will have you giggling every ride.

sounds more her speed to me, custom fitting/ braze on options etc....
I don't own one but I'd sure suggest it to her
from her original threadTWD
May 16, 2003 5:28 PM
I agree with you 100% on the cross-concept, but I think Bianchi's website is a a little misleading in regards to the axis. As you mention their description state that "This no-compromise cyclo-cross bike is a long-time favorite, both for racing and for fun on and off road."

I think a lot of people with racing background read "no-compromise cross bike" and think race bike. I think their poorly worded description is an attempt to market the bike as a "do-anything" bike. I can't tell from the picture of the 2003 Axis if it has braze ons for racks on the frame. My 2002 does. If they ditched them, I think that was a mistake on their part.

I have used my 2002 Axis for just about every type of riding from commuting every day, fast group road rides, 100+ mile road rides, epic off-road adventure rides, loaded touring, drag your butt-crack on the rear wheel steep singltrack, and pulling a trailer on and off-road. I've put over 3500 miles on it so far, and have yet to find anything that it can't handle.

Is it the best cx rig out there? Nope. Probably not even close. Is it the best or only rig for the original poster's intended use? Probably not.

I'm not one of the "bianchi nuts" by any stretch of the imagination. I'm not trying to convince anyone that any bike is the "one" that they should get. I don't think anyone else was either.

I just think that you're jumping to a hasty conclusion that everybody that suggests riding a bianchi is a narrow-minded freak with celeste paint flowing through their veins.
Heck, looking at the responses to the original post that mentioned Bianchi, I still don't see what all the fuss is about.

You say "quotes like 'you owe it to yourself to try the Axis' is myopic" but the Walrus is only implying that FH-gal ought to test ride the Axis based on his experience owning that bike. He also suggested the older model Axis which most definetely does have rack mounts, and he gave his opinion that the Axis rides very well for an AL frame. I'll second that. No vegans and cheeseburgers goin' on here.

Sure a Soulcraft is probably a closer match to the intended use, but I think suggesting a test ride of a commonly available bike (by someone who has experience with said bike)is better advice than pushing a full custom rig sight unseen to somebody who is new to cross and is trying to figure out what she wants.

Not trying to flame you here, I respect your opinion based on a whole bunch of level headed advice that you post here regularly, but you're letting your perception of "bianchi nuts" cloud your vision, and using that to talk someone out of keeping their options open.

FWIW, I think the died in the wool Bianchi nuts are kinda silly myself. Just didn't see any of 'em here. Heck, if I recall correctly, Glowboy's Volpe is maroon, the Walrus's Axis is blue, and mine is only half Celeste and is made in Taiwan!!!
it's all good.atpjunkie
May 19, 2003 11:08 AM
I'm not tryong to flame either, and I love Bianchi Nuts, god bless them all. some people have no passion for anything. I agree on the sight unseen, point. custom is more risky but she has a lot of 'needs (geometry, braze on)' that I think are best met this route. They must have ditched the mounts as I think my friends 2001 has at least rear mounts. I wasn't trying to insight a riot, there are just many times we (myself included), the more knowledgable, let our own pref's interfere with helping newbies.
It's all good in the hood. Long live Bike Nuts!!!

Oh, man--now he tells me...The Walrus
May 19, 2003 2:19 PM
Here I get back from a great 2-day, 175-mile casual ride from San Luis Obispo back to Ventura County on an Axis with panniers on the back, and I find out that I was riding a totally unsuitable bike! What was I thinking??!?!?!? ;-)

>to quote her
"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?"

Actually, her requirements are almost exactly what I look for in a bike. Granted, the Bianchi copy makes the bike out to be more of a hardcore racer, but my experience tells me it's more of what I think of as a "real world" rig. It might not be the world's
i best
at any of those applications, but it's damn good at
i all
of them. As TWD pointed out, I was simply responding to FH-G's stated interest in the Cross Concept, which would be less suitable and less cost-effective than the Axis, especially if she could find a deal on a NOS bike. How is this "myopic"? A good example of myopia would be a bashing by someone who's obviously never so much as thrown a leg over an Axis, let alone logged several thousand miles on it. ;-)

I'm not locked into a Bianchi-only mindset. If VooDoo were still in business, I might have suggested a Wazoo, based on my experiences with that bike. I, too, prefer steel as a general rule, but when aluminum works--as it does in the Axis' case--I'm all for it. Choice of bike is intensely personal, and I hope FH-G finds what'll work best for her, regardless of make/model/material/blah, blah, blah....
if not racing...steelmarcoxxx
May 16, 2003 11:04 AM
Is a steel framed cross bike in your future? I have lemond poprad 853 steel that makes the roads smooth. just can't see an alumium cross bike unless a weight conscience racer.

yep, steel and Ti are taking the lead . . . .funhoggin-gal
May 16, 2003 2:00 PM
I have almost completely ruled out aluminum. I have received such fantastic feedback from everyone here. I feel kinda guilty - like I ought to be able to take you all out for beers or something.

Anyhow, I think the only aluminum still on my plate is the Fuji Cross. I like the geometry and carbon fork and it is really affordable (LBS price = $1095).

I am definitely leaning toward steel or titanium. I think the all carbon Aegis frame looks great but is probably not at all that great of a benefit for my use to be worth the extra $. I have quite a few steel frame makers to check out, and I am still a bit charmed by the Airborne Carpe Diem (can be designed for full-on touring or full-on cross or anything inbetween).

I'm going next weekend to test drive a bunch of different bikes and get a feel for a wide variety of geometries. I hope to come back knowing much more about what I want!
I'm tellin' ya FH Gal...atpjunkie
May 16, 2003 2:14 PM
this is your bike. looks good in Pink too!
go here, the url post ain't workin'
I'm thinking you may be right . . . .funhoggin-gal
May 19, 2003 9:09 PM
atpjunkie, yer rockin' my world! i'm going to get in touch with the folks at soulcraft within the next week and see what they have to say. check out my latest topic posting when you get a chance. i'll tell you, this is harder than finding a house to buy or deciding to have a kid (well, not quite) . . . this bike's gonna be my new buddy for a long time (doubt i'll have the $ for another for a while), and i really want to choose wisely . . . i just can't wait to feel it between me and the earth. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm . . . sweet dream.

SO . . . tell me (unless you don't want to) . . . is "atp" for adenosine triphosphate, or am i just proving myself to be a nerd in missing the more hip meaning?

i'm off to hunt for bicycles . . .
May 20, 2003 6:37 PM
I've responded in plenty to the above posts. find flyweight here, he works at American Cycles in SF, probably can get you fit for a Gunnar. or contact Sean at SoulCraft, hell it's Petaluma (about 1.65 hr from Sac.)
yes you are correct, but I don't think it nerdish. love the workout buzz and what's a little neuro-bio-chem betweem friends?
was doing speed intervals this AM, holding pace between 26 and 30 mph on the roadies BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ hold on my heart is going to explode!!!!!
May 20, 2003 6:46 PM
I try to be the somewhat voice of reason and the budget minded when not in conflict. Personally I own 2 Al cx Bikes. Both Y2K, 1 Ridley, 1 Specialized S-Works, Frankenbikes built both for about $2K with an extra set of wheels. Nice bikes, I commute (22 miles each way, mixed terrain) on the S-Works but wouldn't do any epic trail rides and they have no touring amenities at all. Love them both but they are mostly 'race bikes'.
yep, steel and Ti are taking the lead . . . .snwbdrhoon
May 19, 2003 6:30 AM
Beers sound great!

Good luck. I really wanted an Aegis (sweet bike and I support my adopted home state of Maine), but it's too much $$$$
re: not as ignorant - but still oh so much to figure outmackgoo
May 17, 2003 1:25 AM
You may want to check this out.

It's probably too big, but you could call the guys at cyclocross world and ask them. It's a killer deal. Personally I'd go with the Bianchi, because I'm a Bianchi guy.
re: not as ignorant - but still oh so much to figure outD_man
May 17, 2003 7:01 AM
I may be partial since I ride one, but the Gunnar Crosshairs seems to fit many of your needs. I've taken it on 50M road-rides, singletrack, fireroads, you name it. I also use it to commute to work. It has rack and fender mounts and watter bottle bosses. It's definitely not a pure-race machine, but it is a great do-everything machine. You can get full-custom for $1K, I think. If one of the stock sizes fit you, you can get the f+f for 830 or so.
Gunnar Crosshairsfunhoggin-gal
May 19, 2003 8:22 PM
Hey, D_man (and anyone else who has a Crosshairs).

Thanks for the input. I've heard some good things from a few of you about the Gunnar, and a lot of the reviews I've read are good. But there are some complaints about the fork (can't remember specifics - isn't that dumb - but there were a couple of reviews that said something negative about them). All else has been good, including a good review in Dirt Rag. In addition to whatever the possible problems with the forks, I noticed it has a larger head angle/shorter wheelbase - I worry about stability downhill on pavement (especially when weighted). Oh, and, how much weight would you limit touring to on yours? Thanks for the help!
Gunnar CrosshairsD_man
May 20, 2003 5:59 AM
I do recall prior to buying mine reading some complaints about the fork--something about there being a "chattering" problem. I believe those complaints were directed to previous year models. Since then, Gunnar has beefed up the fork and gone to a 1&1/8 headtube. I haven't noticed any chattering problems on mine, so perhaps these mods fixed the problem.

I think the headangle is a little steeper than some CX bikes out there at 73. That's the same headangle as the Bianchi Axis, but the Bianchi may have more forkrake. Overall, it is a quick steering bike, but I haven't done any loaded touring, so I don't know what kind of stability problems it would have in that situation. According to Gunnar's website, max recommended load is 22lbs. Don't do any touring myself, so I have no idea if that's good or bad in the touring world.

The one thing I would change, and will change if I ever go custom, would be to raise the bottom bracket. The Gunnar has a low bb compared to other CX bikes and, while this makes for nice stable handling, it can really be a b*&^% on rough trails as pedal strike becomes an issue. This problem would be lessened somewhat if you weren't running 175mm cranks like me.