Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Swiss Cross Update- Dirt Road Mods
With my 'cross season over after a single race I've made some changes to the Swiss Cross setup. 'Cross bikes are often praised for their versatility and I have to say I have mixed feelings about that. Yes, their ability to go on and off road is pretty cool, but as I've said before I don't think fender mounts or rack eyelets have a place on any self-respecting race bike. Purpose-built Ridley race bikes have only a single water bottle mount and Richard Sachs 'cross frames have none.
You can see here that I've wavered a bit on my fundamentalist position with two bottle cages (or bidons if you prefer) but the rest of the bike is entirely as I...well, as I intended to race it anyway. I only have so many jacket pockets so as much as I'd like to be a purist about the bottle cages it's just not feasible when it's below 50 degrees and I need to carry some additional layers.
Since I first built it up I've swapped out the stem and post for the Ritchey WCS wet red models you see here. I had misgivings about getting red components as they're likely to stick out on any other bike in the stable but since they match the Swiss Cross perfectly I felt it was completely appropriate. The more I look at them the more I like them, and with minimal fiddling I've been able to run the stem in the downward position although it's still pretty far from being slammed.
I've also swapped out the tubular EA70's for the Ritchey WCS Zeta clinchers. So far those wheels have been great with both the 33 mm 'cross tires and the Clement Strada LLGs pictured here. Although there's a lack of quality pavement around here there are miles upon miles of dirt roads. I was looking for a wide, lightly siped tread for exploring said dirt roads and found the Strada. After a few rides it's proven to be a solid performer and although it's claimed to be a full 28 mm width it only measures out to 26 mm on a standard 19 mm wide rim. That means there's the added benefit of being able to use this same wheel/tire setup on my road bike without any additional fiddling.
I'm still not a fan of cantilevers, but if you're going to run them I suggest giving the Avid Shorty Ultimates serious consideration. They're a modern machined aluminum version of the classic mid-90's mountain bike cantilever and offer the best feel and stopping power of anything I've tried. The setup is unique but straightforward after you read the instructions- they don't take long to setup but they are quite a bit different from the TRPs and Shimanos I've ridden recently.
And of course there's plenty of clearance. My experiments with getting the Redline setup for dirt road duty were a horrendous failure mainly because the frame was so stiff but also because I used 23c tires. The Swiss Cross is a notably smoother ride, but the wider tires at significantly lower pressure also deserve some credit. The extra tire width also makes the massive clearance slightly less obnoxious.