Granted, I look less like a Tour de France rider and more like I’ve eaten one or two. Even so, I do enjoy cyclocross racing. Well, I say “enjoy.” It’s hellish. But I still do it.
Trouble is, the bike I raced on last year cracked. And worse, the crack continued to grow. I needed a new one. Luckily, I very much enjoy purchasing, building, and then riding bicycles.
I trolled Craigslist and eBay for a while — hoping for a nice Lemond Poprad disc I could buy, ideally with the Wound Up fork — but with the bike boom in full swing and the eBay gouge in full effect, none made themselves apparent.
And then I stumbled upon a titanium (!) Serotta (!!) CX bike frame in my size (🤯).
Why do I like Serotta so much?
I’m not really sure. He’s one of the most famous American bike builders. His heyday was in the 80s and early 90s before Lance Armstrong demonstrated his ability to defecate in a never-ending rope which he then laced in a disgusting garland on America’s cycling legacy (Read more on this in Lance Armstrong: the Trump of Cycling). That fecal snake is still being produced even today if you can believe it.
Plus, my friend Dan McCauley had a Serotta Legend Ti when I was riding and racing a lot in 2008-11 and I thought it was badass.
This bike, the one I now own, is the only titanium Serotta CX bike I have ever seen in all my years of ooh-ing and aah-ing over Serottas on eBay, which, my Scene Shop team can tell you is something I often do. I’m forever trying to get them to look at vintage bikes with me to limited success. The bastards.
Nevertheless, I won the frame on eBay and then, giddy with excitement, realized I had a new task: Find a 1″ steerer tube cyclocross fork with cantilever brake bosses.
Great, Jim. What the hell’s a steerer tube?
If you imagine a bike fork like an eating fork, the steerer tube is the handle part. The steerer tube needs to be the right size to fit inside the bike’s head tube.
All bike size standards are completely fucked up in order to be as confusing as possible. There are those who suggest that there are legitimate business reasons for this, that’s not intentional. Hogwash. There are still-further-deluded people who imagine that these innovations wind up in some sort of performance gain on the bike. Hah! No. Standards are fucked up purely to make our lives, the consumers, a living nightmare.
Back in Ye Olden Days most steerer tubes were 1″ in diameter. Then they were 1-1/8″ for a while, and now are tapered so that the bottom of the steerer tube is wider than the top. Note that the steerer tube size is measured in inches even though most bike specs are measured in metric sizes. Except Mountain bikes.
Wait. What? Yeah. Exactly.
Forum Nerds to the Rescue
If you can’t find the odd bike part you’re looking for on eBay and it’s too rare for the knockoff bike part producers to sell it on Amazon, your only hope is the bike forums, where the greyest of the greybeards hold sway.
I expected my search for a proper fork for this bike to require me to begin by defeating a sewer basilisk. But I got lucky. The gods of the bike forums were kind. A gentleman had in his parts bin just about the perfect fork for this build: an Alpha Q carbon fork in 1″ steer AND with cantilever bosses. Here it is on the bike.
The rest of the build is mostly sorted and is as follows. I’m running a “mullet” Sram Rival/Apex/GX groupset with road shifters operating a 1x setup with a mountain bike rear derailleur. This way I can run a pretty big cassette. There’s no danger of me needing the extra gears a traditional 2x setup would provide, and, as a bonus, this build group was about half the cost of a comparable 2x build.
The brakes are Tektro. Again, they’re about half the cost of the upscale choice which would be the Avid Shorty Ultimate. I did swap out the brake pads for Swisstop salmon pads and they stop nicely. There is pretty significant fork chatter under hard braking but (1) I’m never going to be going that fast and (2) that’s the price one pays for style.
Butt support duty will be handled by this Fizik Arione CX. Can’t remember where I got it but it has been on a couple of bikes of mine for a while now. The seatpost and clamp are both Thomson, though the seat post will shortly be getting swapped out for a setback post because I feel a little cramped up on the bike.
I’m a little annoyed at this seatpost clamp because it takes a 3mm driver. Normally you’d expect a 4 or 5. The 3 feels a little puny and means it can’t be turned with a 4-5-6 Y wrench. I trust Thomson know what they’re doing and hire engineers far smarter than I am to spec this things out but I don’t have to like it.
Last, and most certainly least, I’m using my Interbike 2014 special edition Crank Bros. pedals. You hear a lot of people gripe about these pedals because they wear out quickly, but you won’t hear me complaining. Sure, the bearings are garbage. I’m just not complaining.
I also plan to change out the bars currently on the bike. They’re a set of knockoff Amazon aero bars which will surely snap the first time I crash on course.
I might get myself a new set before race season 2021 starts up, or I might just realize that I’m going to be too busy huffing my lungs out and trying not to cry in front of my friends kids to care how shit my pedals are.
And that’s my Serotta CX race bike!