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  1. #1
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    Light, "cyclocross like bike" for going carfree, joyrides, training

    Right now I only have a low-end mountain bike. I want to get a light within limits(of actually being utilitarian) road-style bike(but not road as I have to go on minor off-road shortcuts, or ride on sidewalks when there is no road shoulder on certain high speed roads) with rear rack eyelets and fender mounts for going car-free, recreational rides and trying some structured training. I don't have enough funds or space to have many different bikes for half a dozen discrete tasks. So far I am leaning toward a Trek Ion CX pro(cyclocross, aluminum frame, carbon fork) that weighs 19.8 lbs and costs $2,099 or a Volagi Viaje SRAM Apex(randonee/endurance bike, steel frame, carbon fork) that costs $2595 and weighs 19.6 lbs.

    Which one do you recommend? I am willing to pay $2000+, $3000 if it is something I really like and moderately light.
    Or does anyone have other suggestions within these parameters?

  2. #2
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    I suspect you will find that most people will be recommending whichever bike they've had access to. My current commuter/all-around-town bike in a Surly Cross Check and it does just fine by me. It's somewhat below the lower-end of your price range, but by the time you add lights, racks, fenders, panniers, etc you'll probably add another $500 to the price. I like that it doesn't look like a pricy bike, is a sturdy and repairable steel frame, has braze-ons for everything under the sun, and suits me well. The CC is known as a great do-everything bike, but the Surly Ogre/Troll are too if you are going to be doing more offroading. But there are probably 50 other bikes around that would do the same.

    Personally, I would take a look at how much you expect to leave the bike sitting out and about unattended, and where you live. The more urban and more it will be left locked up outside the more I would look at a bike that won't break your heart if it's stolen.

  3. #3
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    Update: The Trek Ion CX has had a $300 price drop to $1,799.99. Now that the price differential is $800 compared to the $2595 Volagi, I don't think this is much of a contest.

    What do you guys think of buying a bike "blind" without a test-ride? Many people do it. I have contacted Trek via email inquiring about test riding the Ion CX Pro somehow, but never got a response. I doubt I could get a test-ride before they dump the 2013 stock for 2014 season. Also what about relative bike fit? I am 6'1 and feel the 58 cm frame will fit me.

    Do bike stores offer free relative bike fit to at least match you up with the right frame size? I need to read up on bike fit, but there is so much controversy over bike fitting, it is confusing. I am also wondering if I can trust these bike stores to say anything except that the one size they have on offer is what fits me.

    @evandy:
    The cross-check is dog heavy at 27 lbs as a full bike built up by Surly. Even the frame is like half a pound heavier than almost any other steel cross frame. Honestly I think that bike is so hyped on the internet and infamous because Surly was smart enough to realize that cross bikes are versatile and since they cannot compete on weight, it seems they added fender mount points and front and rear rack eyelets before the curve. Thus even though it is heavier than a pig ready for slaughter, it is still unduly talked up.

  4. #4
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    From where are you buying the bike that you won't be able to organize a test ride? I didn't think you could buy big name bikes online (eBay notwithstanding).

  5. #5
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    @Sanath:
    There are quite a bit of Trek dealers in my area. None that I checked stocked many cyclocross bikes, let alone the specific Trek Ion CX Pro. Also lopping $300 off likely occurred because Trek wants to liquidate their 2013 stock. Waiting for a mythical demo means that deal will dissipate. For all I know in 2014, they won't even have a successor and there will not be a slightly racey, moderately light within limits, cross bike that can also serve as a commuter in their lineup.

  6. #6
    jrm
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    Get fitted before spending any $$$. Any descent dealer should be able to fit you whether it be on the Ion CX or something they have on the floor and then order the Ion for you. Time to start calling dealers...
    Wreck the malls with cows on Harleys

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoyFokker View Post
    @evandy:
    The cross-check is dog heavy at 27 lbs as a full bike built up by Surly. Even the frame is like half a pound heavier than almost any other steel cross frame. Honestly I think that bike is so hyped on the internet and infamous because Surly was smart enough to realize that cross bikes are versatile and since they cannot compete on weight, it seems they added fender mount points and front and rear rack eyelets before the curve. Thus even though it is heavier than a pig ready for slaughter, it is still unduly talked up.
    Hey, your money so do what you want with it, no questions asked. I mentioned the CC because you said you want a bike "for going car-free, recreational rides and trying some structured training." I find it hard to believe that a 1lb frame differential would matter anything at all in that use case. Even the 7lb difference in the full-up bike is probably meaningless the moment you throw any kind of cargo on it, which I assume you will do going car-free. The CC is not a racing machine, and isn't spec'd as such. But it is a versatile, solid, hard-to-kill, do-anything bike.

    If you want a light racing bike, go for it and enjoy yourself! Money shaves weight; simple trade-off there and only you can make that decision. But do determine whatever your max cargo load is and make sure your frame can take it.

    Let us know what you end up with!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by RoyFokker View Post
    @Sanath:
    There are quite a bit of Trek dealers in my area. None that I checked stocked many cyclocross bikes, let alone the specific Trek Ion CX Pro. Also lopping $300 off likely occurred because Trek wants to liquidate their 2013 stock. Waiting for a mythical demo means that deal will dissipate. For all I know in 2014, they won't even have a successor and there will not be a slightly racey, moderately light within limits, cross bike that can also serve as a commuter in their lineup.
    Well that may be, but how are you going to buy it if not through a local-ish dealer? I was thinking if you're going to have a dealer order it, surely they'd be okay with a test ride to check the fit before finalizing the purchase. If they're not, I'd take my dollars to a better shop.

    edit:
    Quote Originally Posted by evandy View Post
    do determine whatever your max cargo load is and make sure your frame can take it.
    This is super important if you're going car-free.

  9. #9
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    Car free, I assume you'll need racks and fenders and pannier? Make sure the frame can fit all that and the size tires you would be using.

  10. #10
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    Latest update:

    I went to the most local bike store to me. A staff member just looked at me and said, yep you are likely size 56 cm in cyclocross. On the phone he said the same after I just told him that I am 6'1 in height. I asked him "Is that it?," "Don't you have to measure me?". He replied that he has been doing this for 20 years, and asked what was I really good at. At first I didn't know what to think, but come to think of it, my mom's boyfriend who is in his mid to late sixties has been an auto mechanic since he was a teen and just by looking at a nut, he can tell with almost certainty what size wrench you will need without trial and error, yet he complains about reading without glasses. The manager walked by, this staff member asked him what size he thought I was in cyclocross and he also said 56 cm.

    However this is the frame size breakdown for the Trek Ion CX Pro:
    50cm 52cm 54cm 56cm 58cm 61cm

    Now if at my height I am in the middle for who is 58 cm? Say hypothetically it is for people up to 6'4? And 61 cm is for those even taller? I mean why do Clydes always complain then?

    I honestly don't know what to think of that whole interaction. I mean they could have easily lied even though they thought I didn't fit properly to make the sale, to be fair, so they are not exactly rotten. But what do you think of frame sizing a customer by eyeball?

    So this likely means the Trek Ion CX Pro is out, the 2013 stock only has 58 cm left. There will be no 2014 incarnation of this model, it is being replaced by the Crocket which is totally race oriented with utilitarian rear rack braze-ons or fender mounts.

  11. #11
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    I don't care if he's been doing this for 50 years. Just eyeballing someone and determining what size fits them perfect is not realistic. Every brand is different and models within brands are different. Sizing isn't based on how tall you are. Get a proper fitting and you'll see all the factors that go into it. This guy just wants to move inventory.
    He who dares....wins!

  12. #12
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    Agreed. You can't look at someone and say with certainty what size they will ride. You can use that as a STARTING POINT and then size up or down. I worked at a shop this summer that had us take actual measurements and do real math calculations for road and cx bike fits. We had a couple brands that fit a little different (they had long cockpits), which forced us to make some mental adjustments when a customer was interested in one. Even still, the basic measurements we took only accounted for inseam. We'd still only be using that as a starting point.

    Sometimes it was obvious if someone had a short torso or short arms and we could start a size smaller. Other times it was not so clear. There are a LOT of people who are between sizes.

    When you're talking about ordering something they don't have in stock, and especially if they don't even have anything similar to fit you on, you need to be absolutely sure you're starting in the right place.

  13. #13
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    Please report back as to whether you end up with a 56. While I agree with some of the recommendations above, I would not be surprised if the shop guys were right.

  14. #14
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    I'm 5'9.5' with a 30' inseam and I ride a 56cm most of the time. I need that longer TT since my torso is longer. Unless you know how to read the geo charts and know what fits you best already, getting a fit is the way to go!

  15. #15
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    I have also related this same experience to Craigslist's forums and 4chan for their advice. Several there said they worked at bike stores and that is what they do, eyeball fit. I understand and accept there, but I don't think that is where the process should both begin and end. Some on Craigslist have said that if you are not planning on racing CX the actual standover height matters alot less because I will not be constantly mounting and dismounting the bike at speed. Thus they said for commuting 58 cm would not be bad. What do others think about this?

    According to this podcast I have listened to by someone who has been a professional bike fitter for several decades, Victor Jimenez, standover height does not matter as most think. Rather it is the biomechanics, rleative flexibility, frame and limb size of the rider and how they interact with the bike size, geometry and its components(which often have to be replaced for a proper fit) that matter. He said sometimes the bike that fits you best, you can barely mount it due to its standover height, but you will have a superior fit and mechanical advantage when actually riding it.

    @GOTA:
    I do not think it is a case of them wanting to move inventory. Basically I was the one interested in the Ion CX Pro from my own internet research. I initiated the dialogue about that bike via phone after seeing it listed for $300 less due to the 2013 stock likely needing to be cleared out. They only had the 58 cm size at the Trek warehouse and I wanted to see about a frame fit to see if that size suited me. Of the phone he simply asked my size and said 56 cm was the right size for me in a cross bike. I went in person and he just eyeballed me and refused to size me properly with measurements. The bike store never really even tried to sell me anything, infact they seemed to mostly ignore me until I finally talked to the only member of the sales staff present. If anything they tried to dissuade me. There attitude was wholly apathetic.

    @NateHawk:
    Do you know where I can read up on these mathematical calculations and other info about getting the best frame fit?

    @mtbxplorer:
    56 cm for the Ion CX Pro is gone, sold out. In 2014 the bike is being replaced by the Trek Crockett which has no rear rack mounts and is almost wholly geared toward CX racing.

    @JordyB:
    Unfortunately most bike stores seem to be bad about fit and do not take it serious. Also since I am planning to go car-free it will be hard to ignore this store only 4.1 miles away that insists on this half-assed eyeball method. There is a store 15 miles more serious about fitting from what I gather anecdotally, but getting a bike there and back is much more difficult if you want to abandon your car. If I have to leave my bike there, it will be difficult: an expensive taxi ride, begging a ride from a relative or friend, a long walk several miles to the nearest bus stop only to wait a likely long-time.

  16. #16
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    It is true that standover matters less. It is also true that a bike with very little standover MIGHT fit better, but that is going to depend on the specific bike in question and the particulars of its geometry.

    The preliminary calculations used by the shop I worked in were very basic. Just measuring the inseam, then multiplying it by a ratio (I forget which), that would provide an "optimal" frame size. I do not know the origin of this ratio, but it probably came from some pro fit training program or another that one of the shop's early fitters attended. I do not know details of the fit method used, as I was not trained to provide pro fits. I do know an entire corner of the shop was dedicated to it, with mirrors and many tools for measuring distances and angles. The shop also stocked many seatposts, stems, and handlebars that the fitter would use to make necessary adjustments for folks. The fitter also had a record sheet with many more locations to enter measurements and perform other calculations, and that information would be entered into a database for future reference and fit adjustments.

  17. #17
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    if you guys knew anything about bikes you'd know that everyone rides a 56.

  18. #18
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    If you're going car free, that bike will see a lot of miles. I would think a steel (repairable) frame would be best, along with lots of mounting points. for front and rear racks. Mounts mid-way down the fork are great for lights, etc.

    I wouldn't worry about the weight of the bike so much and focus on durability. A good touring bike with tough wheels might be a place to start.

  19. #19
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    Like others have said, eyeballing you is a good way to find a starting point for sizing, but I certainly wouldn't blindly order a specific size just based on that. Bunch of factors come into play, torso length, inseam, personal preferences, but I would have suggested a 58cm at your height. I'm 5'11" and ride a 56cm road bike and a 56cm tri bike, just to throw another data point in the mix.
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