Editor’s note: This review of three cyclocross bikes originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Velo magazine.
Keeping your cyclocross machine primed and ready
Though cyclocross races last an hour or less, the amount of maintenance required to keep a ’cross rig tip top can be overwhelming, especially when you consider spare bikes and wheels. Here are a few tips to keep your bike from ruining your result.
Consider investing a bit of money on a sealed cable system. While the initial out-of-pocket cost is higher, when properly installed, they can last an entire season (or two). Compared to several changes of standard cables and housing (and the labor and bar tape that is usually required as well), a sealed system can save you money in the long run.
Drivetrains take a beating in cyclocross. From dust to mud, even in the best of conditions, you’ll want to replace your chain each season. After that, keep an eye on it using a chain wear checker. And remember to size the chain a bit shorter than your normal road chain. This keeps more tension on the rear derailleur jockey wheel arm and decreases chain slap.
If you haven’t checked your tubular glue job from last year, now is the time. You’ll probably want to pay to have them re-glued or do it yourself. We recommend cyclocrossworld.com Belgian tape for all cyclocross gluing. If you invest in new tires, get some time on them before your first race. It helps to have a good idea of your preferred tire pressures before race morning.
Dirt, clay, sand, grease, blood, and sweat; they all get on your brake pads during the course of a cyclocross campaign. Replace them if they’re worn and clean them between races to ensure that you don’t wear out your rims prematurely. Now, during the preseason, is also the time to experiment with different brake pad compounds.
Often ignored, yet extremely important, a little care goes a long way with pedals. CrankBrothers Eggbeaters often need grease after a season’s use. If your Shimano pedals are old, it may be worth having a peek at their internals as well. No matter what pedals you ride, new cleats are never a bad idea. They’ll keep you clipping in and out effortlessly each lap.
— NICK LEGAN