At the end of September, after a summer of riding a Giant Defy Composite 2, it was time to choose a new bike. All the usual questions arose; do I get another road bike, or perhaps that first full suspension mountain bike?? Given that winter was coming, and most of my riding would be the daily commute I settled on the most sensible choice, a Cyclocross bike. Lightweight, nimble and ideal for canal path riding and road use alike.
With All Terrain being one of the main sponsors of the New Years Day Cyclocross Race at Ripley Castle, this seemed to be a good choice to enter the Go Cross event on too, but more on that later.
Having settled on a TCX, it was down to two models, the ALUXX framed TCX SLR 1 or the Advanced Carbon framed TCX Advanced 2. Knowing how good Giant are at making frames, and how good their carbon is, it was a really easy choice. Full carbon frame and fork please. TCX Advanced 2 it was. Even better news for me was that the bikes were in stock in my size, Medium/Large for a 6ft ish rider, and would be with me earlier than any of the other models too.
The next couple of weeks were spent eagerly awaiting delivery of the bike. Like all cyclists, I waited patiently and didn’t get like a small child at Christmas once it arrived.
With the bike built and ready to ride, the first thing I noticed was the weight. I don’t know quite what I was expecting but it was a bit heavier than I thought it would be. Looking into the specs of the bike I couldn’t find any fault. Shimano 105 11speed shifters and derailleurs, FSA Cyclocross chain set, TRP Spyre cable pull disc brakes and Giant’s own brand wheels. The “extra” weight was in the frame.
After a moment’s thought, I realized this would be because the frame needs to be stronger than on a road bike, therefore heavier than one too. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a heavy bike by anybodies standards, just a bit heavier than I was expecting.
Having set the saddle height, fitted my Shimano M530 SPD pedals and Hope light, I was ready for that all important first ride. Looking out of the workshop window, it was a typical late September Yorkshire evening – cold, wet and windy. Perfect weather to test a new CX bike. Canal towpath ride it was then!! Let’s do this!!
45 minutes later I get home, with a grin plastered across my face, along with about an inch of mud.
As a first ride goes, that was well above my expectations. The TCX carried speed so easily and was so well planted that even though I’d never ridden one before, I set a few PB’s on Strava on that first ride. There are sections along my route home that are smooth, and then there are sections that aren’t. The TCX rolled easily over all of it.
The only places it really struggled (or was it me??) were the rutted bumpy path alongside a lock, and the soggy gloopy muddy puddles. To be honest though, I find those bits a bit interesting on my Orange Crush too.
The next few rides were spent fine tuning my ride position and getting used to riding clipped in off-road again. Once my ride position was sorted, the bike felt even better. Getting used to a CX specific gearing would take a bit longer though. Having ridden a compact chain set on the Defy, with a 30T on the rear, it made short work of the hills. The TCX has a 46/36T chain set, with an 11-28T cassette. A bit of a surprise on the first few hills, and even a bit of pushing up them too.
Maybe I’m not quite as fit as I thought. After a few weeks though, the ratios are making sense, and I’m not pushing up as many hills as before, just a couple in my local woods when the ground is wet/loose.
With us now coming out of winter, the nights will get lighter and the rides will get longer. I’ll be able to put the bike through a bit more of a test, and myself too. So far, so good though. At this point, I’d recommend everyone to consider a Cyclocross bike for their winter/commute bike.
It still puts a smile on my face each time I ride it.