Editor’s note: This cyclocross tech article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Velo magazine.
After the bike come the accoutrements
Part of the beauty of cyclocross is that it uses mostly road-oriented equipment. It doesn’t take much more than
a frameset, a set of tires, and brakes to build up a bike if you have other road parts lying around. Whether you’re a seasoned ’cross racer or a neophyte, the items below all make getting dirty a little bit more fun, both on and off the bike.
Vittoria Cross Evo XG Pro TNT Tubeless tires >> $60
Tubulars still dominate in cyclocross, but tubeless tires, thanks to Stan’s and other wheel manufacturers, have a devoted following in the fall and winter discipline. You can now add Vittoria to the list of tubeless cyclocross tire makers, alongside Hutchinson, Stan’s, and Kenda. The Italian firm has made a big push in cyclocross with its recent introduction of both its tubulars and clinchers — its tubeless version looks like a good all-rounder as well. Tipping the scales at 380 grams a tire, the Evo XGs are 20 grams heavier than Stan’s Raven but 25 grams lighter than Hutchinson’s Bulldog CX. — NICK LEGAN
Endura FS260-Pro Nemo Glove >> $35
A midweight, breathable, full-finger glove is perfect for early fall ’crossing. The heavy neoprene mitts will come out late in the season, but what should you wear in that sweet spot between autumn and full-on winter? Endura has answered that question with the Pro Nemo.
Lightweight Superstretch neoprene mates with a terry liner for a minimalist feel. The Brits know a thing or two about moisture and the Nemos shed water and extend high enough to cover the wrist past the cuffs of a longsleeve skinsuit. The palms do become a little slick when wet, but not alarmingly so, and the slightly articulated fingers are comfortable. Choose one size smaller than usual for a snug fit. — BRIAN HOLCOMBE
FSA K-Force carbon cantilever brakes >> $300/pair
Taking a cue from SRAM’s Avid Shorty Ultimate stoppers, FSA’s K-Force cantilever brakes can be adjusted from a wide stance (with higher mud clearance but lower power configuration) to a narrow profile (with a lower mud clearance and higher power setup). Each 50mm-long arm is a pair of carbon plates bowed for stiffness. At 152 grams per pair, including mounting bolts, springs, straddle cable, and yoke, both brakes add nearly 100 grams to the bike over the TRP Euro-X magnesium cantis, but they offer a narrower option with more power and heel clearance.
The integrated barrel adjuster pivots on the end of the arm. It has a spring to secure adjustment, with the cable elegantly routed through the bore of the straddle yoke. Although the adjuster is not needed for centering — the yoke can be slid laterally on the cable and holds its position by friction — brake-spring tension adjusts via small setscrews on each arm. The road-brake pad holders hold standard pads and have an orbital pad adjustment with concave/convex washers. — LENNARD ZINN
Northwave Extreme Tech MTB >> $280
No more Velcro. When you know your feet will be sloshing through mud and puddles, it’s nice to know that the hook and loop design that holds many a shoe tight is no longer a part of the design of the latest kicks from Italian-based Northwave. A ratcheting buckle, complete with both onestep and full release buttons, as well as a Speed Lace Winch, maximize adjustability and security in one system.
A slick arch underfoot is not ideal for gripping your pedals if you’re one to unclip before dismounting, but the rubberized side panels inside the shoe and textured fabric of the heel cup ensure a powerful stride without a sliding foot inside. — CHRIS CASE
Bogs Ultra Mid Men’s boots >> $126
Waterproof boots are great for cyclocross spectating, as well as working the pits. But in many areas, you don’t want rain boots — it’s too cold for that. Sorels are legendary for their warmth and comfort, and you can add Bogs to the list of perfect ’cross footwear. They are waterproof, comfy, and insulated. Bogs are built using 7mm Neo-Tech and feature handles to make pulling them on easy. We like the mid height of 10 inches, but Bogs also offers a taller 15-inch version. Comfort-rated down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit, if these don’t keep you warm enough to drink beer, ring a cowbell, and heckle like a pro, nothing will. — NICK LEGAN
Salsa Cowbell 2 handlebar >> $75
Handlebars have come a long way since Cinelli’s model 64, 65, and 66. Riders are now flooded with options: shallow, medium, or deep drop; short or long reach; classic, anatomic, or changing radius bend; carbon or aluminum; flared or not.
For cyclocross, we like Salsa’s Cowbell 2. It builds on the success of Salsa’s Bell Lap handlebar. Both feature a flared, shallow drop that works well for riding dirt. The drop is a modern variable radius, making both the brake levers accessible from the drops, and the hoods comfy from the top. The 7075-aluminum bar weighs 281 grams for a 44cm (measured center to center at the brake mounting position). The less expensive Cowbell 3 sells for $45 and uses 6061 aluminum, weighing in at 301 grams. — NICK LEGAN