At Cross Purposes

So we're working on cross frames, and the process is a bit different than the process by which we came by our road frame.  When we sourced our road bike, by the time we'd figured out that it made the most sense to go with carbon after all, we were basically shopping for a frame that matched our preferences as closely as possible.  I think that we invited luck to the party, so to speak, by having a good set of requirements and a good process laid out to fulfill those requirements, but we definitely did get lucky to find the frame that we did.  It's great. 

But the cross bike, you see, will be made of scandium.  Because metal frames don't require the massively capital-intensive molds that carbon bikes do (instead you use a relatively simple jig), it's easier to make changes to suit your purposes.  We were fortunate (spelled "l-u-c-k-y") that a supplier we'd hoped to work with had a product that was a very close match to our vision.  Except...

We've leaned on a pretty massive amount of input from cross racers in spec'ing the bike.  Neither Mike nor I has any significant background with cross bikes, so soliciting and editing input was critical.  And one thing (perhaps THE thing) that people were consistent on was the superior handling of bikes with lower bottom brackets.  The high bottom brackets, which seemingly now fall under the "old school" rubrik, are great for clearance on "old school" Euro courses, but don't corner as well and are thought to be pretty well unnecessary on US courses.  Many currently favored cross bikes, geometry wise, are crit bikes with slightly slack front ends and slightly long wheelbases. 

An unintended consequence of having the higher bottom bracket is that it drives the standover height up, which is a big part of why the classic setup is to ride a slightly smaller cross bike than what you ride on the road.  Attempts to lower the top tube, and thus increase standover, are why you see so many cross bikes with tiny little short head tubes.  But then you have a lot of stack coming off the top of the head tube, which decreases stiffness up front, and also increases the incidence of brake shudder.  So there are a bunch of little things that are driven by something that most people don't really want or need anyhow, so we had the bottom bracket on our frame lowered to a 67mm drop.  This is in line with a lot of the more popular and successful frames out there.  Our road frame has a 68mm bottom bracket drop, for comparison. 

We also had a discussion over the top tube shape, which, from the frame plan drawing that we saw, looked like it might have a vendetta against your shoulder.  So we sent back some pictorial thoughts on what we thought it would rather look like, and we got back some CAD drawings of the top tube, and it's exactly what we thought it should look like after all.  The attachments at the head and seat tube are the sort of triangles that mean serious business when you are attaching two tubes together, but they quickly transition to a very shoulder friendly shape. 

I wouldn't have wanted to go through this process first without having gone through getting our road frame.  That would have been a bit of a stretch, just in terms of dealing effectively with suppliers and effectively representing the results we were trying to secure for ourselves and our potential customers.  Having gone through the road frame process made this process far more manageable. 

One of the interesting things about the cross bike market is that there seem to be A LOT of people out there on (don't take this the wrong way, people, please) dumpster-diver specials.  And we totally get that.  There are a lot of people out there for whom road season is nothing more than base miles for cross, and they are the market for the uber-awesome "I ride the same bike as Sven Nys" bikes, right?  But for the increasing number of people each year who want to race cross but don't want to splash out a wicked amount of coin in order to do so, our aim is to offer a frame that's a proper, good, and fully competitive option with a price that's a whole lot easier to swallow.  If it doesn't work great and be awesome and hold its own on any course you might actually find yourself, we wouldn't do it, but if it didn't considerably ease the pain of owning some top shelf (that one's for you, Gus) stuff, it wouldn't be a November.

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To your point on head tubes, I've been sudying the geometry of my current frames in anticipation of spec'ing out stem/spacer and seatpost needs for the Wheelhouse, to wit…Giant TCR (M) 142mmBlue CX6.5 (ML) 110mmNovember Wheelhouse (4) 155mmNovember Crosshouse (?) XXXmmCan't wait to see what you guys are cookin' up!


Mike already slaughtered the name. I think the ball is still in the air, actually. A king kong shot.

Dave Kirkpatrick

No worries. I wasn't really asking for that info, just thinking how coincidental that I was looking at these things last night and then read Dave's analysis of head-tube heights today.Dang…thought sure I'd win a November Beanie for coming up with the name ;-)


I'm not sure which size of our CX bike will fit you best, Steve, so I can't tell you exactly what the head tube height is. We've got some of the technical drawings but our supplier is finishing the rest – we use these to get to the effective top tube, which you'll need to choose a size. As soon as we have all the geometry we'll let you know so you can start planning.I can tell you unequivocally though that the bike will not be called the Crosshouse. In fact, we came up with a name before we were even sure we were going to do a CX bike. We liked the name so much that it was a relief to learn how much demand there was for a CX bike from us. It would have been a great tragedy for this name to go unused.

Mike May

Fender eyelets would make the bike useful for continued training in New England for those of us that don't have dedicated winter bikes.


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