Water bottles and Cyclocross bikes

Miscellaneous 7 152

If you ride a cyclocross bike with water bottle cages, at some point someone will inevitably tell you that you are doing something wrong. It is as if the very act of installing cages on the bike is breaking some kind of sacred Belgian cyclocross rule. Yeah, I know that bottle cages get in the way if you are constantly shouldering the bike in a race, but why do some people think that a cross bike should never, under any circumstances, be equipped with bottle cages? I think it is fair to assume that most people who purchase cyclocross bikes never actually race them, so why do some manufacturers choose to produce cross frames without water bottle cage bosses? I know that most models that don’t accept cages are geared toward the high end racing market, but personally, I would never buy any cyclocross frame that would not accept two bottle cages.

This time of year, I really enjoy riding my cross bike and not just for cyclocross racing. It is great for cool weather road rides that include long stretches on dirt forest service roads. It is fast like a road bike, but can handle a bit of off road action. I would say that, out of all my bikes, this is the most versatile one. To borrow the label from a friend, I consider it to be sort of an all around, go anywhere adventure bike. If you enjoy road and mountain biking and don’t have a cross bike, I would encourage you to get one. Just make sure that the frame you choose will let you bring some water along for the ride.

While I am talking about my cross bike, I will mention one more thing. I am glad that Trek chose to upgrade the components spec on the new XO1 models. I bought mine from a friend as a frameset and built it up with Ultegra 9 speed, but originally this bike came with very low-end components (Sora I think). I have nothing against entry level components, but I think that they were probably a questionable spec for off road use. Now Trek puts Shimano 105 on the XO1 and offers the XO2 with Ultegra. Much better Trek.

7 Comments

  1. Olivier Blanchard November 2, 2006 at 2:48 pm -  Reply

    FYI: Most bottles of Stella Artois won’t fit in a standard bottle cage.

  2. Tim Jackson- Masi Guy November 2, 2006 at 8:01 pm -  Reply

    But the cans of Guinness Draught fit just fine… I’m just sayin…

  3. Anonymous November 3, 2006 at 8:43 am -  Reply

    Your seat is very high. Are you sure your frame is not too small.

  4. James November 3, 2006 at 12:30 pm -  Reply

    Olivier and Tim, Good points, but I just pour my beer into one of those aluminum water bottles. That is why they make those, right?

    Thanks Anon. My seat is too high, huh? I didn’t know that. Maybe that is why my feet don’t quite reach the pedals! Just kidding of course. I could go on and on about bike fit, but I will just say that I think this frame fits me well and I am very comfortable on this bike. I am 6’ 2” and usually ride a 60 cm frame (That happens to be what this one is). On a cross bike, it is important to have sufficient stand over clearance, so I wouldn’t ride a bigger frame even if it were available. My position on this bike is identical to my road bikes and my seat height is the same on all my bikes. For the record, my track bike has an even greater drop from the seat to the top of the bars. No one formula works for everyone in that regard. Some people prefer bars that are closer to the height of the saddle and create a more upright riding position. There is no right or wrong answer, but I do want to stress one thing. You should not try to ride in a position that feels uncomfortable just because you think that it looks cool or because someone else tells you it is right. There is a lot of misinformation about bike positioning out there.

  5. robodobo November 8, 2006 at 7:10 pm -  Reply

    First of all, I agree wholeheartedly about the water bottle mounts. My Empella Bonfire SL came stock with no bottle braze-ons. I had two sets added, as I like to take the bike on multi hour dirt road training rides in the winter. The few grams of extra weight caused by the cage fittings, have never cost me any races, although I do race it from time to time.
    Secondly, to Anon about the bike fitting: James, you are once again correct. The Velonews website currently has a look at the pro bikes from the US Grand Prix of Cyclocross in Colorado last weekend. Saturday’s winner, Ryan Trebon’s bike not only shows more seatpost than James’ s bike, but also a greater drop between his saddle and bar height.

  6. James November 9, 2006 at 1:00 pm -  Reply

    Robo, Empella and Ridley both make nice cross bikes but apparently don’t think riders need to drink water. Maybe its a northern Europe thing, but I get thirsty on the bike.

    For the record, it was pointed out to me that my Trek is not a 60 because those frames come in odd sizes. On closer inspection, mine is a 61.

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