I’m not an evangelist, but, if you are looking to upgrade your current road bike, you really need to seriously look at getting a decent cx or gravel bike instead of a road bike. My next upgrade of my road bike will be
For most of us, a tripped out high spec bike is nice to look at but something that would just be a plain waste. Have a look at Graemes excellent discussion from the Sticky “Its not about the bike – the illogical nature of performance upgrades”
A gravel or cx bike will open up up your riding opportunities multi-fold without having a noticeable effect on your day-to-day riding. The cx/gravel will provide you with tyre clearance that will get you up to 42mm and maybe more, and that will get you to just about anywhere except the mountain bike trails. About the only issue is what you shod your bike with. The 2H cx bike i picked up came with two sets of wheels, so I’ve put some gravel tyres on one, and have standard road tyres on the other.
There are some excellent tyres in the market place that perform well on the gravel and aren’t too limiting on the road, so you could get away with the one set, or if you’re happy changing tyres, the one set of wheels will do. For convenience, pick up a set of second wheels.
So, to show you what you can get out there, and this is just a very quick look at whats available in Australia, I’ve been exploring the intrawebbything and found these gravel/cx bikes.
A brief sampling of some of the different brands in the cx range.
Curve – Grovel CXR Titanium Frame
Frame only – $2,599.00
Frame spec for building your CXR Frame –
- Double Butted 3AL 2.5V Titanium
- 12mm x 142mm Rear Dropout
- External cable routing – We opted for top tube cable routing
- Configured for 1 x drivetrains only. 2 x set ups please contact us.
- Threaded 68mm BSA bottom bracket.
- Custom machined 44mm head-tube. Press-In cup – type headset helps eliminate unwanted creaks.
- Hard wearing, easily refreshed raw Ti finish. Our standard finish is the two-tone, brushed/bead blasted finish with the asymmetric Curve artwork. Paint is an optional extra.
- Replaceable hanger.
- Tyre clearance – up to 700 x 38
- 12 x 142mm Skewer with grub screw supplied
Australian collaborators that can help you build your ti cx bike are here. https://www.curvecycling.com.au/pages/collaborations
More details on Curve here – https://www.curvecycling.com.au/
Bombtrack are a German company based in Cologne making some pretty rad bikes.
The Hook 3 is a little different to their standard steel bikes, this is a much lighter carbon fiber CX race machine. The drivetrain is a SRAM Force 1×11, with its clutch derailleur and wide/narrow chainring working together to eliminate dropped chains. This steed is provided with Clement MXP folding tyres wrapped around the tubeless ready DT-Swiss R23 wheels.
Internally routed Force hydraulic brakes provide excellent CX stopping power
Further information here – http://bombtrack.com/
The Bombtrack dealer in Adelaide is http://treadlybikeshop.com.au/
The Norco Threshold Rival1 is a 2016 carbon CX with full SRAM gear components. with disc brakes, thru-axels on both the front as well as rear wheels. The Norco comes set up with a 42-tooth chainring and an 11-32 cassette, which may be a little limiting on a steep loose climb.
It’s shod with Clement Crusade PDX 700 x 33c over A-Class rims and hubs and that are tubeless-ready.
The single chainring for CX is a good option as theres less opportunity for the mud to get and play havoc with a front derailer, and with a thick-thin chainring and clutch mech mean there’s no chain slap or dropped chains.
Further information here – http://www.norco.com/
The dealer in Adelaide is 99Bikes, and is on sale at $2,499, down from standard retail price of $3,799. http://www.99bikes.com.au/2016-norco-threshold-rival1
Niner—an American brand whose bread and butter is 29” mountain bikes, offers up the RLT 9 (that acronym stands for ‘Road Less Travelled’) in either alloy ($1,690) or steel ($2,390) variants, both supplied with a carbon fork.
Offering abundant tyre clearance with plenty of mounting points for touring and bikepacking purposes. You can spec it in a multitude of ways, you want a rigid drop-handlebar mountain bike, you can fit up to 29×1.75” tyres, depending on the model). If you want a touring bike, great—there’s mounting points all over, and if you want a road bike, spec it with narrow tyres and road gearing. Options for drivetrains are suitably catered for, from single-speed to triple chainring cranksets all the way up to Di2. You can slice and dice it in all sorts of ways, and it promises to be pretty capable no matter which you opt for.
With a Force 1 build, it comes with a 10-42T cassette and a 1 x 40T Chainring. Rowney Sports (the Australian distributor) have this priced at $5,490. It also comes with a massive 4omm of rubber with the Maxxis Refuse 40mm.
Surly Cross Check
The Cross Check is a cyclocross bike by category, has lots of space for fat tyres and fenders.
The frame nor the component spec of the bike has changed much since it was introduced almost a decade ago. The frame tubing is CroMoly steel.
There are two versions of the Cross-Check complete. One is a 2×10, with drop bars, cantilever brakes and traditional bar-end shifters. The other is a singlespeed, geared 42/17, with a Salsa Motoace riser bar, Avid V-brakes and 42mm Continental Tour ride tyres
Australian Distributor here – http://www.scvimports.com.au/index.php
Priced at $1,900.
Superlight, super stiff, sure foot controlled handling and comfort are just some of the attributes designed into the CXR frame and fork. Add in the versatility that mudguard and rear rack mounts offer and you have a platform that is equally at home on the international race circuit as it is in the toughest sportive.
The CXR 9.4 is a pure race spec cyclocross bike, ready to race straight out of the box. With a super light, super stiff thru-axle carbon frame and fork, combined with the brilliantly simple and effective Sram Force CX1 groupset, you’ll have more headspace to focus on making smooth turns and accelerating cleanly out of every corner to chase down your nearest competitors.
Pushys have this at $3,500 spec’d with Sram Force CX1, 38T chainrings, Hydraulic brakes, 11-36 cassette and FSA Team Issue chains.
The pictures here are the Di2 – sorry
The Psychlo x RSL is a light, stiffest, high-performance titanium cyclocross bike. It’s not cheap at $7,069 for the frame only at cycling edge – see here http://www.cyclingedge.com.au/psychlo-x-rsl
But it does look sweet.
Seven sizes and seven designs, all angles, tube lengths, tube diameters and wall thicknesses are size-selected to create the perfect ride. As their website says, “Pure Cyclocross performance— quick handling — pinpoint geometry — balanced under pedal and on shoulder — the bomb proof ride of Ti”
Trek – Boone – http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/bikes/road-bikes/cyclocross-bikes/boone/boone-race-shop-limited/p/2468000-2017/
Canyon – Inflite – https://www.canyon.com/en-gb/road/inflite/inflite-al-slx-9-0-pro-race.html
Kinesis – Crosslight – http://www.kinesisbikes.co.uk/Catalogue/Models/Crosslight/PRO6-DISC
Cannondale – CAADX – http://www.cannondale.com/en/Great%20Britain/Bike/ProductDetail?Id=204692c5-d4cc-4db4-8ef5-d7971ef46aae&parentid=622a6325-7132-482b-b1e2-302fbe5ed512
Specialized – CruX – https://www.specialized.com/us/en/bikes/cyclocross/crux
Focus – Mares – https://www.focus-bikes.com/gb_en/cyclocross/mares
Jeez, there’s heaps out there and I can’t do them any justice at all, so do yourself a favour, seriously, do yourself a favor. Next time your walking through your LBS, walk on past the road bikes and wander on over to the cx bikes. Get out of your mind how clunky they look with the knobblies on them and picture yourself out there on the open (gravel) road, wind in your hair (although most cyclist don’t have any), seeing things that you probably would never have seen before.
Better still, take a drive up in the hills, take a drive across the gravel roads, do some exploring, back of Forest Range, beyond Woodside, West of Kersbrook, take a gander, stop the car, get out and just have a look. All it takes are some decent wheels on a cx bike. Go on. Do it.
Oh sorry – can’t forget this – the Cannondale Slate 105 as reviewed last post.
Which leads me nicely into the following.
So, i participated in the inaugural Gravelaide ride a week and a bit back. This was the ride that tipped me over the edge to getting a bike suitable for gravel riding a few months back.
In short, it was a ripsnorting ride, it had almost everything, it was one of the toughest rides I’ve ever ridden. I think the 3 Peaks was harder, it played games with the mind, but even though Gravelaide #1 was only 105 km long with around 1,600m vertical gain, but it was a struggle all the way. Riding gravel does make you think about what you are doing, i have no doubt that it will improve my cycling skills, but when the weather turned on us that Sunday, it was rough.
The day started off well enough with around 80 cyclists turning up at Mt Torrens for a respectable 9am rollout. The sun was shining, there was a slight breeze but nothing to raise an eyebrow at Everyone was chirpy and were quite enthused about the first Gravelaide.
There was a 60 km route and a 100km route, the latter having a 40km loop added to the 2/3 mark of the 60km loop, down towards the Murray River, I’d signed up for the 100km loop, thinking even at 20km per hour that’d be a 5 hour ride. Surely not.
Setting off from Mt Torrens oval had us winding through a mix of private property driveways taking us through some marvelous rolling hills, bumping into property owners and wandering cows gave it a unique rural feel.
It wasn’t too long though before the technicalities of a gravel ride started to pop up when we hit a sand. It also wasn’t too long before i found that my technique was lacking a bit. I had my weight a little too far forward, ploughed into the sand and tracked into the bush. OK, first lesson learnt, more weight on the back wheel over the sand.
The gravel rolled along quite nicely until I hit rutted hole at the bottom of one of those nice nice long smooth descents. In the dappled shadows i didn’t spot it until i was almost on it. That and the fact I was playing with the camera didn’t help too much also. Bam, that sinking feeling of feeling the rim bottom out and then that pissed feeling when you feel a little bit further up the road when you feel a little wobble, look down and realise your tyre isn’t looking do healthy. Bugger.
Front wheel flat, so it wasn’t too long before i was back on the road again enjoying the scenery and “bumping” into people I had only met online before. Hmm, that didn’t sound right. Things were moving along smoothly. Yessss.
By this stage the wind was starting to pick up.
It wasn’t too long before the ride became insane, in a god way, We were riding along goat trails. In fact have you seen those goats that climb up near vertical walls in the search of mineral salts to lick? I think i passed a few of them on the roads we were travelling on.
The fire trails had huge rain ruts in them, and at one stage i can remember thinking i might be taking this a little too fast as I was bucked back onto the bike after losing control going downhill.
With all the sharp rocks and perhaps taking it a bit too fast, you guessed it, lesson #2, a little more cation downhill – puncture # 2. People riding past saying “not again”.
Hmm, a little awkward, not expecting two flats, my second tube was a leftover 25mm tube. Had me feeling a little exposed with more than 50 km left of the route. Fortunately the guys had a spare spare at the hydration stop a while later that i could borrow to allow me to carry on.
Steep Hill Road lived up to its name, fricken steep, but with the ever strengthening wind, riding up on the pegs allowed the wind to act like a sail and help me up. Across the top however was a sign of things to come. Cross winds had everyone fighting just to stay upright. It was a challenge. Fortunately though we eventually turned east and wound down through scenic valleys towards the Murray Plains. Heck, the wind was so strong there we were even pushed up a light gradient hill. How sweet was this, but, there was a but coming, a big one.
The Murray plains was flat and a big contrast from where we had just come.
A few kms away from the river we swung north and hit the cross winds again, this time they seemed to have picked up in strength, and then a few kms later, swung back into the wind to start the long slow grin back into the wind.
Riding at 13 kph into 60kph headwinds was terribly hard, but the hard part hadn’t yet been seen. The climb back up Mt Botroff into the headwind with a 32-25 gearing was for me impossible. And not only were we competing against the wind, it started raining vertical sheets of needle like rain. Ouch.
Once over the top it didn’t get much better. Fatigue was setting in, headwind wasn’t letting up, and a bit further down the track a 3rd friggin puncture and a busted spoke. Shite. Lesson #3, make sure i have the right sized tubes on board. Lesson #4 – discs are friggin awesome. Had i been riding with rim brakes, i would have been out of the ride, but as it was, i was able to not only limp to the hydration stop, but was able to nurse the bike home to finish.
(Unfortunately my camera batteries ran out at the bottom of the hill)
Oh, did i tell you about Mt Beevor. I got lost following Noel and Robbie. I eventually caught up to them when they stopped to figure out where the hell we were. We could see Mt Beevor, but we were miles away from where we needed to be. So it was decide the best way to get to the top of Mt Beevor was to ride across the steep rocky paddocks. Robbie was a powerhouse but Noel and i had to walk up a good portion.
Upon cresting Mt Beevor, the wind as at its strongest,. Listening to others after the ride there were few riders “pushed” off the bike by the strength of the wind.
Keep an eye out for our new book called “Stormin’ the Beevor” in the next few months.
With a bit of luck, we’ll get some interest from Hollywood. I’m hoping Brad Pitt will agree to play me.
But I’d probably get Jim Carey.
More goat tracks, another wrong turn and i eventually rode into Mt Torrens, as it turned out the last rider under their own power.
What a day.
A big congratulations to the team at Gravelaide for pulling this together. It was an awesome day, awesome people and really looking forward to the next one.
The following photos have been grabbed of various Facebook sites.
Also a big thankyou to the generous support of the sponsors of Gravelaide#1
Rider of the Week – Chris Wood
Chris was born in Perth and moved to Adelaide in 1976 as a five year old. He left Adelaide in 1996 and spent three years in the US and Canada, and 10 years in the UK before returning to Adelaide in 2009 with his family. Chris wanted to ensure his three kids grew up Australian!
After playing competitive team sports, AFL and Rugby in his younger years, he enjoyed running and cycling in the UK, which eventually led to participation in triathlons and marathons.
He now competes in an annual Ironman, Triathlon, a few shorter triathlon events, race crits on Wednesdays in season and rides as much as a he can, whilst at the same time as making sure he keeps the family and the boss happy.
- What first got you started in cycling?
I think I’ve always cycled? From living in Belair in the late70’s and 80’s, I was always on my BMX, going to and from the Belair National Park or school. It was always a primary mode of transport prior to getting a drivers licence? Serious recreational cycling came about in 1996, whilst doing the backpacking around the world tour. I spent two glorious years in Whistler BC, Canada. This was the early years of the cross country, downhill, North Vancouver cycling scene. Think Gary Fisher, Klein, Reynolds 583 frames etc.
Ski resorts started using lifts to go up, downhill trails being built. The cross country, trails in Whistler were and still are, brilliant and world class. Weekly ‘Loonie’ races ($1CDN) with winner takes all prizes were attracting 100’s of people. Steep climbs, technical downhills, ‘sketchy’ drops, log river crossings, it was all encompassing and very addictive.
A highlight? I entered the BC provincial downhill races as a Novice, on a rented DH bike, full armour and DH helmet. Crashed out badly on all of my 3 training runs down the course. Then went for it, scared the hell out of myself in the final race run to finish 8th in class….good times.
- You are involved with an NZ based cycling tour business. How did this come about and what involvement do you have with them?
I met Karl in Whistler in 1996 and have been close friends since then. Karl’s has always been and adventure travel agent, in the last 8 years has formed a specialist company www.RideHolidays.co.nz .
We share the passion for travel, adventure and cycling. I work with Karl as a guide whilst on tours, usually accompanying groups on three to four tours per year. Then additionally supporting, planning and promoting the RideHolidays business in the Australian market.
- Is this your only job?
I have a real job that pays the bills, I work in Human Resources for a large ASX listed company based in Adelaide.
- You host tours over the TdU, what are some of the things about the TdU that makes it an enjoyable event for your clients.
Our clients for the TDU are amazed by the quality and quantity of cycling in Adelaide, rides that are literally on our doorstep. The TDU is a great event to showcase the variety and diversity of cycling in Adelaide, let alone the SA region that offers amazing fresh food, wine, coffee and landscapes of sea to sky. All within 4 hours cycling from the CBD. We offer the TDU clients the chance to sample all of the Adelaide experiences in conjunction with the opportunity to see world class professional cyclists, up close and personal. Being able to ride home from a stage alongside the professionals is always a highlight, easy access to the teams, the tour village and the stages is unheard of in the European races we visit.
- If a cyclist came to you and said “I’m so confused, I don’t know which country or region to holiday in”, what would you recommend and why?
France or Italy would be my top choices, for culture, history, passion, and meaning…. Cycling in Europe is a way of life, I’d encourage everyone to go and experience that. I spent a month in Italy, northern Tuscany and I recall meeting and ‘old cyclist’ in his broken english he told me, “you cycle with all your senses, the sights, sounds, tastes, smell and the feel”, I concur.
- How many bikes do you own and what is your main go to bike?
Four, Pinarello Dogma2 ‘good bike for weekends’ , FP5 commuter, FTI triathlon and an old mountain bike.
- What bike do you covet?
Pinarello Bolide TT bike….. or a Canyon.
- When you travel, how do you transport your bikes?
SciCon soft case, packs in 15 minutes.
- Do you do all your own maintenance or do you use a LBS? If so, which one?
I’m rubbish on the tools, anything beyond the basics I outsource. ElbowsAkimbo or BicycleCaire look after my bikes, private and independent mechanics.
- What cycling specific tools do you have in your “bike shed”?
Nothing more than the basics. See above.
- What is your favourite piece of cycling kit or accessory?
Currently my SRM power meter… as I look to improve, it keeps me honest. Closely followed by Conti GatorSkins, I hate getting flats.
- What do you love about cycling?
This is harder than I thought? Escape, freedom, simplicity, feeling of speed going downhill and accomplishment climbing uphill. The social side, coffee and cake. Conversations.
- What annoys most about cycling?
Headwinds? Never enough time? strange noises from the bike?, Probably nothing really….. perhaps manufacturer branded cycling clothing worn by a rider, whilst on another brand of bike? I think that’s just weird…..like socks with thongs .
- Other than yourself, who is your favourite cyclist?
Pantani, Quintana, Jens , Vockler, Sagan… names that transcend cycling, are memorable, likeable and look like they are passionate humans chasing a dream…and having a good time.
- What are your craziest/fondest personal cycling memories?
My first triathlon; you don’t were anything under a wetsuit, or under Knicks, so in transition from swim to bike…..yes I went nude, doesn’t everybody? NO said the horrified crowd. In hindsight, very wrong but very funny….
- Without naming names, is there a special memory from the tours you have hosted?
In 2016 the Nice terror attack happened at the same time we were in France with the Tour de France. As I was cycling around the base of Mt Ventoux the next day, it was 100km of pure cycling joy. I vividly recall that moment and thinking just how lucky we are, and that we have to capture every and all opportunities to make the most of life. Vive le Tour.
- What is your favourite post ride coffee/tea spot, and what would you normally buy as a treat?
Red Berry Espresso, coffee with any cake…. .
- What is your favourite local training route?
Lofty, Crafers, Bradbury, Old Aldgate road, Stirling loop.
- Is there a local cycling outfit/company/cycling club/cycling group/person that you would like to plug?
Who else but…………………….www.rideholidays.co.nz
that brings us to the end of another edition of Wednesday Legs
Hope you enjoyed it.
til next time