Flat bar CX commuter build

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Flat bar CX commuter build

Postby silentbutdeadly » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:42 am

Being an impetuous kind of person I decided that I needed a new bike if and when the opportunity came along - two MTBs and a roadie just weren't enough. What I was looking for was a flat bar commuter with dirt track pretensions. In my mind, the Cube Cross was the perfect idea...
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...one of two problems is that this particular bike isn't imported into Oz. The other is that this kind of bike is/was a bit expensive for my imagined budget. The first problem could be solved somewhat with similar-ish bikes from Merida or Cannondale. The second....not so much.

Months went by. Many tours of the interweb came and went...

Then a certain Northern Irish bike shoppe began to offload various new old stock bicycle frames from Scott & Kona in the last quarter of 2011. One of these frames on offer happened to be a Cross Comp cyclocross frame and fork from 2007. This frame is the predecessor of the current CX Team frame that seemed to be highly regarded. Couple that with the general regard for the Scott brand and the fact that I was looking at just $185 delivered for the frameset....I figured why not.

First things first. The frame and fork. The look and finish of the thing is pretty good - the box it arrived in was fairly impressive too. Nice paint, reasonable machining. However, included in the paint job is promotional lettering saying things like 'carbon fork','integrated headtube' and other useless information. Given that the fork is most cetainly not carbon (it's aluminium) and the headtube is not integrated (it's sized for traditional Cane Creek style headset) then you could wonder why they bothered...but it still seems like a quality product.

More interweb touring occured...

The initial spec was set out as a Shimano XT 10spd group with CX50 cranks (or similar) , sealed bearing 32 spoke wheels and a Ragley Carnegie bar.

The Germans had some good Shimano pricing. Then the lack of setup adaptability for the Shimano stuff crept in - mixing road and MTB groups became a little clumsy and just a bit confusing. Bored with interweb touring I turned to the LBS and figured I'd give them my ideas and let them do the research.

After a couple of weeks they came back to me. The Shimano stuff was there and it would work fine but the local price was eye-watering....about $800 when the Germans had promised around $600. This was the CX-50 cranks and front deraillieur, XT shifters, XT rear derailleur XT cassette and Deore levers and cantis. Then the LBS put the SRAM gear on the table. Now I'm not historically a SRAM fan - I've never really liked their shifters (and their chains are awful) but I'm not wedded to one brand or the other given most of them work fine for millions of cyclists. However, the offer was either an Apex 2x10 tranmission or a Rival 2x10 transmission with X7 shifters, FR-5 levers and Shorty Ultimate cantis. The Apex option was $540 and the Rival option was $570 - at that price why shop overseas and why quibble with the SRAM/Shimano choice? So I picked the Rival option with a medium cage rear derailleur and an 11-32 cassette. The only problem was that the importer didn't have the Rival crank in CX rings, only the Apex crank with CX rings was in stock. That'll do. So for $550 I had a complete transmission and brakes...

Next big decision was wheels. Again offshore threw up some choice options and budget prices from Campagnolo and Mavic. However, most of the cheaper CX wheelsets on offer offshore seemed to have low spoke counts and basic bearing hubs with the choice between price, weight and durability seemingly weighted towards the first two. As I'm not looking at a racer spec more a Clydsdale cross commuter spec then I figured high spoke count touring wheels would be a better option. But then offshore deas were hard to find. Back to the LBS. Hunting through the catalogues found the right spec - sealed bearing hubs, medium width double walled rims and 32 spokes. Both Velocity and BikeParts Wholesale had what I wanted. Unfortunately...the Velocity wheels seemed to priced according to the Shimano rulebook and I was looking at upwards from around $450 for a wheelset. The other mob had a wheelset with Novatech 32 spoke sealed bearing hubs, Alex rims and Mach1 spokes for $215. Jobs done. Although not quite. BPW seem to have issues with product selection. Frist rim we got had 36 spokes and a different rim from what was ordered - right width though. No biggie. Just get the other one in 36 with the same rim - no extra cost. When it turned up it had 36 spokes, the right rim and the right hub except the spokes were silver not black <sigh>. That should be sorted this week. Upshot is that the wheels are straight and true, the hubs are silky smooth and the overall look is fine when balanced against the spend. They are of course heavy for 700C wheels - no illusions there.

A mate helped me out with the headset - a Hope that had been sitting in the cupboard unused for a couple of years. $40 later and thank the stars for good mates and ill thought out internet shopping!! The LBS fitted it for me for gratis too. I'll get them to chop the fork down once the positioning is sorted. They've also lent me the stem from their spares box to try the set-up.

Soooooooooooo.....where are we at at this point? The front half of the cockpit is in place but a saddle and seatpost remain outstanding. I borrowed the seatpost from the Anthem to help with assembly but it is small (30.8) for this frame (31.6) to be usable. Tyres are also on their way (Vittoria Radonneur Cross Pro). Plus a few details like cable hangers. All but the saddle have come from the LBS so moe shouts to them...

How's it look?
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More updates when it gets on the road. I've actually ridden the thing using a borrowed set of wheels and first impressions are good - the potential is there.

Would I do it again? No. There are just too many good off the shelf CX options out there around the $1,000 mark that would work as the basis for just such a bike. The current spend on this exercise is going to tickle $1,100 and the spec is only just a bit better overall compared to a stock $1K CX bike. Damn good fun though...
Ours is not to reason why...merely to point and giggle
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by BNA » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:11 pm

BNA
 

Re: Flat bar CX commuter build

Postby drubie » Thu Jan 19, 2012 9:11 pm

Looks like a fun bike - reach to those brake levers ok though?
So we get the leaders we deserve and we elect, we get the companies and the products that we ask for, right? And we have to ask for different things. – Paul Gilding
but really, that's rubbish. We get none of it because the choices are illusory.
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Re: Flat bar CX commuter build

Postby silentbutdeadly » Fri Jan 20, 2012 7:08 am

Hopefully it's a fun bike!

The reach for the brakes is actually pretty good at the moment. Until the bike is sorted I can't be totally sure about the final cockpit setup. At a guess I think the loaner stem that's on it is longer than I need but until I can get on it properly I won't know for sure. First impressions are good though.
Ours is not to reason why...merely to point and giggle
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Re: Flat bar CX commuter build

Postby silentbutdeadly » Wed Feb 15, 2012 8:11 am

Well...it's done.
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Turned out to be a surprisingly light bike...I don't have an exact measure as yet but under 10kg for sure. Given that it doesn't have lightweight parts on it this is something of a surprise to me. On the hardpack and gravel paths it is nimble, twitchy and very responsive both in terms of steering and acceleration. The Ralph's provide a surprising amount of grip given their narrow size and 60 psi inflation and even sem to cope well with the frequent soft sand & dust patches. I'm looking to drop them down closer to 55 (50 is the stated minimum inflation) as an experiment.

Overall, compared to the 26" Scaffold and even the Anthem 29er...on the hard surfaced & open tracks & trails...it feels like cheating. It isn't an all day off road enduro weapon or a nice compliant tourer - it's a zingy mix of the two. And rather good fun.

Still to do...a shorter stem and a layback seat post as I find myself wanting to move back a couple of centimetres on the seat for better power transmission and balance...
Ours is not to reason why...merely to point and giggle
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