the setback post

Tag: cx

Raleigh round kids, Gamps is tellin’ a story!

So 2007 called, and they want their blog post back.

raleigh blog

More like, it’s as smelly as it is dirty. It drinks as much beer as it is dirty.

Raleigh wants you to know that they get it:

raleigh gets it

Presumably “it” is corporate pandering to a subculture that was sort of cool five years ago. Of course, they’re pulling of a kind of double-pander* by netting the lucrative “aspiring bike messenger” and recent cyclocross convert demographics, which is no mean feat.

[*A position you'll go to jail for trying in China-land. #culturallyinsensitiveinnuendo]

Mockery aside, Raleigh are doing one thing right. Their ’cross bikes are just lovely, especially this blue beauty with it’s oh-so-butch-yet-beautiful-I-just-feel-so-safe ENVE disc fork.

©Earl HarperThe RXC Pro Disc. So hot right now. (Well, in 2012.) Photo: Raleigh

It doesn’t have thru-axles though, so Bikesnob would like it and James Huang will be Angry [sic].

I should point out, by the way, that this isn’t actually a new model or anything, I just wanted some yang to balance my grumpy yin. And you can’t actually buy one of these in the UK in any case, so Raleigh is in no danger of becoming cool here.

In other news, my ongoing project to become an industry insider douchebag has taken a small Great Leap Forward.

great leap forwardWhat is it with me and the Chinese today?

I’m not ready to go public, but I’m the guy riding the giant fixie cog across the ocean of success in this scenario.

Un-pro bike: TSP gets racy

xls mud nosh (1 of 1)

This is the machine that took The Setback Post to a season-clinching 60th place in the Open CX at the John Muir Winter Carnival, held at Foxlake, East Lothian.

TSP’s Cormorant RT mechanics were tight-lipped about the details of this build, but under the mud is rumoured to lie a bone-stock Planet X XLS frameset kitted out with “components and wheels”, all chosen according to “what was on sale at the time”. TSP is alone in his team in having embraced disc brakes, and was heard to comment that they were “ok”, and very much “not a factor in keeping the game the same”.

The validity of his comments was emphatically underlined by the number of riders who beat him resoundingly riding supermarket mountain bikes and scrapheap single speeds.

Modesty aside, TSP’s lack of technical skills and fear of faceplanting in mud could not take away from a season finale that was, above all, mediocre. He’s looking forward to next year, when he will run his tubeless setup at a slightly lower pressure and is confident of a podium as a result.

Oh, and the Geophysicist survived too.

The not-so-Secret Project

So yeah, it’s a Planet X XLS. Big whoop.

XLSThe park bench weighs 21.1kg and boasts a 4.4% increase in vertical compliance.

TSP’s TSP represents a number of firsts.

It’s my first drop bar disc bike (first cable discs too), my first crabon crosser [sic], and my first attempt at tubeless. The ease of tubeless setup using Stan’s alarmingly light Iron Cross* rims with Superstar tape and valves, and Stan’s own sealant, took me by surprise.

The tyres are Vittoria XG Pro clinchers – not the tubeless specific TNT edition incidentally, because I’m a huge cheapskate. The wisdom of this choice has yet to be put to the test: they are lighter and cheaper in their standard incarnation, but may carry a slightly increased risk of broken clavicle.

xgpro (1 of 1)

The part that really upsets me is that going tubeless means I can’t observe my usual practice of binning the stupid valve nut. We all have to make sacrifices.

TSP has not been ridden in extremis yet, but first impressions are promising. True to form, it’s ready in time for the very last race of the season, at which the Geophysicist will be representing on the TCX.

Wish us luck.

* Being a huge dork, I originally took this choice of name to be a reference, in somewhat questionable taste, to the German military symbol and decoration. Turns out it’s actually the name of a bike race, which makes a lot more sense.

I can haz dick breaks

A little while ago I nailed my colours to the CX disc brake mast. (I also spliced the mainbrace, shivered timbers, and groped the cabin boy for good measure.) The time has come to put skin in the game.

I’m not going to be reviewing these any time soon because you can’t review a product meaningfully until you’ve done your best to break it in a variety of comical mishaps, but I’m now in possession of a set of post-recall TRP Spyres, which are are bringing the The Secret Project to a halt with some alacrity.

spyre (1 of 1)

Watch this space.



J-Pow in full flight – Photo: Louie Traub

Last week’s US Cyclo-cross Nationals in Boulder, Colorado have generated no end of coverage, written and otherwise. ‘Cross is a particularly rewarding discipline for photographers, offering no shortage of visual drama, replete with mud and pain. The confines of a ‘cross course lend themselves to documentation and Boulder’s Valmont Bike Park is no exception. What I really appreciate in a photographer however is not the ability to record information, but the talent to tell stories and to reflect something of the atmosphere of an event in their work.

I’ve just happened across the work of one such photographer, Louie Traub, who has posted extensive coverage of the Nationals on his blog, here. It is well worth a look through. Louie describes himself as a “former newspaper photojournalist turned photography dirtbag” and along with his dog, he’s living the dream, pursuing his passion for cycling by doing what he does best – taking pictures. I look forward to seeing what he does next.

On the tech side, much has been made of SRAM’s new 1×11 drivetrain which put in an appearance at Boulder, and which will doubtless come to dominate the US scene next season. By releasing it in February SRAM is cleverly forestalling the fallout from the recall in March, so we can expect the Mk. II to be race-ready for September.

Otherwise, we got some excellent gif fodder. Assuming you don’t value your eardrums in the slightest, you’ll want to turn the volume up for this:

That sound at the end is American for “Well done, that man”.

Dig in at the Dock 2014: things wot I lerned

  • Doing absolutely no training at all is great preparation for an hour of peri-chunderous suffering.
  • Rutted cobbles make heavy demands of your stem bolts and riding five sixths of a race with your bars at the wrong angle blows.
  • My beautiful XTR pedals don’t clear mud nearly as well as I’ve been led to believe they should.

xtr (1 of 1)(but they are still beautiful)

  • The geophysicist is an excellent, if slightly abusive, one woman cheerleading team.
  • Remounting in front of a hundred spectators is somehow a lot more difficult than doing it on a quiet backstreet.
  • Not having anywhere to stuff your dollar bill raffle hand-ups can lose you a remarkable number of places.
  • I suck at riding a bike, but that doesn’t stop me enjoying it.

Thanks to David Hamill and John McComisky for their sterling work in organising.

More to follow, maybe.

Hubris: buy all the things

In hub news, Fair Wheel Bikes have just published the 4th edition of their immensely detailed hub review, perfect bedtime reading for the closet flange worrier. (You know who you are.)

If that doesn’t make your socks roll up and down, watch this:

#SVENNESS 2.13 from In The Crosshairs on Vimeo.

I’m pleased that being a super pro awesomesauce WorldTour rider has done little to diminish Zdeněk Štybar’s abilities on a ‘cross bike, although as a fan of pink bicycles I’m disappointed that he’s no longer riding that lovely Crux.

Zdenek Stybar's Specialized Crux

Photo: Wil Matthews/

He’d definitely have won on pink.

Boone or Boone-doggle? Trek in carbon bike shocker

A month ago, a single image of a prototype Trek ‘crosser leaked to the general indifference of all but the saddest of bike bloggers. Today, said bike has a name, the Trek Boone.

boone 9 800

Photo: Trek

Following on from the Crockett, this is a fitting tribute to the frontiersman and explorer Daniel Boone, who loved nothing more than ironic cowbells and the howl of contaminated rotors on a Sunday afternoon.


He also really, really cared what you thought about tubeless.

Spec-wise the Boone is much as I predicted, right down to the eminently dislikeable BB90 bottom bracket and the IsoSpeed decoupler that’s actually rather a good idea for a ‘cross bike. Naturally, BB90 presents no issue to a pro with multiple bikes and a sponsorship deal but for an amateur who pays for his own bearings, the choice of bottom bracket has to be a consideration.

Sven Nys has already won a race on the Boone as has Katie Compton. For a proper rundown of the bikes features without the relentless negativity on offer here, head over to BikeRumor.

TSP goes Euro – CX in Luxembourg

On grounds that I should witness at least one ’cross race in person before actually competing, Boxing day saw me and some surprisingly acquiescent family members at Luxembourg’s Fond-de-Gras at Differdange.

The race got off to a blistering start under leaden Continental skies, quickly heading offroad onto a course with an alarming amount of climbing.

differdangecx (1 of 13)

differdangecx (2 of 13)

The crowd went wild. Dogs wore coats.

differdangecx-coat (1 of 1)

As a huge #SVENNESS fan, I got excited when I realised Telenet-Fidea, a team I actually recognised, had a rider in the race. One Ben Boets, if I’m not mistaken.

differdangecx (3 of 13)

His pit crew were hard at work making his bikes look cleaner than anyone else’s.

differdangecx (8 of 13)

Soon enough, the race split up, with local favourite Christian Helmig looking strong at the front. He faded slightly as the race went on, ultimately finishing 5th. Dave de Cleyn (in black) was the eventual winner, finishing a scant 13s ahead of Joeri Hofman (in green).

differdangecx (4 of 13)

The view at the finish line.

differdangecx (5 of 13)

Because I like pink bicycles…

differdangecx (11 of 13)

As the race took its toll, trailing riders retired or were gently reminded to get out of the goddamn way.

differdangecx (6 of 13)

Under 23 champion Massimo Morabito came 11th.

differdangecx (7 of 13)

Much Di2 was in evidence, with lashings of Dugast and carbon.

differdangecx (9 of 13)

As the highest placing Luxembourger and recipient of the most shouts of encouragement, it was Helmig the press most wanted a piece of in the immediate aftermath.

differdangecx (10 of 13)

Second place was well earned.

differdangecx (12 of 13)

In keep with continental racing’s traditional scepticism about discs, I counted just three riders eschewing cantilevers. It came as a surprise that Christian Helmig was one of them, but this may be explained by the fact that he’s been racing in the US for the last few years where discs have all but taken over in the pro ranks.

What’s more significant is that this is the first time I’ve seen the new Shimano R785 hydraulics in the flesh. Helmig’s Specialized Crux sported the distinctive levers along with what appears to be custom Luxembourgish bar tape. Perhaps because of existing equipment constraints however, he was running 10 speed rather than 11.

differdangecx (13 of 13)

I’m not sure how much I learnt from all this, except that it is blatantly obvious I’m going to be destroyed when it comes to actual racing. How jolly.


#SVENNESS 2.12 from In The Crosshairs on Vimeo.

They’re all good, but this one is worth watching for the completely humbling pace. And the opening tune.