$4kish, carbon wheels + alloy frame or alloy wheels + carbon frames

View Poll Results: alloy frame + carbon wheels or carbon frame + alloy wheels?

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  • alloy frame + carbon wheels

    3 21.43%
  • carbon frame + alloy wheels

    6 42.86%
  • other (see inline comments)

    5 35.71%
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  1. #1
    clueless oaf
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    $4kish, carbon wheels + alloy frame or alloy wheels + carbon frames

    so for a pure CX racing bike, if you have only so much to spend, do you get a 'higher end' aluminum frame and spend the $$$ on a nice carbon wheelset, or do you take the $$$ and get a great carbon frame with a nice aluminum wheelset?


    so in other words, do you go for a (for example):


    CAADX w/Ultegra (alloy frame, ultegra groupset, for a shade over $2k) and then add a $2k set of carbon wheels


    or do you go for a (again, just an example):
    SuperX Ultegra (carbon frame, ultegra groupset, for just under $3800 total)


    don't so much focus on the bikes themselves (not a question about Cannondale nor those specific models, they are ONLY EXAMPLES), but a focus on which is the more economical and better use of cash if the Minster of Finance grants you a $4k budget.


    You're going balls-out for an hour in CX and you want to go as fast as possible. Yeah, the carbon frame probably doesn't beat you up as much, but everywhere I read, I always see that the best bicycle upgrade is a great set of wheels. I'm less worried about comfort (I have a Fargo if I want to "enjoy" my long mixed-surface ride!) and more worried about speed.


    also, don't be afraid to provide your reasoning.


    (again, PLEASE don't worry about the bikes themselves, they are purely for example purposes to highlight my question)

  2. #2
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    I would do whatever allows you to have at least two sets of wheels.

    The correct tread for the conditions is way more critical than either frame or wheel material choice.

    That said, if you're going disc... I'd do everything I could to save on weight. Otherwise you'll end up with a tank of a bike, despite spending $4K.

    Don't discount shopping used. I just sold a basically like new Specialized Crux canti frameset for like $900 and a one generation old Ridley X-night for about the same.

    Those were both canti frames, but there is nothing wrong with canti! and there are killer deals on frames and wheels from everyone going disc (I know... because both my wife and I made the switch this year).

    But, I've even seen really good deals on slightly used disc frames as well. Someone was selling a lightly used Crux Pro disc frame the other day for like $1k.

  3. #3
    clueless oaf
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    this is another time i've seen someone emphasize 2 sets of wheels. Why?

    on a side note, I have to go disc. I'm a clyde and I simply cannot stand having to reach muscle failure in my hands trying to slow down or stop. Especially since i live in the PNWet, where it gets ridiculously nasty and rim brakes simply don't cut the mustard here.

  4. #4
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    OK, so canti brakes properly setup will stop you fine... even in the mud. Just ask any euro.

    Now, if you WANT discs, that's fine. But don't drink the coolaid and think that you need them. I'd much rather have a nice canti setup than a cheap ass disc setup with heavy wheels.

    As to two sets of wheels, it's great to have an all around set and a mud set. Mud tires will work in the dry, but be slower. Conversely, if you try and run your all around set in the mud... it sucks. Can you get by? yes... but it's not ideal.

  5. #5
    clueless oaf
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    Quote Originally Posted by Corndog View Post
    OK, so canti brakes properly setup will stop you fine... even in the mud. Just ask any euro.

    Now, if you WANT discs, that's fine. But don't drink the coolaid and think that you need them. I'd much rather have a nice canti setup than a cheap ass disc setup with heavy wheels.

    As to two sets of wheels, it's great to have an all around set and a mud set. Mud tires will work in the dry, but be slower. Conversely, if you try and run your all around set in the mud... it sucks. Can you get by? yes... but it's not ideal.
    1. it's not kool-aid. I'm speaking from experience. I'm a big fat tub. There's a huge difference between them and that's not from someone else telling me, that's from me using them. That said, I admit I'm much better at 'setting up' discs than cantis after I do a wheel change and such, so that does play a role. I do notice a big difference in ease of stopping in the slop though

    2. so the idea of 2 sets of wheels is to go with tubular on each wheelset, one for hardpack/road, one for the slime and filth, and since it's tubular, that's why I need a pair of wheelsets rather than just 2 pairs of tires, right?

  6. #6
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    You actually need 3 wheelsets

    One for training on the road, trails, etc. Those should be clinchers. Then one tubular set for general grassy/intermediate courses, and one for slop

    I would take pretty much any good intermediate tubular setup over a clincher mud tire, even in slop. Tubeless can change this a bit though.

    So, you could have a clincher setup tubeless with something like a file tread or all around tread that you can swap to an aggressive tubeless mud tire if needed and then a tubular with a medium aggressive all around tread. Something like the MXP from clement is good and it's durable, which is important if you're a bigger guy.

    Actually the PDX rolls pretty good too... not a terrible one tire solution especially where you live. That would probably me my top suggestion given your situation and the ability to only buy one race wheelset to begin with. Clement tires don't ride as well as the nicer cotton casings, but they are VERY durable and work well for bigger riders, as they are a bit stiffer in the sidewall.

    Then add another set next year with something like an MXP, Racing Ralph, FMB Slalom, etc.

  7. #7
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    One advantage of disks is that you can run alloy or carbon rims without swapping brake pads. Not a big deal, I know. I think clincher alloy rim training wheels set up tubeless, and 2 or 3 sets of tubulars in whatever carbon/alloy combination you can afford would be ideal. No way I'd pay 2K for a single set of wheels.
    Quote Originally Posted by Corndog View Post
    You actually need 3 wheelsets

    One for training on the road, trails, etc. Those should be clinchers. Then one tubular set for general grassy/intermediate courses, and one for slop

    I would take pretty much any good intermediate tubular setup over a clincher mud tire, even in slop. Tubeless can change this a bit though.

    So, you could have a clincher setup tubeless with something like a file tread or all around tread that you can swap to an aggressive tubeless mud tire if needed and then a tubular with a medium aggressive all around tread. Something like the MXP from clement is good and it's durable, which is important if you're a bigger guy.

    Actually the PDX rolls pretty good too... not a terrible one tire solution especially where you live. That would probably me my top suggestion given your situation and the ability to only buy one race wheelset to begin with. Clement tires don't ride as well as the nicer cotton casings, but they are VERY durable and work well for bigger riders, as they are a bit stiffer in the sidewall.

    Then add another set next year with something like an MXP, Racing Ralph, FMB Slalom, etc.

  8. #8
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    Alloy frame, train on the stock wheels, get a nice pair of race wheels. Contact Service Course Velo in Ashland OR and have Thom build you up a badass set with Gigantex tubular rims. Then glue on a pair of PDX tires.

  9. #9
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    P.S. I'd never try to talk anyone out of disc brakes, but the business about rim brakes not working in mud is nonsense.

  10. #10
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    2 NOS aluminum bikes (complete) + 6 aluminum wheels + 6 nice tires for +/- $4000. But thats just me.

    By the way, pay the premium for light wheels if you'd like, but deep rims are slow for cyclocross, catching on mud, sand, etc (CXMagazine).

  11. #11
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    alloy bike + N sets of race wheels.

    Cross is as much about how you drive the bike as it is fitness. Tires have probably the biggest initial impact on how the bike handles the course/conditions.

  12. #12
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    Might as well pile on. Aluminum frame, a set of aluminum tubeless training wheels, and aluminum tubular race wheels would be ideal. For me, my budget wasn't quite that high. I have the stock wheels set up tubeless for training/pit wheels, and a set of tubeless wheels (WTB i19s laced to AC hubs off the mtb,) for racing. I experimented with tire pressure, and with Specialized 2bliss tires I can run 21 psi without burping- too low for my tastes.
    Are they as good as tubulars? No, but they'll do until I can build up a set of tubs.

    Los
    "My pit bike is a six-pack."
    -Hodala CX

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnStonebarger View Post
    2 NOS aluminum bikes (complete) + 6 aluminum wheels + 6 nice tires for +/- $4000. But thats just me.

    By the way, pay the premium for light wheels if you'd like, but deep rims are slow for cyclocross, catching on mud, sand, etc (CXMagazine).
    I'm with John on this. a $4000 BIKE DOESN'T GET YOU TO THE FINISH if it is clogged with mud or has a mechanical. In cross, 2 good bikes will beat one great one a majority of the time (depending on locale)
    Pit bike has saved me from countless DNFs
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by sgtrobo View Post
    this is another time i've seen someone emphasize 2 sets of wheels. Why?

    on a side note, I have to go disc. I'm a clyde and I simply cannot stand having to reach muscle failure in my hands trying to slow down or stop. Especially since i live in the PNWet, where it gets ridiculously nasty and rim brakes simply don't cut the mustard here.
    I'm 230 to 240 and have been racing and riding cross for over a decade. I've never had an issue with braking using properly set up cantis

    and you did see how in Nats some racers were losing their disc pads in under an hour
    one nation, under surveillance with liberty and justice for few

    still not figgering on biggering

  15. #15
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    For $4k you could have both... Niner BSB frames are on clearance right now. Really nice frame for just over a grand. You could build up some custom carbon wheels for another grand (or splurge on Zipps or something for $2k). Then you could easily build up the rest of the bike for another 2 grand, or $1k if you splurged on the Zipps.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by thisisthebeave View Post
    For $4k you could have both... Niner BSB frames are on clearance right now. Really nice frame for just over a grand. You could build up some custom carbon wheels for another grand (or splurge on Zipps or something for $2k). Then you could easily build up the rest of the bike for another 2 grand, or $1k if you splurged on the Zipps.
    and still get DNFs because you flat, have a mechanical ....
    one nation, under surveillance with liberty and justice for few

    still not figgering on biggering

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dream Plus View Post
    One advantage of disks is that you can run alloy or carbon rims without swapping brake pads. Not a big deal, I know. I think clincher alloy rim training wheels set up tubeless, and 2 or 3 sets of tubulars in whatever carbon/alloy combination you can afford would be ideal. No way I'd pay 2K for a single set of wheels.
    This^

    You can have Three sets of super nice carbon wheels built up clincher and tubular for less than 2k if you you don't care about labels.

  18. #18
    clueless oaf
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    Quote Originally Posted by OnTheRivet View Post
    This^

    You can have Three sets of super nice carbon wheels built up clincher and tubular for less than 2k if you you don't care about labels.
    i dont' care abut labels at all, but I do care about quality and I don't know enough to know who to go with, i.e. how do i know i'm not getting junk? Is it basically just 'ebay carbon reynolds/enve/whatever disc wheels' or something, and then go with who has a good rating?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by atpjunkie View Post
    I'm with John on this. a $4000 BIKE DOESN'T GET YOU TO THE FINISH if it is clogged with mud or has a mechanical. In cross, 2 good bikes will beat one great one a majority of the time (depending on locale)
    Pit bike has saved me from countless DNFs
    Very well said, I couldn't agree more..

  20. #20
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    And even build g up an inexpensive SSCX could save the day!
    "My pit bike is a six-pack."
    -Hodala CX

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roland44 View Post
    Very well said, I couldn't agree more..
    and it is also less humiliating when you get passed by a kid on a frankenbike
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by atpjunkie View Post
    and it is also less humiliating when you get passed by a kid on a frankenbike
    I ride a frankenbike and I pass people all the time. The only missing ingredient is that I am not a kid anymore.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by myhui View Post
    I ride a frankenbike and I pass people all the time. The only missing ingredient is that I am not a kid anymore.
    When I was on form I used to do it all the time
    40 plus year old Clydesdale on Steel Bikes, 8 speed components, 32 spoke 3x tubulars
    and somehow I could beat guys on all their new stuff

    "Ride Up Grades, Don't buy upgrades" - Eddy Merckx
    one nation, under surveillance with liberty and justice for few

    still not figgering on biggering

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