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A wheelist
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Here is my new Dirt Road Bike. I won't call it a cyclocross bike as I'll never race Cyclocross, and a few parts on it will upset the cyclocross purists, leaving them gasping for air. So, it's named for what *I* will do with it. Where I live in south western Ontario Canada we have a monster network of unpaved dirt/gravel roads that criss-cross the farming community.

I've ridden these roads for years on my dirt-roadified mountain bike but I've always known that a 'cyclocross' bike would be ideal as most of my rides are a combination of paved road sections, much dirt road and some mountain bike/walking trails. Using all three types of terrain I can creatively ride the best and safest routes. Paved road traffic is becoming much worse and as I get older, my tolerance gets lower.

The dirt roads are very quiet and it's rare to see a vehicle and even rarer to see another cyclist. I can count numbers of other riders easily on one hand and that's over about twenty years. I guess they find the dirt roads "boring" but I've never asked.

My bike is a medium budget build based on the cost-effective workhorse custom Marinoni Fango cyclo-cross frame. Marinonis are kind of local to me as they're made up here in Canada (Montreal; 7 hours away) and I've had a four of them since 1975. My son lives 30kms from the shop. The delivery of the frame was 10 weeks and communication is not their strong point. I guess they're very busy. There's no point in annoying them by repeatedly calling for an update but it did get frustrating.

Nine speed stuff was chosen to keep my costs down and the unusual 14-25 cassette was chosen so that I'd get a very usable 18t sprocket in place of a 13 or 12 that I'd rarely use. Now I have a straight through 14-19 instead of the 17-19t jump. All very carefully considered!

The Challenge Grifo Dry clinchers were chosen to (hopefully) add to the quality of the ride. I didn't want to revert to tubulars so I figured they were the next best choice. The front mini-v brake was chosen as the frame builder claims it will give a 99% guaranteed shudder-free carbon fork - something that couldn't be guaranteed with a front cantilever. I don't understand the physics of that so I listened to the experience of the builder. Both brakes feel great, especially with the high spring tension I have dialed in and they're powerful and quiet.

The frame's top tube is ovalized and used in the "flat" position which is better for cyclocross shouldering I guess. I went with a retro paint scheme with old-style panels and old style lettering. The lettering is "pick off" stuff where the letters are placed on the white (it's an off-white really), the red sprayed over them and then the letters are picked off. This leaves the lettering as negative painted letters. The rear triangle is 3/4 chromed with a painted brake bridge.

Andy Hampsten calls his dirt road bike the Strada Bianca and the story of Andy's bike came at just the right time. He's an all-terrain rider too and his bike is named after the white dirt roads in Italy where he rides, lives part time and runs a bike tour company. The white roads are the scene of the very popular L'Eroica pro bike race. I guess mine should be a Strada Marrone (brown road!). What would be great is if Andy would call me and ask to go riding.

Frame - Marinoni custom Fango cyclocross. Zona steel. Oval top tube. Weight - 1920g. Complete bike - 9276g or 20.4lbs
Fork - Trigon carbon fibre (same fork as Ritchey WCS) Weight - 467g.
Wheels - DuraAce/Open Pro/DT Comp/alum nipples. 32h. From BicycleWheelWarehouse.com. Weight - 1762g without skewers.
Cranks - Shimano R600 Compact. 170mm.
Rings - Boone titanium 46t/Shimano 34t. The Boone isn't shown here.
BB - Ultegra.
Shifters/Brake Levers - Ultegra 9spd
R. Derailer - Ultegra.
F. Derailer - now a DuraAce.
Brake - front - Tektro Mini-v with Travel Agent.
Brake - rear - Paul Touring cantilever.
Tires - Challenge Grifo Dry clincher. In the wet season - Vittoria XG Pro.
Headset - Cane Creek S3.
Pedals - Crank Bros Eggbeaters.
Cassette - Ultegra 14-25. 9spd. Or 12-27.
Chain - DuraAce.
Bars - Ritchey WCS.
Stem - Ritchey WCS.
Seatpost - Ritchey WCS.
Saddle - Modified Brooks Pro. In the wet season, an old, re-covered Concor.
Tape - Deda. Fizik bar gel.
Extras -
Salsa Lip Lock seatpost clamp 30.0mm.
Surly rear brake cable hanger.
3rd eye chain watcher.
Cages - VeloOrange Moderniste Stainless.
Incredibell trail bell.
Computer - Sigma 1606L wireless.
 

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professional lurker
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463 Posts
I too enjoy riding on dirt roads, but I'm sure I have to hunt a little harder than you to find them! Your gearing wouldn't be my preference but I won't be riding it! Big fan of WCS stuff and that is a pretty nice looking frame. Great job!
 

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waterproof*
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41,745 Posts
Nice build. I'm a fellow dirt road fan and I always remind the roadies... a dirt road is still a road, so let's go. They look at me with fear in their eyes and mumble excuses. Oh well, their loss, I've had some awesome rights on dirt and gravel while they cower on the shoulder of the highways.
 

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A wheelist
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11,689 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Red Sox Junkie said:
Your gearing wouldn't be my preference but I won't be riding it!
Of course gearing is very personal; dependent on us and our terrain and no matter what we choose, it's a compromise.

I live in mildly rolling terrain with one short, sharp local hill (1/4 mile, 15%) and normally ride it on my mountain bike's 34/28 or 32. I tried it, for a giggle on my Dirt Road Bike today with its low of 34/25 and I struggled up it as I figured I would. Of course I can easily leave that hill out and I'd rather do that than to provide gearing for it.

As my normal speeds are between 12 and 25mph (I average 17mph on dirt roads) my gearing was chosen to reflect this.

Long live custom bikes.
 

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A wheelist
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11,689 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
toomanybikes said:
A Carl Strong coupled bike I had made.
I remember it and I found it - the dark green bike with the cream panels. That nice bike had me re-thinking my color scheme that I had ordered. Do I go flashy as I had ordered or do I change the colors to dignified and stealthy? In the end I went with my original choice with the reasoning that if I can't be fast at least I can be flashy.
 

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I'll give you a small suggestion for a great bike. You really don't need cross tires, even dry condition tires for dirt roads. Traction isn't really the problem (are you doing corners at race pace?). The issue is volume. You should go with something like the Rivendell Jack Brown (33 1/3 c) or the Grand Bois Cypres (30 c). These would make the paved road between the dirt roads more pleasant.

I'll likely go even a bit skinnier on my new dirt road SB, like the Riv Rol-y Pol-y's.
 

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A wheelist
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11,689 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
ss-jimbo said:
I'll give you a small suggestion for a great bike. You really don't need cross tires, even dry condition tires for dirt roads. Traction isn't really the problem (are you doing corners at race pace?). The issue is volume. You should go with something like the Rivendell Jack Brown (33 1/3 c) or the Grand Bois Cypres (30 c). These would make the paved road between the dirt roads more pleasant.
I'll likely go even a bit skinnier on my new dirt road SB, like the Riv Rol-y Pol-y's.
After about five months of riding this bike 3x weekly on dirt roads, paved roads and smoothish trails (usually all on the same ride) I know that I do need some form of cyclocross tire. I've been using Challenge Griffo Dry tires (file tread, side knobs) and yes, I take many corners at "race pace".

Those tires have been fine for dry weather dirt roads and trails with a few slides on loose dirt corners and one major slide-out in sand, otherwise I've managed to stay upright.. When I've encountered bits of mud on the trails they have been very squirmy and I wouldn't like to corner at any speed with them. Because of this, for the wetter fall months, (just arrived) today I ordered some Schwalbe Racing Ralphs. They'll give me peace of mind.

I've seen the Jack Browns at Rivendell and I wouldn't use them beyond paved roads or pedestrian cornering on dirt.
 
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