Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Ride

A few years ago I picked up a Ridley Crosswind CX bike from a teammate for a good price. The bike didn't fit me well, but for dirt road touring it would work just fine. Even though my Crosswind is a 56.5cm frame, it stands very tall. I have zero standover clearance. The BB is high, and it has a tall head tube. This all makes for a bike that is not suited well at all for me in racing. It was pretty heavy too.

With more and more "monster cross" events like Ironcross and dirt road ronde's or brevets popping up, it was time to upgrade my cross bike. No sense in spending all that time on a bike that is sized for someone with much longer legs than me.

My team picked up Trek sponsorship this year. The local Trek rep offered a really sweet deal to Alpine Clinic riders on Trek bikes and Bontrager apparel. When you think cross bikes, Trek may not be one of the first brands that come to mind. They do offer a fine bike, however, the Cronus Ultimate.  I hesitated at first, as I'm not fond of SRAM shifters. The deal was just too good to pass up. I ordered a bike through our sponsoring shop, Rhino Bike Works.

Ultegra tubeless wheels. No need to upgrade these. I now have
two sets. Tubeless tires will go on soon.

The bike was in Trek stock and took just a few days to arrive at Rhino. The SRAM S900 crank that came on the bike had to go. It was 130mm BCD with 46/38 rings and had short 172.5mm arms. For the events I do, I need more range in gearing (top and bottom) and must stay with my standard crankarm length. I happened to have an new Ultegra compact crank laying around. Would this work? The new frame uses one of the zillion new bottom bracket anti-standards out there, something called BB90. My Shimano crank uses standard threaded in BB bearings. Turns out the outside interface of external BB bearings is 90mm, and Trek duplicated this with integrated pressed in bearings. No more external cups. You just need the right bearings for the crank you want to use. Matt just happened to have a set of Shimano bearings on hand and would fix me up when I came to pick the bike up.

Internal cable routing

Massive bottom bracket structure. Down tube is 90mm wide
at base! Bearings and crankarms are flush with frame.

I went to pick the bike up at Rhino in Plymouth after our ride in the Whites on Saturday.  The bike in hand is amazingly lightweight. It weighs less than my Dean Ti road bike in fact. Is that nuts, or what? Matt swapped out the crankset for me, depsite the shop being crazy busy. Thanks Matt! I couldn't wait to take it for a spin on Sunday.

The canti brakes. Protrude, but highly effective.

Post and cable routing. I use Terry Fly saddles on nearly all
of my bikes, but this Bontrager saddle may be a keeper. No
issues after 2hr ride.

I mapped out a 25 mile loop of rooty singletrack, rail trails, pavement and rough carriage roads for a test ride, a bit of everything. I'll jump right to what I liked and disliked about the bike.

  • The 90mm wide BB shell makes for the stiffest BB of any bike I've ridden. It is amazing how efficient this bike feels under power. My next road bike will use a BB90 bottom bracket standard.
  • The Avid Shorty Ultimate brakes. They have at least 2x the stopping power of the canti's on my Ridley. They stick out though, and I wouldn't want to get snagged by one.
  • The bike weighs 17 lbs and change with XT pedals and 34mm knobby tires. That's four pounds lighter than my Ridley.
  • Very snappy, racy handling.
  • Internal cable routing. Clean appearance and easier to clean after a messy ride.
  • The bulge at the base of the SRAM hoods causes almost immediate ulnar nerve trouble in my hands. I will need to experiment with bar rotation or sliding the levers around on the bar.
  • My toes can rub the front wheel. Probably due to racy geometry, but I also was wearing my new MTB shoes where I think I got the cleats a little too far back. Not a problem riding, but big problem if you miss clip-in and wobble. I could rub tire on Ridley with old shoes too, but it is easier to do on the Trek.
  • SRAM index shifting is not crisp like Shimano's, especially when shifting to easier gears.
  • White hood covers. In one ride they are already dirty.
Overall, I was extremely happy with the bike. I rode the bike exactly how Matt set it up before meeting me. The fit was nearly spot on. How did he do that?  A few tweaks with the levers and saddle position should bring the bike very close to perfect. Looking forward to many D2R2's, monster cross races, and perhaps a few traditional cross races on this bike.


CB2 said...

You can swap your rear brake around to the low profile mode which will give you more heal / calf/ leg clearance. Maybe a little less mud clearance

Hill Junkie said...

Interesting to see they can be flipped. This would make the geometry very similar to that on my Ridley cross bike. I suspect performace would diminish quite a bit. Worth an experiment.

gewilli said...

I've built a few of those and yup did exactly what CB2 said with the rear brake. The bike is pretty sweet.

People have said the Cronus is a better bike than the Madone, esp on rough stuff. Similar weight.

Probably a better bike for the Paris Roubaix than that dumb Damone thing.