Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Checking Out The Other Side Of The Fence

Back last Winter, before the turn of the calendar year, I was contacted by an editor for "Cyclocross Magazine" and was asked about helping to set up a big feature story on gravel grinding. I recruited my good buddy, MG, into the scheme and he did a bang-up job writing a great piece on the scene that includes a lot of quotes from some gravel grinding stars here in the Mid-West. (Get a copy of issue #20 to see the story.)

Since I had a tiny part in the story, I got a few advance copies of the mag to enjoy. Of course, I really enjoyed seeing gravel grinding getting more exposure, but I also was intrigued by what the editors and writers of the magazine found important for the cyclocross bikes in terms of handling and componentry. It seems the needs of the cyclocross rider are similar in some regards to what gravel grinder bikes should have, but it also is very apparent why gravel grinding on a cyclocross bike is a compromise.

I delved into my thoughts on what constitutes a gravel road specific bike here, so I won't go all through that again, but it seems that in one way, cyclocross is merging closer to where we need to get with gravel bikes. That specific area is in the bottom bracket. Cyclocross bikes traditionally had very little bottom bracket drop. (Another way to look at the same thing is to say that the older CX bikes had a tall bottom bracket height.) Now it is being told that the bottom bracket drop is creeping down on newer CX bikes. While that seems like a good thing, cyclocross will never get as low in the BB as road bikes with their low bottom brackets, which would be perfect for gravel.

Another interesting thing to note is that the majority of racers polled from the big, late season events in cyclocross were not using disc brakes. That may be because racers are traditionalists, or it may reflect the status of most racers having to make do with older equipment. Hard to say, but with all the hoopla over disc brakes over there, it is easy to see that disc brake equipped bikes still have a long way to go before they push aside the lowly cantilever braked rig.

Anyway, I recommend that you get your hands on issue #20, read MG's excellent story, and check out the CX bikes and reviews there yourself. I found it to be a bit enlightening.

1 comment:

MG said...

Thanks GT, both for the shout out and for the opportunity to write this piece in collaboration with you. It was a lot of fun and the insight I gained from the gravel racers I spoke to for the piece was awesome.

I'm looking forward to seeing you later this month at Odin's Revenge, so we can raise a toast to a fantastic season to-date.

Thanks again,