I finally selected a good cyclocross bike for my all-purpose needs by monitoring ebay for a couple days and reading reviews on possible bikes. My original plan was to purchase a used cyclocross bike with
fat tires and then buy a second wheelset with road tires. The fat tires would be for every day commuting in varying terrain. I could switch to the second wheelset for long rides.
So I began to monitor D.C. Craigslist and Ebay for possibilities. Not much on Craigslist and those that were interesting quickly were snapped up. Ebay, being national, had a lot more selection. So I began to research the choices on ebay.
From this, it became clear that there is a significant jump in performance between an $800 and a $1200 bike. For $800 you get a pretty good cross bike with an average component mix. For $1200 you get a racing bike with good components. For $3000+ you get a pro racing bike. I only wanted to
pretty good cross bike but was (as always) gradually enticed by a slightly better component/frame until I was well into the
racing bike category.
So I ended up buying a Redline Conquest Pro for $1100. The big complaints on the bike are well summarized at Redline Conquest Pro First Impressions. When I got the bike, I set it up and started riding. The impressions from the article were accurate: the saddle grabbed my pants when I mounted, the brake pads were not great – especially in the rain, and the 34cc knobby tires were really slow on the road.
But the saddle is comfortable so I won’t change. I bought a new set of brakepads for $15 and the stopping distance improved dramatically. As for the tires my exprerience after three weeks is:
- capable of riding over shallow or packed snow left from the largest snowfall in the Washington area (I need to carry the bike in deep snow),
- really fun handling a
muckride down the C&O bike path,
- capable on the
Hill’s of Hell, a local race club hill loop.
In otherwords, I felt I could go anywhere anytime – just what I was looking for in an all-purpose bike.
I’m not planning on cyclocross racing so I’ll hold judgement on how well it does when you want to go as fast as you can in the muck. But, I’m really happy with the performance of this for touring, training and going really fun/far away places.