Some people have New Year’s Day resolutions; I have pre-Interbike resolutions to stop buying stuff. These resolutions usually fail too, because after Interbike I always come away with a wish list of acquisitions. Number one on the list is a Bianchi Cross Concept Carbon frameset.
After a year or two of messing around with my dropbar mtb bike, I’m ready to try something different. Or rather, I keep wanting to modify the 2001 Bianchi Tycoon Ti into a more road worthy machine, but I hesitate to make changes that would ruin the offroad capabilities for which the frame was constructed. My offroad riding seems to be destined to be rather limited, so I’d rather have a bike that feels more similar to my road bikes. It’s a shame though, since I finally have the disc brake/brake lever/handlebar configuration dialed in. But why keep trying to make an mtb into a cyclocross bike, when I could just get a real cyclocross bike?
Twelve years ago I had a Bianchi cyclocross bike, the first of the Reparto Corse Cross Concept bikes. It was fully lugged, Dedacciai steel with threaded fork. I sold it after I got an mtb. Though the mtb allowed me to do more adventurous offroad rides with my friends, I’ve always regretted selling it. So since I already have experience with that geometry, I have faith that the 2010 Cross Concept will be a winner for me.
While at Interbike, I checked out the Bianchi booth for the Cross Concept. The Bianchi geometry for cyclocross is a little more road bike like than some other bikes, with a relatively low BB height. Much like the steel version I had, the 2010 model has excellent tire clearance, but like on many other carbon cx bikes, the Bianchi’s box-style chainstay/bb junction might catch some mud. One nice feature is the flattened underside of the top tube, which makes portaging the bike more comfortable.
Compared to my dropbar mtb, the Cross Concept’s braking is going to be a new adventure, as I will be trading away the outright power of mechanical discs for the light weight of cyclocross cantis. However, when st up right, I think that cantis have a more sporty feel than the current generation of mechanical discs (when connected to road levers). Road disc brakes are a little slow to develop power, so I don’t like them for twisty maneuvers that require rapid brake modulations. The cx cantis are a bitch to tune out though. Though I think that the TRP Eurox brakes are top of the heap for the current market, I will probably first try out my 20yr-old Deore high-profile cantis, saved from my last canti-equipped bike. I’ll be dropping a big chunk of green on the frame; I’ll need to be frugal on the components.
Keeping the flavour of retro parts out of my own parts bin, I’ll use the 1980s generation Dura Ace 7400 crank and 3T Gimondi handlebars that I’ve had stashed away. Not so retro is the Fizik Tundra saddle, but I’m just recycling it off my dropbar mtb. Anyways, I like the shape. I have a set of beat up DA on Mavic Open Pro, which will be good enough until I decide on (and can afford) something fancier. Maybe some tubeless rims and cross tires eventually, but those can wait.
Currently my plan for the drivetrain entails a single chainring setup. Actually, I might reuse the nine-speed 11-32 cassette and Jtek 10sp-to-9sp shifter adapter off my mtb. Besides allowing all the range of gearing I would need for racing and commuting in this area, the nine-speed cassette and chain should give better service life than 10sp options and cost less to replace. I might splurge for a Shimano Saint rear derailleur. Not a light weight option, but the short cage version would be perfect for single chainring/wide range cassette applications.
For levers, the natural choice is to pull the right hand 7800 STI off the dropbar mtb. With a single ring set-up, I’ll probably use the DA 7403 brake lever that coincidentally was previously on the dropbar mtb when I had a triple crank and bar-end shifter. If you recall, a road STI will not properly move a mtb front derailleur, nor will a road triple derailleur reach far enough outboard for a mtb triple crank. Of course, on the Cross Concept the reason I’d use a standard brake lever is because the bike will only have a single chainring.
So that about does it except for a few trivial parts. The Cross Concept frame costs $1900 retail with headset, and as a staff member of a dealer, I expect to pay something less. That’s how the bike industry seduces you….the industry deal. If it wasn’t for that, my Interbike resolution would be to get out of the bike industry….not until I get the toys I want, of course.