Earlier this week, I read through a review on BikeRadar about the “new” Specialized CruX Pro Carbon. It wasn’t as effusively positive as their review of the Focus Mares CX 2, but certainly wasn’t overly negative. But what bothered me about it was this statement:
The CruX Pro Carbon still carries the baggage of the original Tricross range, which sought to satisfy a broad range of ‘FreeRoad’ users with its neither-here-nor-there geometry. Both the chainstays and wheelbase are rather long at 440mm and 1,027mm, respectively, and the trail is a generous 70mm. As a result, the CruX Pro Carbon is stable at speed but quirky to change direction, wanting to flop its front wheel into tight, slow-speed corners but simultaneously resisting swapping ends at turnarounds.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I Love My Tricross. A great big part of that is the “baggage” of the “neither-here-nor-there geometry”. It does everything. And I think that more often than not, people want that kind of bike. Not all of us can afford to have a stable of bikes. Some people have a road bike, a ‘cross bike, a hardtail mountain bike, a full-suspension mountain bike and a singlespeed mountain bike. That’s great, but I think that’s unusual. More of us have one or maybe two bikes. So a do-it all bike is incredibly valuable.
Look, I love to race ‘cross. But I can only realistically get in 10 races if I were to race every single weekend from the end of September until mid-November. Add in 6-8 Wednesday Worlds and that’s it for the year. (And, that’s a ton of traveling.) How many times can I get out on the road for a training ride? How many times can I hit up some gravel roads for an organized race or just to explore? How many bikes let me do all of these things? I honestly believe the answer is “not many”. Maybe the new Fisher Cronus CX. Certainly some of Salsa Cycles offerings. The Ibis Hakkalugi (which I am desperately in love with).
I don’t think this is just an issue of rationalizing the purchase that I made. It’s been over two years; I don’t to rationalize decisions made that long ago. It’s much more an issue of not agreeing with the fundamental underlying paradigm that the reviewer is working with.
Another thing I take issue with is the reviewer’s discussion on the Roval Pavé SL wheels:
Though not the most exciting bits, the Roval Pavé SL wheels on which those tires were mounted got the job done. They’re reasonably light at 1,625g (claimed weight) but a decent chunk of that weight is located out at the rim and the low spoke count yields a soft feel in the saddle. Moreover, the hub internals lack the proven DT Swiss star ratchet guts of Specialized’s higher-end Roval models (the Pavé SLs retail for just US$400 a set) but they held up fine during testing.
I have put thousands of miles on my Rovals and can say they are not just getting the “job done” and they don’t just hold up “fine”. They have been excellent, reliable performers with the only problem being completely aesthetic — the stickers on the rear wheel started peeling. When I think about buying any wheels, I first think about Rovals, based on the experience I’ve had with my Pavés.
I guess the take-away for me is this: You have to know the biases of a reviewer when you read their work. Otherwise, you will make wrong decisions. Based on the BikeRadar review, I wouldn’t buy a Tricross and wouldn’t buy Roval Pavé wheels and wouldn’t buy The Captain CX tires. But I’ve used all of those things and love them. They work for me.
An Almost Completely Unrelated Note
Today was Keweenaw Cup Day 1. I lined up next to the guy at Lakeshore Bike who sold me my Tricross (and recently sold my wife the Captain CX tire I have on the front). Amazingly, despite this man living 100 miles away and working in a shop I only occasionally visit (though we have purchased two bikes from them), he knows me and my bike. I love that. It’s not just him though. It’s the tight-knit biking community. It’s the U.P. and northern Wisconsin. It’s why I love this sport.