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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    62

    Transitioning from hybrid to road/cyclocross

    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
    5,897
    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 2010 carbon WSD road bike, Rivet Independence saddle
    - Red hardtail 26" aluminum mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle
    - Royal blue 2018 aluminum gravel bike, Rivet Pearl saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver 2003 aluminum road bike
    - Two awesome worn out Juliana saddles

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,108
    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
    1,108
    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
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Mrs. KnottedYet
    Posts
    9,050
    Iím your height, 5í0Ē though heavier. Thatíll be another thread. Iím still 175 lbs though since retiring the pants sizes are dropping. I was rocking size 16, now down to 12ís. The goal size is either 10 - maybe 8. Itís what tends to happen with me, weight stays the same and everything turns to muscle when I get fit. Anyway back to the bike;

    My commute may be similar to yours; pavement and bike lanes with some gravel. My favorite commuters are my Salsa Vaya and the Soma Buena Vista the latter of which is a Mixte. Since you want to to cross the Salsa May be a better choice. Equipped with a rack and front and rear fenders itís heavier than some. Test ride without and with lighter wheels.

    I normally ride a 47cm, my Salsa is a 50cm. Iíve had I professionally fit and was surprised by that.

    Hereís another thread for comparison and info:

    http://forums.teamestrogen.com/showthread.php?t=51616
    Fancy Schmancy Custom Road bike ~ Mondonico Futura Legero
    Found on side of the road bike ~ Motobecane Mixte
    Gravel bike ~ Salsa Vaya
    Favorite bike ~ Soma Buena Vista mixte
    N+1 bike ~ Brompton
    https://www.instagram.com/pugsley_adventuredog/

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    62
    Quote Originally Posted by Trek420 View Post
    I’m your height, 5’0” though heavier. That’ll be another thread. I’m still 175 lbs though since retiring the pants sizes are dropping. I was rocking size 16, now down to 12’s. The goal size is either 10 - maybe 8. It’s what tends to happen with me, weight stays the same and everything turns to muscle when I get fit. Anyway back to the bike;

    My commute may be similar to yours; pavement and bike lanes with some gravel. My favorite commuters are my Salsa Vaya and the Soma Buena Vista the latter of which is a Mixte. Since you want to to cross the Salsa May be a better choice. Equipped with a rack and front and rear fenders it’s heavier than some. Test ride without and with lighter wheels.

    I normally ride a 47cm, my Salsa is a 50cm. I’ve had I professionally fit and was surprised by that.

    Here’s another thread for comparison and info:

    http://forums.teamestrogen.com/showthread.php?t=51616
    Thank you.

    Well, sometimes height is not everything. I know women who are 5'3 with shorter legs than mine. So, I am not suprized at all that Vaya 50 fit you. I have looked up the specs, and they're are tiny at their smallest size. Specialized Ruby at 44 is also a very-very tiny bike, that is more for someone who is 5 foot and under. I haven't tried this year's one, but I remember being very cramped on last year's one.

    I have tried just for the heck of it Cannondale CAADX 2016 with 105, priced very comfortably. It's unisex, size 44. Because it is cross bike, and sits very high from the ground, I did not clear the standover, but I was very comfortable in the reach. Basically, while I was on the bike, it was ok. It is a very nice bike and feels like very high quality. Actually, in terms of looks and feel I've liked it more than Diverge...

    Muirenn, I see one in your signiture. Do you love yours?
    Would it be comfortable on a 50-70 mile ride?
    Last edited by Lady Hamilton; 03-12-2018 at 08:53 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    62
    The closest Advocate Cycles store is like an 9 hour drive one way. Unfortunately...
    Of, course, there is always an option to send it to a mailbox storage place in Niagara Falls (has been done with many, many things with lots of items), but I would really hate to buy something without trying it first. I think that the whole fitting and adjusting experience is very important, so I would only go with something shipped if I knew exactly what I am getting.
    Also, one of the Salsa's dealers around offers 0% financing over 12 or 24 months, which really helps to get the bike you want, as opposed to the one you can afford out of pocket.
    I will definitely be checking it out as soon as I can, schedule permitting.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    62
    But I know in the past, it seemed they would not fit someone less than 5'4" or so.
    No, the bike is too high off the ground. Even in size 44, which they no longer make. Now the smallest is what they call 46.
    Last edited by Lady Hamilton; 03-12-2018 at 01:35 PM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    62
    There is one model this year. With APEX 1 HDR group set. And very pricey. Smallest size is 46 and standover is very tall too, at 75 cm.

    The one I have tried is men's/unisex.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,108
    Quote Originally Posted by Lady Hamilton View Post
    There is one model this year. With APEX 1 HDR group set. And very pricey. Smallest size is 46 and standover is very tall too, at 75 cm.

    The one I have tried is men's/unisex.
    Are you familiar with SRAM road shifters? They are different than Shimano in the way the work. Not everyone likes them. APEX is low end in the SRAM line, quality wise. Definitely not 105 level. I rode with Apex for two years on a Salsa Fargo. I sold the Fargo because it was just too expensive to switch everything over to 105. I get along great with SRAM MTB stuff, but not their road stuff. Just me, though. Some folks love the SRAM road stuff. Not knocking it. Just saying you might want to try before you buy if you haven't ridden with the SRAM double tap road stuff.
    Last edited by north woods gal; 03-13-2018 at 01:52 PM.

 

 

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