Wide and Dirty... (or FISH ON!!!)

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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. 

Race Smart.


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  • Dave on

    Here is a link to a really sexy bike that has disc brakes: Beauty's in the eye of the beholder? Hopefully everyone's clear that we are NOT going to get a frame that isn't canti compatible, right? And that disc brake tabs are tiny little things that weigh darn close to nothing and hardly stick out like sore thumbs? I think in the shortest short hand I can put it into, I'd a hell of a lot rather have them and pay the 10 or 11 gram (and basically $0) penalty to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them. No one yet really knows, but there's a big chance that discs will become a game changer in short order. XC mountain bikers were really reluctant to switch at first – a few years later they were ubiquitous at every level of XC racing. And that was without the benefit of one group of weight weenie lycra-clad racers having demanded light weight, low profile, blah blah blah. However, the headline story is still "we think we've found a really great cx frame and fork that will make a boatload of sense for us to offer – details at 11."

  • DJ on

    So why disc tabs? I would think you all wouldve taken the same approach with that, as with not having BB30 on your road bike. It sounds more complicated with disc brakes than having BB30. Do you think having disc brakes on the cross bike would appeal to a broader audience? I come from a more vain point of view though, I like the look of cross bikes with cantilever brakes more than what I've currently seen with disc tabs.

  • Dave Kirkpatrick on

    Well done. Lots of reasons not to do 135 spacing, one of the biggest is that you can't then use road wheels. And hub makers are on the ball with making 130 disc hubs.

  • Robert G on

    Dave, it's been on my mind. I just logged into my USAC account earlier today to cat up for next season.Something else that occurred to me: if you are doing disc tabs, why not make the rear spacing 135mm? That gives you tons of good options for rear hubs at all price points and really doesn't alter your chainline significantly.

  • Dave Kirkpatrick on

    Steve – So long as you didn't learn this via the time honoured "cup check" method that my junior high coach liked to employ, all good.Micah – Hydraulic discs are generally accepted as being the best. So far, no one has created a hydraulic brake that works with road levers. There is one crazy looking adapter out there, but to my mind that's not a commercially viable product. But if the question is "stop the bike," then my somewhat vast experience with mechanical discs and my very limited experience with cantis tells me that mechanical discs perform this task orders of mangitude better than cantis.



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