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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    62

    Transitioning from hybrid to road/cyclocross

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    Dear ladies!
    Five years ago you were invaluable in choosing my dear Specialized Vita.
    Now with kids a bit older and with more time on hands, I am looking at getting a more ambitious bicycle. What I have not yet decided is whether I want an endurance road or a cyclocross...
    I am not looking at becoming this amazing racer, but I do want to start going on longer rides. Last year I have done two charity rides: 30 and 40 km each and I enjoyed it. I ride on mixed trails a lot, and I commute to work (also mixed surface, although mostly tarmac). I love my Vita, but it does struggle on some gravel paths.
    I am 5 foot 1 and 100 pounds, which makes everything more difficult than I have anticipated, especially when it comes to cyclocross bikes. I have tried a unisex Cannondale CAADX 2017 in size 44 and I am not clearing the standover at all... which is surprising, because I have tried Specialized Ruby, and 44 was really tight. I have 70 cm inseam.
    Is there a cyclocross bicycle for a petite girl that does not weigh a ton? Vita is around 24-25 pounds and it seems to me silly to buy something that weights the same or more.
    Any input is highly appreciated.
    Last edited by Lady Hamilton; 03-09-2018 at 07:00 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    62
    Additional info.
    I definitely want dropped bars, preferably carbon, and I am hoping for 105 components.
    I am basically trying to decide whether I want to buy a light road bike with or without disk breaks (Trek Domane/Silgue, Cannondale Synapse, Specialized Ruby), or maybe to find a light cyclocross or gravel bike.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,951
    Hello and welcome back!

    I am not the best person to give you advice, since I only have a road bike (Trek Madone) with 700x25 tires and an old hardtail mountain bike, and most of the riding I do is with the road bike on paved surfaces. But, I sometimes ride on gravel or packed dirt with the road bike and can share my observations on that. It generally handles well on those surfaces as long as I shift to a very easy gear, but sometimes I struggle to maintain control when the surface is loose or the gravel pieces are large. My Madone can't use tires wider than 25mm. So if I were riding mixed trails a lot, I would either put not-too-knobby tires on my mountain bike and use that, or I would investigate an alternative type of drop-bar bike, something that could take wider tires.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by ny biker; 03-09-2018 at 01:11 PM.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,018
    Can't help much on specific bikes, but can give you some info on the different types road bikes and using them for gravel. I do a lot of gravel riding.

    I have had a couple outstanding cyclocross bikes and really enjoyed them for their quick handling and fast acceleration. That's built into their design. That sort of geometry, though, is rather use specific. You can use a cyclocross bike for other things besides cyclocross racing, of course, but, in my experience, that compact geometry isn't the best for long distance work. They're not very comfy for all day riding and not what the gravel bike crowd are using for gravel riding. The other issue with cyclocross bikes is the rather narrow range of gearing. Typical cyclocross races are short mileage events with not a lot of long steep climbs. If you live in hill country, you may find yourself a bit over-geared.

    Endurance road bikes are what I would recommend for long distance work and they'll also do a decent job on gravel as long as they'll take wider tires, up around 35mm wide or more (though most won't). Endurance road bikes have a geometry designed with comfort in mind for all day riding. They'll take much of the sting out of riding pavement, plus, you'll have a lot more choices in gearing.

    Drop bar gravel bikes are a great choice as a do it all road bike. They're essentially endurance bikes setup for wider tires. Tire width is important for gravel riding. Don't let those wider tires fool you into thinking they're slow. My Salsa Warbird gravel bike with its 700x35 tires was every bit as fast as my Trek carbon Domane endurance road bike with its 700x25 tires on the pavement, not to mention that the Warbird also gave me the option of riding gravel and took a lot of the bite out of rough pavement. Riding gravel with a 700x25 bike is a big no-no. Not recommended.

    As to brakes, go disc all the way. The old external rim brakes work for fair weather use, but in wet weather or situations where you need some real braking power, you need discs. Absolute must for gravel work. Besides, disc brakes are now standard on nearly all bikes, these days. If you go with eternal rim brakes, your bike model choices will be severely limited.

    As for carbon versus steel versus aluminum, take your pic. Have used them all. Carbon gives a velvet smooth ride, but, be warned, you will nick and gouge that carbon if you ride gravel (have done it) and nicks and gouges in carbon can cause durability issues and frame failures. The other issue with carbon is that unless you go to the top of the line carbon model, you take a hit on the component package. Personally, I don't think the expense of carbon is justified. I'd rather have aluminum or steel with 105 than carbon with a cheaper component package. Trust me when I say, that going 105 is a no brainer. If you're going to spend the money, get 105 as a minimum. Have ridden well over thirty thousand miles on 105 without a single failure. Every time I settled for less, I ended up upgrading to 105, anyway.
    Last edited by north woods gal; 03-09-2018 at 01:56 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    62
    Thank you so much for your insightful response!

    Yes, I am starting to realize, that what I actually need is not a cyclocross bike, but a gravel bike. Specialized has Diverge at several different price points and setups.

    One of the shops has suggested that if I cannot find a gravel bike that fits (for instance, Diverge at the smallest WSD size of 48 might not clear the standover) they can put a more substantial tire on a Specialized Ruby with disk breaks. Basically, he said that as long as the bike can take a 32 tire with a good grip, it it much easier to fit me into it.

    The problem I am having is that the shops in my city have very little selection in stock, and everything I want to even try needs to be brought in (I simply do not want the pressure of feeling that I have to buy), but going to Toronto to a much larger store is not a problem.

    I put 105 and disks as a must. Five years ago I bought more bike that I really needed, but I enjoyed it and never felt the need to upgrade.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,018
    Good luck to you in your search. No matter what, make sure you get something that fits. Yeah, given your size requirements, you'll likely have to do some traveling to find a shop that has something on the floor to try. Worth the effort, though. Let us know how it goes.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    62
    Last weekend I actually went to a huge bike show. But I had two kids with me and it was pretty hard to really look (we mostly went to see BMX competitions).
    I have tried Trek Silque S5 2017 (huge discount, because they they decided to call WSD 2018 bikes Domane). I actually almost bought the bike. I liked it a lot. But it does not have disk breaks and I am pretty set on having them, I think.

    Both Specialized and Trek have amazing new WSD gravel bikes. Trek's is a 2019 model. I am not sure, though, that standover will work. The smallest they come in is larger than their respective endurance models. And if Specialized's 48 seems ok, I don't think Trek's 49 will work at all both in standover and reach.

    Ladies, I have never really looked at Giant, but was pleasantly surprised how much more competitively priced Liv bikes are in comparison to Specialized and Trek. the difference in MSRP is almost $1000 between Trek Domane with disks and Liv Avail Advaced 2. Are Liv bikes any good?
    Last edited by Lady Hamilton; 03-10-2018 at 03:30 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Taylor, MI
    Posts
    224
    I had the same dilemma last season. I solved with retail therapy and purchased the 2017 Trek Silque SLR 6 (https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/b...omens/p/17197/) and a 2017 Specialized Dolce Comp EVO (https://www.specialized.com/us/en/do...p-evo/p/107209). I love them both. The Silque is the smoothest road bike I have owned (it was my third carbon one). The Comp EVO is a fairly smooth ride and much faster than I expected. However, the wheels on the Specialized (same with my Amira) were slow to spin up so I upgraded the wheels. I can keep up and on a good day even lead the ride with my roadie friends. Both bikes are great and very versatile. But for the mixed riding you do, the adventure/gravel bike would be my choice mostly because I am OCD about the Silque.

    Hope you can find something you love. Remember, the search for the right bike is part of the fun.
    Enjoy,
    Penny
    2018 Trek Silque SLR6 - Selle SMP Glider
    2018 Specialized Dolce EVO Comp - Selle SMP Glider
    2011 Trek Madone 5.2 WSD -Selle SMP Glider
    2013 Giant TCX W - Oura 143

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    62
    Thank you for sharing.
    I really liked Trek Silque S5 2017, and I can basically wheel it out today $1000 off MSRP.
    But like you I'm OCD about my technology and I am sort of now afraid to buy carbon for the bike that is intended to be my one and only (I am giving my Vita elite to my daughter).
    I primarily wanted carbon for the weight of the bike, but after spending some time looking at specs, the difference in Domane Al vs carbon is not even half a pound.
    So, aluminium is back in the picture.
    I am really hoping that Specialized Diverge WSD in 48 works. I really doubt Trek Checkpoint will because of the size. I now have to find a shop that has Diverge in size 48 on the floor to try. I have found the store with Trek Checkpoint in stock and I will be going there soon.
    Last edited by Lady Hamilton; 03-10-2018 at 04:02 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,018
    Giant bikes are good values. Giant is actually one of the industry's big frame makers, Their frames are used by other bike companies. That allows Giant to basically sell you a bike frame at a reduced cost on their complete bikes compared to other companies. As long as the bike has the specs you want, I wouldn't have any problem with Giant. Have owned a couple.

    The actual frame weight between aluminum and steel is actually very small. It's mostly a matter of ride quality between the two. Carbon is smoother, but a well-designed aluminum frame can also make for a very nice ride and at a much nicer price. Trek makes some especially nice aluminum frames. Some of the best I've ridden.

    P.S. Don't forget steel. It has a classic, wonderful feel all it's own. It's my first choice for long days on a bike or any kind of riding, for that matter. It's heavier, but that brings up another point. Don't get too hung up on overall bike weight. It's where the weight is on the bike that counts. Number one on a bike is the wheels.

    Wheel sets often get overlooked when checking a model's specs, but that's a mistake. They really make a difference. Those higher end wheel sets on a top of the line bike are a big part of why those bikes are so expensive. 105 spec'd bikes usually have good durable wheel sets, but they're not the lightest, though they are usually very durable and durability is important, too, especially on a gravel bike.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    62
    Thank you for the info on Giant.
    So, I have actually seen Specialized Diverge WSD 2018. And in my size. 49 fit great, but here is the thing. They position it as their gravel bike. Well, this gravel bike has practically road tires, the same as my Specialized Vita... So, I really don't understand their marketing. I would basically have to buy another set of tires along with the bike, because there is no way this bike could go on any rough terrain. At this point I am better off buying Specialized Ruby (which I loved a lot!) with the same specs, much lighter weight, and practically identical tires, that cost much less and buy a set of grippier tires.
    Thoughts?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,628
    CX bikes are problematic for smaller riders because their bottom brackets are higher off the ground than road bikes. I suggest looking at a Salsa Vaya. You may not have any in your area, but it’s worth an overnight trip, if necessary, to get the right bike. It’s basically a gravel bike, and I know of women on this forum who were 4’11” and fit the size XS (which I think they called a size 50, because
    They size by top tube rather than seat tube).

    There are several models to choose. I’d personally go for Tiagra over Apex, but I had bad luck with SRAM on my road bike.

    https://salsacycles.com/bikes/vaya/2018_vaya_tiagra

    Also, Advocate Cycles is a company that donates profits to bike programs, and the steel is higher quality. The people who run it used to work for Salsa. The Lorax is similar to the Vaya. You can give them a call. They can put together any build you want.

    http://advocatecycles.com/product/lorax/
    Last edited by Muirenn; 03-10-2018 at 01:59 PM.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles


    Surly Karate Monkey!!!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,628
    Wow! It’s massively on sale! Get one! I love that green!!!!
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles


    Surly Karate Monkey!!!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    62
    Quote Originally Posted by Muirenn View Post
    CX bikes are problematic for smaller riders because their bottom brackets are higher off the ground than road bikes. I suggest looking at a Salsa Vaya. You may not have any in your area, but it’s worth an overnight trip, if necessary, to get the right bike. It’s basically a gravel bike, and I know of women on this forum who were 4’11” and fit the size XS (which I think they called a size 50, because
    They size by top tube rather than seat tube).

    There are several models to choose. I’d personally go for Tiagra over Apex, but I had bad luck with SRAM on my road bike.

    https://salsacycles.com/bikes/vaya/2018_vaya_tiagra

    Also, Advocate Cycles is a company that donates profits to bike programs, and the steel is higher quality. The people who run it used to work for Salsa. The Lorax is similar to the Vaya. You can give them a call. They can put together any build you want.

    http://advocatecycles.com/product/lorax/
    Thank you for your suggestion on Salsa Bikes. There are dealers in the area and I will definitely check them out.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,628
    Quote Originally Posted by Lady Hamilton View Post
    Thank you for your suggestion on Salsa Bikes. There are dealers in the area and I will definitely check them out.
    Depending on the trails you are interested in, Salsa makes a bike called the Fargo which is a little beefier and could take tougher trails. They Are both ‘in between’ bikes. Both worth trying. Also, the Salsa Cuthroat is the carbon version of the Fargo. The other two are steel. (Steel is real !) i just noticed that you are looking for lightweight. Steel frame sets can be light. The components and wheels can cause a bike to weigh more. Since you were hoping for at least 105, if you like the Vaya, you could check into upgrading the drivetrain, or having a shop build a frameset and choose components that will make the bike lighter. Higher end wheels can make a huge difference in weight and how the bike rides. Depends on your budget, of course.
    Last edited by Muirenn; 03-10-2018 at 06:02 PM.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles


    Surly Karate Monkey!!!

 

 

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