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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  • I share your distaste for the cable routing that RMB employed on the top tube.

    At the shop we've decided they did it as a joke.

    We hope.

    I'm actually working on a little solution that will "cure" that housing snap. It sure is psychologically painful to hear that when I ride.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:02 PM  

  • Thanks Wes,
    I keep meaning to back to the shop as they say they have a fix. i suspect it is the same one you suggest. The slapping of the cables is still an annoyance.

    By Blogger pedalmaniac, at 6:17 PM  

  • I had a good hard look at braking systems when I was in the market for my touring rig, and disc brakes came up inevitably in the process. I decided to go with a traditional cantilever system. This link adequately illustrates why:

    I've been running a 20+ year old miyata 1000 touring bike for the last few years, and have never, even with my 220lb+ weight and full camping gear, had an issue stopping on a descent in the lower mainland or on vancouver island.

    How is that with cantis? Proper setup, mon frere. The feel and response of cantilevers can be adjusted and fine-tuned by playing with the length of the yoke-wire (the piece of cable that connects the brake arms to the main actuation cable in a traditional canti setup).

    Check the following article from the illustrious Sheldon brown (R.I.P.) for more detail on this:

    Yes, cantis require more knowledge and *initial* effort to get working correctly, and satisfactorily to your preferences, but a well implemented cantilever system is, IMHO, superior in versatility and performance for road/touring applications than discs are, if only because they can be adjusted more readily for your preferences, and are infinitely more field-serviceable.

    By Anonymous Timichango, at 6:23 PM  

  • The Kona Sutra is a touring bike with disc brakes. I don't own one but I am looking for a commuting bike with disc brakes and the Sutra is the only touring bike still in the running, all the other bikes are cross.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:56 AM  

  • I recently picked up a used Rocky Mountain CXR team (same frame as CXD) and am running cantis. I split the brake housing and used some jagwire cable stops in the frame loops and now it works great--just like the exposed shift cables. Since you are running a mechanical disk brake, you could do the same.

    By Anonymous J McGuire, Seattle, at 9:35 PM  

  • Thanks J. That's a good idea. I have just used a cable tie around the top tube and the cable. It is an interim fix though. Apparently you can get cable ties that have and adhesive side to them. I might try that next.

    By Blogger pedalmaniac, at 9:48 PM  

  • Hello.

    I live in Japan biker.
    "RockyMountain Solo Cxd" look, I found your blog.

    Your report is very interesting, very helpful.

    I, "YAHOO! JAPAN" are in the BLOG. Title: "Rocky Mountain MTB & Cyclo-cross go by, Aichi-pref" (main page) ( "Solo" page)

    I'll be visiting.
    Thank you.


    By Blogger 隆一, at 4:19 PM  

  • Great article by Sheldon Brown. Thanks for the link. Like most I have often struggled with Canti brakes even knowing how to set them up correctly. True they can be great and it is true that even many mechanics do not set them up properly which does not help. I would argue that for flatter more arid environments they are great. Better than disks in wet and unpredictable environment's not a chance.

    Having spent years riding off road on the north shore with every brake system evolution we have seen in the last 20yrs I see a place for canti's and V's but it isn't around here. Serviceability really depends on the disc system. Try a pair of Avid BB7's - no fluid bleeds, no fade, lots of power and the pad and caliper adjustments require 10% of the effort and technical know how of a canti or v. The other benefit no mess all over your rims, tires and hands and 10 times the pad life. Oh and not having to buy new wheels every year(for me anyway).

    On the CXD I just wish they offered a nicer spec and stuck to the Easton tubeset. Still might get one although I prefer quality steel bikes.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:44 PM  

  • Thanks for the comment. I agree that on the "Shore" the only way to go is disks. Having said that, and after having the bike for a couple of years, it would be nice to have something lighter. I agree that the frame set would be nice in steel.

    This one is for sale, if you are interested.

    By Blogger pedalmaniac, at 4:02 PM  

  • Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
    Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:40 AM  

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