Friday, September 16, 2011

Hard Goods

It's almost time, t-minus 5 days and counting. Bikes are done. Position varified and synced between A and B bikes to within millimeters of one another. Cables stretched and adjusted. Brake pads burned in. Tires are glued, race pressure baseline is set. Two dry tire wheelsets, two wet tire wheelsets, one set with road tires, one set with training tires.

Bottle boss plugs and K-Edge chain keeper
I'm still in awe of the equipment we're riding on this year. Virtually identical except the A Bike will have SRAM Red instead of Force.

The A Bike get's all the treatments. Little bit of Ti hardware, plastic plugs in the bottle mounts instead of bolts. This season I'm going with the K-Edge chain keeper. I went without one last year without mishap but I won't be taking any additional risks this time around, knock on wood.

The BB90 bottom bracket almost feels like it was specifically designed for cyclocross. The ultra wide spacing allows for ample mud clearance around the rear tire, even more so than what my Ibis had last year, and it was great.

So far I've been really happy with both the Force and Red carbon cranks. I'm not a huge fan when it comes to carbon cranks but SRAM has nailed it. I wasn't expecting them to be as stiff as my Shimano Hollowtech II's but I've been proven wrong.

I am still coming to terms with the Double Tap shifters. After 15 plus years on STI it's difficult to change my brains hard wiring of having two levers to shift with. Still not exactly sure where I want my fingers to be to shift, brake and do all the other stuff with your hands required will riding off-road.

Adjuster barrels on the non-carry side

One thing that is significantly better is the braking. Not that the TRP EuroX brakes are that much less powerful than the Avid Shorty Ultimates, but more that the SRAM brake levers leverage ratio is way better than the Shimano 6700 Ultegra's. The difference is actually amazing. Where as last year I couldn't brake very late for corners, this year I can come in so hot I'm actually worried about locking up the rear wheel. And that goes for carbon rims or aluminum. Honestly, the braking may be a little better with the carbon.

The next most awesome thing is the fork mounted adjustable cable stop. I finally have no brake chatter what so ever. Mud clearance is great on the FCC fork and there's plenty of room for the Challenge rubber too. This year I'm on tubulars though. I really loved the Fango last year and now they accelerate and roll even faster. New for this season too is a true mud tire option, the Limus. Last season I tried to get he Fango to do double duty but eventually had to but on a pair of Clement PDX's for Portland and Bend. No more, the Limus is the real deal.

Bontrager really pimped us out. Triple X Lite wheelsets, seatposts and stems with brand new Aeolus 3's on the way, hopefully in time for the sand of Louisville. carbon, Carbon, CARBON! We did stick with my favorite tried and true aluminum Race Lite VR handlebar though. I still have yet to ride a more perfect bend on a road bar. And of course the re-released, brand newish Team Issue saddle. Love this saddle, so glad it's back in the line-up.

And still my favorite part is the rear derailleur full length housing. This bike is ready for mud. In addition to that little detail, all but the chainstay has internal cable routing. Makes the bike a dream to clean and there's no chance of snagging a cable with your fingers when you go to grab the top tube or down tube for a bike carry.

So how does it ride? I've got to say I was a little bit nervous because I liked my Hakkalugi's so much. But the Cronus CX is spot on. The bottom bracket is slightly lower but Trek walked the razors edge on this one. I've felt my pedals lightly brush the ground getting on the gas out of corners but I've never made a hard hit that would skip the rear wheel. The balance between front and rear tire is near perfect in the corners and I couldn't wish for a better fit. It's light and stiff and goes where you tell it to go.

These bikes are so solid, they almost leave me speechless. They just go. The best part, they aren't that much different than what you can buy stock off the bike shop floor.

So a big thanks goes out to Jay for rounding up all this pro level gear for us. And to the folks at Trek, Bontrager, SRAM, Avid and Challenge. This season is going to be top notch.

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