Category Archives: Uncategorized

Building a Cyclocross Bike on the Cheap (Part 3): Completion

After a few nights of wrenching, my Redline cyclocross bike is finally in one piece with no live cable ends dangling, ready to snag you when you walk by the bike in the garage. Amazingly, I
was able to meet my goal of building the bike for under $400. After a week into my project, I thought $500 was a more realistic goal. However, I got more for my “leap of faith” donor frame than anticipated, and the shipping was less also. Please note, my spreadsheet shows >$400, but this does not include the eBay sale of the road brakes that I anticipate will bring me under the 4 bills threshold.


-Redline Scandium Frame (year, model?)
-Bontrager SSR paired spoke wheels
-Ritchey WCS Alloy seatpost (parts bin)
-Shimano MT55 canti brakes (parts bin)
-Kenda 35 mm Kross Supremes (new)
-Bontrager saddle, stem, and bars
-Sora shifters
-Tiagra rear derailleur
-Shimano non-series front derailleur
-Bontrager triple crank
-Bar top in line levers
-Bontrager handlebar tape (from donor bike to keep price down)

The only real snag was mounting the fork mounted hanger in the front. My aluminum fork had a simply drilled through hole which the mounting hardware did not fit. A quick trip to Lowes, and I had a heavy bolt that just fit (hello, hammer) and was just about the right length. I had to use a bolt between the hanger and fork to clear my headset. A little clunky, but it works.

A full photo gallery will be posted soon, as well as additional thoughts once I have time to run it around my personal 3 acre test track. Still have to tune up the brakes and derailleurs….

Part 2
Part 1


Iron Cross 2012 Bike

1998 Bianchi San Remo

  • size 58 cm frame
  • 25.9 pounds
  • Dedacciai Zero / cromoly tubing
  • Dedacciai chromoly fork
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  • Salsa in line brake levers
  • Tektro 926 mini v- brake with Problem Solvers travel agent
  • 35 mm Ritchey Speedmax
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  • Nashbar cantilever brakes
  • 35 mm Ritchey Speedmax
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  • triple–granny gear is great on steep and loose off road pitches
  • Shimano 520 SPD pedals
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  • Campagnolo 8 speed drivetrain
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  • Mavic 36 spoke MA-2’s wrapped in….
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    I bought this bike as my first “road bike” after riding a mountain bike on the road. Coming from a mountain bike, this pig felt light! Technically, it’s a touring frame, buy there isn’t too much difference in geometry between cross and touring bikes.

    I rode it for awhile, including a tri or two until the opportunity came up to buy an aluminum tri specific bike. This was an enlightenment in bike frame material technology and I realized this frame was in fact not light. The bike was parked for awhile as I acquired a aluminum Bianchi Giro as a daily driver.

    When the opportunity came to try cross, I dusted off the old Bianchi and threw some knobbies on ‘er. She was also pressed into service to carry the baby seat.

    She again got a new lease on life when I signed up for 2012 Iron Cross. I added the mini-v brake up front to reduce fork chatter. Also added the in line levers for shifting weight back on descents. I also changed out handle bars from a Cannondale and seat post from a Trek mountain bike. The seat is from my Bianchi road bike–too plush for the road but great for cross–also matches frame color! Switched out to a shorter quill stem purchased from eBay.

    Estimated Cost

      $200-complete bike, used, LBS
      $35-Speedmax tires
      $17-Fizik handlebar wrap
      $19-brake levers
      $20-brake install and travel agent
      $15-shorter stem
      $25-used pedals
      $16-mini-v brake
      $9 Nashbar canti brake
      Free-seat post
      Free-handle bar

    The Good and the Bad


      Cheap ride
      Steel frame sucks up bumps
      In-line levers are a great addition
      Mini v-brake in front allows me to actually stop
      Very comfortable ride quality
      Ritchey Speedmax are surprisingly good on road (quiet and low rolling resistance) but also decent traction on rocky woods trails


      Hard to find wheels for 8 speed Campy
      Not the most comfortable shifter hoods
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    Photo Archive: Wet 2010 Columbia 50


    I tend to celebrate my birthdays in unique ways. My 20th was a picnic in Centralia and tour of the Ashland Coal Mine. My 21st was a primitive camping trip in the rain. My 25th was my wedding celebration. My 26th was the Columbia 50 ride, which includes Jonestown Mountain, one of the biggest climbs in our area. A race back in the 70’s used this route. We were lucky enough to start our ride in 2010 in a down pour.

    The ride was organized by The Dutch Wheelman, a great shop in Bloomsburg PA. I think 2009 was the first year of this now annual ride

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    Newbie Iron Cross Questions


    (Edit: For those who don’t know, Iron Cross is an Ultra-Cross event inspired by the Three Peaks race in the UK. It’s basically a race consisting of gravel roads, paved roads, fire roads, and single track. There are many sections in which carrying you bike over steep grades are required. Although some sections would be better handled by a mountain bike, the traditional tool is a ‘cross rig. The event is quite different from a normal cross race!)

    My first race of the year is only 2 days away. The forecast for the Humdinger is a possibility of rain, which should make for a fun trail run.

    I can’t help but look forward to my A race, Iron Cross ultra ‘cross race October 7 in Michaux State Forest. Being my first Ultra Cross event (heck, I have only raced 1 ‘cross race ever), there are many unknowns dancing in my head. Let’s look at some of the questions I spend my long hours of free time thinking about (insert sarcasm here).

    1. Will I be in shape enough to at least partially enjoy the challenge? Or, will it be another cramp festival like the Mon-Tour bike race I suffered through last year? Obviously, the main factor here is training. I have the novel idea of actually training for this race. This is a large deviance from my normal strategy in which my regimin consists of one ride to the stop sign to make sure my bike is shifting properly.

    I just hope those old dudes from the Mon-Tour race aren’t at Iron Cross; I really don’t want to hear them brag about passing all those young guys on the hill….I have a kid, buddy and didn’t train. I will be the one laughing when I buy your bike in a few years for half of what you paid for it because you are hanging it up to go play golf since it’s not comfortable to ride your bike in your Depends. (Remind me to change out that saddle)!

    2. Is my bike too heavy for the uphills? Does it matter if my bike is 2 pounds heavier than the average steed if my body weight is 40 pounds heavier than the average stud?

    3. Will my bike hold up to the singletrack abuse?. I am not worried about my steel frame. What about the steel fork designed for touring? Those old Mavic MA2’s? Will they hold up to my Warren Sapp-esque build? I plan to put the bike through thorough testing during this new thing called “training” I am contemplating. By the time October rolls around, I will either be confident in my Bianchi (his name is Aldo), or I will be riding a brand new used bike from eBay.

    4. What tires should I ride? I have a set of Hutchinson Pro Series ‘cross tires 30 mm wide. Although they look really cool since they have a silver/grey stripe that matches my handle bar tape, they are probably too narrow for the singletrack, rocks, and roots. However, they may be an option if the course is muddy from rain.

    Next choice is a set of 35 mm wide CST Corporals that came on a hybrid bike I bought for my mom a few years ago. This is probably about as wide as I should go on my frame. Looking at the tread, these should be great on the gravel and pavement, but I will be giving something up on the singletrack.

    Last option is a set of Ritchey Speedmax in 35 mm width. I haven’t mounted these yet. My plan is to ride the CST hybrid tires for a few months to save the tread on my Speedmax tires, then swap them out in the fall. Unless the hybrid tires suck on singletrack in training, at which point I will throw on the Ritcheys sooner rather than later.

    5. How will my brakes work on steep singletrack? I will find out in training!

    6. Hydration/spare tube/tools. Should I use a CamelBack? It all depends on the ease of carrying the bike with a bidon cage mounted. I want to carry two tubes, a multi-tool, and a hand pump. This should easily fit in either jersey pocket or saddle bag. A few packs of gel shouldn’t be a problem. The answer boils down to what will be less intrusive during hike-a-bike section, either the CamelBack or bidon cages….

    Next step is to get this pesky cross-training, form building, uphill both ways, wet, muddy trail running race out of the way and go for a bike ride!

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