No, no, we aren't talking about my date to the junior prom today (ba-da-bum! my wife is an absolute freaking saint to put up with my so-called "humor") here today. We're talking about tires that are wide and/or ridden in and on the dirt, and the next phase of our little enterprise.
First the tires. I've recently switched to 25c tires for my winter riding. I do not believe that I will henceforth be using anything narrower than 25c in a clincher for any purpose. The ride is fantastic, and cornering is exceptional. It's really quite nice and I highly recommend it. There is plenty of clearance in the Wheelhouse frame for the running of thusly diametered tires.
Now to the dirt, and the fish. We sent our agent his marching orders for the Taichung Bike Expo which is currently underway, and he's done rather freaking well indeed for us. First order of business is our CX frame. As Mike says it, we started of as "material agnostics" on this, with a preference for scandium. Scandium is great stuff, sort of walking the line between regular aluminum and carbon. It can give you a light and stiff frame with great road feel at a great price. It's more expensive but lighter and rides nicer than aluminum, and it's less expensive but slightly heavier than carbon (and gives a similarly nice ride). You also don't need such a big "handle with care" sticker on it like you might with carbon - a good thing for a cross frame. So while we were definitely open to any material, I think in our minds we were pretty much in the tank for scandium.
A rough outline of our requirements/wish list was race geometry (we were much more specific than that), top routed cables, tapered head tube, low-ish to low bottom bracket, replaceable rear derailleur hanger (you'd think you wouldn't have to ask but you do), ability to run a fork-mounted brake boss, and disc tabs. We added some other niceties on there, but that list is pretty well the heart of the target we wanted to hit. And of course it needed to come from the right supplier and be priced such that it made sense for us to enter the market.
When we opened our emails this morning... FISH ON!!! We aren't going to announce any specifics until we've gotten our sample frames and had our crack staff of ace cross bike testers (i.e. NOT me and Mike) out them through the rounds, and tie up a laundry list of other things before we commit to giving it a go. But we're pretty darn excited to get some over here, get them built, and ride them (or, more accurately, have them ridden) like rented mules.
The disc tabs was a big thing for me. I don't know what's going to happen with that. One of the things I first thought of when I went through the "how are disc brakes going to screw things up for everyone" list (see Ethan? - armageddon is my role) was hubs. There aren't really any top end road-spaced disc-compatible rear hubs. Yeah, well, as of a couple of days ago, that issue is officially addressed. Once you get past having the tabs on the bike, and having good disc-compatible hubs, the rest gets way way easier. Right now you're sort of stuck with BB7s or one other kind of mechanical discs whose name eludes me right now (not that I don't think BB7s are great - I use them very happily on my mountain bike), but there will undoubtedly soon be myriad brake options. Yeah, if you're using discs it makes it pretty well impossible to slap your road wheels onto your cross bike for the late summer Goon Rides when you want to get used to cross bike feel, but that will solve itself somehow in time (and we're working on that), but we felt like the likelihood that cross discs are going to be something too significant to ignore was absolutely worth the 20 or 30 gram penalty of having a frame and fork built to take them but not using them.
True to our counter-cyclical selves, we'll have an ordering deadline in early (very early) spring. If we wind up with this frame, the manufacturer (who would be first on anyone's list to have a scandium frame produced by) is no joke with the lead times for guaranteed delivery. So we'll probably be standing there in the Jeff Cup parking lot, with our Leffe, frites and cowbells (although if Jeff Cup next year is anything like it was this year, we'll be looking pretty darn smart with frites and Leffe), getting everyone off their butts for cross season when we're about two laps into the new road season. C'est la vie.