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Bike Options(6 posts)

Bike Optionsgregdogg62
Nov 14, 2003 7:22 AM
I am in the market for a cyclocross bike. It will mainly be a winter training bike. I will use it on gravel trails and city riding here in Chicago. I might do a bit of racing next year, but not my first concern. I race duathlons/triathlons and hopefully this will make it easier to get outside and off the trainer in the winter. I would like to stay with steel, but would consider aluminum if the price was right. I have been looking at the Soma and Surly, KHS CX-100, Kona, and the Bianchi Axis. The Soma and Surly are a little heavy, but the price is right. The KHS is interesting, but with the 135 spacing I don't think I would be able to use some of the wheelsets I have laying around, and the Bianchi is little more than I want to spend. I am looking for a component mix with 105, etc. I also have some parts I could throw on a frameset. Any other suggestions on bikes I should consider. I have been scanning ebay, but haven't found anything in my size lately. I am 5' 9.5", ride a 54 c-c road bike with a 55 toptube. Also with the Soma I have had a hard time determining what size would fit me?
re: Bike Optionsdlbcx
Nov 14, 2003 7:36 AM
Take a look at Ionics. They make a steel frame for $750. Dean use to make these frames under the Dean name but now, sell them under Ionics.
I, also, ride a 54 cm road bike so to fit on their frame, you have to get a 52 cm frame. The top tube is a little longer at 55.5 cm but you could simply go to a shorter stem w/ 6 deg rise.
As for aluminum, you can get a Redline frame from Excel Sports for about $450 or something like that. Also, an Empella Bonfire might not be too bad for your budget as long as you stay with an alloy fork. Sizing is kind of funky, though. You will have to go by standover height and top tube to find what you need.
re: Bike OptionsTWD
Nov 14, 2003 9:15 AM
I can't comment on any of the models that you list, other than the Bianchi Axis.

Based on the uses that you list, you need to make sure that you are getting a frame that is not a "race only" type frame that lacks sufficent water bottle mounts and rack/fender eyelets.

You sound like you need a do anything type of bike. Set it up with full coverage fenders. Having 2 water bottle mounts is good (many race oreinted frames don't have 2 mounts). I use one mount for a water bottle and the other to hold the battery for my light system for winter commutes and night riding. On race day, I just pull the cages off.

The best advice I can give for versatilty is to get an extra wheelset. I have one wheelset with a MTB cassette and knobbies, and a secong with a road cassette and 23m slicks. It takes me 30 seconds to swap wheels depending on what type of ride I want to do (anything from full on MTB trails to fast group road rides).

I wouldn't rule out aluminum frames. I think you'll find that frame material is less important than tire size and pressure in determining ride comfort. For tackling mud and snow, you'll want some meatier tires. I like to run 28c tires with some extra flat protection in the wintertime. Try running them at 85 - 90 psi and you'll feel like your on a majic carpet.

Also, cross bikes have longer stays than a road bike in order to fit bigger tires and have adequate mud clearance. This does a bit more to smooth out the ride.

Furthermore, in Chicago, you're going to get a healthy dose of road salt. If you go steel, make sure to apply the framesaver thick and often. Make sure you overhaul your BB and headset at least a couple times each over the winter too, regarldess of frame material. I also like to use WD-40 to flush the salt off of drivetrane components. Wipe em down afterward then relube. The full coverage fenders do wonders for keeping road spray off of you, but just as importanltly, off of your bike. You can even go a step further an make fender extenders out of 2 liter plastic bottles.

Well, it wasn't a specific model recommendation like you asked, but at least that will give you some features to consider when you consider the various frame and component specs.
Hey Greg...FWIWChicago_Steve
Nov 14, 2003 11:19 AM
Sounds like you live in the city?

If you do, take a spin over to CycleSmithy on Clark. He always seems to have a few of the KHS CX100 built up for cheap. He's sold off a bunch of them on eBay recently too (both as complete bikes and frame only)...

I don't know of a lot of Chicago shops that have CX bikes as a frame only but (assuming you live in the city) you might check On The Route (Lincoln Ave just south of Belmont). They usually have 8-10 cross bikes on the floor. They were a Kona dealer up until last year and had complete Jake's on sale for a while. They also carry Bianchi, Cannondale, and periodically a Kelly...
Have you considered Van Desesel Country Bob roadkilimanjaro
Nov 14, 2003 11:32 AM
You can get a frame/carbon fork and headset for $299.00 retail.

Check out the Cyclingnews write up for the 04 model coming in Feb 2004.

It has removable derailluer hanger and cable guides so that you can build it up as a single speed/fixed or a geared bike. I believe that it is also drilled to take fender and rear racks.

The main down side is timing and lack of sizes. You won't get a frame this winter.
Steel is Real (but others are fine)haystack
Nov 14, 2003 1:15 PM
I'm a fellow tri-person who does 'cross as well and found 'cross to be a great off-season option.

I'm with you on steel. I've nothing against other materials such as aluminum, carbon, titaniun, etc. I just have a very limited budget and steel is cheap and lasts, and lasts if it's properly maintained.

I took my 1990 hybrid Schwinn Crisscross bike and made it into a bike just like you're considering, a do-all 'cross/city/touring/nasty weather trainer. It's a lugged chromoly frame/fork with tons of character. It wasn't my cheapest option to build it up, but I spread out my purchases over the better part of 9 months and built exactly what I wanted. It has all Ultegra w/XT rear derailleur. It's perfect for me.

If I had to replace this frame and forkset on a budget, a Surly would be my choice. If your running Shimano 105, this will be perfect. Yes, a little heavy, but comfortable and your training, right?

My other choice would be an Empella Bonfire. This seems to be a great value, even with a carbon fork. It would limit my city/touring usage, though. It's just more race than that.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.