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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Cross bike setup - need advice

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    Earlier this year, I got a (used, but barely ridden) Lemond Poprad to set up for this winter. I am a mountain biker; I've never raced 'cross. A friend of mine (a roadie) and I figured we could meet in the middle and do some events. Fun!

    So, the problems/questions:

    Whoever bought my bike had it set up more like a hybrid/commuter: triple crank, 9 speed rear cog (both tiagra), flat mountain bars (with some cool little cane creek bar ends that will be great on one of my other bikes). I am pretty sure that the wheelset and the brakes were part of the original specs for the Poprad; I will keep the slicks for road riding and get some knobbies for cross.

    What else do I need to buy, and what else should I do to set up this bike to perform like it was intended to?

    I know I could keep the mountain bars and the drivetrain the same, since apparently a lot of people race 'cross on mountain bikes. Since I have three mountain bikes, but no roadbike, I'd like to put a drop bar on the Poprad and use this bike for 'cross racing this winter and maybe a road ride or two if I get talked into joining the dark side. Does that mean that I should also go to a double crank, because that is how most road bikes are set up?

    I have a 44cm Salsa bell lap bar that I intend to put on the bike - any opinions on this one? Should I be slightly concerned about the width? Also, I need a recommendation on shifter/levers: I have small hands, and tiny fingers! When I have been on friends' road bikes in the past, I feel that my fingers barely reach the brakes. It can't be correct or safe to have to stretch toward the levers and catch them with my finger tips? Could it be that I'm just used to the riding position and bar/brake setup on my mtb, and I just need to get used to the difference, or are there certain kinds/brands/sizes that work well for those of us with tiny hands?

    Finally, pedals. I'm sure there is other info on this forum or elsewhere - I ride with SPD pedals/cleats on a mountain bike. What is typical for 'cross?

    Many thanks,

    Last edited by aer; 09-14-2008 at 12:59 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    What do you mean - dark side???
    To me and DBF, MTB'ers are "horde" [We've just crossed over].

    Not to worry....Most roadies these days ride triple or compact double.

    search for the small hands/shims/shifters threads for your brakes issue.

    dunno about the pedals.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    WA State
    SPD's should be fine for cross. You are used to them, which is good, since there is a lot of clipping in and out in cross and they are made to shed mud which is also often found in cross.

    The only disadvantage to a triple is the greater possibility of chain drop. You tend to bounce around a lot with cross and that can bounce the chain off. Some people even run a single up front to make it even more simple and less apt to throw their chain. For the most part you wont need really big gears on the cross course - though since you also may use the bike on the road, they'll probably come in handy.

    As Alpine said there are plenty of thread discussing reach and road levers, so I won't go into it again in detail here. I'm guessing you've found a bit of each problem with your friends bikes. The levers were probably large and badly positioned for your small hands and you are unused to the feel of them. Of course interrupters - small, flat, accessory levers that are mounted to the flat portion of drop bars (make sure they are really interrupters and not "suicide levers" like the kind that were common on bikes in the 70's and 80's though), are often found on cross bikes and you may feel much more comfortable having them, at least at first.
    "Sharing the road means getting along, not getting ahead" - 1994 Washington State Driver's Guide

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008


    ha ha, the "dark side" was just a silly joke. in all seriousness, i am scared of riding on the road! i hear so many terrible stories near where i live about dogs and cars.

    I'll search the other forums for the info on brake levers.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    I started racing cross last season, and I do not race anything else, but I commute by bike on the roads. That said, I have interrupters (I didn't realize that's what they're called, but the guy at the shop recommended them and they're great!). I run a single ring up front and I find that it works really well for me. And, last but not least, I use SPD pedals with mountain bike shoes (even on my road bike!).

    I hope that helps! Try a few things out and don't feel the need to spend a lot of money up front. Figure out what you like and don't like and then make changes from there. Good luck and I hope you have fun!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    I'll leave the in-depth discussions of cross gear to other who know something about it , but your 44 cm handlebars did catch my eye. How did you end up with 44 cm bars? Did you measure, or did you "inherit" them or find a good deal? Also, don't those bell laps have flared drops? So depending on how the bars are measured, they could be even wider at the drops...

    It is possible that 44 is the right size for you, but not knowing anything about your height and build, I would think that there is a good chance they could be too big. It seems like most of the women here measure between 38-40 (some considerably smaller). Some people like to use a bar that's a bit wider than their shoulders, but usually not much more than 2 cm or so. (Of course now that I've said that, someone will come along who likes them much bigger, but on average ...).

    Just a thought.

    Congratulations on your new bike! I tested a Poprad and liked it a lot.



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