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

TRP CX8.4 Cyclocross Linear-Pull Brakes

I managed to get my hands on some pre-production CX8.4, the newest cyclocross brake from TRP first displayed during this year’s Sea Otter Classic.


Arguably tires are the single most distinguishing aspect of cyclocross bikes as they provide traction, suspension, and flotation over various non-paved surfaces impassable to road bikes. However, the brakes on cyclocross bikes have obsessed me for ages. I’ve never been totally happy with any solution so far. I bet hydraulics will be dope in a few years after technology for a shift/brake lever for discs has matured, but in the short run I’m only interested in rim brakes. Several of us at Bike Hugger tried the TRP CX9 mini linear-pull brake, but I for one didn’t like how it meshed with my preferred SRAM levers. The CX9 seems suited to a lever that pulls more cable than a traditional drop bar lever like the SRAM Double-Tap integrated levers, though the newer Shimano 7900 and 6700 levers fare a bit better because of their longer cable pull. When the lever pulls too little cable for the available lever travel, the system will have too much mechanical advantage at the pad/rim interface. The result is that the brakes have a squishy on/off feel lacking modulation and perhaps the pads sit too close to the rim.

This balance between lever pull and brake arm length is relevant to all linear pull brakes. In the 1990s the success of Shimano’s “V-brakes” caused an industry wide change to long-pull levers for mtb, but the road bike standards for drop bar levers remained unchanged. A drop bar lever paired to an XTR V-brake with 110mm long arms is unusable. QBP’s Problem Solvers brand developed the “Travel Agent” cable-pull adapter to solve this, but the device involving a pulley with 2 different radii is bulky and adds weight and friction to the brake system. Yet it does sufficiently reduce the lever’s mechanical advantage to work with a standard linear pull brake, though the mechanical leverage is still a bit high. Meanwhile, component manufacturers such as Tektro and even Campagnolo had introduced a number of “mini-V brakes” with arms less than 100mm to better match dropbar and older flatbar levers (though not necessarily for cyclocross). Often these products were OEM targeted at entry level city bikes, so the price was attractive but the quality somewhat lacking. Then cyclocross reached critical mass about 5-6 years ago, and the aftermarket for exotic CX brakes went red hot. TRP, Tektro’s premium division, trotted out the CX9 mini linear pull brake last year for riders looking for simplicity and power. Though the brakes immediately won a lot of fans among pro and recreational riders, there were still people holding back gushing praise, reasoning that the CX9 didn’t go quite far enough to solve the leverage problems for dropbar levers.

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WickWerks Cyclocross chainrings

WickWerks 01

I just got some cyclocross chainrings from WickWerks. Last season I ran a wide-range 10sp cassette with a 39T or 42T single ring up front. I was pretty impressed with how well that worked while racing or even commuting, but this time I want to go with a double ring setup on a compact crank, 11-28 or 11-25 cassettes. I figured a 44/34T combination would work best for me, since I like to spin. Most of the cyclocross ring combinations are 46/36T. I tried a TA Specialties 44T ring because it was one of the few 44T x 110bcd rings with pickup pins to aid shifting. In actual use, it sucked. If I put any power at all on the pedals, the chain could not be coaxed onto the big ring. Then I found out that Wickwerks makes a 44/34T combo for CX. I guess it makes sense since they sponsor Katie Compton, the most dominant American cyclocrosser ever, who has been using that ratio since before Wickwerks sponsorship (in fact, she used TA rings prior. Coincidence she changed?)

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We like Cross! Do You? Tell us How Much

So that our blog may serve you better, please provide answers to our questions in this form about Cross (after the jump). Our form bots will then crunch all the response into a fabulous report (charts and graphs) that our editorial committee will review. Note: if you send us weirdo/pervy answers, the bots are trained to ignore them. We’re also not spammers.

At the end of the form, you’ll find an offer to follow me on Google+ where I’ve set up the Suffer Faces Circle of Cross. If you’re down with Cross and indicate your “downness,” I’ll put you in the circle where we’re going to offer select content this Season.

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Enve for Cross


A photo teaser for a bike project we’re working on. That’s the Enve tapered Cross fork. The bike is being built here in Seattle in the brick building on the right by Bill Davidson with design and styling by Mark V.

It’s called the Cross Mode.

Thinking about petite women cyclocrossers and head tubes

5460958891_1abfbb4058.jpg My mind runs pretty random at times, so let’s just jump into the middle of my thoughts about Daphny van den Brand. She’s an 11-time Dutch national cyclocross champion, 1-time world champion. Despite having a subpar season last year, she can be a threat in any race she enters. This is impressive considering the presence of American Katie Compton and multi-discipline killer and fellow Dutch Mariane Vos. Daphny is also kinda a babe and a hottie shorty at 1.58M (5’2”). I saw some of her pictures online and I think I really want to ride her….her cyclocross bike, that is. Because at 1.6M, I would ride the same size frame as her. Her bike sponsor last year was Merida, who are little known here in the states but build the Taiwan frames for just about every brand that doesn’t get their Taiwan production from Giant (hint: Specialized). Merida isn’t imported in the states, so I won’t be riding Daphny’s 48cm stock carbon cx frame. But then again, with a 120mm head tube on top of the 400mm cx fork I would never be able to get the bars as low as I want without resorting to some goofy stem….and I’d only do that if I was paid to ride Merida bikes.

Looking at the photo above, I guess Daphy and I think alike. I love this woman. So does

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