Author Topic: (Cyclo)cross-country  (Read 2451 times)

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Offline davekov

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(Cyclo)cross-country
« on: January 26, 2014, 07:32:10 pm »
Hey there friends!

I've been a day cyclist for about two years now, and once the snow melts I'm going to head cross-country - Portland Right to Portland Left, there and back again.

My question is: can I do it without buying a new bike?

I have a beautiful bicycle, a Specialized 2010 CruX Expert Carbon: http://bikebarnracing.com/images/library/Zoom/spec_crux_pro_wht_carbon_red_11_z.jpg . SRAM Apex. Zertz inserts. Lovely for those quick little centuries, on all kinds of roads and off. As you can see, I am head-over-SPDs in love. (For what she cost me, I better be).

But I also realize that:

-her geometry isn't touring standard. Is this something I can get around, or will I break my back before I've made it out of Maine?

-no bar-end shifters. I'd never even heard of these until a week ago. Are they really necessary?

-only 20 speeds. is this really going to mess me up in, say, the Rockies? Or can I muscle through it (like I always do)?

-no disc breaks. all the literature seems to be up with disc breaks, but I can get away with good cantis, right?

-she's carbon fiber, and for reasons I can't quite figure out, this isn't preferred for touring. question mark?

-lacking in pannier mount points (this is what her butt looks like: http://cdn.media.cyclingnews.com/2011/11/15/1/twells_specialized_crux_seat_stays_600.jpg). I've never mounted panniers before, but the guys at my local bike shop threw up their hands in horror. Are they right? Are there some sort of specialty panniers for just this purpose? Or could I just trailer it up?

-CX tires. I swear by these, even for long distance on-road, but most people think I'm crazy and they're probably right. Also, when "long distance" gets about 80 times longer (HOLY COW!), I don't know nothin' about nothin' Can I get away with CX tires, as long as I keep them nice and full? Or would it be possible for me to get a pair of road wheels on her, plug-and-play style?

-700cc tires. I've heard 26ers are preferred because they're easier to get parts for. This won't be a problem in America, will it?


...I guess there's two questions. One, is it even POSSIBLE to tour on my lovely bike, and two, would it make more sense to just suck it up and buy a (Trek 520/Surly Long Haul/Salsa Vaya/cue seperate discussion)?

Thank you SO MUCH - your free advice is worth a lot to me. (I'm sure I'll have more questions for this forum as Ridin' Day draws near!)
« Last Edit: January 26, 2014, 07:47:49 pm by davekov »
-david axel KURTZ
davekov dot com

Offline mbattisti

Re: (Cyclo)cross-country
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2014, 08:39:25 pm »
for a rear rack (for panniers) you could get an axiom seat post collar (has tabs for rack attachment) and then get a rack that mounts to the rear axle with an extra long skewer (an example is a Old Man Mountain rack). OMM also makes a front rack that has a skewer attachment, and then is secured to the cantilever brake bosses.  Used both on our XC trip (tandem) - very rugged and have a higher weight carrying capacity than most that mount on frame eyelets.

Online staehpj1

Re: (Cyclo)cross-country
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2014, 07:03:35 am »
My question is: can I do it without buying a new bike?
Yes

Quote
-her geometry isn't touring standard. Is this something I can get around, or will I break my back before I've made it out of Maine?
No, not if it fits you and you are used to it,

Quote
-no bar-end shifters. I'd never even heard of these until a week ago. Are they really necessary?
No, IMO they aren't even desirable, but it is personal preference.

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-only 20 speeds. is this really going to mess me up in, say, the Rockies? Or can I muscle through it (like I always do)?
The number of speeds isn't the issue.  You may need to go to lower gearing.  Packing very light can minimize that need.

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-no disc breaks. all the literature seems to be up with disc breaks, but I can get away with good cantis, right?
Yes.  Pretty much any decent brakes will be fine.

Quote
-she's carbon fiber, and for reasons I can't quite figure out, this isn't preferred for touring. question mark?
Carbon will be fine, just be carecul how you mount racks.

Quote
-lacking in pannier mount points (this is what her butt looks like: http://cdn.media.cyclingnews.com/2011/11/15/1/twells_specialized_crux_seat_stays_600.jpg). I've never mounted panniers before, but the guys at my local bike shop threw up their hands in horror. Are they right? Are there some sort of specialty panniers for just this purpose? Or could I just trailer it up?
You could use a trailer, but packing ultralight  makes more sense IMO.  See the link in my sig for some info on packing light on a road bike.  There is an article on ultralight touring and some journals on tours ranging from heavy to ultralight

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-700cc tires. I've heard 26ers are preferred because they're easier to get parts for. This won't be a problem in America, will it?
Not a problem at all.

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...I guess there's two questions. One, is it even POSSIBLE to tour on my lovely bike, and two, would it make more sense to just suck it up and buy a (Trek 520/Surly Long Haul/Salsa Vaya/cue seperate discussion)?
It depends on you preferences.  With my approach I'd rather use your bike than a LHT.

Offline John Nelson

Re: (Cyclo)cross-country
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2014, 10:28:49 am »
You posted a link to a picture of your bike. Better would be to post a link to the specs.

Gears: 20 gears isn't an issue, but the size of the lowest gear might be. It depends on your age and fitness level. Can you tell us something about yourself.

Carbon: It is generally recommended not to clamp to carbon. A trailer is often the best option for a carbon bike, unless you are going super light. Are you planning to go super light? Are you going to camp? Cook?

Brakes: Any brakes are fine. Disc brakes on touring bikes are uncommon.

Bar-end shifters: These are sometimes preferred because the cables don't get in the way of your handlebar bag. If that's not an issue for you, then what you have is fine.

Suck it up? If you budget allows, a touring bike would be more suitable (unless you're going ultra-light like Pete does). But you can make what you have work if the budget is tight.

Wheel size: 700 is perfectly fine and has advantages. There's no reason to prefer 26.

Offline dkoloko

Re: (Cyclo)cross-country
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2014, 01:12:18 pm »

Brakes: Any brakes are fine. Disc brakes on touring bikes are uncommon.

IMHE sidepull brakes are doable, but I would not say "fine". Cantilevers, with greater stopping power, are more standard for touring.

Bar-end shifters: These are sometimes preferred because the cables don't get in the way of your handlebar bag. If that's not an issue for you, then what you have is fine.

Opting for bar-end shifters to avoid cables interferring with handlebar bag is a last reason I would give for making that choice. Of greater importance is robustness of bar ends compared to brifters. Many have toured with brifters (combining shifter/brake), but I have switched several bikes from brifters to bar ends for more reliability for fully loaded touring. Usually, if brifters are standard on touring bike it is on bike made for light touring

Online staehpj1

Re: (Cyclo)cross-country
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2014, 01:51:36 pm »
Of greater importance is robustness of bar ends compared to brifters. Many have toured with brifters (combining shifter/brake), but I have switched several bikes from brifters to bar ends for more reliability for fully loaded touring. Usually, if brifters are standard on touring bike it is on bike made for light touring
Personally I find that bar end shifters are less convenient to use.  Besides being less convenient I tend to bang my knees on them.  I also find they get bumped out of gear when the bike is leaned against things.  If I want simplicity I don't mind down tube shifters, but given the choice I prefer brifters.

Offline DaveB

Re: (Cyclo)cross-country
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2014, 05:55:56 pm »
Yes, you could make your current bike work after a fashion, particularly if you pack super light, but it certainly not the bike of choice.  If cost isn't an overwhelming consideration, I'd get a more suitable true touring or at least light touring bike.   The gearing, handling and luggage carrying capacity will all be far better.

I agree that brifters are far more convenient than barends or downtube shifters.  Another possibility to consider is Retroshift  (retroshift.com).  No, I have nothing to do with the company except as a customer but they combine the convenience of brifters and the simplicity of downtube/barend shifters.  For that matter, you might even consider them for your CX bike.   

Offline davekov

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Re: (Cyclo)cross-country
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2014, 09:24:02 pm »
You all are fantastic. Thank so *so much*.

Here are her specs: http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bikes/archive/2011/crux/cruxcruxexpertcarbon
Everything is still factory-stock except the tires. Weight, total, is 16 pounds 12 ounces.

I am going to pack no more than that much weight in gear. (Pete, your web site is *awesome,* and *thank you*). The only nonessential I'm bringing is my tablet, which weighs 17 ounces b/c apparently we're the Jetsons or something. And water (3L reservoir, so about 6lbs) and food will *all* be in my backpack, not on the frame.

Any thoughts?

Here's a question:

If I were to take a mini trip, with full gear, do you think that would give me a good idea of how I'd fare cross-country? 3 days? 7 days? Or are things like the reliability of carbon/brifters only going to give me problems on a long haul?

-david axel KURTZ
davekov dot com

Offline DaveB

Re: (Cyclo)cross-country
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2014, 09:21:42 am »
Or are things like the reliability of carbon/brifters only going to give me problems on a long haul?
Neither carbon or brifters are particularly fragile or trouble prone unless they are abused.   The potential "problems" with your bike aren't the material of construction or your choice of shifters, they are the gearing and luggage capacity.  If you find them adequate, the rest is fine.   

Online staehpj1

Re: (Cyclo)cross-country
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2014, 10:01:42 am »
If I were to take a mini trip, with full gear, do you think that would give me a good idea of how I'd fare cross-country? 3 days? 7 days? Or are things like the reliability of carbon/brifters only going to give me problems on a long haul?

A few days should give you a pretty good idea of how things will go.  When it comes down to it you need the same stuff on a three day trip as a cross country trip.  At least that has been my experience.  Also the first few days are often the hardest.  Be sure that your mini trip includes some climbing so you know if your gearing is adequate.  I have found I need fairly low gearing and don't mind giving up the higher gears to get it.  I don't go super low like some folks here do though.  You need to figure out what works for you in that regard.

As far as reliability of the carbon frame and the brifters...  I wouldn't worry.  They should be fine.

Offline John Nelson

Re: (Cyclo)cross-country
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2014, 10:21:21 am »
Here are her specs: http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bikes/archive/2011/crux/cruxcruxexpertcarbon
Your low gear is 30 gear inches, which is decent. Touring bikes usually come with a low gear of 20 gear inches, but some road bikes don't go below 45 gear inches, so yours is somewhere in between. You may have to work hard to get up the steepest and longest hills, but it'll be doable. It's encouraging to see that your bike comes standard with 700x34c tires.

And water (3L reservoir, so about 6lbs) and food will *all* be in my backpack, not on the frame.
Conventional wisdom suggests that you don't carry too much weight (if any) on your back, as that can get uncomfortable over the long haul. Experimentation will tell you what you like.

Collect all your gear together and weigh it to see where you are. If you're in Pete's ballpark, you should be fine with your bike.

Online staehpj1

Re: (Cyclo)cross-country
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2014, 10:33:14 am »
Your low gear is 30 gear inches, which is decent. Touring bikes usually come with a low gear of 20 gear inches, but some road bikes don't go below 45 gear inches, so yours is somewhere in between. You may have to work hard to get up the steepest and longest hills, but it'll be doable. It's encouraging to see that your bike comes standard with 700x34c tires.
I hadn't paid attention to what his current gearing was.  For a strong young rider that might be fine.  My low gear for the Southern Tier was about 25 gear inches and it was fine for me at age 60.  I probably would have been OK with a 30 inch gear if that was all I had.

Conventional wisdom suggests that you don't carry too much weight (if any) on your back, as that can get uncomfortable over the long haul.

Conventional wisdom usually says back packs are a bad idea, but I have found I don't mind a few pounds in a backpack.  The few items that I want to stay with me when I go into stores or restaurants can be in there.  For a those few places where I need extra food and water for a long remote section I don't mind loading up the pack a bit more.

Offline indyfabz

Re: (Cyclo)cross-country
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2014, 10:40:21 am »
He may be able to lower the gearing a little for relatively little money with a SRAM XR-9 RD and a cassette with a 34t or 36t.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2014, 12:59:27 pm by indyfabz »

Offline davekov

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Re: (Cyclo)cross-country
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2014, 08:55:43 am »
Y'all are great & thanks *so much* for all the help.

From what you've said, I think that I'll be alright with the gearing as it is. I'm a 27-year-old blacksmith and I'm in good shape (or I will be after a few days back in the saddle). And the way I figure it, if I was riding a Long Haul Trucker with a normal load, bike+gear might weigh in at 70 or 80 pounds. I'm going to be weighing in at 30 pounds total - less than an LHT alone. That'll save me some pushing.

For better or worse I'm used to a ridiculously heavy backpack. I'm used to it weighing in at 14 or 15 pounds per ride - 7 pounds of water, 1 pound of food, 1 pound of repair gear, sometimes a book... and 5 pounds of my damned Kryptonite u-lock. Fortunately the CamelBak MULE, with the belly straps tight, distributes weight really well. Heck, when I ditch the lock and move my gear to a frame rack, my back'll be six pounds lighter!

Soon as Maine stops being The Land Of Always Winter, I'm going to fully load up this bike of mine and see how she fares. If she handles a straight shot well I'll try something a little more audacious - maybe Conway to Littleton and back the next day.

We'll see!

Thanks so much for all the help. I really appreciate it.

-david axel


-david axel KURTZ
davekov dot com

Offline zzzz

Re: (Cyclo)cross-country
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2014, 10:57:32 am »
Hi Dave:

I didn't see anyone comment on your question about your CX tires so I will. There's no need for diffirent wheels but change out your tires and get rid of the knobbies unless you're planning on a significant amount of off road riding. They are a lot less efficient on the road and there is no point burning 10 or 15% more energy than you need to every mile of every day on a 7000 mile trip. I'd stick at or near your current size (32mm) but go with a specific touring tire.

Also, if you know how to work on your bike bring along an extra cable(s) for your shifter and brakes. If you don't, change them out before your trip prophylactically. I had a shifter cable that broke in the middle of Wy last year 100 miles from the nearest bike shop. It kinda sucked.

I think your gear spread should be fine if you're traveling light but you will know from the steep stuff near where you live. None of the climbs out west that I've run into are steep, it's just a long grind. 7 - 15 miles at 6 or 7% is like being on a Stairmaster for an hour or two. It's nothing like Mt. Washington, N.H.

Pete