One mark of a lot of salespeople is that if they’ve got one product in stock but you want a different product, similar but not exactly the same, they’ll push you towards what they’ve got with the hopes that you’ll be out the door with something out of their stock. Sometimes, they will even tell you that the product you really want but they don’t have is crap and that you will hate it.
Thus, if I walk into a store and get told that I’m thinking of something in the comfort-road or cyclocross category and you tell me that I’d hate a cyclocross bike, I get suspicious. Thus, I had one salesperson telling me that I’d love a cyclocross bike and another telling me that I’d hate it.
If you look, in fairly general terms, at a cyclocross bike, it tends to fit somewhere between a comfort-road styled frame and a touring frame in terms of wheelbase and designed structural strength. Except that cyclocross bikes tend to have a higher bottom bracket and touring frames tend to have the trail adjusted to take panniers and a handlebar bag up front without ruining the handling.
It’s already tricky to find bikes in my size. It’s even harder to find bikes in my size for a sport that apparently isn’t especially popular out here. But it turns out that Sports Basement had some. I tried a Cannondale CX9 in my size.
The CX9 has a bottom bracket that’s almost as high as my mountain bike, one of the highest bottom brackets of cyclocross frames. And this presented me with no problems. I mean, I ride my mountain bike on 50-80 mile rides all the time, so if there was a huge blocker involved in higher bottom brackets, I’d have noticed it by now.
Specialized makes a big deal about their Zertz inserts. Carbon fiber bike makers in general make a big deal about how carbon fiber is supposed to absorb road buzz. For me, the biggest improvements in ride were bikes with wider tires. Really, all of them were buzzy and bumpy compared to my mountain bike with suspension.
The Cannondale was $1700 retailing at $1400. Except that it had a double chainring, not a triple, which I’m not sure about. The newer model has been moved downmarket with heavier wheels and now lists at $1400 and is available in triple. Specialized has a model that’s nice that lists for $1200 and features full rack mountings, which the Cannondale doesn’t.