This is the infamous “X Bike.” The X derives from the headbadge/decal, which tells the world that this is a cyclocross frame. I guess you can tell it’s a CX frame by the overtube routing of the rear brake cable, which allows you to shoulder the bike. My old Bontrager Privateer had not only the rear brake, but also both shifter cables routed along the top tube…but I digress.
The X bike was originally intended as a spare, made up from a combination of parts bin pieces and a few discount purchases, configured as an upright around town grocery getter. The original had Albatross bars, thumb shifters, a rear rack, and some Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires on single wall rims. The goal was to complete the project for less than $400, and I think I managed to do that.
The problem, however, is that the Long Haul Trucker was still new and shiny; and I was riding that every opportunity I could get.
So the bike has gone through a couple of incarnations, including a brief stint where my oldest son was using it to get around. Both sons have outgrown the frame, so I recently (Spring 2011) visited the parts bin again and configured the bike as a reasonably lightweight fast tourer.
This coincides with switching around the LHT to function more as a traditional tourer, and with an upright position. The X bike is a lighter frame, drop bars, thinner tires, lighter wheels…not exactly a racing bike, definitely not a very useful bike; but still something fun to ride periodically.
Frame: Nashbar large (appx. 58cm) cyclocross aluminum frame with ovalized oversized tubing, tig welded. Finished in matte black and will accept a rear disk brake. I’ve had 42c knobbies on it with ample clearance. It cost $85 through NB’s returned goods page. I had to order the dropout inserts separately.
Fork: No name steel uni-crown cross fork that I painted with black grill paint after grinding down the lawyer lips. It cost all of $10 on Ebay, and I have another one ready after they screwed up the original order and sent me two.
Headset: Cane Creek
Stem: Beats me. Steep, short, and cheap.
Bars: Bontrager CX, 46cm. These were originally purchased for the Marin and then the LHT. I like them better on this bike because of the shorter top tube geometry, which allows me to reach the hoods easier.
Brake Levers: Shimano 105′s from at least 20 years ago. I bought these for my Cannondale when I was upgrading to fancy new aero levers. They’re comfy, rock solid, and very smooth.
Interupters: Also bought for the LHT, Cane Creek.
Bar Tape: No name black spongy stuff with a layer of Bontrager sponge foam underneath running from the levers to the interupters.
Shifters: Shimano 8 speed barcons. The little disk insert has worn out, so they are set for friction.
Computer: Planet Bike Protege 9.0 Wired. I’ve had one of these on the LHT for years and really like the size of the readout, the auto-start, the temperature function, and the bomb-proof build.
Mirror: Blackburn hood mount. These are handy little mirrors, but they have a habit of breaking whenever the bike manages to fall over on that side. This one is shimmed and taped up to make it workable again, but not without some major beausage.
Saddle: October ’11: I’m playing around with different saddles on the bikes and ended up pulling my Brooks Champion Flyer out of the parts bin. The moment I sat on the bike with this saddle, I knew I had found the right combination.
Seatpost: Black anodized Trutaviv with a healthy 25mm setback. It’s a budget model, but has good adjustment and is plenty stiff.
Bag: Carradice Barley, supported by a Midlands rack. This bag is really too small for a day trip, but it works well for stuffing in a few Powerbars and enough room for a jacket if it looks like rain. I’ve inserted a homemade plastic backing cut from a cat litter bucket to help it keep its shape.
Front Light: Bucsh and Muller Cyo IQ. This light was on the LHT for a few years before I upgraded to a Luxos U. That prompted changing this bike over to a dyno system. The Cyo is a great light with a strong beam.
Rear light: This is an inexpensive Finnish product: Herrmans H-Track. It’s very bright and feeds into a nice sized reflector. The best mount I could come up with is a Nashbar front rack, mounted on the rear. Since it’s only function is to hold the tail light, I will probably try to come up with something a bit more elegant. The spare light is a Planet Bike Superflash. What can I say? The best battery powered rear light currently made.
Power Converter: Yep. We have a Tout Terrain “The Plug” in the steerer tube, so the dynamo can provide a charge to the GPS, phone, camera, or whatever; but mostly the GPS. This was an interesting purchase, where the previous owner thought he had ruined it during a muffed installation. I paid $8.00 for it, and without too much fuss it fired right up when I tested it. It’s the original model, so the output is nothing to get excited about, but it does work…
Wheels: The front is an Alex ACE19 rim, 32 spoke, with a Shimano 3N71 Dynohub. The rear is an Alex DC19 rim with Dimension hub. Both wheels are hand-me-downs from the LHT. The rear is spaced for 135mm, and the frame is supposed to be 130mm. After checking some reviews, I found a fairly common, but not strong “concern” that the spacing was more like 133mm and that road wheels had to be pinched into the frame. I didn’t bother to measure, but I just pulled the chainstays out ever so slightly and the wheel fit. It’s nice knowing that I can change around wheelsets for both this bike and the LHT. Both of these wheels are 28 spoke count, and the front is radial laced. I might try to build a dynamo into this one at some point.
Tires: Vittoria Randoneurs, 32 mm. They’ve only been on the bike since Spring ’13, but I’m impressed with how light they feel and how the bike rides.
Fenders: Planet Bike 45mm. I’m not a fan of black fenders, but the price was right and they fit right in with the stealthy theme of this bike. Aestetics aside, these are economical, functional fenders that set up very quick.
Crank: Specialized Strongarm triple (mountain). 175mm. 48/32/26. I need to increase the size of the middle. I don’t like the 16 tooth jump when shifting off of the big ring. Maybe 48/40/26, if there is such a thing.
Pedals: MKS Lambda. Originally I had some cheap Dimension platforms, but after riding with the Lambdas (Grip Kings) on the LHT for so long, they just feel right. No clips for me!
Cassette: 8 speed Megarange, 11X34.
Front derailler: Deore 600 braze-on with a clamp that was part of the original group that came on the Cannondale I have. I’m a little concerned about the clearance at the fender, so I may look for something that fits better.
Rear derailler: Shimano STX
Pump: Mt. Zefal. There are a lot of options for frame pumps, ranging from cheap lightweight plastic tubes to high end alloy units with pop-out handles, flexible hoses, floor stands and guages. Weighing cost, ease of use, weight, size, and reliability can be daunting; because you may only need a frame pump once. But that once might be critical. The Mt. Zefal pump seemed to be “just good enough” in all of the above categories.
Kickstand? Nope. I did have a Greenfield chainstay stand mounted on the frame, but the ovalized tubing caused it to align strangely. Once over-torqued, the mounting plate cracked. Although it held the bike fine, the looks of it bothered me. Once I decided to keep this bike as light as I reasonably could, I opted to pull the stand altogether. There isn’t really enough room at the bottom bracket for a conventional stand.
Here are some pictures of previous configurations: