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Custom or Production 'Cross bikes: What's in your future?

So Scott, a reader of mine from DC, sends me this simple question:

Ok, Greg, my Redline Team has done 2 years and is a bit dinged up, so, for the uber cross racing bike, why Rock Lobster? as opposed to, I don't know, something carbon (not that I'm keen on the idea of a carbon cross bike that might get broken).

Thanks for your thoughts.

Scott has started a religious debate, methinks. To which I responded with the following. I have received the question quite a few times, so I figured I'd broadcast the answer.

Hey Scott!

Thanks for the note, man. You have asked a very religious question! for me, its sort of a confluence of materials, custom sizing/geometry and finally 'cult' status. I've raced a variety of off the shelf bikes from Kelly (a production/non custom steel frame), Felt and Scott and of course my various Rock Lobsters. Let me net it out this way:

a) Scandium rocks: The material of choice for me is scandium. It's SUPER light, SUPER strong and has a variety of characteristics I like that frame builders can literally 'tune' the design to how you want it to ride. As an example, I had Rocklobster's Paul Sadoff give me super rigid chain stays (for power transmission) yet the scandium down stays provide some level of flex for comfort. I get exactly what I want in a 3.0 pound frame that is roughly a 59cm (so that light in a larger frame size). Carbon's good, do not get me wrong, but it has limits (for me) on sizing, geometry, colors, et al (see b. next).

b) Custom sizing/geometry: A lot of these off the shelf manufacturers think that sloping top tubes and lower bottom brackets are 'cross' geometry. It's MARKETING geometry. They wouldn't know a cross bike and how it should ride from a commuter bike with 700c tires and cantilever brakes. A horizontal top tube and high BB are CORE cross with near road geometry...albeit just ever so slightly slacker. I personally think Ridley and Colnago have it nailed on the production side (wonder why the best teams ride these frames in Belgium?)...the latter requiring a double mortgage on your house to afford. Paul has built cross bikes for 20+ years....for many national champions and Europeans. His geometry stands the test of time. I have one special requirement though on my frames he builds.....OK 2: First, I run double chain guides with a single ring. I have him specifically crimp the right chain stay to allow for this clearance AND ensuring I can fit a 34 tubular in the stays with appropriate mud clearance. He nailed that. The second thing is that if I want to run a double ring up front, I would (personally) ask him to route my f. der. cable on the top tube. He likes the down tube routing. This may have no bearing on your tastes/desire though.

c) Cult: Support your local frame builder! OK, Paul's in Santa Cruz....but he WAS local to me when I lived there! Ha! I have an affinity for the hard working manufacturers of the sport...who are artists in all senses of the definition. Paul is an artist to me before he is a bike frame builder.

Hope this helps you! In fact, I may post this as it is a question I get often!

Finally Scott, just LOOK at how beautiful they are!!! Mmmmm. You know you want one.

Reader Comments (28)

Whatup G Love?

I suspect you mean the GREEN Rock Lobster in the first picture? Those are hand made Dugasts with Michelin Mud (green compound) rubber. These are my buddy Evan's he had made up A Dygast during a time where you could send your tread to Dugast directly and they'd mount them to their cotton or silk casings. I am not even sure if the new owners of Dugast allow for this any longer as a service. I know FMB does.

November 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGreg

Thanks, and I forgot to mention, I am color blind. I have also seen Steve Tilford run them locally, so I was thinking they might be a Europe only tire, being imported by illegal methods. I will have to continue to run the "consumer based poor mans Dugast".

November 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterG-Love

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December 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSMB tech geeks

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