Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rocky Mountain CXD -- After Two Months

It has been a couple of months now since we purchased the Rocky Mountain Solo CXD -- Rocky's cyclocross bike with disk brakes. I blogged about the bike right after we got it. We have made some changes to the bike since then. Now when I say "we" I mean my wife and I. I am in the lucky position to have a wife that is the relatively same height as I am so we decided to buy this bike as a "shared" resource, hmm we'll see how that works out.

I will use my standard disclaimer here. I paid (almost) full pop for this bike so I can say what I want about it.

Anyway, back to the bike. Since the last post we have made some changes to the bike. First of all, my wife wants this bike as a trainer, I want this bike as a commuter. These two uses are not so far off so we have come up with a good set of compromises. Unfortunately the bike isn't set up for either use that well. As some of you know from reading my posts, we live half way up a mountain. so anywhere we go means a hellish ride home. The CXD out of the box is not really set up for this. The gearing was 12-25 on the back and 50, 34 chain rings on the front. The smallest gear was a 34X25. On my wife's first ride I was the recipient of an angry phone call "what the h*** gearing does this thing have on it?"

So I was off to the bike shop to see what I could do. The upshot was that we made some changes. Here is the list of changes:
1. Rear cog set from a 12 - 25 to a 12 - 34
2. Because our Shimano 105 derailleur could only support a maximum of a 27 cog we had to change the derailleur to a Shimano LX (mountain bike)
3. Because I am a mountain biker now, I needed wider bars. We switched the 42 cm bars to 44 cm
4. Because we are riding it mostly on the road we changed the tires to Schwabble Marathons (34mm wide)
5. we added fenders -- we live in a temperate rain forest we had to.
6. we added cheater levers.
7. Because something happened to the forks in shipping we got some carbon forks.


So now that we have had a couple of months on the bike I think I can give some impressions now. In general the bike rides well. I have taken it on some off road adventures. Although it was nice to be in the forest, I am not going to rush out and use this bike off road again -- I'm still recovering from the shock being driven into my shoulders. On the road, however, this bike is solid and stops well as a result of the Avid mechanical disk brakes. Now I do have to say these are mechanical and, well, they don't stop as well as hydraulic disk brakes.

The Tiagra shifting is passable. I do find I am adjusting the cable a lot and the shifts aren't really crisp, but it is Tiagra.

One of the most annoying things on this bike is the cable routing for the rear brake. The cable housing is continuous along the top tube. This would be OK if there was some way of affixing the cable to the top tube. Rocky has used some archaic system of shims that just doesn't work. The upshot is that the cable rattles on the top tube over every bump. This rattling really drives me crazy. There are much better systems out there. In fact they use a better system down the seat stay of the bike -- why not on the top tube?

We bought this bike as a sometimes commuter for me, but really I prefer my Kona Dr. Dew for commuting. I find the Dr. Dew has better brakes -- hydraulic disks, snappier gear changing, and a better, upright position for traffic.

Having said that my wife really enjoys the position of the CXD and is using it often. In fact it is her preferred bike right now.

It is nice for me to change up the position on a bike periodically, so by going from all my upright bikes to the CXD is a nice change. In general we are happy with the CXD, but it seems like a nice touring bike may have been a better choice for us, unfortunately there are none out there with disks in the price range of the CXD. The disk brakes were the deal sealer for us on this bike. We live up a mountain, in a rain forest, so, in my opinion, disks are a must. Maybe I'm wrong, and it would seem that most of the bike industry thinks so, but I think there is a market for disk brakes on touring bikes.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Google Transit Maps Hit Vancouver

This just in! Google Maps has announced that it has teamed up with Translink and added Vancouver to it's transit map. Vancouver is the first Canadian city to be added to this service.

I just checked it out. It looks great. Here is a route from Grouse Mountain to Simon Fraser University. A quick look shows it gives the time of the next bus, all the transfers and how far you have to walk. Not bad.

Now we just have to make transit cheaper