Hey Kevin! Stoked to hear you're getting into 'cross... especially single speed!
In regard to steel vs. aluminum I'll take steel any day. Maybe it's a tiny bit heavier in general, but it's so much more forgiving. In 'cross, you're riding skinny tires on rough terrain with no suspension... a frame that has a little more spring is worth serious consideration.
Specifically, I would suggest the All-City Nature Boy... that's what I rode last season. I'm not recommending this bike because I'm paid to ride one. In fact, I did spend my own money to get mine. They're a lot of bang for the buck... 4130 butted frame, internal brake cable housing, rust resistant coating (inside and out), built in chain tension screws, and good geometry. I bought the frameset, but their complete has a good build for the price... a great starting point at the very least.
Let me know if I can help with anything else, such as sizing.
Thanks for the info and the encouragement. I am 51 so am guessing I will be in a Masters Class for beginners? Wondering what to expect. It looks like local races are pretty open and relaxed but, I don't want to get in anyones way. This will be my first shot at any kind of bike racing.
Does your local series have a single speed specific category? If so, you can't go wrong entering that class. The SS class usually includes a wide range of abilities from beginners to advanced racers. Is your series big enough that it has a beginners master class? Entering either beginner or your age group class would be fine. Also, don't worry too much about getting in the way of others. Just hold your line and try not to do anything too erratic when others are in close proximity to you. If someone needs to get around you, well, it's good practice for them. That's racing.
It's awesome to hear you're jumping in to bike racing!
Hi JT, out of curiosity how did you build up your Nature Boy?
To add to the SingleSpeed sentiment, on singletrack.com Heather Irmiger (although not referring to CX) said, "Riding a singlespeed is the closest to Jedi anyone can get on a bike."
Hey Mike, check out my profile picture... it's my Nature Boy build.
Leader carbon fork
FSA Orbit X headset
Cane Creek brake levers
Rolf Prima SSCX wheels
White Industries freewheel
Michelin Mud 2 tires
Challenge latex tubes
Cane Creek brakes (actually, I used TRP EuroX most of the season)
Sugino square taper cranks
Crank Brothers Candy pedals (also used Eggbeaters)
By the way, I like the quote!
Why single speed? SS bikes allow you to focus on the technical riding at hand, not what gear you should be in. There's so much going on in a 'cross race that going SS helps simplify things mentally... great for beginners. SS is not always as big of a disadvantage as one might think... cx courses are generally pretty flat, at least here in the U.S.. SS drive-trains work well in sloppy conditions and are easier/cheaper to maintain. SS bikes have the potential to be lighter. SS bikes are usually less expensive. Riding a SS will whip you into shape. Riding a SS will make you tough. One can get great satisfaction from beating the geared competition on a single speed. My two cents...
JT's response pretty much sums it up, especially the simplicity and hopefully the expense part. IThough am not sure there is any logic involved on my part, unless it is the simplicity. I am hoping I can manage it as I don't want to buy multiple bikes and want fewer things that can go wrong during a race. Just to be honest, I suppose there is some ego invovled. It is not the average cyclocross, etc., etc. Shouldn't be important, and is not the dominant drive, but is still part of it. Mostly I want to try something new involving a bike that is challenging and where I get to meet some new folks. Thanks for asking.
Simplicity and that ego/drive to be different are probably among the most common, and best, reasons to ride SS. I rode SS MTB for awhile, so I certainly understand the logic. I was just curious since it strikes me as a little unique to jump into such a challenging class.
Anyway, there are a lot of great options out there for SS bikes and frames. One thing I would recommend is tracking down some SS folks in your area for advice. They can probably point you to a good source for parts and such and get you started on tracking down the elusive perfect gearing.
Plenty of good folks around to provide advice as well. Welcome to the Cowbell!
Sorry JMack, I thought you were asking 'why single speed' as a general question, rather than directed towards Mr. Fenton specifically.
I do think SS is a good way for someone to start racing cx, even if they think they might upgrade to gears at some point. Again, just one less thing to think about while learning the ropes of 'cross.
Did you like riding SS MTB? Ever thought about trying SS CX? I highly recommend it! Cheers!
Thanks. I appreciate the feedback from everyone as I have no idea what I am getting into. I mostly mountain bike. I am now trying to connect with local SS folks. I emailed the area WCA contact and he returned my email. Am now waiting for someone more local to contact me.
The challenge of it is part of the draw. Mostly just want some challenging fun that will push me out the comfort zone. So far it seems the cyclocross culture is pretty open and welcoming. Am looking forward to getting connected. And what isn't to like about buying a new bike.