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Discussion Starter #1
I spent a few months lurking here and reading the archives before biting the bullet, selling my road bike and buying my JTS with Sibex fork. I bought the bike with the intension of it being a "training mule" that I could ride fireroads and occassional singletrack on instead of just riding the road to stay in shape.
I am finding that I really like riding singletrack on this bike. I actually did one of the regular organized night rides in the Raleigh area on it this week. What I found out is that I'm damn near as fast on my Jake as I am on my Titus fully! And the reaction that I got when I showed up with full mtb regalia (including winter mtb boots) on a "road bike" was almost as amusing as the look on the two guy' faces as I passed them over a log stack that they were riding around!
Do any of you guys (and girls) ride much singletrack on your CX bikes? What bars do you use? I'm finding that I ride mostly on the tops (I have top brake levers). Does anyone have suggestions for bars? I am trying to ride in the drops some, but just can't get used to it. I would hate to give up the drops for when I'm on the road though. I have read numerous posts with the different bars suggested, but am unsure what type of riding that folks do with the different bars.
Any suggestions would be appreciated.
c
 

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I absolutely love my DEDA shallow drop classic Newton bars for my cross bike. They're not cheap but I love the shallow drop (minimizes the difference between the hoods and the drops) and the curve is, for me, the most comfortable when in the drops.

I too love singletrack on my cross bike. I tend to ride in the drops when I'm descending because my position makes it comfortable enough and I feel more confident breaking hard in the drops.

I've tried a lot of different bars, bar positions and brifter (brake/shifter) positions and have found the following:

If you want to ride all terrain on the hoods, i've found that rotating them up quite a bit on your bars is the most comfortable and easiest to get some good braking power from the hoods. with this approach you're almost guaranteed to have poor brake reach/feel from the drops.

If you want to ride on the hoods and the drops, try to keep the hoods closer to the "traditional" position - regardless of how you end up rotating the bars. This will give you better brake reach/feel from the drops - and can still give you a comfortable position on the hoods.

But, your mileage may vary.

This is my current setup (it's a phone pic - but you get the idea):

 

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I raced a bunch of mountain bike races on my stock cross bike and won more than a few of them, the limiting factor seems to be speed on rough downhills and the tendency for the tires to pop. If the course is pretty open, you can walk away from the mtb's. Wet trails with a lot of roots and mud tends to be a weakness of sorts. You have to be willing to get off and run, but that can be pretty fast. I think having no suspension actually helps you ride better and it sure makes you pick a good line in the woods.

I ride a lot of singletrack just to keep from getting burned out from all the road training. I doubt it makes mne a better rider, but I really enjoy it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks guys, this is exactly the feedback I was looking for. One of the reasons I'm not comfortable in the drops off road is that although I'm 6'3", I have short fingers and can't naturally reach my Ultegra levers in the drops. The Deda advert says that the anatomical bend makes it easier to reach the brake levers-any comments.
Thanks again,
c
 

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my double cross has bontrager race lite, 44cm. it's one of the few 25.4mm clamp drop bars designed for off-roading.

i just re-wrapped the bar with flyte bar tapes, and they have a nice grippy texture close to mtn bike grips. pad it underneath and you get a very comfy offroad setup.
 

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I was wondering the same thing about riding cross bikes on mtb trails. I have been doing the local short track series on mine and love it. I would like to say that I am walking away from the competition but that would be a boldfaced lie :( By the way I just got a set of Kenda cross tires and love them. Anyone else have any experience with them
 

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For fun and endurance rides I'll do single track. I really don't have the bike handling to deal with our palmetto rooted trails very fast, but I can fly on doubletrack and "quad-track."

I like the salsa Bell Lap bars. Mostly I'm on the hoods, I've got long fingers and with Ergo levers can grab all the brake I can use.

Ron
 

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carter1 said:
Thanks guys, this is exactly the feedback I was looking for. One of the reasons I'm not comfortable in the drops off road is that although I'm 6'3", I have short fingers and can't naturally reach my Ultegra levers in the drops. The Deda advert says that the anatomical bend makes it easier to reach the brake levers-any comments.
Thanks again,
c
One other option for shortening the reach on Shimano brifters (at least the 9sp variety - not sure about 10sp) is to put a trimmed down piece of bar tape (the part with the adhesive backing) on the inside of the lever or the body where the lever and the body come in contact with each other. If you pull on the brake lever it's pretty visible. Not high tech but it can help. You can also use any number of self-adhesive bits you can buy at the office supply stores.
 

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It's exactly what the MTB pioneers were doing in the 70's, before they found it a "problem" to be "solved" ;-)
I think whether it works well depends solely on the rider's technical and fysical abilities.
Obviously on wet trails narrow tires are just faster, or the lighter bike to carry.
 

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I ride almost exclusively singletrack on my cross bike lately, and love it. Have to go a little slower in places, but very fun for a change from the dually. i am in the same boat on the tops vs drops, and keep adjusting my set up to try and find the sweet spot. Log\rock clearance is an issue, so I may ditch the 48T for something smaller
 

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I've used Kendas (the Kwicks) for a while. They aren't aggressive enough for the terrain in SoCal, IMHO, which is typically decomposed granite or decomposed sandstone, yielding a hard-packed base layer with a thin veneer of dust, sand and fine gravel. It usually feels like trying to walk over a smooth, wet concrete floor littered with ball bearings--very sketchy. If you live somewhere with moist, loamy soil, the Kwicks could be very good. The other problem with these tires was that I was using them as all-around meats on a couple of bikes, and they don't wear at all well on pavement. The weird exception was that the OEM Kwicks that Bianchi had on the Axis (on the '02 (and the '03?)) did hold up much better than the aftermarket ones I bought.
 

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I ride my 'cross bikes everywhere I'd ride my MTB's, it's great for your bike handling skills. I've also had my best placings in MTB races on a 'cross bike. I love it when everyone gives me a hard time on the start line about my "road" bike and how I'm going to get lapped. It makes standing on the podium laughing at the naysayers that much sweeter :p .
 

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I used to ride mine a lot offroad but mostly fireroads and very few singletracks. For tires I really like the Conti Twisters. Nice hook ups on the dirt and rolls pretty fast on pavement. I've tried a bunch of drop bars and a moustache bar but the one that really stands out is the Midge bar. It's a design that looks like the old WTB dirtdrops w/ a wider top and a short drop. You should really check it out and I highly recommend it if you like to ride your crss offroad. Here is a pic of my ride and sorry about the clutter :D

 
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