Monday, April 19, 2010

Sure it has 700c wheels, but what should I get...

In the previous post, David posted the following comment:

"Hi Mike,
When are you expecting to have those bikes for sale? How does this monster crosser differ from the likes of the Salsa Vaya? (Sloping top tube, BB height?) Or the La Cruz? (Tire clearance?) Is it more like a sport-tourer with bigger tire clearance? Can it handle the gravel and still be fast on the road?

Inquiring minds want to know."

Well David and inquiring minds, here's my best shot at answering and to the best of my knowledge, this is simply my opinion. I'm sure that for every internet forum, there will be a thousand different opinions. I don't necessarily believe my opinion to be correct or right, but I think I know my way around a bike and how it can be used. Here goes.

When are you expecting to have those bikes for sale?
I had to make a couple final tweaks to the frame drawings and get some testing information on the tubing I want to use. Tubing is finalized - it will be a heat-treated 4130 chromium molybdenum and double-butted steel. Wall thickness in the main two tubes will be 0.8/0.5/0.8. This tubing, in my testing of frames made with different tubing thicknesses produces a frame that has my ideal combination of ride quality, strength, and most important, confidence in my frame. If it's going to have my name on it, I want it to be something in which I have supreme confidence.

But to get to the question, I hope to have a purchase order issued within the next 10 days. Typical lead times are running around 60 days + shipping of a couple weeks. Best case scenario, frames here in early July.

How does this monster crosser differ from the likes of the Salsa Vaya? (Sloping top tube, BB height?)
I see my frame as a traditional cyclocross bike but with clearance for the Panaracer FireCross 45 tire. My preference is for a traditional geometry frame. Somewhat horizontal top tube (there is a very slight slope). My frame has a slightly taller bb height (less bb drop) than the Vaya. There's not huge reason why. I came up with my bb drop based on a bb height with good clearance when combined with 45c tires and with skinnier 32c tires. The Vaya, with it's lower bb height would make a nice stable, touring style bike.

The Vaya is also made with a taller head tube. Somewhere over the past several years, riders began to adopt a much more upright riding position. This might work fine for a touring bike and for an upright town bike, but to me, when the bars (either flat or drop) start rising above the seat level, the bike begins to feel like I'm riding a couch (again, my personal opinion). My preference is for my hand position to be several inches below my seat height with the top of the drop bars being about level to just under the seat height.

However, with the cr-mo steel fork I'm using, there is some ability for riders to get their bars up where it's comfortable. I do feel, though, that the bike performs best when the rider's weight is distributed as evenly as possible between the front and rear hubs. Sitting too upright lightens the weight over the front end and lets the front end come up easily on climbs.

Most important, however, the bike has to look balanced and "right."

Or the La Cruz? (Tire clearance?)
The La Cruz's limitation is tire size (and the fact that it is not currently available from Salsa). I would say the La Cruz is a lighter weight version of the Vaya in both weight and cabability.

Is it more like a sport-tourer with bigger tire clearance?
That could be an apt description/use of my frame. I, personally, wouldn't use it for extended tours or load it down with racks and bags. The tubing choice wouldn't be appropriate for loading it down. You'd want a more stout frame to handle the additional load of a touring bike. However, if you want to throw on some nice 38 tires and hit the weekend B&B loop that included road and dirt roads, yes, it would make a nice sport-tourer.

Can it handle the gravel and still be fast on the road?
Absolutely! My primary purpose for this bike, though, is to be ridden off-road. While I ride mine almost as my mountain bike, it isn't designed as a mountain bike and shouldn't be ridden off-road with abandon. The bike needs to be ridden with some level of finesse off-road. The Panaracer FireCross 45 tires are not good on the road. Their big square knobs are darn slow on road. Knowing where you want to ride will dictate which tire to use. The FireCross 45 tires fall at the exact opposite end of a tire that performs best on the road. With a proper choice of tires, the bike can perform well on the road and on gravel. More volume, more knobs = better off road.

Well, David, I hope that answers some questions.

And coincidentally, it appears that Salsa had the same idea for a frame color. On close inspection, it looks like they chose the exact same color of brown that I did (a very nice brown with a hint of pearl/metallic. Great minds think alike, eh Jason?

img 033

(What's playing: I'm in KWMR's studio A managing the board for some pre-recorded interviews)


David said...


Thanks for the answers. A very informative post indeed. Now I have to reread it another half-dozen times to soak up all that brain fodder into my tiny little head.

This inquiring mind is, for the moment, sated.


cyclofiend said...

That's a really exciting project, Mike!

Couple more questions:
Steerer tube diameter?
Have you set a price yet?

Keep us up to date - that's a great looking setup.

- Jim

blackmountaincycles said...

1 1/8" threadless steerer
Price for frame + fork will be about $600 after changing to heat treated tubing.
Headbadge will be a decal under clear.

Anonymous said...

Any updates on the road frame?

blackmountaincycles said...

No updates yet. Hope to have updates next week. Thanks for asking.

Zac said...

how do you think this bike will perform for actual cx racing?

blackmountaincycles said...

Hadn't given that much thought. It would have great mud clearance if running 32 to 35 tires. It would perform as well as any steel cross bike would have from the era of steel.