Meet the rides sure to bring you glory on the the cyclocross course.
1. Spot Mod SS
Somehow the purity (and, um, insanity) of a belt-drive single speed ride seems a perfect fit for cyclocross, and this bike is, excuse the pun, spot on. Plus, the Mod’s dropout actually allows for the addition of a derailleur. But as a single-speed machine, the bike is surprisingly smooth and responsive. The belt means no mud in your chain (though we have had problems with dry grass) and it provides powerful strokes without all the drama of mid-race derailleur failure.
2. Focus Mares AX 2.0 Disc
You won’t find a better ‘cross bike for your money than the reliable Mares. And unlike many cyclocross rides that don’t respond all that differently than a road bike, the Mares was built for the punishment of the sport. The alloy frame employs a carbon fork and tapered head tube to suck up some of the pounding. Shimano 105 componentry provides reliable shifting on the fly.
3. Fondriest RC6 Cross Carbon
Cyclcross riders, in general, tend to favor aluminum bikes that run on the cheap side since they take so much damn abuse. But the light, smooth class of this machine is sure to make some carbon converts. The brand is the namesaker of racer Maurizio Fondriest and the ride is made to race, with the frame weighing in at just under three pounds. The price is also quite reasonable for a carbon bike, ringing up at under 4K fully built with Shimano Ultegra componentry.
4. Giant TCX W
Champ racer Kelli Emmett helped Team EO kick butt at the Teva Mountain Games over the summer. And guess what? The hammering Ms. Emmett gave Giant input in designing this women-specifc cyclocross ride, which is built with a shorter top tube for better handling on the dicey sections of a ‘cross course. It also features bars and a saddle built for the female form.
You know cyclocross is evolving when Shimano starts amping up its componenty for the sport. This fall the brand is debuting a high-performance line of cranks, derailleurs and cantilever brakes made to endure the mud and pounding of ‘cross. The FC-CX50 and CX70 cranks (shimano.com) will feature powerful 46-36T gearing and provide the type of quick power transfer that’s necessary on an erratic course. And the new FD-CX70 front derailleur is designed to integrate with those new crank gear ratios. Shimano beefed up the derailleur, too, since it’s one of the parts most vulnerable to failure in all the slop of cyclocross competion. And since mud is always on the menu, the new BR-CX50 and CX70 cantilever brakes offer higher clearance and feature easy-to-replace cartridge pads. As far as tires go, Michelin is back in the bike game and its new line of ‘cross tires allows you switch out for different conditions with dry or mud treads ($57; michelinbike.com).