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Hey all, I'm new to Cyclocross and, as all noobs, need help getting the right bike. For now I want to use to to train for a sprint tri in September but after that I'm interested in training and possibly competing in cyclocross events. I've checked out a few bikes but I want to get some good advice. I'm looking into the following:


- Cannondale CAAD8CX 5

- Specialid Tri Comp Sport Triple

- Kona Jake the Snake

- Kona Major


Through talking to people I realize that it's important that the frame is solid and set up well enough for current use and versatile enough to add components to it later. So, which one of these has the best current set up for a newbie as well as the best frame to upgrade as I get into the sport more.


I appreciate all suggestions.

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I bought a Kona Jake the Snake last season and I really like it. But, I primarily ride rail trails.

I don't recommend it for racing. The 54cm frame comes in at just under 23 lbs, and that's without waterbottles or peddles. It also has a little heavier non-folder tire. I think that if you can afford it, you'd be happier with the Major Jake.

I have no idea where the other two bikes fit in vs these two. I've heard that Cannondale has a damned savage ride that'll about jar your wrists off. But, considering that this came from a dealer who sells Kona, I'm not sure if it can be taken seriously. Maybe someone else here can shed some light on the truthfulness (or lack of it) of that statement.

Good luck.
For your first CX bike, I would go with the Jake the Snake - Yea it's heaver than the Major, but it should be less expensive. I never recomend you go all out on your fisrt CX bike. You will want to see how you like it, what you want to change, & you will break a few things I am sure. I agree with Tom S 1000%...The Cannondale will hurt in very VERY bad BAD BAD ways!!! Specialized seems to be a pretty solid bike but I again would put the cost as a factor.

A good example of this is we had a new racer last yeat drop $3000 + on a new BLUE Carbon & on race #2 broke off the rear DA derailer, snaped off a lever & bent the bar.... I'm just sayin Cross is hard on bikes & if you are new, I wouldn't spend a lot on your fist bike.

I also come from the school that you will replace your frame every 3ish seasons or so if you become a serious racer due to wear & tear
Thanks for the advice so far. I can imagine these bikes take a lot of wear and tear which is why I'm interested in getting the best frame of the entry level to mid level bikes, or at least something in the $1400 price range, so that when the components get messed up I can replace them.
@ Oliver, my plan is to use it for the sprint Tri and then use it for cross, either racing with it or using it in the same type of terrain. If I decide I want to continue to do Tris then I'll get a Tri bike later on. As a noob just getting into this one tends to initially lean towards the flashy and name brand which is why I'm stoked I found this magazine to get some solid opinions from people who know. I've gathered that the most bank for my buck will be to go with some like a JtS and not necessarily the flashy name brand. It's funny, I tested the Cannondale CAAD8CX5 and compared to the Specialized the ride was not as smooth. As mentioned before, I'm just trying to find the best frame knowing that I'll have to replace the components through wear and tear or because I want to upgrade at some point.
Hey Rick,

You got lots of great responses - good info there. Agree with Oliver - glad you found the site & definitely use search!

The only thing I might add is that if your continued use plan is to do dual duty for sprint tris (road?) and cx, you might look for a bit more aggressive geometry - shorter chainstays, steeper head angles. It probably won't even matter if your road rides are straight and flat but you might appreciate it on group rides, more twisty and up and down, etc. But of course, that might come at the expense of your comfort handling in the sketchy stuff like gnarly downhills.

good luck and have fun.
Man, glad I found this place. I'd been trying to get a discussion going with some bike shops but wasn't getting much help at all. I guess I'm split between the Kona Jake the Snake and the Specialized Tric Cross Comp Sport; any opinions between those two?
Hey Rick - is there a Comp Sport? I saw a Comp and a Sport Triple. First, I'd go by fit - if one brand fits you better, go with that (that's where a shop can help you). It seems like in a 56 size both are sized pretty similarly - geometry reasonably close too. After that, I'd go with what you can afford. The Kona is more affordable for 105 stuff.

I'm guessing that you'll want a tall gear for your tri if there are any pedaling downhills. The tall gear on the kona is a 46x12 - the specialized has a slightly funky 34/48 chainring combo. that's a big gap for cx but the 48 might be better for the road, and the 34 may be good for harder trails. If you get an 11t cassette, either crank should be OK for all but the strongest rider or downhills on the road. the standard road tall gear is a 53/12 just for comparison. sometimes I use a 48x11 on the road and it works fine even for fast group rides.

the triple gives you lots of options but is clunky in racing.
@Andrew, my bad, it is the Tricross Sport Triple. I've tested that one and it is a comfy ride. I'm going to test out the Kona in a few days and see how it feels. Thanks for the advice.
Just as a data point, I've done a sprint tri on my cross bike and it was fine. Even an olympic-distance tri is only 40km, and sprints are usually way shorter.

Road tires, though, for sure.

Cross is fun, whatever bike you do it on, and whatever bike you buy, you'll almost certainly want something better in a year or two. But it's true that it can be hard on a bike, specially when you are getting started.
Hi, I'm new to cyclocross.. and cycling all together so my opinion doesn't carry much weight but I figured since I just went through this I'd offer my input.

I considered the Kona JtS and Specialized Tricross Sport but settled on a Fuji Cross Pro. I know the Fuji isn't on your list, but just something for you to consider. I picked up an 09 new for a great price way less than the Kona or the Specialized.
@Mark T, thanks for the advice. This is a difficult decision... but one I want to get right. For now I'm going to try and check out the Specialized Tricross Sport, the Kona Jake the Snake, and I'll take a look at the Fuji Cross Pro and the Cross Comp.
Just checked out a Fuji Cross Comp and I liked it, and not just because I can get it for about 1K. The bike felt good. I know that the framce is a little less cross since the top tupe is round and not flat on the bottom but considering I want to use the bike for riding, training for my sprint triathlon and possibly half triathlon later on, having a bike that is a little closer to a road frame may not be so bad. Still, I do want to give cross a try so what does everyone think about this bike? I'm checking out the Kona JtS next weekend.


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