Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New Bike

Yea, I know, another new bike. I get new bikes or new configurations of old bikes pretty darn often. That said, I've been running the same cyclocross rigs for a few seasons now. The ones I have are really nice and I'm lucky to have them. So why something new? Simply put, technology has moved forward significantly to warrant the change, in my opinion.

The root of this change revolves around the wheel. Cyclocross is often played in adverse conditions, like rain and mud. The current trend is to use really expensive, really light wheels that use tubular tires. Light is good. Tubulars are good. Carbon is good. However, when you mix carbon rims with carbon braking surfaces with arguably poorly performing rims brakes and throw in wet or muddy conditions, you get really marginal braking performance. But brakes just slow you down though you may argue. Quite true, but when you want to slow and can't, it becomes disconcerting. Additionally, the idea of having an expensive and structural component to the bicycle, the rims, as a wear item seems, less than ideal.

Enter disc brakes. I'll save the long of it but the short is, they have gotten much, much better over the years and the bicycle companies have finally settled on some standards (like rear-hub spacing which has been set to match MTB standard) are now pretty much fixed. You can now use 29er disc brake MTB wheels with your cyclocross disc bike. The weight penalty of running disc brakes has also been all but negated by the advent of lighter and lighter composite frames and components. In terms of the brakes, yes they are using cable actuated brakes and yes there are some drawbacks. Fortunately, performance is not one.

The result is that my new bike, a 2013 Cannondale SuperX disc with SRAM Red (yes, Cathy has one coming as well and it should be here next week), which has cable actuated disc brakes, weighs in at exactly the same as my old race bike, a Ridley X-Fire with 1x10 setup, Reynolds 46mm carbon tubular wheels and tubular tires. Dang! Many thanks to Chris and the Bikeway Source for all of the help. Also thanks for letting me pretend to be a bike mechanic and 'live the dream' this past spring, during my short lived retirement.

In terms of the brakes, I used to run cable actuated Avid brakes on our dedicated DH bikes ten years ago. These are essentially the same brakes on the new cross bike, save some minor tweaks. If they can control and stop a 40# DH bike and 220# rider from speed at Sunday River on a trail with a 40% grade (albeit with 8" rotors) without fade, I think they should be able to handle a cross bike.

Bring on the foul weather and steep, jungle-cross courses. 

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