Thursday, November 28, 2013

A History of My Road and 'Cross Bikes

Time for installment #3 of my bike history (full sus bikes here and 29er hardtails here)

Update: hardtail 26ers here.

My road riding started on my pop's hand me down Schwinn. Typical early 70s bike boom, with Ashtabula cranks, steel rims, etc. But I'll start this history with the first road bike I actually bought:

1. 1991 Bridgestone RB-T

(not my bike pictured). I was heavily influenced by reading Grant Petersen's Bridgestone catalogues throughout college, so when I went road bike shopping, a quick spin to the Bike Gallery and this RB-T was mine. Must've been the summer between my freshman and sophomore years at the University of Washington. The Suntour drivetrain never shifted very well, but otherwise this was a great bike: good clearances, a nice frame, good geo. They're actually still quite in demand today, and I wouldn't mind finding one now. Mine was a 59cm, probably too small for me, though.

2.  1991 Bridgestone RB-1

Another Bridgestone, I picked this one up used after I moved to Ohio. Rode nice, but I got the Gunnar soon after that I liked better.

3. 1999 Gunnar Crosshairs

(my first S24O!)

This was before 'cross bikes really took off and were available on every street corner. I bought this used from a (presumed) racer in Seattle. I say "presumed" because the left hand top tube decal was worn down, probably from shouldering. This was a lovely bike, with a great, springy ride feel, good clearance, and the usual Gunnar chipping paint and slipping seat post. Still, even though it was probably also too small for me (60cm), I rode it for many, many, years. I finally only sold it when a) I got my bigger CC, and b) on a shakedown test ride, I had the rear brake arm mis set. It got pulled into the wheel and bent the brake stud. I roughly bent it back, then finally sold it to a friend, cheap. I think he still has it (and still loves it)

4. On One Il Pompino

I was riding my Gunnar around quite a bit as a single speed, using a 39x15 magic gear, but I wanted a dedicated single speed rig. I bought and quickly sold this Il Pomp. I'm not sure why I didn't care for it. Maybe the track ends?

5. Iron Horse Excelsior

I got an urge for a modern road bike, so I picked this up cheap from Nashbar. It actually rode very well--maybe due to the carbon seatstays, and I liked the STI shifting. But, the tire clearance was limited to maybe 25mm, and I found myself pulling my fixed gear Gunnar out for most of my road rides, so off it went.

6. Rivendell Romulus

Despite my following of Grant Petersen's work, this is my only Riv (so far). It was a 61cm, bought used, so probably too small. Still, it was an extraordinarily comfortable road bike, and very smooth riding, but it just felt slow. Maybe it was the Pasela touring tires I had on there--I've never had any good experience with tires with puncture protection.

7. Salsa Casseroll #1

This should've been a great bike: fattish tire clearance, low bb, single speed or geared dropouts. Somehow, it just never came together for me.

8. Scattante XRL

I gave this a try, with an image to build a real racing 'cross bike. I didn't like it, so I abused Performance's 100% satisfaction policy and returned it.

9. Singular Peregrine

Should this be classified with the 29ers or the road bikes? I didn't do much off roading on it, so maybe it should go here.

10. Surly Cross Check

This bike has its own page here.

11. Giant TCX

I actually raced this one in a few CapCity 'cross events, carrying me to multiple glorious mid pack finishes in the men's C division. Finally, I decided I didn't like riding around in grassy circles all that much.

12. Salsa Casseroll #2

Picked up on clearance from Speedgoat. Whatever didn't work for me on the first Cass... still didn't work here.

13. Surly Pacer

I love that Pacer baby blue, so when I found one in a 62cm for sale, I jumped at it. But, it really didn't do anything better than my CC, and the CC wins on tire clearance and single speedability.

14. Specialized Tricross Expert

I've always like the looks of the Tricross, but worried that even the largest size was too small. Turns out, I was right to be worried.

15. Fuji S-10-S Ltd
(as I got it off CL)

(after I modified it)

After reading Bicycle Quarterly for a while, I was curious to try a low trail bike. When I found this Fuji for sale locally, I gave it a go. I liked the low trail, I liked the skinny, flexible tubing, but I didn't care for the tight tire clearance or high bottom bracket with 700x35mm tires mounted.

16. Rawland rSogn

More about this bike here.

17. Soma Double Cross

More here.

18. Rawland Nordavinden

More here.

19.  Specialized Globe Vienna 1

Yep, another link.

20. Novara Buzz One

One more link.

Need to add: Trek 620, Velo Orange Camargue

Cross Check Triumphant
So after 20 bikes, the only two still in my stable are the CC and the Buzz (and the Buzz is half heartedly for sale) The Crosscheck has such a powerful combination of smart design, low price, and versatility, that it's hard for any other bike to supplant it... even for a serial bike flipper like me.


  1. Eric, wow! - you've owned some really nice bikes. I'm amused that of all of them, you like the CC the best. Not the Riv, not the Gunnar, not any of the pricier models. Makes me feel good about riding a CC myself - like I picked the right bike. Not that I need external affirmation of my bicycling decisions. But its nice.

    1. I think that's part of the appeal of Surly bikes--they're rarely the first bike someone buys; people come around to them after trying out many more expensive, higher tech, lighter, etc options. Then, they can better understand the design highlights of the Surly.

      But maybe I'm just saying this to justify another Karate Monkey.


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