Bloody Hell, another post in the same day ! Well I cant do much else. When I stand up I wobble and fall over. I’ve caught up with paperwork from work and its Friday at 14.41 which sounds like a great time to start the weekend.
So. Cyclocross bikes then. I’m sure it used to be easier to choose a cyclocross bike. more mud clearance, canti brake bosses and off you go. Now they’re not all called ‘cross bikes any more. Gravel racers, Adventure bikes. Its all a bit confusing to me to be honest. I’ve got two cross bikes, which are almost exactly the same. The only difference between them is that one is set up a my first race bike and the other is a second race bike for the later, muddier races – but also has cross top levers and up until about November has a longer cage on the rear mech so I can run a 32 tooth cassette on clinchers/ landcruisers for biggers days out on the moors and lakeland bridleways and , of course the three peaks.
Both run top end TRP canti brakes with 105 shifters and ultegra everything else.
Both are identical matt black carbon chinese frames. I think if you searched FR601 on aliexpress or ebay you would find them for about £340 and you might get stung for another £30 is they were caught at customs. The FR602 model is exactly the same, but made for disc brakes.
So why did I buy these frames? Well, because they were light, cheap and looked good I suppose. I wanted to build bikes up myself rather than buying a built bike and being forced to take handlebars/wheels/ gears that I didn’t want. I couldn’t afford two frames from a named manufacturer like Ridley, Cannondale or Scott.
What have they been like to buy and ride? I’ve no complaints. I don’t know anything about the design or manfacturing process of these bikes. I presume that they are from an open mould and designed by someone who knew what was needed in a cyclocross frame. The frames look good, appear structurally sound – in fact probably over-engineered. I’ve had one of the frames for two years. That one has done the three peaks twice and been used off road a lot. It has also done two summer cross seasons and one winter cross season as well as being my no.2 bike this year. The second frame arrived in March last year and has done the winter season this year as my main race bike.
I get a bit annoyed when someone chirps up with ‘ you don’t know what your getting, or where they are coming from. they’re not safe. you’ve no recourse to the manufacturer if something goes wrong. ‘ . It’s true that buying one is a bit of a leap of faith. Not necessarily in terms of parting with your money as you would be covered on Aliexpress or Ebay if the thing just didn’t arrive. I suppose that there has to be an element of faith in the product – the fact that they have been selling them for a couple of years and that they are still available shows that there is a demand. Does that also show that they are a desirable product ? I must admit, when you first unpack them, they are a thing of beauty. matt black, flawless coating. easy to do internal cable routing and set up for Di2 if you wanted it. ( I wish). Not bad for £340.
I’m contemplating getting the FR602 disc ready frame for next year – although this would require quite a bit of extra outlay as I’d need disc tub rims to race and new disc clinchers for general off road stuff as well as new shimano hydraulic 105 shifters and disc brakes.
What are they like to ride ? I’m not an expert on geometry. Actually I’m clueless about geometry, but as I’ve been riding these frames for a couple of years, i can say that they are stable and comfortable. they have a short headtube so you can get a quite aggressive drop to the handlebars for racing which I like. I don’t know if the frame is assisting or impeding me during the race, as I’ve nothing to compare it with. I’ve never raced on another type of frame to be able to tell the difference.
I also race with carbon tubular wheels which are also of indeterminate origin. you can pick 38mm or 50mm section carbon wheels with Novatec hubs on aliexpress or ebay for about £250. I would find it very hard to justify paying more for rims that get so much abuse during the winter season. It makes sense to me to buy a few sets of these wheels so you have different tyre options. Again I’ve never had a problem with them apart from having to true them periodically after hitting barriers or tree roots, but I would probably have to do that with more expensive options. The novatec hubs are also easy to service and spare cassette bodies are cheap as chips and can be ordered from china – taking a couple of weeks to arrive.
Recently I’ve found myself looking at possible replacements. A friend of mine has the Planet X / On One Pickenflick – that is a thing of titanium beauty and incredible value for money. I’m just a bit put off by the weight (I can build my bikes up to weigh about 7.5kg with tubs) and the wide chainstays making it impossible to run a 36 inner ring (although I wonder if the new batch have resolved this issue).
Also a couple of kinesis crosslight carbon frames would be nice. Although again there is the issue of having to buy new disc tubs and brakes which would add quite a bit to the cost.
Actually there is nothing wrong with what I’ve got. I’m just falling under the spell of the marketing, which I managed to avoid in the first place.