One-Eyed Wonder: CX-V

One-Eyed Wonder: CX-V

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What I have always loved about Mountain Biking is the immersion into the woods; the sense of solitude that comes in the wilderness that is lost entirely in the convenience and hustle of the cities I’ve always lived in. What I always hated about Mountain Biking is that my mountain bike never feels enough like my road bike.

I was but a budding Velominatus when I discovered Cyclocross, and from the start it seemed like an incredible sport that offered all kinds of opportunity. My dad came home from a trip to Europe with an aluminum ALAN under his arm and from that moment on I was hooked on the idea of a road bike that could go off and have fun in the dirt. At the time, CX bikes were a rarity in the US market; the closest thing I’d seen to a CX bike at that time were John Tomac’s bitchin’ drop bar mountain bikes and the frankenstein Bontrager MTB that a buddy converted into some sort of zombie with a touring bike’s fork and 700c front wheel mounted on the rig and a 26 inch rear wheel with a weird skinny tire.

Nevertheless, my limited budget historically poured into the road bikes where my heart has always been rooted and a CX bike always seemed to fall just into the s-1 range of Rule #12 compliance; whether s in this case happened to be my pursuit of the sensation of rhythm, harmony, and flight to be found only on smooth tarmac or, currently, the chair of the Budget and Planning Committee – on which I hold an influential but non-controlling vote.

But Fate, the Velominati Community, and @Cyclops’ lifelong dream to learn to braze a bike frame changed all that one day last January when a box appeared on my doorstep containing a custom-made steel Cyclocross frame. The dust was blown off the brain cogs which get remarkably little use these days, and Il Progetto for my CX bike started in earnest. Marko took up the role of Graveur Sensei and PNW CX Legend Josh Liberles of Veloforma took up the role of CX Sensei. Parts were shuffled from bike to bike, various components were aggregated from odd corners to fill in the gaps and make substitutions where necessary, and slowly but surely the Nederaap came to life.

My old Dura Ace 7700 nine-speed group-san was immediately selected as the ideal mud-clearing drivetrain; somehow Campagnolo seems much better suited to the civility offered by the road (even in Rule #9 conditions) than the neanderthal environment of Cyclocross. In the Velominatus Budgetatus conditions we find ourselves in, this meant the Record 10 group was moved from the TSX to the rain bike, and the TSX the current target of Progetto Old-School and has donned downtube shifters and lies in wait for some period-appropriate brakes. Old wheels were repurposed from the commuter bike (which now temporarily lies in wait of new bits and pieces) and a secret project for new racing wheels for the CX-V waits to bear fruit. (Some of you who are paying attention may already be onto the source of these wheels.)

All this was done with the knowledge that @Cyclops, however obsessive-compulsive, built this frame in a spare bedroom and my expectations were set accordingly. This would be be a rideable frame that held a huge amount of sentimental value and would be fun to take out to the local races and inelegantly beat people with and say things like, “Yeah, this bike was built by a crazy person. And I beat you with it. And I suck at Cyclocross. Feeling good about that?”

But last week, as the last part for the build arrived (a pair of top-mount brake levers which I understand will cost me massive Look Pro points which I hope to make up for with Not Crashing As Often As I Otherwise Would points) I put the thing together and took it for a spin.

First pedal stroke, hey this feels OK. Next pedal stroke, yeah, this is not bad at all. A few hundred meters later, I realized I felt like I was riding one of my bikes. I half expected the frame to fall apart first with the introduction of my hefty arse and second with the unleashing of my considerable artillery, but this bike doesn’t just ride like a home-made bike, it rides like a real professional, great bike. Emboldened, I collected my kit and headed out to the local park to play around and see how it faired on its native terrain.

Riding it down to the park and the singletrack that is strewn throughout it, I was compelled to determine if it could survive some manner of trauma. Armed with my incompetence as a Cyclocrosser, I had no alternative but to crash-test the frame by bunny-hopping a curb at about 45kph. My plan worked flawlessly; I jumped at an oblique angle, went a little short, landed the back wheel sideways on the curb and became the lead character in my own stop-action animation film as I dumped hip-first into the cement sidewalk like a sack of potatoes. Ancillary observation: I’m amazed at how resilient the V-Kit is, this being my first crash in it.

Test completed and satisfied that the frame was unharmed despite crashing hard enough to require some serious wheel-truing upon my return home, I headed into the singletrack with the confidence that the frame was both smarter and stronger that I am. You can’t put a price on that kind of knowledge.

As for the top-mount levers which I’m sure to be berated for, I’ll make you a deal. As long as I’m too inexperienced to know better and as long as you can’t crush Katie Compton, I’ll happily disregard your advice. As soon as one of those two factors changes, I’m all ears. And for those of you planning the “Cyclocross is about minimalism” argument, I expect you to post photos of your single speed CX rig to support your case; anyone making this claim and riding a rig with gears will be disregarded wholesale as a poseur.

Footnote:

This frame was built as a first attempt at what @Cyclops plans to become his own frame-building company. At the time of building, the company lacked a brand, but he has since settled on Deacon Bikes and he will be opening his doors to business for the 2013 season. Thanks @Cyclops, this thing is amazingly awesome.

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// Il Progetto // Look Pro // Nostalgia // The Bikes

  1. @G’rilla

    Rule #42 aside, a run preceding a bike race is permitted if it’s a Le Mans style start. Yesterday at Cascade Cross:

    We had to run about 100 meters, under a flyover, then grab our bikes and start racing. I placed somewhere around 5th-7th and, I think, clinched the series championship for my division.

    Awesome action shot!  Chapeau!  Way to Represent!

  2. @G’rilla

    Rule #42 aside, a run preceding a bike race is permitted if it’s a Le Mans style start. Yesterday at Cascade Cross:

    We had to run about 100 meters, under a flyover, then grab our bikes and start racing. I placed somewhere around 5th-7th and, I think, clinched the series championship for my division.

    Chapeau!

  3. @VeloVita

    having had the mini-V’s, a variety of canti’s, and read an actual pseudo-scientifical study by cyclocross mag on braking power as related to brake design, I’ve found this- shimano cx-50 and 70 (the nicer finish but mechanically near identical) are the bomb! They are road descent worthy for braking power, provide good mud clearance, and are relatvely easy to unhook for wheel changes.

  4. @gaswepass

    What about fork shudder?  My main reason for going the linear brake route was to get rid of the shudder that you tend to get with cantis under hard braking.  Have you had any with the cx50/70s?

  5. @VeloVita

    @gaswepass

    What about fork shudder? My main reason for going the linear brake route was to get rid of the shudder that you tend to get with cantis under hard braking. Have you had any with the cx50/70s?

    Fork shudder is a personal problem. Seriously though, it tends, as I understand- I’m sure there are some much more sophisticated mechanical types who could be more specific/accurate/insightful on this- to be a function of distance from cable suspension to brake; if you look at a stevens cx, there is cable suspension device at the bottom of the head tube. Some rigs have gone to beefier headtubes, special headsets and different forks to control it. You are correct tho- v-brakes avoid the issue entirely as I understand it. My Veloforma, stevens, and waterford cx rigs have not had trouble w/ fork shudder using either v-brakes or the ultegras (or trp mag euroX or tektro oryx). Some of the larger frames w/ long distance from brake lever to the front brake have trouble (a friend’s large ridley has had horrible sudder, don’t remember what brakes).

  6. Yes, yes, yes! I won my division in my favorite cyclocross league.

    A lot of training, and a bunch of luck too (the guy in 3rd had a flat and a crash in the last two races).

    Still…it feels good. Except that now I have to level up next year!

    http://results.cascadecross.com/events/1053613311/results#race_897856089

  7. @G’rilla

    Yes, yes, yes! I won my division in my favorite cyclocross league.

    A lot of training, and a bunch of luck too (the guy in 3rd had a flat and a crash in the last two races).

    Still…it feels good. Except that now I have to level up next year!

    http://results.cascadecross.com/events/1053613311/results#race_897856089

    Well done!

  8. @the Engine

    @G’rilla

    Yes, yes, yes! I won my division in my favorite cyclocross league.

    A lot of training, and a bunch of luck too (the guy in 3rd had a flat and a crash in the last two races).

    Still…it feels good. Except that now I have to level up next year!

    http://results.cascadecross.com/events/1053613311/results#race_897856089

    Well done!

    Nice job! I’ll drink to that.

  9. @G’rilla  Nice job, got to love it when all the work pays off.

  10. @Bianchi Denti

    @G’rilla

    Or BMC used light blue even more prominently:

    Where did it come from? The most classic example is Steve McQueen’s Ford GT40:

    Oh no. You’ve got me started. 60s & 70s racing cars excite me more than cycling. The colours come from Gulf Oil, whose car mad vice president convinced to start sponsoring sports racing cars in around 1968. They were mainly associated with a team manager called John Wyer, who ran the GT40s in 68 and 69 (won Le Mans both years), then the “Steve McQueen” Porsche 917s in 70 and 71. Then I think they took a few years out, but came back to win Le Mans again in 75 with the car below. Gulf still sponsors racing cars around the world.


    Apologies for the rambling. Please, everyone, return to 2 wheels.

    Gulf Racing? Car and bike…

     

  11. Have you guys noticed that Chris King is drawing his inspiration for the Cielo CX frame from the mighty 917?

  12. At the risk of asking a stupid question, and one I could offer a few answers for, here we go. Why is my cross bike seemingly more comfortable than my road bikes?

    When throwing road wheels/tires on my cross bike, it just feels nicer than my road bikes, which all fit me well and are set up well. Are cross bikes just more plush with the geometry and road bikes are intended for more aerodynamic speed? I’m not in pain on my road bikes, but riding my cx bike on the road just seems a bit nicer. I haven’t checked across all of my bikes, but I wonder how much the reach differs.

    All of this being said, I remember last summer I put in a hard, long ride with a few dudes and near the end I noticed most/all of them sitting up, shaking out their hands & feet, rolling their necks, etc. I thought I was the only one who got sore but this told me that sitting in a locked position on a road bike for a few hours does make you sore after awhile.

    That being said, I’ve never been professional fitted on/to a bike & maybe some of ya can ride for 8 hours and feel wonderful; I can’t.

    G’rilla – nice work, Champ!!

  13. Is that a Tommasini on the back of that car?

    I can’t decide what is more fucked, the EPMS or the handlebars. Goodness.

  14. @Ron the geometry on your CX bike is much more forgiving than your road bike. Also, the gearing is quite different, 46/36 v. 53/39 (no self respecting person here would ride a 50/34 on their #1).

  15. That’s what I was thinking, Brian. Yup, a cross bike isn’t a road bike and a road bike isn’t a plush commuter. Still figured I’d learn a thing or two tossing this (bad) question out there.

  16. @minion

    @Bianchi Denti

    @Cyclops

    Porsche 917 = Baddest car EVAR!!!

    Oh my word, you’ve got that right. It had such a bad reputation when it was first being developed, that the smart drivers on the team were always “busy” on test drive days. It ended with 1500+ BHP in it’s 917/30 Can Am form, which must have been exciting on 1970 tyre technology.

    For anyone interested in cars wanting a diversion from cycling, watch Steve McQueen’s movie “Le Mans”. Just the sound of the engines may be enough to tip you over the edge…

    I’ve sat through the Mcqueen movie ‘Bullet’ more times than I should have just for the car chase round SF. Can’t tell you for the life of me what happens at the end…

    Grand Prix (which featured many real drivers) is also worth a look.

  17. @Ron

    That being said, I’ve never been professional fitted on/to a bike & maybe some of ya can ride for 8 hours and feel wonderful; I can’t.

    I find that numbness on long rides means that something is wrong, but this is only after finding a saddle, shoes, and fit that work for me and much of that process was trial and error.

  18. @VeloVita

    @G’rilla

    @Weldertron

    Hey Frank, any reviews after a few races on the Mini-Vs? Looking at swapping out my Shorty 4s for them.

    I switched from disc brakes to mini-Vs partway through this cyclocross season.

    In addition to having a “V” in it, I really like how they work. The TRP 8.4 can be adjusted way out for significant rim clearance while still providing good stopping power. I used them in very sandy and muddy courses with no problems.

    Set closer in, the stopping power is massive. And I find them easier to adjust and maintain than disc brakes.

    My only advice is to try other brake pads such as Kool Stop salmon. The included pads are screechy and grip too soon. That being said, I used them on an icy course today with steep, fast downhills and they worked pretty well. Not well enough to make up for my horrible cornering and line choice, but that’s asking a lot.

    I’ve currently got a mini-V on the front (Tektro RX5, which I understand is pretty much the equivalent of the TRP 8.4 apart from the finish quality) and a canti on the rear which I’m considering switching out with a 926AL (80mm arm). As far as stopping power goes, I think they’re great, but rim clearance is pretty limited although I’ve yet to swap out my pads for Kool Stops. The main issue I’ve got is that to keep from bottoming the lever out on the bar I have to run them so close that its a fucking pain in the ass to get the noodle unhooked so I can remove the front tire. I’m running older Shimano 7spd, so I should be getting enough cable pull according to what I’ve read. I think I’m going to file down the tip of the noodle by a few mm to see if that makes it easier. If not, I may go with Paul Minimotos as I hear they give slightly better clearance and better modulation than even the TRP offerings, albeit at a price jump.

    I’ve had this problem too, I simply have never been able to get the noodle out.  As I read the start of your post I thought, ” I’m gonna take it off and file it down a bit.  Why did I take so long to think of it?

  19. @Ron

    Not only is the geo more plush, but its designed to be more stable, so you’ll put less energy into controlling the bike. Merckx frames, on the other hand, are aslo designed to favor stability over responsiveness, so you might have some luck with one fo those frames if you feel like trying it out.

    Bike geometry is all about the angles between the tubes to optimize steering, handling etc by affecting rake and wheelbase etc. All very cool and I don’t understand it all that well, but companies used to pay tons more attention to it than they do now that the moulded frames force their hands a bit.

    Merckx’s geometry was a closely guarded secret for ages; I think its been made known at this point, but it was his differentiator. He built his bikes so he could descend faster than anyone else; that way he could let the climbers go and catch them back on the descents. Clever.

    As for your numbness, this will likely happen no matter how well you’re fit if the ride is long enough. The trick to a good position is to find a very neutral position between reach, the angle of the hoods, the setback on the saddle, the angle of the saddle, and the seat/handlebar height. But no matter how good that is, if you’re not moving around a lot, you will get sore. I see people riding all day on the hoods and never moving from that position; its no small wonder that they’ll wind up with sore hands. Ride in the drops, on the tops, in the hoods, in different places on the hoods, on the bend between the tops and the hoods – anywhere that gives variation. This will also help with back and shoulder pains. And, don’t forget to haul your lazy ass out of the saddle enough to stretch a bit and give your bits some R&R.

  20. @Ron

    At the risk of asking a stupid question, and one I could offer a few answers for, here we go. Why is my cross bike seemingly more comfortable than my road bikes?

    When throwing road wheels/tires on my cross bike, it just feels nicer than my road bikes, which all fit me well and are set up well. Are cross bikes just more plush with the geometry and road bikes are intended for more aerodynamic speed? I’m not in pain on my road bikes, but riding my cx bike on the road just seems a bit nicer. I haven’t checked across all of my bikes, but I wonder how much the reach differs.

    All of this being said, I remember last summer I put in a hard, long ride with a few dudes and near the end I noticed most/all of them sitting up, shaking out their hands & feet, rolling their necks, etc. I thought I was the only one who got sore but this told me that sitting in a locked position on a road bike for a few hours does make you sore after awhile.

    That being said, I’ve never been professional fitted on/to a bike & maybe some of ya can ride for 8 hours and feel wonderful; I can’t.

    G’rilla – nice work, Champ!!

    I think it all depends on what CX bike you’ve got.  They typically have a more relaxed head tube angle and longer chainstays which may make them feel more comfortable, but there are some that are designed for nothing other than pure racing and will be ridiculously stiff and perhaps a bit harsh on the road.  Some may feel a bit tippy since a higher bottom bracket makes the center of gravity higher (this can especially affect taller riders).   Also, many people set up their CX bike slightly different than their road bikes – mine for example is setup with a 1cm shorter reach and a little less saddle-bar drop, which is perhaps more comfortable, but less aerodynamic.  A CX bike is typically a little heavier than a road bike of the same caliber since the fork is often beefed up.  It sounds like your CX bike/fit is good for pulling dual duty though.

  21. @frank

    Merckx’s geometry was a closely guarded secret for ages

    Must have been difficult given that it would have only required a tape measure and a slide rule to figure out!

  22. @G’rilla

    @frank

    Merckx’s geometry was a closely guarded secret for ages

    Must have been difficult given that it would have only required a tape measure and a slide rule to figure out!

    sure, if you could measure it in an equivalent reference frame and then craft it at the speed of Merckx.  While you are at it, forward me an email of the Grail’s dimensions.

  23. another thing to keep in mind is people generally size down their cx rigs one by 2cm. I assume its because of the high volume tires and the desire for top tube clearance. I also find my cx rigs to be very comfortable some of which it is designed to be more upright for better handling in the muck. anyhow…

  24. Ah, good points, Frank. Stability, yes. I’ll have to really do some close measuring of my bikes & see where they’re all at; I think each differs just a bit. Geometry. Reading Robert Penn’s “It’s All About the Bike” and he gives a nice tutorial on rake, trail, geometry and handling.

    Soreness. I’m actually pretty good in this department. I don’t think I have any problems beyond the usual. Yup, moving around is the key. I still haven’t sorted my Ergo2’s out yet. I might try one more insole or…I might unload them and try some Bonts. We’ll see.

    VeloVita – My cx bike is a VD Gin & Trombones. A guy I sometimes ride with was unloading it to upgrade to full carbon. It’s Al with carbon fork/seat stays. Pretty darn light, built up with some nice stuff like Force. I’m not about to go dissin’ the N+1 but I do think if I had to keep one bike or was going away for awhile and could only bring one, I’d bring it with one set of cx wheels, one set of road wheels. Hey…one week until Louisville! The countdown is on.

    I think G’rilla had the same bike, until he was bitten hard by the Custom Cross Bike Bug, which I think is in the works?

    gas – I have some traditional geometry road bikes, my carbon LOOK is compact, and my Van Dessel has a slightly sloping TT. All my bikes are right in the 52/53cm range, with 100 or 110 mm stems. But again, one or two centimeters can make a huge difference, so pillar setback, bar reach, even the type of hoods/shifters can alter things slightly, which after a few hours is a big deal.

    It does seem though, as I knew, that a cross bike is designed for different purposes than a road bike. It’s like saying a race car isn’t comfy enough, in a sense. And, I need to work on my lower back and hip flexors, as I think these make reaching for my hoods uncomfortable sometimes after awhile in the saddle.

    Thanks for the feedback though! Just the type of informative replies I was hoping for!

  25. CX World Championships are all day Saturday! Four races in one day (US Eastern time 9:45 am, 11:00 am, 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm). Streaming video here:

    http://www.cxmagazine.com/live-video-stream-2013-cyclocross-world-championships

  26. And all 4 shown on live TV here in France on Sport+, competing with 6 Nations tournament.

    Makes jetlag and televised “handball” all worthwhile.

  27. @xyxax Pretty good feed from the UCI on YouTube. Decent number of cameras, unlike USA national championships which had about 3 telephoto lenses for the entire race.

  28. @G’rilla

    CX World Championships are all day Saturday! Four races in one day (US Eastern time 9:45 am, 11:00 am, 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm). Streaming video here:

    http://www.cxmagazine.com/live-video-stream-2013-cyclocross-world-championships

    All US-based viewers and most viewers throughout the world will be able to watch the live streaming video right here on cxmagazine.com except for a few countries including Belgium, the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Canada. The feed is brought to you by the UCI.

    What…………the………..fuck, guess I gotta go brush up on my dutch on canvas…

  29. @Rob I think that’s because Belgian TV has the broadcast rights and shows it all day.

    Sportsnet.ca is streaming it for Canadians.

  30. @Rob

    As nyvelocity tweeted after seeing Pat McQuaid:  “3 hookers and a camera in Louisville right now can change the future of cycling”

    @G’rilla

    Nice Jrs race. The announcers were rooting for Owen.  The ephemerality of a podium spot seems particularly acute in ‘cross.

  31. Somebody just tweeted this pic, maybe from the Masters race?  Thought it was cool.

  32. Kenyans and Ethiopians dominating.

  33. Winning…LIKE A VOS!

  34. Who you all picking for the podium in the mens elite?

  35. Question for those more familiar with CX:  Why are the Belgians just so good?

  36. @xyxax  haha brilliant!

  37. McQuaid walks to the podium to present the medals.

    Every last fan greets him with a “BOOOOOO!”

  38. @G’rilla  should of been tomatoes hurling through the air.

  39. @Russ M

    @G’rilla should of been tomatoes hurling through the air.

    should have been empty syringes and blood bags.

  40. @xyxax

    Kenyans and Ethiopians dominating.

    Ha!  Gold.

  41. At least the USA cracked the top 20 on home soil.

  42. @Buck Rogers

    At least the USA cracked the top 20 on home soil.

    Agreed and good on Katie Compton as well for 2nd (although crushed by Vos, but who isnt?)

  43. @Buck Rogers

    At least the USA cracked the top 20 on home soil.

    Now that we had an event where US riders could race on a level playing field without the disadvantages of jet lag and limited equipment…they finished about where they always do.

  44. @G’rilla

    @Buck Rogers

    At least the USA cracked the top 20 on home soil.

    Now that we had an event where US riders could race on a level playing field without the disadvantages of jet lag and limited equipment…they finished about where they always do.

    but but but its not fair….

  45. @G’rilla

    @Buck Rogers

    At least the USA cracked the top 20 on home soil.

    Now that we had an event where US riders could race on a level playing field without the disadvantages of jet lag and limited equipment…they finished about where they always do.

    Ha!  Classic!

  46. But hey lets not forget- KFC for silver! USA Women had a good showing. Even if Vos dominated.

  47. @gaswepass Yes! A great finish making up for a poor start by Katie F. Compton.

    But she usually does that in Europe, too!

  48. @gaswepass Not to mention Jade Wilcoxson finishing 15th…in her 1st year as a pro!

  49. @Ron, @Velovita, @anyoneelsewhowenttolouisville, we need a report from the ground/guest article.

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