Talking CX Tech Trends
How equipment innovation is changing cyclocross - and how that technology is trickling out into the wider cycling world
Sure, cyclocross is still all about thriving in the mud, grit and cold. But the tools of the CX trade have fundamentally changed. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a cycling category that has undergone more equipment innovation in recent years. Cyclocross once was the realm older bikes – perhaps a rig doubling as a commuter or a road bike being put out to pasture.
Now, we’re in an era of specialty lightweight purpose-build cyclocross bikes that, in fact, include technologies in demand outside of the ‘cross course.
Hydraulic disc brakes
The unmatched stopping power and modulation available to riders on hydraulic discs, such as those available with SRAM’s Force CX1 and other groups, help riders go faster. Reliable braking power in all conditions means riders can carry more speed and brake later into corners. What’s more, the lower hand effort required to activate the brake is welcomed when temperatures drop and energy is depleted.
Racers have been cobbling together 1x ’cross drivetrains for years in a quest to get needed relatively narrow gear ranges without unnecessary parts. Past efforts, however, have been limited by available technology, necessitating multiple chain guards and other less than ideal solutions. By taking many of the industry-leading technologies from SRAM XX1 and distilling them down to a ’cross specific package, Force CX1 provides a wide range of gears with superior chain management, no chain slap and sequential shifting.
The benefits of CX1 are not limited to the racecourse. The SRAM PG-1170 11-36 cassette provides the perfect gear range for those days when the ‘cross bike may see a little more use than 60 minutes of riding laps. CX1 can now bring quiet, simplicity and cleanliness to a ride no matter where the road, or dirt, takes you.
Thru axles are starting to pop up on many ‘cross bikes, and with good reason. A 15mm axle, such as the RockShox Maxle, adds incredible stiffness without sacrificing convenience. Not only will wheels track better while bouncing through icy ruts, but the lack of flex aids in disc caliper and rotor alignment, ensuring a rub free setup. Long a mainstay on mountain bikes, these are quickly taking over many drop bar categories.
Ergonomics, fit and other details
Our road groupsets have long included ergonomic features such as Reach Adjust to allow riders to place control levers where they can best access them. This certainly translates to cyclocross, and racers are paying closer attention than ever to these details. Many riders have welcomed the larger hoods (to house the hydraulic reservoir) of SRAM hydraulic brakes because they provide secure handholds for the upright riding position of ‘cross. Our colleagues at Zipp have unveiled a lineup of alloy Service Course and Service Course SL handlebars, stems and seatposts with wide fit options. Zipp’s Service Course Cyclocross handlebar tape with its extra padding and cross-hatch pattern was designed with the bumps and mud of cross in mind (although it’d become popular on the road as well).
CX inspiring bike creativity
By nature, cyclists want to push boundaries… to go faster, to find new roads, or off-roads. There’s lots of talk about wider usage of disc brakes on road bikes. And 1x drivetrains are intriguing for multiple reasons, including weight and simplicity. If you already ride a SRAM road group, the CX1 hop-up might be for you.
What are your thoughts on CX bike tech trends? Tweet us @SRAMRoad with hashtag #CXtechtalk.