Quantcast

Good entry level CX bike

TreeSaw

Mama Monkey
Oct 30, 2003
17,661
1,835
Dancin' over rocks n' roots!
So, I am not happy with my road bike (yes, it's true). It doesn't really fit me as well as I would like it to and I haven't really enjoyed riding it much as a result. I am thinking that I would like to get a CX bike that I can use for training, as a commuter and for the occassional charity road ride as well. I have some great local trails that I would be able to ride it on and I could even hit some trail on my commute. There are a few new CX races locally too that I might even give a try at some point.

I'm 5'4" and not a typical woman's build so no WSD is necessary. I don't have a ton of cash to play with but I would like something quality as I am looking to keep it for a long time! Not opposed to used either so if you have something, spam away. What do you recommend and why?
 
Last edited:

moff_quigley

Why don't you have a seat over there?
Jan 27, 2005
4,402
2
Poseurville
Salsa is discontinuing the La Cruz. You can get one of those for right around $1200. It's steel, solid kit (105) and it has disc brakes. I probably would be getting one myself if it had a Rival group on it.
 

SuspectDevice

Turbo Monkey
Aug 23, 2002
4,145
351
Roanoke, VA
The 107mm headtubes on the Redlines are way, way way too long in the smallest 2 sizes. The smallest fuji is 95mm with an internal headset, effectively making the bars an additonal 24mm lower. Shorter riders absolutely need internal headsets for cx, as there is nothing worse than handlebars that are too high.

The Cross Comp is as cheap as you'd want to go for a bike, atmo.
 
Last edited:

oldfart

Turbo Monkey
Jul 5, 2001
1,206
24
North Van
Whoa whoa there suspect. We short riders do not want a dinky head tube. The shorter a person is the less drop wanted from saddle to bar and because a typical cross bike may have a higher bb that a typical road bike. Combine a high bb, short head tube and you get a poor fit. I know I am 5'5" or probably less now that I am 52. For a road bike to fit me, I want a 110 or longer head tube. Same with the cross bike amd maybe even taller. The Ridley small frames will not fit me for shiite as they have a horizontal or near horizontal tt which dictates a short head tube to maintain standover. Short people need sloping tt bikes. If your racing you may select a frame with a less sloping tt for room to carry the beast over your shoulder.

At 5'4" your probably looking for a bike with 51 or 52 tt. I would check out frames/bikes in your price range with this as the first criteria followed by head tube length and standover. You can always use 5 cm of spacers and a riser stem for fit, but I think one is better using fewer spacers.
 

SuspectDevice

Turbo Monkey
Aug 23, 2002
4,145
351
Roanoke, VA
Whoa whoa there suspect. We short riders do not want a dinky head tube. The shorter a person is the less drop wanted from saddle to bar and because a typical cross bike may have a higher bb that a typical road bike. .
I'm going to disagree with you. I build custom cx bikes for 5'4" Pro women who score UCI points...
Contact points are contact points, and if anything, a CX bike should have a lower handlebar height than a road bike so you can drive it completely from the hoods. A properly designed frame will have more bb drop in smaller sizes to compensate for the riders smaller "cone of mass" and the reduced rear-normal trail, and for a little more stand over height.
The added height of the front brake cable hanger and longer fork further necessitate an emphasis on the lowest possible handlebar height. A proper modern CX bike is designed to be driven almost exclusively from the hoods. There is no way to achieve good handling or ergonomics with handle bars that are too high. Even is she is going for a more Dirt-Road esque fit, there is no reason to go with higher handlebars. High bars are NOT comfortable by default, a good position, and proper weight distribution are...
 

TreeSaw

Mama Monkey
Oct 30, 2003
17,661
1,835
Dancin' over rocks n' roots!
Excellent advice in here for sure. I looked at the Redlines and worried that they might be too long for me. I will have to check out the Salsa and Fuji too. I am pretty confident that a 51 is my size as well, but I am hoping to throw a leg over a couple of these to see how it feels.

Keep that feedback rolling in!
 

jimmydean

The Official Meat of Ridemonkey
Sep 10, 2001
40,626
12,854
Portland, OR
I got my bike on the cheap and minus the crank issue, I have been VERY happy overall. I have no plans to race, but for training and commuting, it has been great. It also has mounts for bags if I ever feel the need.

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/fantom_cross_cx2.htm

I couldn't find anything close to that for $500 shipped. The Conquest Sport was my next option and I liked the disc mounts on the Redline, but couldn't justify the added cost.

I managed to strip the pedal threads on the non-drive side crank arm. I got a new set of SRAM Rivals on ebay for $100 and couldn't be happier right now. Not the best drivetrain specs, but work well for me and the bike is holding up to my XL body type.
 

oldfart

Turbo Monkey
Jul 5, 2001
1,206
24
North Van
I'm going to disagree with you. I build custom cx bikes for 5'4" Pro women who score UCI points...
Contact points are contact points, and if anything, a CX bike should have a lower handlebar height than a road bike so you can drive it completely from the hoods. A properly designed frame will have more bb drop in smaller sizes to compensate for the riders smaller "cone of mass" and the reduced rear-normal trail, and for a little more stand over height.
The added height of the front brake cable hanger and longer fork further necessitate an emphasis on the lowest possible handlebar height. A proper modern CX bike is designed to be driven almost exclusively from the hoods. There is no way to achieve good handling or ergonomics with handle bars that are too high. Even is she is going for a more Dirt-Road esque fit, there is no reason to go with higher handlebars. High bars are NOT comfortable by default, a good position, and proper weight distribution are...
I think you're right about bb drop but not bar drop. You want a higher position for cross than road so you can ride the drops more, not hoods. Women and guys like me have shorter torsos and longer legs (me 5'5" with 31 inseam) so with the seat at the correct height and if the head tube is 80-90 I will need a lot of spacers to get the bar at say a couple cm below the saddle. Added issue for me is I am old and not as flexible as I once was so I have to be a little higher still. And while the fork is higher for tire and mud clearance, the back end should be too.
 

SuspectDevice

Turbo Monkey
Aug 23, 2002
4,145
351
Roanoke, VA
I think you're right about bb drop but not bar drop. You want a higher position for cross than road so you can ride the drops more, not hoods. Women and guys like me have shorter torsos and longer legs (me 5'5" with 31 inseam) so with the seat at the correct height and if the head tube is 80-90 I will need a lot of spacers to get the bar at say a couple cm below the saddle. Added issue for me is I am old and not as flexible as I once was so I have to be a little higher still. And while the fork is higher for tire and mud clearance, the back end should be too.

You want the bars lower on a cx bike these days about the same amount you wanted them higher in the old days. The change from barcon shifters to high quality STI shifting, and the influence of builders who understand offroad handling better have redefined the paradigm. This is no longer 1999. Stuff has changed significantly, and for the better in terms of the commonly accepted "proper" cx bike setup recently, and I can assure you, it is much for the better.
Give it a try if you can.
I think you'll like it.
 

oldfart

Turbo Monkey
Jul 5, 2001
1,206
24
North Van
Katie Compton's bike:
Critical measurements:

Rider's height: 1.68m (5' 6")
Rider's weight: 61.2kg (135lb)
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 681mm
Saddle setback (ask mechanic): 50mm
Seat tube length, c-t: 530mm
Seat tube length, c-c: 485mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 480mm
Handlebar drop: 20mm
Head tube length: 105mm
Top tube length: 529mm
Total bicycle weight: 7.0kg (15.43lb)

She's 5'6" with shorter legs than me yet there she is with a number of spacers under her stem with a 105 head tube. Of course that's just one rider, but when I look at the race pictures, none of the pros seem to have the flat back on the drops kind of position. I think you want a drop position that allows you to ride the drops for some sections to get more weight on the front wheel for traction and aerodynamics for fast sections. Hoods are for general tech sections and tops should only be for climbs when you want to slide back on the saddle. Personaly I think bar top brake levers are a bad idea. Serious braking from that position is just a bad idea. We are probably agreeing more than not. I do think you want a relatively low position but not quite road bike low. I know what you mean by "riding the hoods" for most of a race. That makes sense to me and the hoods do need to be at a fairly agressive level. Too high and the bike doesn't ride right. I just think that the typical woman with generaly long legs and shorter torso will need a fairly high seat height to accomodate the legs which can place the bars rather low if the bike has a short headtube as a result of a horizontal tt.
 

SuspectDevice

Turbo Monkey
Aug 23, 2002
4,145
351
Roanoke, VA
Compton's fit is notoriously horrible. Some companies even refuse to work with her.
She could ride a slalom bike around the course faster than most men though...

This is a proper modern CX fit... On a shorter lady



Notice that the bike looks properly proportionate...

I am gradually working France's bars down, but she is coming off a bad road position, so we can only safely do so much at one time...

And a dude


Compton's bike on the other hand, looks gross as hell;


Look at any picture of any elite racer from MA (Mo Roy, Powers, Johnson, Jesse Anthony et. al).
The Baystate know's wassup. No other region of the country even comes close when it comes to properly setup cx bikes.


For more horrible elite women's fits, look at Dunlap, Kelli Emmet, or just about any Colorado racer. I'm not even sure if women race CX out in Portland, as almost every picture I see from there is full of crossdressers, and I can't think of a single one that's competitive on the national stage.
 

oldfart

Turbo Monkey
Jul 5, 2001
1,206
24
North Van
That is a good position that gal is riding in, but she has a few spacers there too. I did look at a number of woman cross racer photos and saw lots of Compton type fits. Hard to tell from photos whether the bikes fit well or not. I also looked at many photos of euro racers, men, to see what sort of body position they are in. Very similar to what you advocate as do I. I think for a lot of folks my height though that short head tubes just won't work unless you use a number of spacers and maybe an uprise stem. Maybe it is my particular build and short neck but I cannot ride a bike with a 90 mm or so headtube unless I have a wack of spacers. Compact drop bar, and a moderate drop from saddle to bar allows me to use both the drops and hoods to good effect.
 

ire

Turbo Monkey
Aug 6, 2007
6,196
4
Look at any picture of any elite racer from MA (Mo Roy, Powers, Johnson, Jesse Anthony et. al).
The Baystate know's wassup. No other region of the country even comes close when it comes to properly setup cx bikes.
Get off your high horse. You act like your region invented cross racing and will always be better than the rest of the country. No matter what anyone says or does they'll never be as hardcore as you
 

SuspectDevice

Turbo Monkey
Aug 23, 2002
4,145
351
Roanoke, VA
Get off your high horse. You act like your region invented cross racing and will always be better than the rest of the country. No matter what anyone says or does they'll never be as hardcore as you
It's satire dude. All of us here in MA like to rip on Portland... It's like middle america hating france, NorCal ripping on SoCal, Texas in general etc... We loose people to Portland all the time(because it's rad)

We're just jealous... But we're also New England. And we're damn proud of it!

Sorry to ruffle ya feathers!

See above webcomic for further proof of our widespread cultural crisis.
We already have Cambridge and Brooklyn! Leave our hipsters alone!
 
Last edited:

NuMexJoe

Monkey
Aug 20, 2007
178
2
That's exactly how I use my Bianchi Volpe. For winter-time training and sanity, I needed a road bike that fit, but I wanted it to be more useful than a normal road bike (room for fatties, rack mounts, etc.). Also wanted steel. It was pretty easy to find a good deal on a new one. But in your case, you might want to look into whether Bianchi uses the same tubeset for all frame sizes. My bike's got a relatively compliance ride for such a sturdy frame, but the same tubeset might be harsh (and needlessly heavy) for your size frame. Good luck with your search. If you're thinking you need disc brakes, but still want steel, perhaps look for a Lemond Poprad (sp?).
- Joe
 

CBJ

year old fart
Mar 19, 2002
12,831
4,081
Copenhagen, Denmark
It's satire dude. All of us here in MA like to rip on Portland... It's like middle america hating france, NorCal ripping on SoCal, Texas in general etc... We loose people to Portland all the time(because it's rad)
I got the satire part and actually thought it was really funny especially when Ire got fired up. You still ride a high horse though :p
 

TreeSaw

Mama Monkey
Oct 30, 2003
17,661
1,835
Dancin' over rocks n' roots!
That's exactly how I use my Bianchi Volpe. For winter-time training and sanity, I needed a road bike that fit, but I wanted it to be more useful than a normal road bike (room for fatties, rack mounts, etc.). Also wanted steel. It was pretty easy to find a good deal on a new one. But in your case, you might want to look into whether Bianchi uses the same tubeset for all frame sizes. My bike's got a relatively compliance ride for such a sturdy frame, but the same tubeset might be harsh (and needlessly heavy) for your size frame. Good luck with your search. If you're thinking you need disc brakes, but still want steel, perhaps look for a Lemond Poprad (sp?).
- Joe
Thanks for the tips. I really wish some of my LBS stocked CX bikes so I could throw a leg over them, but no such luck. I'm going in pretty blind so keep the feedback coming boys (& girls). I am still on the hunt. I am also now considering a Terry Valkyrie.
 

MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,457
12
Burlington, Connecticut
Compton's fit is notoriously horrible. Some companies even refuse to work with her.
She could ride a slalom bike around the course faster than most men though...

This is a proper modern CX fit... On a shorter lady



Notice that the bike looks properly proportionate...

I am gradually working France's bars down, but she is coming off a bad road position, so we can only safely do so much at one time...

And a dude


Compton's bike on the other hand, looks gross as hell;


Look at any picture of any elite racer from MA (Mo Roy, Powers, Johnson, Jesse Anthony et. al).
The Baystate know's wassup. No other region of the country even comes close when it comes to properly setup cx bikes.


For more horrible elite women's fits, look at Dunlap, Kelli Emmet, or just about any Colorado racer. I'm not even sure if women race CX out in Portland, as almost every picture I see from there is full of crossdressers, and I can't think of a single one that's competitive on the national stage.
This is all well and good stuff Mickey, but to get back to the OP's initial post,she's looking for a CX bike for mainly road duty and not to competitively race in CX events.

Everyone chiming in with their thoughts on geometry and crap should keep this in mind for Treesaw's benefit.
 

James

Carbon Porn Star
Sep 11, 2001
3,559
0
Danbury, CT
Thanks for the tips. I really wish some of my LBS stocked CX bikes so I could throw a leg over them, but no such luck. I'm going in pretty blind so keep the feedback coming boys (& girls). I am still on the hunt. I am also now considering a Terry Valkyrie.
I will say that it might not be the best time of year to go looking for CX bikes in stores. For better or worse, probably 85% of CX bikes are sold into stores in mid-Summer, with the thought that most will be purchased by September for training/racing. I know that we are out of many CX bikes by this time, and the new stuff won't really arrive until next year. That may explain why pickings are slim.
At a previous company we weren't able to get our shipments of CX bikes until too late in the season, so we elected to not bring them in at all, focusing instead on the higher-end frameset.
 

ire

Turbo Monkey
Aug 6, 2007
6,196
4
I will say that it might not be the best time of year to go looking for CX bikes in stores. For better or worse, probably 85% of CX bikes are sold into stores in mid-Summer, with the thought that most will be purchased by September for training/racing. I know that we are out of many CX bikes by this time, and the new stuff won't really arrive until next year. That may explain why pickings are slim.
At a previous company we weren't able to get our shipments of CX bikes until too late in the season, so we elected to not bring them in at all, focusing instead on the higher-end frameset.
For this exact reason you should wait till January and score a smoking good deal on a used cross bike!
 
the SSCXWC footage from last week was pretty rad. that thunderdome the riders rode thru was pretty awesome.

i'm hoping the CX race scene is alittle more relaxed than the road races i've attended in the past. i think it'll be a great way to stay fit and motivated over the winter.
 

SuspectDevice

Turbo Monkey
Aug 23, 2002
4,145
351
Roanoke, VA
This is all well and good stuff Mickey, but to get back to the OP's initial post,she's looking for a CX bike for mainly road duty and not to competitively race in CX events.

Everyone chiming in with their thoughts on geometry and crap should keep this in mind for Treesaw's benefit.
This setup is far less of a half-measure on the road than "conventional" cx fit, as far as I'm concerned. Riding a bike that looks like pushing a shopping cart isn't ever comfortable or good for riding aggressively.
 

MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,457
12
Burlington, Connecticut
This setup is far less of a half-measure on the road than "conventional" cx fit, as far as I'm concerned. Riding a bike that looks like pushing a shopping cart isn't ever comfortable or good for riding aggressively.

Can one get that type of setup your recommend in an entry level CX bike though? If so, cool and which ones?
 

MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,457
12
Burlington, Connecticut
So Fujis and others with internal headsets then eh?

What about for guy who's 5'9" tall and doesn't want a skinny wheeled road bike for road/dirt road/gravel grinding duty? ;)
 

SuspectDevice

Turbo Monkey
Aug 23, 2002
4,145
351
Roanoke, VA
So Fujis and others with internal headsets then eh?

What about for guy who's 5'9" tall and doesn't want a skinny wheeled road bike for road/dirt road/gravel grinding duty? ;)
That would be a long-reach caliper road frame, IMO. Canti's are a pain in the ass, and with a brake like the Paul Racer's
you can fit sufficiently big tires without the hassle of a cx fork, and the increase height demands.

CX bikes, ultimately, are only really good for 'cross, and a good larger-tire road bike is ultimately perfect for any possible road surface.

Horses for courses. Anything else is not satisfactory with something as important as a bicycle!
 

MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,457
12
Burlington, Connecticut
That would be a long-reach caliper road frame, IMO. Canti's are a pain in the ass, and with a brake like the Paul Racer's
you can fit sufficiently big tires without the hassle of a cx fork, and the increase height demands.

CX bikes, ultimately, are only really good for 'cross, and a good larger-tire road bike is ultimately perfect for any possible road surface.

Horses for courses. Anything else is not satisfactory with something as important as a bicycle!

I started a separate thread so as not to muddy Treesaw's waters any further. I welcome input in the new thread.

thanks.
 

ARGYLgoat

Chimp
Nov 11, 2009
2
0
great thread!

i'm still considering the 2008-2010 entry level Giant TCXs...really interested in the 2010 TCX2, but hoping it goes on sale or something after 'cross season...
 

TreeSaw

Mama Monkey
Oct 30, 2003
17,661
1,835
Dancin' over rocks n' roots!
I will say that it might not be the best time of year to go looking for CX bikes in stores. For better or worse, probably 85% of CX bikes are sold into stores in mid-Summer, with the thought that most will be purchased by September for training/racing. I know that we are out of many CX bikes by this time, and the new stuff won't really arrive until next year. That may explain why pickings are slim.
At a previous company we weren't able to get our shipments of CX bikes until too late in the season, so we elected to not bring them in at all, focusing instead on the higher-end frameset.
For this exact reason you should wait till January and score a smoking good deal on a used cross bike!
That's what I am hoping for ;)
 

slowitdown

Monkey
Mar 30, 2009
553
0
This is a proper modern CX fit
You mean a proper demonstration of YOUR preferences, also known as the latest fad.

I love how you mandate that everyone must ride from the hoods. That's so broadminded and "modern" of you. Yes, I understand the shift (pun intended) from barcons to STI levers. I've been riding long enough to remember when STI was first introduced on road bikes.

Come on dude. There's no "proper modern" anything. The very point of "modern" vs non- is fashion. Which indicates fad.

I hope Katie Compton realizes she's got it all wrong. Her results sure indicate as much.

+++++++++++++

A smart rider would work up a bike with V-brakes and the road levers which can pull them. Cantis suck balls. Even the blingy, $300-an-end models. But I'm sure that's not "modern".
 
Last edited:

TreeSaw

Mama Monkey
Oct 30, 2003
17,661
1,835
Dancin' over rocks n' roots!
So, where are the best places to search for a used CX bike? I have some solid ideas now (thank you very much for the info) and am hoping to score a good deal on a nice used machine to begin using for commuting in the Spring. I am also thinking I will CX at a couple of local races and train at 2 local riding spots. Should be fun!
 

SuspectDevice

Turbo Monkey
Aug 23, 2002
4,145
351
Roanoke, VA
Come on dude. There's no "proper modern" anything. The very point of "modern" vs non- is fashion. Which indicates fad.

I hope Katie Compton realizes she's got it all wrong. Her results sure indicate as much.
If all methods are relatively efficacious, as they are here, aesthetics must remain paramount to obtain the most elegant result.
Elegance is a fine trait in a bicycle, and should be the highest priority for anyone who builds or sets up bikes.