Save for the hardened wool-laden road warriors and fat bike single track explorers, winter is a tough time for cyclists. It often means chaining oneself to an indoor trainer or simply accepting that you might just lose a bit of your prowess on the bike come springtime. Averse to the hamster wheel-like feeling of indoor cycling and looking for versatility that fat bikes don’t necessarily offer, we sought two contrasting bikes to power through spring conditions and beyond. We opted for one super high performance competitive cyclocross bike in the BMC CX01 and the all purpose workhorse functions of the Trek Crossrip LTD. Testing the bikes in a wide range of conditions over the late winter from snow rides, to dry dirt, pavement, mud, city and country riding, we got a feel (and affinity) for the versatility and performance each bike brings.
The Performance Machine: BMC CX01
At the foothills of the Jura Mountains in the Swiss town of Grenchen, bikemaker BMC embodies the ideals of Swiss manufacturing. Their bikes are heralded for their design, simplicity, craftsmanship, attention to detail and innovation. Essentially, the company’s values read like a laundry list of descriptors for Swiss products. Still, there’s nothing cookie-cutter about the 22 year-old brand—especially in the bike industry. BMC bikes are very much a biker’s bike company—catering almost exclusively to the upper-end of the bike market with a heavy insistence on the dedicated recreational cyclist and aspiring pro. After a short break in the cyclocross world, BMC comes back hard for 2015 with the CX01: an insanely fast carbon fiber bike that rips equally well on dirt and pavement.
The CX01 is built to international cyclocross standards and is meant for the pros sweeping podiums at the world championships. Cyclocross demands different acceleration, handling and climbing qualities than your standard road bike, and frame geometries must be adapted accordingly. BMC was able to quickly iterate designs thanks to its in-house carbon fiber research and development center. Its Accelerated Composites Evolution (ACE) technology brings frame development into the digital age and allows for massive advancements in testing and developing new designs while testing for flexibility and strength.
The result is a ride that holds its stiffness during rapid sprints and climbs thanks to lateral and torsional rigidity. In other words, if you really push the pedals the CX01 efficiently translates the burn from your quads into speed. The bike is most at home at high speeds in rolling hills of grass and dry dirt, though we found it equally capable in packed snow, ice and even on intermediate single track mountain bike trails. Continental Cyclo X King tires make crossing most terrain not only possible but pleasurable—in any weather. Meanwhile, a simple drivetrain with one chainring up-front makes for an intuitive and seamless shifting experience thanks to the SRAM Force components.
While not a dedicated road warrior, CX01 is so light (fully kitted out, it tips the scales at a paltry 7.70 kilos) that the bike is nimble and quick on road rides. In the spring, where weather is nothing short of variable, it’s a perfect on-road to off-road machine to get some time in the saddle. Plus, by the time cyclocross season rolls around in the fall, you’ll be more than comfortable hammering on dirt at (very) high speeds.
The All-Purpose Workhorse: Trek Crossrip LTD
If the CX01 is built for speed, then Trek’s Crossrip LTD is designed for versatility. The Waterloo, Wisconsin-based bike company has been building some of the world’s most innovative and beloved bikes since the brand first opened up shop in 1976. In many ways, Trek is America’s flagship bike export—transitioning all categories of two-wheelers from the front of the peloton at the Tour de France to downhill mountain bike trails to LED-laden commuter steeds. With a commitment to both innovation and accessibility, the Crossrip LTD is the ultimate one-bike quiver for the urban dweller.
At first glance, the Crossrip LTD is something of a Frankenbike. With a vaguely mountain bike-inspired geometry, drop bars and two options for brake levers, it’s a unique creature on the road. The LTD features mounts for fenders or racks, lending to its compatibility as a commuting bike or long haul touring companion. Further, the bike’s rims are tubeless compatible—which is a blessing for touring and commuting alike as pinch flats and punctures are no longer a constant threat to your ride.
Surprisingly, the bike’s slightly more upright Crossrip geometry doesn’t hinder acceleration or technical handling. The slightly stretched out proportions are designed to ensure toe clearance when running fenders and a rack. The resulting riding experience is sturdy yet nimble enough for weaving through traffic. While spry enough for road rides, the bike shines on gravel and dirt. No matter the surface, the Crossrip LTD gives a smooth ride thanks in part to the Bontrager Race Lite Isozone bar. Without altering the ergonomic profile or adding weight, the specially designed bars reduce vibration in contact points by 20%. If you’re planning on logging miles on the Crossrip LTD, we recommend upgrading the saddle to something with a bit more stiffness. All in all a small concession for a bike that commutes, tours and goes off-road with ease.
The BMC CX01 is expected to hit shops in the coming months while the Trek Crossrip LTD is available now starting at $1,760.
Images by Hans Aschim