This looks like an excellent forum and I look forward to perusing them more in the near future! I am just getting into cyclocross, I am really pumped up about getting a first cx bike and attending a few events. I currently commute to work everyday all year round here in wisconsin. Just about time to throw on the studded tires, been lucky so far this year. I think this kind of commute (about 30 minutes in my otherwise busy schedule) will do well to get into cx. I am reading up on training techniques to increase my fitness levels on my commute. Great stuff out there. I do have a couple basic questions as well for picking up a first bike.
As you hear over and over and over my budget is of course rather limited. I am looking to buy a solid higher level used bike or a new entry level bike for under $1000. I currently am riding a 2009 Jamis Citizen3 which I am not really happy with. It also weighs in at a bit over 33 pounds.... figured with the cx season winding down it was a good time to look for something used but not totally beaten into the ground. If anyone has a solid used bike for sale feel free to give me a shout! Which leads into my first question:
Frame size! How the heck do I know what frame size I need? I am 6 feet tall, 190 pounds, inseam of 33 inches (and 44 so next year I go into the master 45+ cat 4 I would imagine). If you say you just gotta ride it and find whats comfy, I am gonna virtual smack ya :) .... I know it should feel good but there must be some way to determine what frame size is proper for you to make sure you can get the best handling etc etc. Also is a 54cm frame (just pulled that number out of my rear) the same for every manufacturer?
Pedals: what kind of pedals do you use when racing/commuting? same ones? Clip in's, plain old pedal? I have toe clips where I slide by shoe in on my current bike to make it easier for my hiking shoes now that its colder. I understand those wont really work for CX because you need to mount/dismount more quickly and smoothly. Do you actually clip your feet to the pedal when out on the cx course?
General stuff: There are soooooo many brands of bikes out there I am kind of lost for what to go with. This would be for a new bike as if I go used then I will just see what there is... I am kind of leaning towards redline or specialized as there is an Erik's bike shop here in madison that carries them. I am not considering a single speed bike. Darn it- there was something else too but it slips my mind now....
Thanks all! I look forward to hearing from you.
Solid response Oliver. I'd just add a few things. Fitting = yes, but just having numbers does nothing for you, unless you find a bike that fits those exact outputs. So, I'd suggest getting a fitting and then doing the research to understand how bike geometry works in the most basic terms. Ultimately, what creates comfort/power/seamless interaction with a bike is how you sit on it (I know this seems overly simple), and one of the major factors there is what they call reach. Basically the length from your seat tip to the center of where your handlebars meet the stem. Reach is mostly a function of seat tube angle and effective top tube length. Stem length is obviously a factor, but since it is a component you can swap out, let's table it for now. So, understanding how seat tube angle and top tube length interact is a critical piece of the equation many fitters don't discuss, and basically allows you to take your "ideal" fit and extrapolate it to any frame you might come across. The basic interaction is, for every degree of seat tube angle change, the top tube length moves ~1cm. For example, I am a small guy, my "ideal" fit is a 75 deg. STA and 51.5cm top tube. Compare that to a bike with a 75 deg. STA and a 53cm TT and I know I'll be stretched out another 2cm, as common wisdom says don't move the saddle to pedal dimensions, once those are determined. Or a 73 deg. STA and a 53cm TT, which actually fits me really well, because the more slack angle pulls the reach back 2cm. So it isn't just TT length alone. And definitely not only based on seat tube length (nominal frame size).
Although a fit will go a long way to help you avoid unwise purchase decisions, the above understanding will take the fit output even further as you compare it against new and used frames on the market.
As for some of your other questions/comments. You don't HAVE to race masters just because you are a certain age. Racing as a straight up 4 will just pit you against a much wider age range. No, not every frame "named" a 54cm will have the exact dimensions manufacturer to manufacturer. Again, driving home my point above, as you will have to interpret geometry charts and apply them to real life. Clip-in (actually called clipless, I know that is confusing) pedals are the standard, but really anything you can disengage from quickly will work. I've seen flats, clips, clipless all at races. Redline is a name very closely tied to CX. Specialized less so until rather recently. Most everyone have CX bikes now. I'd say Redline, Cannondale, Kona, and Fuji are the names I see alot and who have been in the game of CX for awhile. But there are plenty of quality options.
I'll shut up now. It is a tremendous sport I fell in love with after my first race. It is hard as hell, but over quickly and a whole lot of fun.
WOW! Thanks guys :) I think I will start with popping into a shop for a fitting on a bike I would be interested (probably a redline) in purchasing. I KIND OF understand your geometry lesson there.... kinda.... I will see if I can find more info there and learn about it. I am sure the person at the shop can help illuminate me too :)
So what is the diff between a clip and a clipless, gotta find out what spd is as well? Wiki here I come! I assume a flat is a plain old pedal