Very excited for the arrival of my custom colored X-Night. I went with orange and green of course, but took a gamble with picking the darker metallic green. It came out amazing – looks black in the shade, but pops in the light! I also went with the white to better show off the post-race mud.
It’s built up with parts from my old Salsa, mainly Campy Chorus; some highlights of the bike include:
- Avid Shorty Ultimate brakes, simply the best, near V-brake power, but with much more modulation than the TRP mini-V’s
- Specialized Phenom Expert saddle, very comfy
- XTR pedals, new design has excellent mud clearance
- FSA WingPro alloy bars, flat top is so much more comfortable, especially in bumpy terrain
- Lizard Skins bar tape, just go to the shop and touch the sample, you’ll be hooked immediately!
- integrated seat post, i’m excited that I won’t have to worry about it sliding or twisting!
- full cable housing and internal routing – very clean looking, and the cables go fully from the shifter/brake body to the end
Pictured has my old Easton EA90 Aero wheels (great bang for the buck) and classic Michelin Mud tires – this is my training and back-up wheel set-up, and 105 cranks I threw on until the Red’s arrive (and will have a 34t/44t combo in the front.) My race wheels will be my tubeless Stan’s Alpha340 wheels with my PowerTap hub and Specialized Captain CX Pro tires (better than the Mud2′s for around here in my opinion). Weight as shown is 18.3lbs, but should be well under 17.5lbs for races.
I’ve only taken it out for a quick spin, the stiffness was felt immediately – you pedal, and it leaps forward! The handling is what I was most excited for, and it lived up to expectations. In a grassy field, swooping in tight arch’s, typical of Cross on the Rock courses, confidence was high as the frame pushed the wheels into the ground, and kept everything stable and upright. Wasn’t out long enough to really comment on the comfort, but didn’t feel like it was beating me up at all.
Another note that will no doubt be controversial – I use 165mm cranks on the road (and this comes from the track), and decided to try them on my CX bike this year as well. There’s a steep little climb on the route I took, and I seem to make it up 50% of the time, often stalling out at the top. Aced it with 100% confidence. One aspect of shorter cranks (and a fault of longer cranks) is that the ‘dead spot’ at 12 o’clock is amplified as the crank gets longer – Jon Taylor can comment on this. Riding a shorter crank means it’s easier to carry the turn-over at this position (think of riding an elliptical, and spreading your feet out vs close for smaller, tighter circles). This can come in handy in CX. Another benefit is a smoother spin, more clearance from the ground, and slightly less cramped cockpit (ie. knees further from the chest in more aggressive positions). And maybe a little lighter. Something to consider anyway.
Looking forward to getting on it more, racing begins September 11th!!
- ‘Vegan Dave’ Shishkoff