Caffeine and Cantilevers

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CX Bikes under $1,000 – Part 1: Steel

A friend of mine who has been recently interested in trying out a cross race or two was concerned that a decent, new, entry-level cross bike was hard to find.  And yeah, they can be, that’s for sure.  But I’ve done a little scouring and have come up with a few good suggestions available both at your LBS or online.  We’ll start with just the steel bikes for now.

Masi CX Uno 2012 – $895

I know a few folks around here who own this bike personally and swear by it.  They use it for cross, commuting, touring, road rides.  Very, very versatile bike.  Frame is Masi lugged steel, a little heavier than your average 4130 tubeset because of the lugging, but it does make for a classy beast.  Shimano Sora groupset and very relaxed geometry make it a great do-it-all comfy ride that can also double as an entry level cx bike, assuming you don’t mind carrying a piano over the first few barriers.

Masi CX SS – $950

Masi also makes a single speed cross bike called the Masi CX SS.  It’s steel, and that means I like it, but it also has a couple other killer features.  To start, you’d be looking for a while to find another race geometry steel cx bike that comes stock with an integrated carbon fork.  And while I don’t really like integrated headsets, the combo of that oversized head tube leading into a beefy carbon fork on a steel bike makes for some real pretty lines on the profile view.  I could either way on the other components on the bike, but aside from the MegaExo BB, it has a pretty decent build otherwise.  And at 21 lbs. stock, you ought to fly through those transitions.

Traitor Cutlass – $879

While we’re on the single speeds let’s get the Traitor Cutlass on the table.  While Traitor is a relatively new company they are doing some pretty great things.  Based out of the west coast, they’ve been doing frames for a few years, and as of recently a couple of full builds.  They understand good steel and how to use it for a small batch, non-custom bike.  I can say that because my personal cx single speed is a Traitor Crusade, in white. Because white bikes are always faster.

While the Cutlass isn’t anything fancy in terms of frame material (it’s 4130), it does have a few things going for it.  Number one, it’s light. 17.5 lbs stock, as claimed by the folks at Cycling Dirt.  Number two, it comes with the Traitor Hoopla wheelset, which is tough enough for a good cross race.  Has one thing against it though: no cantilever brakes. I know, I know.  That means it not a real cross bike, but you’re probably going to want to do other kinds of riding with your new bike too so you’re stuck with callipers here, but they do offer 34mm of tire clearance.  And if you’re playing by the rules, that’s the maximum allowable tire width.  Might not be awesome for mud clearance, but it’ll get you to your first couple races and then everywhere else after that.  It looks like a full build is only available from Cycling Dirt, but you can buy frameset only for $400 from Traitor directly and build up your dream bike.  Or you if you got the scrilla, just spring for the Traitor Reuben.

KHS CX 100 – $909

Nothing that really stands out on the CX 100 as being exceptional, but nothing that really stands out as being poor either.  Component wise  I would say it’s on par with Masi CX Uno, except the CX 100 has an external BB, which might be a little nicer for actually racing the bike.  Integrated headset and bar end shifters though, eww.

If it came down to it, I would recommend the Masi over the KHS, 99 times out of 100, however, I base that primarily on brand history and reliability and the testimony of friends.  But, it’s good to have options, so at least consider the CX 100 if you’re in the market.

Part 2: Aluminum will be coming shortly, so hold your horses.

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2 comments on “CX Bikes under $1,000 – Part 1: Steel

  1. Mark
    September 13, 2012

    The Traitor is so sweet. I could have sworn it was made with Columbus tubing though? Milwaukee cycles has just put out a great steel disc cross frame made by Waterford for around $700 as well.

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This entry was posted on September 8, 2012 by in bikes.

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