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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all. I'm brand new to the forum (though I've been lurking for a while and enjoying both the wisdom and smartass banter).

Looking to buy a bike for commuting (12mi RT) and general about town use. Been doing research and riding a few at LBSs, and of course with more data I get alternately clearer and more confused. Wonder if anyone has suggestions / insights given my priorities:

TYPE: As it's for commuting on potholed city streets I'm looking at Cyclocross. Won't race with it; but I need something a bit safer, more comfortable and more upright than my vintage road bike. I think a touring bike would feel a bit too sedate after a roadie, so cyclo seems the right solution.

PRICE: range is $1000 - 1500 (wouldn't mind sticking to the lower end, but am trying to get as much quality as poss for the $)

FRAME: I'm open to both steel and alum -- I like the cushiness of steel but it seems that with a cf fork, wide wheelbase and larger tires, I can soften the alum ride as much as needed. And coming off of a road bike I'd miss the responsiveness if it's too heavy. Also, it needs to have braze-ons for fenders.

GEO: I want drop bars for hand positions and aero. Yet I want to be more upright than on a road bike, for comfort and vision. So am looking for a geo that's relatively upright. Plus, I'm mostly leg, not torso, so I often feel too stretched out on a bike with a longer top tube or lower drops. I suppose I can swap out a shorter stem, but I wouldn't mind finding a bike that's built this way out of the box.

COMPONENTS: As my old roadie has 105/Ultegra, I'm afraid I'll feel like a grandpa with components lesser than 105. So that, or SRAM.

Current bikes in the running are:
Raleigh RX 2.0 (2011 barely used on local craigslist for $800!)
CAADX 105 ($1300 w/ REI dividend discount)
Motobecane Fantom Cross Pro ($1200 Bikes Direct)
Kona Jake the Snake ($1350 - last year's model online)

Any thoughts, insights or other candidates, especially considering my geometry prefs, would be appreciated!
 

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Trek Crossrip Elite fits that bill nicely. Has disc brakes and lots of tire clearance. It's Sora 9s but much less expensive than you're looking.
 

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I was looking for a cross bike for road rides and commuting. I ended up with Specialized Tricross Comp. Aluminum frame, carbon fork, Roval wheels, Shimano 105 groupo, bosses for racks and fenders, more of a laid back geometry it's not all that aggressive.

I've used it for everything from my 26 mile round trip commuting to work and back, to dirt single track, to the bike leg of a Ironman 70.3 triathlon. Great bike (mine is a 2011, pre-disk brake model)
 

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There's a million options. Just decide on the frame material -either will do, and choose the shop, the brand name, the color, whatever, that you like best. BUT, make sure the frame has:

Clearance for 32 mm tires AND fenders (most cross bikes will, but check).

Fender eyelets on the front fork dropouts. You can make do with P clamps, but eyelets are a lot easier.

A hole in the fork crown to hold the fender hardware.

Fender and rack eyelets in the rear dropout area. One hole will work fine, but two is better. Again, you can use P clamps, but just get a frame with eyelets.

Rack mounting bosses at the upper seat stays. This is also not critical since you can use a rack-mount seat collar and it works perfectly.

A hole in the upper seat stay bridge to mount the fender hardware.

A chain stay bridge so the fender can clip onto it.

All these features are really nice for a commuter, although you can make do without all or most of them. But since you haven't decided on a frame, just look for one that has all of them. They are very common, but not so common on full on racing cross frames.

Myself, I went with aluminum because of the weight difference (not a huge difference, but I spend a LOT of time riding up hill). With 32 mm tires on the bike nobody can possibly say an aluminum frame is harsh.

OH, I'd also look at gearing. "real" cross frames have that odd cross frame crank, often a double with large and small rings that are ideal for cross racing, but not really ideal for road use. I personally don't like a large ring that is smaller than 48t for road riding. For me personally, I just don't like hte 44 or 46X11 or 44 or 46X12 high gear. On the other end, a 34 small ring is just fine if that's what it has because it will give you nice low gears either with a conventional 28t road cassette or if you need even lower gears, you can put a mtb rear derailleur on it and go with a 32 or 34 cassette. But some cross bikes have a 38 small ring which I just don't think is worth while for normal road riding if you need low gears.

In other words, for the commuting I do, a "normal" cross bike crank is just not a smart choice.

So, I'd look for something in either a compact 50-34 or 48-34 crank, or a fairly conventional road triple if you need super low gears. A normal cross crank can probably be converted to a 48X34, but if you can just find one with the gearing you need, that's best.

I have a 52-42-30 road triple on my cross/commuter (scavanged off an old road bike), but would actually prefer a 48-38-28, since the 48X11 is a fine high gear (similar to a 52X12), and that crank really works well with a conventional 11-28 road cassette.

But the bottom line for you is take a look at the gearing you really need - it probably isn't like the gearing I need - and consider if it has a "cross" crank on it and if the large and small rings, specialized as they may be for actual cross race trails, will really work for you.
 

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In your shoes, I'd go to Jenson USA and order the Surly Ogre frame. Outfit it anyway you wanna, including your drops. You can go all the way up to 2.5 inches with your tire clearance.

Ogre | Bikes | Surly Bikes

View attachment 278970
Surly Ogre with drops (also comes in black)

Now that's what I'm talkin bout! However, imagine a black frame with peeled labels, a silver colored aluminum rack and fenders. Also, an all black leather seat.


Of course, there's always the the Surly Cross Check and the SOMA Double Cross to consider, as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks all, for great advice. I looked into all suggestions, spent way too much time researching online and then finally went out and rode some bikes in several LBSs.

In fact I rode no less than 10! (I live in Chicago and was lucky to find plenty of candidates in stock).... Which made me all the more confused, of course. But eventually, after going back on Sunday and re-riding several I started to find some clarity.

Here's what I rode:

STEEL:
Surly x-check
All City Space Horse
Trek 520
Charge Filter

ALUMINUM:
Trek Crossrip Elite
Specialized Tricross Sport Disc
Fuji Cross 2.0
Fuji Cross 3.0
Cannondale Caadx (both Tiagra and 105)

First off, I found that steel vs aluminum is not such a huge issue for me. Yes, steel felt solid and absorbed the cracks in the road fairly well... but so did most of the alum bikes I rode. I'm starting to believe what I've read pretty often in these forums (fora?) that tire size, and frame geometry have as much or more to do with the cushiness of the ride than frame material. All the bikes I rode had cyclocross or touring frames (bit longer wheelbase) and had either 28 or 32mm tires. I might even go with a 35mm for more absorbency.

I did find that all the steel bikes I rode had a kind of solidity to them that was reassuring. They kept a good straight line on the road. Whereas some of the aluminum bikes felt a bit twitchy and almost as if the strong Chicago wind (it was above 25 mph on Saturday) made it hard for me to keep a good line. The worst offender in this way was the Tricross. It felt lively but almost too much so, more fun in a parking lot than on a long stretch of road.

The downside with steel was that this solidity came at a price: it also felt a bit heavy. Every time I switched from steel back to test riding an aluminum, I felt energized by the lightness and responsiveness.

After enough rides, though I began to discern real differences in how each bike handled. At the end of two days it was the Cannondale Caadx that rose to the top. To me that bike felt more solid and stable than the other alum bikes -- seemed easier to keep a perfectly straight course even in a crosswind -- but also felt really responsive. Just made me wanna ride it more....didn't want to return to the shop.

I also felt that the geometry of the Caadx frame had me a little less stretched out than some (though it was not as upright as the Crossrip or the Fuji 3.0). When I started poring over geometry tables I think I found what may be an explanation for that. The "reach" of the Caadx frame is shorter than any other bike I rode, except for the Trek 520 (which also felt like a great fit).

What I know for sure now is that these subtle preferences can only be learned by riding, and that it'll probably be a different conclusion for each person. So for anyone in my shoes my best advice is to get out there!

So I'm hooked on the Caadx frame and now just need to decide whether I want it with Tiagra components or want to splurge on 105.

Thanks again for all your responses.
 

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Thanks all, for great advice. I looked into all suggestions, spent way too much time researching online and then finally went out and rode some bikes in several LBSs.

In fact I rode no less than 10! (I live in Chicago and was lucky to find plenty of candidates in stock).... Which made me all the more confused, of course. But eventually, after going back on Sunday and re-riding several I started to find some clarity.

Here's what I rode:

STEEL:
Surly x-check
All City Space Horse
Trek 520
Charge Filter

ALUMINUM:
Trek Crossrip Elite
Specialized Tricross Sport Disc
Fuji Cross 2.0
Fuji Cross 3.0
Cannondale Caadx (both Tiagra and 105)

First off, I found that steel vs aluminum is not such a huge issue for me. Yes, steel felt solid and absorbed the cracks in the road fairly well... but so did most of the alum bikes I rode. I'm starting to believe what I've read pretty often in these forums (fora?) that tire size, and frame geometry have as much or more to do with the cushiness of the ride than frame material. All the bikes I rode had cyclocross or touring frames (bit longer wheelbase) and had either 28 or 32mm tires. I might even go with a 35mm for more absorbency.

I did find that all the steel bikes I rode had a kind of solidity to them that was reassuring. They kept a good straight line on the road. Whereas some of the aluminum bikes felt a bit twitchy and almost as if the strong Chicago wind (it was above 25 mph on Saturday) made it hard for me to keep a good line. The worst offender in this way was the Tricross. It felt lively but almost too much so, more fun in a parking lot than on a long stretch of road.

The downside with steel was that this solidity came at a price: it also felt a bit heavy. Every time I switched from steel back to test riding an aluminum, I felt energized by the lightness and responsiveness.

After enough rides, though I began to discern real differences in how each bike handled. At the end of two days it was the Cannondale Caadx that rose to the top. To me that bike felt more solid and stable than the other alum bikes -- seemed easier to keep a perfectly straight course even in a crosswind -- but also felt really responsive. Just made me wanna ride it more....didn't want to return to the shop.

I also felt that the geometry of the Caadx frame had me a little less stretched out than some (though it was not as upright as the Crossrip or the Fuji 3.0). When I started poring over geometry tables I think I found what may be an explanation for that. The "reach" of the Caadx frame is shorter than any other bike I rode, except for the Trek 520 (which also felt like a great fit).

What I know for sure now is that these subtle preferences can only be learned by riding, and that it'll probably be a different conclusion for each person. So for anyone in my shoes my best advice is to get out there!

So I'm hooked on the Caadx frame and now just need to decide whether I want it with Tiagra components or want to splurge on 105.

Thanks again for all your responses.
Good for you, Filmpurple!

You've finally made a decision. I know how good that must feel. When it comes to bikes, I always say, if you can afford it, buy it!

Though deep down inside, I truly believe that Tiagra is almost as good as 105, it is not! Therefore, if you can swing 105, without any serious detriment to your living standard, then just do it!

Good Luck! :thumbsup:
 

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Tiagra 4600 is nearly as good as the 105 5600.

I have a CAADX with the Tiagra 4600 (and my road bike has 105 5600).

Plus,.... I think the Tiagra model has a better paintjob.

But... the 105 version gets slightly upgraded Tektro brakes with replaceable cartridge pads
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Warbird Ti? That's pretty sexy but only a wet dream for now. I'll start w my everyday but satisfying Caadx.

Yes, Zeet, it's quite a rush when you finally decide! Felt like all the angst was immediately replaced by eagerness to get out there and buy the thing! But soon I realized I'm not out of the decision-making woods yet. :(

For one thing, my plan to buy the 105 version through REI just fell through. I WOULD'VE gotten a member discount of 10%, making the bike around $1450 after tax. But it turns out that very few REI stores are authorized to sell Cannondale. With few exceptions the company only wants to sell through small LBSs. What's wrong with these people!? They don't seem driven by the profit motive! Admirable, but a pain in the ass.

MEANWHILE, I have access locally to a Tiagra model from 2012, discounted 20%. So suddenly the difference between 105 and Tiagra is $400! That's pretty substantial. Worth it???

I'm told that the dif is less about crispness of shifting and more about weight and build quality: the 105 supposed to have more metal, less plastic, and be a tad lighter (though those two things would seem to be contradictory). I have to admit that I couldn't detect a shifting difference on my test rides. And I'm not a weight weenie. Yes, a better build quality is appealing -- I hope to keep this a long time -- but worth $400?? Do you really expect the Tiagra to fail sooner? Or fall out of alignment easier? Or...... what?

But then there's the brakes. You're right, tednugent, the Tiagra has less powerful brakes, and in this case I DID feel the dif -- one of the first things I noticed. So that's an issue, especially since I'll be commuting in the rain and it doesn't look like I'll be getting discs, which would be ideal.

What would y'all do? :mad2:

AND, and..... while we're at it....

Another question entirely, about geometry:

In actual fact I was unable to ride this frame in what I THINK is my size: 58cm. Nobody had it nearby, so I rode the 56. I can drive 20 miles across town to get a 58 in another BS. But until I get the chance next weekend, I've been trying to solve this riddle:

As mentioned in my first post I'm mostly leg, less torso, so I'm always trying to get the bars closer. I'm sure the 58 will not be too long, leg-wise.... But which size will bring the bars closer to my waist? On the 58 the bars are higher, thus closer, but the top tube's longer. The 56 has a shorter top tube but I need to raise the seat-post, sloping it further away.

I know that empirical input from riding is what really matters. But no one shop has both sizes in stock -- I have to run around town to compare and can't do it back to back. :mad: Plus it bugs me that I can't figure this out rationally. (If the saddle were sitting right at the top tube in both cases, then I could do the geometry; but raising it up to the same height from the BB.... that's where I stopped taking math).

I asked this question of several bike shop guys and... -- you guessed it -- got two dif answers.

I know that I can get a shorter, or more angled, stem, but still.... I'd like to start with the most advantageous frame size.

Is there a right answer?
 

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Warbird Ti? That's pretty sexy but only a wet dream for now. I'll start w my everyday but satisfying Caadx.

Yes, Zeet, it's quite a rush when you finally decide! Felt like all the angst was immediately replaced by eagerness to get out there and buy the thing! But soon I realized I'm not out of the decision-making woods yet. :(

For one thing, my plan to buy the 105 version through REI just fell through. I WOULD'VE gotten a member discount of 10%, making the bike around $1450 after tax. But it turns out that very few REI stores are authorized to sell Cannondale. With few exceptions the company only wants to sell through small LBSs. What's wrong with these people!? They don't seem driven by the profit motive! Admirable, but a pain in the ass.

MEANWHILE, I have access locally to a Tiagra model from 2012, discounted 20%. So suddenly the difference between 105 and Tiagra is $400! That's pretty substantial. Worth it???

I'm told that the dif is less about crispness of shifting and more about weight and build quality: the 105 supposed to have more metal, less plastic, and be a tad lighter (though those two things would seem to be contradictory). I have to admit that I couldn't detect a shifting difference on my test rides. And I'm not a weight weenie. Yes, a better build quality is appealing -- I hope to keep this a long time -- but worth $400?? Do you really expect the Tiagra to fail sooner? Or fall out of alignment easier? Or...... what?

But then there's the brakes. You're right, tednugent, the Tiagra has less powerful brakes, and in this case I DID feel the dif -- one of the first things I noticed. So that's an issue, especially since I'll be commuting in the rain and it doesn't look like I'll be getting discs, which would be ideal.

What would y'all do? :mad2:

AND, and..... while we're at it....

Another question entirely, about geometry:

In actual fact I was unable to ride this frame in what I THINK is my size: 58cm. Nobody had it nearby, so I rode the 56. I can drive 20 miles across town to get a 58 in another BS. But until I get the chance next weekend, I've been trying to solve this riddle:

As mentioned in my first post I'm mostly leg, less torso, so I'm always trying to get the bars closer. I'm sure the 58 will not be too long, leg-wise.... But which size will bring the bars closer to my waist? On the 58 the bars are higher, thus closer, but the top tube's longer. The 56 has a shorter top tube but I need to raise the seat-post, sloping it further away.

I know that empirical input from riding is what really matters. But no one shop has both sizes in stock -- I have to run around town to compare and can't do it back to back.

Is there a right answer?
The following are my answers:

1) As long as you're not racing anybody, Tiagra will serve you well. You'll find it to be both responsive and long-lasting.

2) Frame sizes all vary from company to company and from brand to brand. Despite whatever may look right on paper, it still might not feel right on your body. Therefore, you simply must perform experiments (test-rides).

3) Despite the temporary PITA treks to different LBS, the bonanza at the end of the rainbow will be well worth it. Nothing takes the place of test riding for comfort and performance. That's why people date and cohabitate, before they get married.

Therefore, get out there and ride all the ones you like. Just be safe when you're doin' it! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yes but as someone who's recently separated (the bike is a small part of the midlife crisis), I can tell you it's possible to make a mistake even after test-riding. But that's another story.

Yeah I hear you about the Tiagra. Then there's the brakes. I suppose I can swap them out. But there goes some of the price dif.
 

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Yes but as someone who's recently separated (the bike is a small part of the midlife crisis), I can tell you it's possible to make a mistake even after test-riding. But that's another story.

Yeah I hear you about the Tiagra. Then there's the brakes. I suppose I can swap them out. But there goes some of the price dif.
Doesn't sound like there is a perfect bike for your needs.

Take the one you at minimum like, and over time (or immediately) tailor it to your needs & preferences.

Yes... I replaced the brakes to Shimano CX-70, got new drop bars with new bar tape (Specialized Ergo bars with Roubaix tape), new wheels (stan's alpha 400 with Shimano 105 hubs), new rear derailleur (SLX 9-speed) with 32T cassette, and eventually, a new saddle (probably a Specialized saddle, when I get a new saddle for the road bike)
 

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Yes but as someone who's recently separated (the bike is a small part of the midlife crisis), I can tell you it's possible to make a mistake even after test-riding. But that's another story.

Yeah I hear you about the Tiagra. Then there's the brakes. I suppose I can swap them out. But there goes some of the price dif.
Not that it rates as a highly recognized emergency or anything, but thirty bucks down the road, ain't exactly what I would call an actual deal breaker, "price dif" or not. Kool Stop brake pads will solve the braking issue. Trust me!
 

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I just picked up a Trek Crossrip Elite and after 100 miles it still puts a smile on my face each time I ride her. I would highly recommend the Crossrip Elite for anyone looking for a budget friendly do it all bike. It is a jack of all trades, very comfortable and spectacular for commuting. I just upgraded the tires for more street since I already have a 29er to hit the local trails and I can keep up with most of my roadie friends. Since there has not been really much talk about the crossrip, I am here to promote it! Here are some pics. ENjoy.

View attachment 281313

View attachment 281314

View attachment 281315
 

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Last winter I chose a Jake The Snake for commuting and winter riding.

I added SKS P35 fenders, road-compact chainrings, and 700x28 road tires. It's a fast, capable bike that got around 3000mi over Seattle's rainy season without needing more than occasional cleaning and lubing.

 
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