One of the best parts about building bicycles for myself is that I get to experiment with different setups and discover things that I like or don't like to pass on to customers. This cross bike that I finished for myself recently has been an awesome tool for just that, and below are some of my thoughts after a month or so of riding.
Sram Force Hydraulic Disc Brakes
These Brakes alone have completely changed how I feel about 'cross bikes. While I have been on hydraulic brakes on my mountain bikes for ages, these are my first on a cross bike and it is completely game changing. One finger braking on the hoods is easy and confidence inspiring. The feeling of control I get over mechanical discs or cantis was immediately apparent as was the speed I could take and fun I could have on single track and rough dirt road descents. I am sold and never going back.
SRAM Force CX1
I have a funny relationship with gears. This bike puts an end to a two year fling with a single speed cyclocross bike. I LOVE single speeding, and I always will - but having 11 single speeds on one bike so far, has been really awesome. The range I get is more than capable for all of the roads and trails I have thrown at it so far, and with the 11-34 in the rear and 42t up front I doubt I will swap anything until it is worn out. So far my only complaint is the clunky lever action SRAM shifting is known for. I can get over that for this consistently smooth shifting and easy low maintenance set up.
Speaking of the chainring.... The 42 tooth spiderless wolftooth ring allows plenty of clearance for a 45c tire even with relatively short chainstays. This was really apparent last weekend when we hit a bit of a muddy road. I pedaled right on through while some friends were digging mud out of their forks and drivetrains. Mud clearance for days.
While this geometry is not too far off from a more traditional cross bike, there are a few things that make it really shine. A higher trail number shows on single track - with numbers similar to an XC mountain bike, it eats single track up. I was worried this might make handling (especially climbing) slow in other instances, but I was pleasantly surprised that it feels excellent on roads and flat corners alike.
I have been noticing that the industry tends to be moving toward some really upright riding positions with these "gravel grinder" "all road" "adventure" bikes, so I thought I would give it a try, and that is really my only regret with this design. As a framebuilder I am probably more picky than most, but a 1cm shorter head tube and this bike would be 100% perfect.
Knog Blinder Light
Something I love about a bike like this is that you can go super far, explore crazy new places and get totally lost. Part of that though, is getting back way later than you thought. These Knog lights are super cheap, rechargeable and you don't notice them on your bike at all. I keep one on all of my bikes all the time now, because who knows when you will be stuck out in the dark, and who wants to get run over by a car?
Well that sums up a good bit of it for now. I am having an awesome time on this bike. 95% of our trails are still snowed in, but this thing has been a blast to rip around on. Can't wait for more mountain adventurizing later this spring.