Tuesday, July 17, 2012

FSA Gossamer Compact Crankset - Nashbar Frame Clearance

FSA Gossamer Compact Road Crankset
A quick post to respond to Ben's question on crank clearance left on my last post: Getting Closer!

I have had no problems under load or otherwise with crank clearance. The Nashbar X Aluminum Cyclocross Frame (even in the small size my frame is) has plenty of room at the drive side chain stay with the 50 tooth big ring on the 110mm bc 172.5mm crank arm length FSA Gossamer Compact Road Crankset.

I have raced this bike at The Black Fly Challenge and I have been using it as a mountain bike all this summer. I have not any any issues whatsoever. Definitely recommend the crankset and the frame.

Here are some quick cell phone picks.

Man, I need to update this blog!

Saturday, April 21, 2012


It's been a while since I have posted but the build continues. So far I have the headset and crankset installed. More details in my next post, but I wanted to get something up to show that this bike and my effort still exists!

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Agony of (Defeat) My Foot

The lull you have been experiencing on My Cheap Cyclocross Bike has been brought to you by: life.  I have no solid progress to report on my bike build and haven’t since my last post.  I will attempt to explain why…

My First CX Race
As promised, I did indeed race the Critz Kermis in Cazenovia, NY on September 17th.  I resorted to humping my old Haro (friends and family lovingly call it, The Whoro) MTB around the orchards and Christmas tree groves at Critz Farms.  A beautiful introduction to Cross; despite my wheezing, a case of dry heaves, and an unidentifiable foot injury I managed to incur a week and a half prior.

Except for two DNF’s I was dead last.  I will venture to make the excuse that I hadn’t been on my bike at all for a week and a half beforehand (due to this damn foot/ankle issue I have), but I am quite certain that I still would’ve finished dead last.

I was in trouble right from the start.  One lap in and everyone except the Juniors had passed me.  By my second lap I was dry-heaving by the Cortland apples.  By lap three, the Team Ommegang/Syracuse Bicycle guys had hammered past me (for the first time).  By lap four, the race was over.  I do think I should’ve gotten a freebie lap for stopping to fix some course tape, but I will admit I just wanted an excuse to rest.

Nevertheless, it was a great first experience and a beautiful day.  Critz Farms is fantastic and all the people running the show and the racers kicking my ass were great.  Of course some of Critz’s Harvest Moon Cider has helped to ease my post race pain.

Damn You, Life
It’s been a busy year for my wife and me.  We had our first child in March, and time keeps storming by.  It’s been difficult to find all the time I want to spend on my bike and on other projects this year.  In addition, I’m actively searching for a new career.  I won’t go into details here, but that is a major time consumer as well.

Oh, and my foot.  There is something still wrong with it.  I’m not going to go into detail, but my participation in the Syracuse GP is definitely in question.

My Cheap CX Build Status
As I said, I have not made any progress on the actual build.  What I have done is create a spreadsheet that encapsulates everything that I have already purchased, and everything that I want to purchase.  

Unfortunately the crushing reality of that spreadsheet is that it highlights the fact that there is no way I can build that bike as I have specified it for $900.  Don’t get the idea that I am giving up on this project, because I am not.  It just might require a different path to get it to completion.

I honestly hate to admit it, but you can probably buy a complete low end bike of (possibly) comparable quality for less through outlets like Nashbar.  But again, I have another plan of attack, and I also have some other ideas for other projects, so fret not.  There may be hope and I will pop out an update when I have more to report.

- Chris

Friday, September 16, 2011

Time Flies

I’ve promised Part 2 of how I chose my Nashbar X Cyclocross frame and I want to go into the geometry and the theory behind how I sized the frame, but that will have to wait for now.  Since time is ticking by this fall and I am in the process of looking for a new job, getting things buttoned up for the winter around the house, and riding when I can… I just wanted to include a brief update for today.

Critz Kermis
I will be racing the Critz Kermis tomorrow at Critz Farm in Cazenovia.  This will be my first CX race and obviously I do not have my cheap cyclocross rig ready to go yet, so I’ll be humping my old Haro mountain bike around the course for 40 minutes in the Mens Open class.  Bummer, but it’s my current reality.

Parts List
I don’t have everything I need yet, but I will list what I have, sans details and pricing.  But all of this stuff was bought on the cheap from either Nashbar or Pricepoint:

  • Nashbar X Aluminum Cyclocross Frame
  • Nashbar Carbon Cyclocross fork (aluminum steerer)
  • Cane Creek 40 Series headset
  • Tektro front cable hanger
  • Tektro seatpost clamp/cable hanger
  • SetteVenn seatpost
  • Raceface Cadence stem (120mm)
  • Raceface Cadence bars (42cm)
  • Vuelta Corsa HD wheelset
  • FSA Gossamer Compact Road crankset w/BB (36/46)

Obviously there are many more components yet to source, but I’m still on track for meeting my sub-$900 criteria.  For the most part, I have the rest of the drivetrain figured out, but I’m up in the air on brakes still.  I’ll price these parts out and offer an explanation for my decisions in future posts.

Friday, September 2, 2011

My Cheap Cyclocross Frame: Part 1

One Word: Nashbar
Whenever I think of high quality bicycle parts at ridiculously low prices, my first thought is always Nashbar.  So Bike Nashbar was my starting point in researching frames and components, and I bought myself their self-branded Nashbar X Aluminum Cyclocross Frame.
Nashbar X Aluminum Cyclocross Frame
Why Nashbar?
I have been buying parts from Nashbar for the better part of 15 years from their catalogs, online, and I have even been to their brick and mortar outlet store in Canfield, Ohio.  They have been selling high quality unbranded bicycle frames for many years.  I even have an aluminum hardtail MTB frame that I bought from them years ago (that I unfortunately have never built up, but that is another story).

Now that I’m done sounding like a commercial for Nashbar, let’s get to the frame.  As I mentioned before, I actually bought two frames.  One for me and one for my wife, but I will detail my frame.
Unpacking the Nashbar X Cyclocross Frame
I bought the $99 Nashbar X Cyclocross frame in size small (more on sizing in Part 2).  The box says Made in Taiwan, and as is the case for most bike frames, it’s probably made in the same factory and assembly line as many other name brand bicycles.  It was well packed in a thick cardboard box.  The frame itself was bubble-wrapped, but all possible contact points were protected with extra foam padding taped and zip-tied into place.  The rear derailleur hanger, cable guides, and other pieces were packed in a separate plastic bag taped to the frame.  Brake posts were also well protected with plastic caps.

Inspecting the Nashbar X Cyclocross Frame
After unwrapping the frame, I looked it over and found no scuffs or scratches.  The Nashbar X Cyclocross frames come in a standard solid flat black paint job with a (cheesy) ‘X’ decal on the steering head (I will be removing that).
The head tube and bottom bracket were both clean and free of paint.  Both have a nice clean machined surface on the flats.  I haven’t measured either tube for squareness (flat, edge to edge around the diameter), but I will trust that they are sufficiently square enough to directly install the headset and bottom bracket (BB) bearings without compromising bearing contact or preload. 
I will note that the threads on the bottom bracket did have some chips left in them from machining.  I carefully cleared them by hand with a cloth and paint thinner.  The chips could’ve been flushed out better from the factory, but the threads all look good and I don’t foresee any problems with threading in the BB bearings.  Really, it’s just a minor inconvenience.  For an otherwise beautiful frame (for only $99!) I cannot complain at all.

In Part 2, I’ll go into more detail on the Nashbar X Cyclocross frame and I will elaborate on my sizing and geometry considerations.  Stay tuned.I


Monday, August 15, 2011

Some More Details

Intent Revisited
To continue where I left off on my first post, I’m building two bikes with an eye towards a third... 

The first machine (which this blog is really about) will be my cyclocross bike that I intend to race this season.   This bike will also serve as a training and off-road ride throughout the year.

The second bike will be an all-purpose urban assault vehicle of sorts, based on a cyclocross frame with flat bars and disc brakes for my wife.  The third bike is my dream cyclocross rig (Ridley X-Fire) which really won’t present itself much in this blog other than errant ramblings on how much I lust for one.

Dissection of My Cheap CX Bike
So, I’m building a cheap cyclocross bike.  The word ‘cheap’ is being relegated to the final build cost and should not reflect the overall quality of the bike build (think: inexpensive, affordable, and reliable).  I will include the caveat that some components will likely be a compromise, but I will only make sacrifices on parts which are easily replaced later on (i.e. stem, seat post, brakes, and wheels).  I will avoid compromising on parts which are really keys to the reliability and performance of the bike (i.e. drivetrain, headset, shifters/brake levers).

Cyclocross Bike Targets
My intention is for the finished bike to meet the following criteria:
-         Built from all new components
-         Uses a modern 2x10 drivetrain
-         Easily built with basic bike tools
-         Weighs under 23 pounds
-         Total cost of $900 or less

The first three are a given, but I’ll be happy if I am within 10% of meeting the bottom two criteria.  Next post is the frame I have chosen, how I determined a size, and why I bought what I did.  Yes, I have already bought it and will reveal all next time.  Stay tuned.