New to CX - Cannondale cx9 advice Please

Especially for light weight issues concerning cyclocross / touring bikes & parts.

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Enda Marron
Posts: 345
Joined: Sun Nov 10, 2002 6:03 pm
Location: Belfast

by Enda Marron

I am an experienced road rider and a longstanding WW.
One of my triathlon friends is giving me the hard sell to race the local CX scene with him. I regularly feature on the podium at the local triathletes TT league, so he thinks that CX should be easy for me. I know that this is not the case
Cyclocross facinates me - the kit the flurry of the races the speed etc etc
Two years ago I got a Cannondale CX9 ( off the shelf with 105 kit) - I really wanted to race the Three Peaks and planned to race the local CX scene as a prelude to the the Three Peaks.
Anyway (long story ..short) it did not happen, although last year I did enter a CX race but I had a really heavy cold and to be honest REALLY out of shape that it was a nightmare.
However I loved it!!!
Now here are the questions:
1.Is the Cannondale CX9 a decent CX frame (I found that it readily clogged up - but that could be my riding) and I also was under the impression that "proper CX bikes have the cables run over the top tube and down the seat tube
2.If there are better frames - what do you reccommend ( what about a Ridley)
3.What upgrade (apart from tyres) should you suggest
4.What kit (especially shoes) to wear also any tricks of the trade tips??
5.What is thea good CX website
Sorry for all the questions but thanks in advance

Posts: 201
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:41 am
Location: Bucks County PA USA

by ldamelio

It's a fine bike. Wouldn't change much of anything until you get a season or two of racing under your belt and refine your own equipment preferences. One thing that's important is to have the right tires for the conditions - to keep it simple, Challenge Grifos (the higher end ones with the light sidewalls) are supple and work 90% of the time - probably a good upgrade from whatever's stock on the bike, especially with latex tubes. Miuchelin Mud 2s also good in a variety of conditions.Tire pressure also very important - ask around the parking lot your first few races to see what experienced riders are using for the conditions that day. If you want to spend some more money, wide rims are a nice thing in cross. Revolution 23 WRs are an outstanding race wheel at a reasonable price. If you're already comfortable wwith tubulars, they can't be beat for cross but the wide rim/latex tube/Grifo clincher combo comes close.

Cross racing is less equipment-sensitive vis a vis performance (outside of tire choice) than road racing for a couple of reasons IMHO:

1) Fitness, technical skills and bike handling skills are the primary outcome determinants. A pro level cross bike is probably worth a couple of seconds per lap at most compared to your set-up. Good technical skills on off-camber stuff, flyovers, sand, mud, roots, etc. and picking the right lines add up to a lot more than that. Fitness in cross involves anaerobic bursts superimposed on riding at threshhold most of the rest of the time. This may be different from the endurance-based fitness of triathlon. Work on all this stuff first before going all in on a more expensive bike. In many areas, there's a Wednesday night training race. Ask around.

2)In a muddy (often) race, equipment choices are generally nullified. Your bike can pick up several pounds of mud per lap, rendering a few grams of weight savings meaningless. Drivetrain and wheel friction will primarily be from mud, making the subtle differences between high end and mid-range components trivial again. When you start racing at higher levels, a pit bike (and a friend to pit for you and wash bike between laps) is the solution to this.

Your current bike is pretty nice. There are a multitude of other fine cross bikes out there to consider as you progress. Higher end Cannondales, Ridleys, Van Dessels are common choices among experienced riders, but there are tons of others - cross has become mainstream in the last few years and most major manufacturers have solid choices now. Steel, aluminum, and ti (my favorite) all still work fine for cross if you have a material preference. Carbon dominance isn't fully established yet.

Good luck - it's a blast - jump in and don't sweat the bike choice too much for now.

Posts: 201
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:41 am
Location: Bucks County PA USA

by ldamelio

PS: good websites are and (if it's OK for me to refer to other websites here). Cxmagazine also has a superb print (or online pay) magazine.
Many wear skinsuits as opposed to jerseys/shorts - tighter fit to avoid getting snagged on obstacles.
Shoes should have a little flexibility in the sole to facilitate running - high-end carbon sole MTB shoes don't flex as well - look at midrange MTB shoes from Shimano and Sidi.
Learn to love embrocation - keeps you warm, can help muck slide off your legs - check out or among others.

Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2011 9:57 am

by Parera

Kinda new to CX myself...building a similar rig, only in the form of a Giant TCX frameset with 105/Ultegra CX70. Couple questions myself:

1) Wheelset. I have some 105/Velocity A23 handbuilts on my road bike, should I just double up duty for cross riding? I'm was offered some Giant P-SLR1 wheels from a friend/LBS owner at a stupidly cheap price, was considering them for road use but now that I have a cross project going, would this be useful? I understand clinchers aren't ideal for cross, but neither is owning multiple sets of tubulars wheels with different tires mounted for the wide variety of conditions found in Oregon. I'm probably going to buy them anyways, since I don't really have any aero wheels to speak of and it's just too tempting to pass up on a nice wheelset at that price.

2) Shoes with a tight heel fit and are comfortable to run in...this is eluding me. My Shimano M161G trail shoes I use for mountain biking are great to run in, except they are loose in the heel. Even have had a heel slip walking up a steep bit of single track on a few occasions, so I can only imagine it's a matter of time when I would have a shoe come off in cross if I use these. Is there any brand of shoe out there that is known for a tight fitting heel?

3) Top brake levers...worth it? I'm shortening my cockpit compared to my road bike by 2 CMs, so I don't really see why my hands wouldn't be near the hoods.

Posts: 201
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:41 am
Location: Bucks County PA USA

by ldamelio

Coupla thoughts:

The 105/Velocity wheels will be fine, especially to start. Just put a decent tire, preferably with latex tube, and you,ll be fine. Since you're in the NW, I guess you'll see plenty of mud, so you may beat them up a bit.

You are correct about the heel slip being a potential problem. You may indeed lose a shoe in deep muck. I've seen it once or twice even shoes that fit well. Plus, that can't be good for pedaling efficiency.

Posts: 201
Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2008 11:41 am
Location: Bucks County PA USA

by ldamelio

PS few find top brake levers necessary. I see them on about 1% of bikes here on the East coast. Add weight, complexity, etc. Anachronisms in the age of brake/shift levers when your hands can be in a decent position to do everything all the time. Can't imagine a circumstance when I would absolutely need to be on the tops and brake at the same time.

Posts: 101
Joined: Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:11 am
Location: San Francisco, CA

by derekshred

Tim Johnson won several national titles on a CX9, and the Cannondale/ team had several high profile wins on the CX9. It is a Fine bike, and will suit you just great with little upgrades here and there as you progress with the sport.

The Giant is a fantastic bike as well and the A23 wheelset is one of the best clincher options for CX. They also convert to tubeless quite easily.

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