Cyclocross

We're so into Cyclocross that we made this special page for it. Also publish a Tumblr about Suffer Faces.

Stretching Tubulars

Hutch stretched

Hutchison Mamba being stretched

Spent a rainy, holiday weekend morning stretching tubulars. It was like wax on and wax off. First the stretched Hutch tire was moved to a new set of ENVEs we’re demoing, and another tire put on the stretching rim. It’s these routines, that lead to September, when kids go back to school, road season ends, and CX begins.

It’s a return to what we know, which is a return to things we have grown to love and trust.

Hutch CX

Mamba on an ENVE rim

Like the barrier drills practiced in a school yard, stretching a tubular is a return to a structure that gives room to practice, and learn and grow.

Back to bike school is the theme of Issue 16 of our magazine and we’re working on that now.

ENVE XC 29

Getting glued next

Pivot CX with the Vault

Pivot in the Trees

Pivot this bike in the trees

I had only a few short rides on the Vault before Pivot needed it back for their demo fleet. During those rides, what I noticed was a bike that would do most anything, and go anywhere. Glance down at the tubes and they look overbuilt, thick. The frame is designed for stiffness and durability. The spec didn’t bring out the best in the bike. It was like going to a gourmet burger joint and on the table is Heinz ketchup and mustard when you’re expecting a chipotle aioli. Pivot is smart though, they built the Vault up practically, and at a reasonable $3,599 MSRP. I’d liven up the ride by swapping out parts from the stock FSA kit with Stan’s wheels. Put those on the “B” bike.

What attracted me to Pivot, a MTB brand, for CX is the work they’ve done with MTBs. If you’ve been following my return to the mountain, I’ve been on many high-end bikes, including their all-new Mach 4. I rode the Mach 4 at PressCamp 14, and noted the details.

Di2 Battery

Ready for Di2

The frame design anticipated Di2 with thoughtful cable routing, and battery insert. You’ll find the same thoughtfulness on the Vault, as seen here with the in-stay brake placement.

TRPs

Spec’d with TRPs

To the TRPs, they’re much better than mechanicals, and have never been recalled! If I had more time with the Vault, I’m sure I’d discover the nuances in handling. What it does bombing down a gravel hill, or dropping into a mud pit, and out the other side.

For now, it’s a recommend bike, and really one that’s distinctive, like all of Pivot’s dirt bikes. I was sad to see it go so soon.

More photos of the Vault are on G+ and Instagram.

Cross Tips Playlist


A collection of our Cross Tips in one playlist, including the ever popular Cyclocross Shenanigans and a clinic with Crosssports.

CX-1: First Impression and Race

Crux with CX-1

A Crux with CX-1, Zipps, and Sammy Slicks

Another Crux is in with CX-1 and the updated Hydro. First impression: don’t know what you got ‘till it’s gone and the Hydro is def improved with less deadstroke at the lever before the pads hit the rotor. At the same time, there are less ting-ting sounds from the rotor while riding because the new pad spreader gives the pads a little more clearance. The CX-1 also improves what privateers had done themselves in Cross with hacked single chainrings and MTB derailleurs, by trimming all the fat and kludges from the equation. The X-Horizon’s non-slanting parallelogram design eliminates ghost shifts due to chain bounce while the X-Sync is the narrow-wide tooth profile on the chainring which, in conjunction with the roller clutch in the derailleur’s pulley cage, allows the CX-1 drivetrain to operate on a single chainring without the use of chain deflectors, guides, or guards. Rather than taking a modern, integrated drivetrain and then subtracting half, CX-1 is optimized for being more from less.

CX1

Non-slanting parallelogram

That’s a lot of X this and that from SRAM, as King Crimson would say, some Elephant talk

I’ll decode the X terminology to mean CX-1 is a one-by drivetrain for road/cross with a chain that doesn’t slap around or fall off. As long as you shift like you mean it, with a quick stab, it’s precise and tight too. As a big-ring roleur, I was skeptical when JP from SRAM told me to run a 40-tooth ring, but the setup was perfect for the Kermesse yesterday that featured a mile of rocky service roads and another of chipseal.

In that race, what I know is, I made the 1st-lap fast split, felt great, and then had breathing difficulties. Lost a lap to get the rescue inhaler, back in, and then a rock kicked up into my shin. With much cursing, I was another lap down. Rode it out at tempo, and finished, probably 3 down. Then I drank a Rainer beer with Mt. Rainer in sight.

Racing is often like algebra and fire…a complicated interplay of structures with starts and finishes, confusion; it’s unpredictable yet inevitable and often combustible.

What you do is prepare as best you can and put your bets down on the table. Considering neutral wheels are no longer available for this course (cause of all the flats) I ran Sammy Slicks at 45 PSI in the front and 43 for the back. That meant I bounced across some of the rocks, but also didn’t pinch flat and carried momentum into the paved section. As slicks, I kept the bike upright in the tight, gravel turns.

The Mashel Nisqually Kermesse kicked of the 14/15 Cross season for us. As the promoter, Prudog said

Kermesse are the only road-esque races where you get dropped and finishing still feels great. Beer helps.

For more on CX-1, see Mark’s review and for the Crux, this tag.

He’s Not Racing Road with these….

Camo

ballah

Didn’t know I wanted Camo Sidis with pink socks until I saw Blake wearing them last night. Blake is getting ready for Cross season…that starts for us immediately after the Tour. And we’re getting real restless about it.

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