Halloweenie Pedal Force CX2 Build/Review
I was looking to build a commuter bike that I could race. Or a race bike that I could commute with. My additional requirements were 1. eyelets for fenders 2. light 3. not crazy expensive 4. not showy.
There are VERY few cx race frames with fender mounts. Which is not that surprising, I suppose since "true" racing frames don't even have bottle cage mounts. Another option I found was the Trek Cronus CX which has a neat removable eyelet system. But that fails #3 (crazy expensive). Other options included bikeisland Motobecane frames, but they are ugly and a bit expensive for a cheap aluminum frame.
So I stumbled onto the Pedal Force CX2 group buy and decided to blow the budget and pick that up. The Pedal Force CX2 is billed as bike "for those who want to use the bike for long-distance sportives or as a fast urban commuter". For the fork I went with the Pedal Force CHK02. I would have preferred the newer model, but for some bizarre reason their new CX fork doesn't have eyelet mounts. Weird.
The frame looked close to perfect. Very light (claimed 1.13 kg for 53cm), nondescript with the unidirectional carbon, eyelets, short chain stays (42.5cm), and responsive looking handling.
After many payments and several weeks I had the frame and fork.
My first impression was, wow, it's a BEEFY frame. All of the "tubing" looks big and sturdy. My 50cm frame came in (of course) overweight at about 1.18 kg. Not terribly off, but disappointing.
I was surprised to see how "raw" the frame looked. Where the tubes meet is a deep black but the center of the tubes in a shimmery silver in the right light.
The down tube is especially non-uniform, with disturbing looking indentations. Hopefully this doesn't indicated any weaknesses. I couldn't get a good photo of the indents. They are pretty noticeable as I ride - I keep looking down and thinking that I damaged the frame!
The fork is another beefy unit. It also came in overweight, at 580 grams, but got closer to the 520 grams claimed after I cut the carbon steerer a bit and shook out A LOT of carbon paste/dust/dirt out of the steerer tube.
Next, the build:
1. The frame came with VERY few accessories. Just an adapter to use a down-pull front derailleur. Which was a surprise, because the group buy page said it was a top-pull only frame. Hence the LX top-pull derailleur you'll see later. And brake bosses. No bottle cage bolts, stickers, chain-stay guards, etc. My $70 Nashbar frame came with more schwag. It felt like they just forwarded the box they got from China or wherever it was made.
2. The rear brake stop is a threaded affair, requiring a threaded boss thingamajig. It would have been courteous of Pedal Force to either 1. include the thingamajig or 2. inform their customers that they need to find their own and give the dimensions of the thread.
3. The rear brake stop is WAY too close to the seat tube. This probably isn't an issue with the larger frames, but the cable routing is VERY tight. PF should have either moved the stop closer to the wheel or just remove it entirely and require the use of a seat-tube collar like this.
4. The fork didn't come with any brake bosses. What's with that?! Fortunately I had an extra set in my parts bin, but that was annoying. When I asked Pedal Force if this was to be expected....they didn't really respond.
Besides those issues the frame built up nicely. The fork does have a fatter steerer tube than most carbon forks - a couple of different brands did not fit. I can report that the FSA carbon plug works. The bottom bracket didn't require (I think) any facing.
Here's the complete bike, in racing form:
SRAM Rival brifters and rear derailleur.
Shimano LX front derailleur (top pull).
Bitex hubs, Sapim Race spokes, Velocity A23 rims.
Force crank with 36/46 FSA chainrings.
No name 200g saddle from Nashbar.
Ritchey Pro and WCS bits.
Avid Shorty Ultimate brakes.
All in all, it weighs a tiny bit over 8 kg in race form.
Tire clearance is OK. The fork has a ton.
The rear, not so good. Pedal Force claims it can take up to a 38mm tire, but that's an exaggeration.
That's a "30c" Ritchey Speedmax that measures an actual 32mm. When I put a "33c" Clement PDX (actual 35mm) the side nubs brushed the chain stays when under duress. I'm kind of peeved about this, but what can you do? I asked Pedal Force to comment about this and they gave the stock answer about minimizing chain stay length etc etc. Which is true. But other manufacturers have carbon frames with short chain stays and gobs of clearance. And this Pedal Force chain stay is really beefy, so I would have thought it'd be possible to add a couple of more mm by making the chain stay a little thinner. But I'm not a frame designer. Maybe one of you is and can set me straight.
In short, the clearance isn't criminally bad, but buyer be warned - you can't jam a big tire in here. No monster cross for you!
One final complaint (really two). Pedal Force provides TWO rear fender mounts:
Which aren't threaded (unlike the front fork). I jury rigged a bolt with a nut, but you can only use one of the two mounts this way because the bolt/nut in the lower hole interferes with the cassette. Not a big deal for me since I only need one, but annoying.
How does it handle? Quite well. It's really a racing frame with eyelets instead of a touring frame with racing pretensions. I like it. I ride in the drops to get my weight over the front wheel and I can carve with as much confidence as my nerves can take. It snaps forward when I put the "power" down. There's no hint of flex when I mash the pedals (thought I'm only a measly 140-ish pounds).
Despite all my complaining, I do like the frame a lot. There's nothing else like it. Literally. I don't see anyone else providing a $800 super lightweight CX racing frame with eyelets. This is an easier frame to justify than some uber-European racing steed because you can toss fenders on the CX2 after the two months of cross season and make it your bad weather bike.
Things I love:
1. the weight (even if it's over the claimed number)
2. the stealth look
3. the eyelets (fenders during the commuting week and off for the weekend races)
4. quick, precise handling
5. top tube cable routing
6. Flattened top tube for shouldering
Things I'd like to see in the CX3:
1. slightly longer top tube (53cm is good for me!)
2. threaded frame fender mounts
3. slightly more rear tire clearance
4. more uniform tubing (that dimpled down tube is a little scary)
5. lighter weight (you can't be too light, can you?)
6. BB30 bottom bracket
7. Internal cable routing (maybe that's a bad idea...)
Wow. That ended up being a lot of words.
Nice bike, congratulations on the build.
1995 Waterford 1200
1999 Waterford RSE-11
Plus a host of old bikes too many to list.
Pretty nice. I'm curious, how much did the whole package cost?
I spent a lot of time on eBay and craigslist picking up the parts for this build. Most everything was new or nearly new.
Wheels (self-built) 220
Rival grouppo (also included FSA Gossamer crankset and Ritchey BioMax bar/stem) 420
WCS seatpost 50
Avid Shorty Ultimate 140 (splurge item - already had Shorty 6 but they were TERRIBLE)
Force crank free-ish (after selling the FSA Gossamer crankset)
Eggbeater pedals (already had)
Saddle (already had)
Skewers, seat-clamp, bar tape, tires, headset, LX derailleur ~120
Housing/cables (already had)
I think that's everything to make a bike. So........~1570. Went way over my budget, of course. This is in the same ballpark (price-wise) as a big-manufacturer (Specialized, Trek, Kona) with Rival/Apex/crap cantis strapped to an aluminum frame.
I really did this because I'm picky about the parts I want to run. It's cheaper to build it up as I wanted (and more fun!) then it would be to buy a complete bike then swap out 1/5 of the parts. Also, this allowed me to (almost) make a bike devoid of that incredibly annoying red color.
Another CX2 Build
Here is my CX2, built up more as a dirt roader, touring bike. I also was abit disappointed that the frame was advertised at 1080 and came in at 1180. But I am very pleasantly surprised at how well it handles and the ride quality. Stable, corners sharp, and sublimely smooth. It climbs very well, what geometry makes a bike feel responsive to input wen climbing????, but this bike has it. No flop from side to side when you stand up which is common on relaxed front end with a little higher bar mounting. The bike comes at 21lbs. 14 oz. with fenders, taillight computer, saddle bag with 2 tubes etc, ready to ride. Without fenders, bags etc. sub 20lbs
The frame does have some compromises, as DMCGOY states the rear brake stop is too tight to fit in a real adjuster, also the the top mounted front cable stops on the 50cm. are too close to the headtube to fit in any barrel adjusters, cable bend is bit tight. If you want to use a touring crank (48T) and triple derailleur the choices of derailleur are limited, the chainstays are so thick that some derailleurs are too long to be set low enough. The IRD is borderline and a Dura-Ace I had was way too long, Tiagra seems to work. I also had an issue with headset noise that just tightening would not fix, needed to remove and coat headset with grease then reset in integrated headtube. When I contacted PF about the fact there may be a tolerance issue and what could I expect if the grease application doesn't resolve the issue?, it took quite bit to get a response from them, in the end they said if it is a issue the 5 year warranty would cover it but I would need to send back the frame for testing. I am sorry to say I don't feel real confident if it is not resolved that I will receive assistance from PF, but who knows.
Overall the ride quality is the dominant impression and it is very good, My road bike is a Parlee Z4 so my reference point is pretty high. I feel good about the value, $620 for frame and fork and expect that there are some compromises for that price point. Bike is 3 lbs lighter than Nashbar touring frame and Carbon Cross Fork that was the home of these parts.
PF CHKO2 fork (older one with eyelets)
Dura-Ace Velocity rim wheels
Jack Brown 33.3mm tires (Green)
Campy Chorus 10 Aluminum
Sugino XD-600 48-36-26
Phil Wood Ti BB
XT Cassette 11-32 9 speed
XT rear derailleur
JTEK Shiftmate #2
IRD Alpina Front Derailleur
PF carbon seatpost
Cane Creek S40 headset
Planet Bike Fenders
Performance Stainless cages
Performance ti spindle SPD road pedals
Last edited by lincolnmc; 10-27-2011 at 05:45 AM.
Where do you live, lincolnmc?
Originally Posted by lincolnmc
I live in the lakes region of NH.
I think you did very well to build that up for that cost. It looks great too.
kudos to dmcgoy and lincolnmc for their nice bike builds.
to dmcgoy: even though you went over budget, you've got yourself a pretty sweet rig that is way more versatile than most other bikes out there.
and as a brief intro, i'm in my 40s and started riding passionately back in the day when a high end road racer was brazed by hand from butted steel tubing and lugs, 6spd indexed downtube shifters just hit the market, and our feet wore shod with unpadded laceup leather shoes with wooden soles and slotted cleats, and leather straps held our shoes to the pedals.
Aside from all that irrelevant ancient history, I strongly suspect your Pedal Force CX2 is the same frameset as Ritte Racing's Crossberg (similar to Pedal Force's QS3 being one and the same as Ritte's Bosberg roadracer, minus the seatmast/integrated seatpost).
I searched these boards for any insider knowledge that supports that, but came up dry (though i'm using my smartphone that has a limited web interface).
Ritte's own blog entry "Where are your bikes made?" talks about their bikes' Taiwanese design and Chinese manufacturing (this site won't let me post the link since i'm new to this board, but you can google it easily).
In that blog, someone spilled the beans and alleged that one could buy a "Ritte" frameset from the Chinese manufacturer through Pedal Force. My intention is not to divert sales from Ritte at all, since their bikes are as sexy as bike porn gets, their namesake Ritte Van Lerberghe was a total badass a century ago, and the whole Ritte crew/philosophy seems f'in cool as hell.
Bottom line is, you guys did great--those PF CX2's look great and may very well be the same frame as the Crossberg. Can anyone confirm or refute that?
Last edited by LanterneRouge14; 11-05-2011 at 11:51 AM.
uh, never mind...
my question was answered by spencer from ritte on the weight weenies board last summer (in the thread titled "new ritte bosburg").
the taiwanese design firm owns the molds for the ritte frames, and companies like pedal force can buy frames made by the same chinese factory using the same molds (slightly modified???) to sell to the public.
so it sounds like the pedal force CX2 is more or less the same frame as the ritte crossberg. it'd be interesting to compare the rear triangle stays and rear wheel clearance between the CX2 and the crossberg for differences.
Maybe.....the geometry's look almost identical. The Ritte claimed weight is lower than PF claimed weight. The wheelbase of the largest Ritte and largest PF are different - though it's probably a type on Ritte's part. Since it's the same as the next size down.
Ritte Van Vlaanderen
PF CX2 geometry:
Pedal Force super-light carbon bicycle
They crossberg and cx2 look exactly the same to me..
i looked at the geo tables and agree with you (which after reading the Ritte and WW blogs is why i suspect the CX2 and Crossberg are virtual twins spawned by the same factory) the wheelbase published by Ritte for the largest crossberg is probably a typo.
spec weights are usually a little overly optimistic from almost all brands, so i dunno if there's a true difference in weight or not. but if the Crossbergs are lighter, then i wonder if that reflects any difference in the rear stays (and if so, then do crossbergs have more rear tire clearance?).
i'm just a few minutes drive from Ritte's santa monica HQ, so hopefully i can check out a crossberg in the flesh and take a pic of its rear tire clearance.
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