CX ’15: How To Set Up Your Cyclocross Bike

durham_cross_230

One of the best ways to be fast, on any bike, is to be comfortable. When you’re comfortable on the bike you can pedal more efficiently and spend more time focusing on performance and less time squirming on the saddle or constantly changing hand position.

Setting up your cyclocross bike is pretty straight forward, but still a little bit different approach from your road bike.

 Handlebar Height

Most riders prefer to have their cyclocross bikes set up with the handlebars a little taller than on their road bikes. Being low and aerodynamic is less important in ‘cross because of the slower speeds.

Using stems of different lengths and drop angles allows you to customize the fit of your bike

Notice how the CX bike on top is set up with a taller stack and shorter reach than these road bikes, for more comfort and easier handling

 Bar Tape

Using thicker bar tape than on your road bike can help eliminate a lot of the jolts and jars that happen when riding your bike off-road.

Beefier bar tape can make riding off-road more comfortable

Beefier bar tape can make riding off-road more comfortable


Saddle Position

To avoid back pain and limit the jarring impact of the remount, it can be helpful to have your saddle further forward than on your road bike. This will limit the amount of work your hamstrings have to do while slogging through the mud, and help limit back pain.

Wheels

No matter what braking system you use (cantilever or disc), choosing the right wheels is super important. One secret of many successful CX racers is using a deeper dish wheel. It doesn’t necessarily have to be carbon, but looking for a wheel with a more aero profile will help keep mud from glomming on to the rim.

Wheels a one of the best upgrades you can make to any CX bike

Wheels a one of the best upgrades you can make to any CX bike


 Tires

Choose the right tires for the course conditions and your area. If it’s going to be hard and dry, you might be able to get away with a more minimal tread, but if it’s going to be muddy, go for something with plenty of knobs. If you run tubulars, make sure you pick a good intermediate, all-around tire.

Picking the right tire can make all the difference on race day

Picking the right tire can make all the difference on race day

 Chainrings

(this link goes to an MTB article…but it works for your ‘cross bike too)

One or two? The choice is up to you. Two chainrings give you more gearing options to suit different conditions, but running a single chainring eliminates weight and limits the number of possible mechanical failurs. But before making a decision, you may want to check out an online gear calculator and play around with different combinations to find the right one.

And remember, if you’re running a single chainring up front, you either need a single-ring specific chainring, which will have specially designed teeth, or a chain keeper.

One or two chainrings? It's up to you.

One or two chainrings? It’s up to you.


Gearing Options

We definitely recommend running an 11-28T cassette. Combined with a traditional 46/36 CX chainring combo or a 40T or 42T single ring should give you all the gearing options you need.

Getting the right gearing in the rear can make all the difference

Getting the right gearing in the rear can be one of your biggest decisions


Saddle

A lot of CX bikes come with road saddles, but this might not be the most comfortable for you. There’s nothing wrong with running a mountain bike saddle on your ‘cross bike for more comfort and padding.

Picking the right saddle can have a big impact on your race

Picking the right saddle can help prevent everything from saddle sores to lower back pain

CX ’15: Choosing the Right Cyclocross Tire

 

durham_cross_076

There’s a lot of reasons to invest in a cyclocross bike– not only are they excellent for actually riding ‘cross, but they make great adventure bikes, gravel grinders, commuters, and road bikes too. Whether you’re using your bike to chase down some adventure or the front of the pack, picking the right tire will go a long way towards enhancing your ride. Since cyclocross bikes can be used for everything from road riding to racing on conditions from asphalt to mud pits, you need to choose a cyclocross tire based on the terrain and weather conditions where you live, and your own personal riding style and goals.

The two biggest things to keep in mind when shopping for a new set of cyclocross tires are tread pattern and tire width.

 

 Shop for cyclocross tires on Performancebike.com

 

Tread Patterns

Tread patterns are the next most important factor in picking a tire. Not all tread patterns are good for all conditions, but there are some really good all-around ones out there. It’s important to consider your local conditions when looking for new tires.

The tread pattern on the Clement MXP is a good, versatile, all around one that should perform well in most conditions

Knobs

These are the main “treads” of the tire. Some are very aggressive with high knobs and hard edges, others are lower and more rounded. Generally, the more aggressive the tread, the more it hooks into the ground—but at the cost of speed. The lower the tread, the faster, but the less traction you’ll get.

Shoulders

These are the side treads of the tire, and they help with cornering. A good cross tire should have plenty of sharp knobs on the outside edges to help bite into the ground and keep you from sliding out.

Pattern

Generally speaking, chevron-shaped tread patterns offer lower rolling resistance so you can ride faster, but don’t have quite as much traction and can easily pack in with mud. Blockier tread patterns improve traction and easily shed mud, but have a higher rolling resistance.

Slicks

Yes, they do make CX slicks. If you’re somewhere with fairly hard, dry soil or on the road you can probably get away with these, but we would highly advise keeping a set of knobbys on hand as well.

 

 Shop for cyclocross tires on Performancebike.com

 

Width

Width is a really important part of picking the right cyclocross tire. Generally, the wider the tire, the wider the contact patch and the better the traction. However, if you’re racing in a UCI-sanctioned event, or even some local events, your tire width might be limited to 32mm. Another limiting factor is frame and fork tolerance, but most cyclocross bikes can easily handle up to a 38mm tire without any problems.

 

5 Practical Upgrades For Your New Bike

When you think of upgrades, most of us think of expensive stuff like wheels and shifting components. While these are excellent upgrades, sometimes they aren’t the most crucial.

Here are 5 easy upgrades to make your bike more comfortable and improve it’s performance.

1. Saddle

Saddles are the most personal part of the bike. Every rider is built differently, and everyone has a different saddle shape that will fit them best. If you’re experiencing any discomfort with your bike’s stock saddle, try shopping around for one with a different shape. Before shopping, think about where it hurts and where you feel discomfort. You may need one with a center channel cut out, or a narrower or wider width.

Pro Tip: When you find the right saddle, you may also want to buy a second one to have on hand. We’re not trying to improve sales here, either—this is actual cyclist to cyclist advice. In a few years if you damage or wear out your saddle, you may find that your favorite model has discontinued or redesigned, and you’ll be out of luck if you need to replace it. Trust us, we just went through this and are still emotionally recovering.

To learn how to install your saddle, click here.

There are many saddle shapes, styles and fits out there. Experiment with a few to see which works for you.

There are many saddle shapes, styles and fits out there. Experiment with a few to see which works for you.

2. Stem

Most bikes come with either a 100mm or 110mm stem. For a lot of guys that might be a little too short, and for most women it might be a little too long. You might also want more rise or drop to your handlebars. Since stems come in a variety of rise angles and lengths, you can get the position that’s right for you. Plus, most stock stems are fairly heavy, so an upgrade will shed a few grams.

To learn how to install your stem, click here.

Using stems of different lengths and drop angles allows you to customize the fit of your bike

Using stems of different lengths and drop angles allows you to customize the fit of your bike

3. Tires

Bike tires are one of those hidden wonder upgrades. Because the tire is the interface between the bike and the ground, it’s worth it to spend some extra money for a good set. You may think that most tires are black, round, and maybe made of rubber, but there’s a whole lot more that goes into them. Upgrading your tires with a good folding bead, high TPI count tire with puncture protection can make your bike feel totally new.

To learn how to install new tires, click here.

On- or off-road, upgrading your tires can have a big impact on how your bike rides

On- or off-road, upgrading your tires can have a big impact on how your bike rides

4. Bar Tape / Grips

Nothing does more to freshen up a road or cyclocross bike, visually and feel-wise, than some fresh bar tape. Overtime foam bar tape compresses and loses its ability to cushion your hands and dampen vibration. Changing out your tape can help restore some comfort to your bike and help add a personal touch, thanks to the many colors available.

And the same goes for mountain/comfort bikes. The stock grips are meant to be functional, but might not be comfortable for everyone. A good pair of ergonomic grips can help improve your bike’s comfort and performance by correcting your hand position and alleviating pressure points.

To learn how to wrap your bars, click here.

Take a tip from the pro's, some new bar tape can help even an old bike feel (and look) new again

Take a tip from the pro’s, some new bar tape can help even an old bike feel (and look) new again

5. Pedals

Those plastic pedals that came with your bike? Yeah, those weren’t supplied as “forever” pedals, the manufacturer actually intended for them to be replaced. Even if you don’t ride clipless (in which case you’ve already changed out your pedals), you should still consider upgrading your pedals. Flat pedals with a wider base, steel or alloy body, and serviceable bearings will provide a more stable and rigid platform for your foot, helping to eliminate cramps and hot spots, and will be easier to service if they seize up or begin binding.

A good pair of platform pedals, like these pictured, can help make pedaling more comfortable

A good pair of platform pedals, like the ones pictured, can help make pedaling more comfortable

6 Tips For Getting Your Bike Ready for Winter

DSC_3650B&W

Winter riding serves up its own special blend of challenges, but by following these easy tips, you’ll be ready for the worst of what the season can throw at you.

  1. Change Your Tires: Unless you live in a warm, dry climate, you’ll probably want to leave the 700×23 tires at home. In the winter, opt for a 700×28 tire (or as wide a tire as your frame will allow) with a minimal tread. Resist the urge to go with knobby tires. Snow will just pack between the treads and make the tire more slippery.
  2. Lower The Tire Pressure: If it’s below freezing outside, lower your tire pressure. Lowering the tire pressure will increase your tire’s contact patch, which means more traction on potentially slippery roads.
  3. Leave The Race Wheels At Home: Full carbon fiber wheels, while delivering amazing performance and looking totally awesome, aren’t the best for winter riding. They don’t have the greatest braking performance in wet or icy conditions, plus, all the road grime and salt may stick in the pads and destroy the carbon brake track. Use a set of wheels with an alloy brake track for better and safer braking performance this winter.
  4. Light It Up: We can’t emphasis this enough. It’s winter, which means it’s getting dark earlier. Even if you think you’ll be home before dark, always bring a set of lights with you—even if it’s just a set of blinky lights you throw in a jersey pocket. Click here to find the light that’s right for you.
  5. Mud Guards or Fenders: Don’t be that guy. Use mud guards or fenders during the winter to both protect your bike parts, and shield the guys behind you from the worst of your road spray.
  6. Clean It Up: The second you walk in the door after your ride, do not pass go, do not go shower. Keep that kit on and go straight to the garage or the bike shed and clean your bike off. The longer you let the salt and road grime sit on there, the more damage it can do—and that kind of damage is expensive. Wipe down the frame and fork, wheels, hubs, and components—and don’t forget the hard to get to places like around the bottom bracket and around the brake bridge. After you’re done cleaning, dry and lubricate your chain and brake pivots. Click here to find the cleaning supplies and chain lubricants that make the job easier.

Now, stay safe and go ride your bike.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 174 other followers

%d bloggers like this: