The cyclocross season is well and truly upon us. Here at Merlin, we have a deep, filthy love for the sport which originated in northern France. Cyclocross is becoming more and more popular in the UK. As a special treat for ‘cross lovers (and mixed terrain riders everywhere), here’s a selection of filthy-ride related products to keep you moving over the brown stuff.
Cassette & Chain
Cassettes and Chains on ‘cross bikes take a LOT of abuse and provide the ultimate testing ground for a manufacturers products. All that mud, grit and gunk grinding through the drivetrain, speeds up the wearing process. Therefore, here’s some cassette and chain options to keep your transmission turning sweetly.
Shimano M8000 XT 11 Speed Cassette / KMC X11-93 11 Speed Chain
Shimano SLX 10 Spd Cassette / KMC X10-73 10 Speed Chain
Shimano HG400 9 Speed Cassette / KMC X9 9 Speed Chain
Cyclocross also demands a lot from its footwear, a stiff sole, running support, comfort and grip is hard to build into one shoe. The Spiuk Rocca’s are a great entry-level cyclocross / off-road SPD shoe, featuring a rubber lined anti slip chunky sole and toe studs to aid grip when running. Spiuk Z16M shoes feature a new XC-S sole which delivers unrivalled performance on the bike as well as on the run.
Spiuk Rocca Entry level shoes Spiuk Z16M Competition shoes
Beginners like a bit more control, add some extra control flexibility to your cyclocross ride with an extra set of bar-top brake levers when riding on the tops. Bar top levers are a simple, ingenious design ideally suited for all off-road riding.
Tektro RL721 CX brake levers
Get A Grip
Of all the road bike sport disciplines, cyclocross demands the most from tyres. The wide range of terrain on your average cyclocross course means that tyres and riders are often challenged at the extreme edge of their abilities. Tyres which roll well on grass, often don’t do so well on gloopy mud and vice versa. Part of a top cross riders skill-set is the ability to make these equipment choices, this can directly impact a race. As a result of the wide-ranging demands placed on tyres, there are a lot of options available. Continental Race Cyclocross tyre 700×35 is a relatively cheap great quality tyre to get you into CX.
Merlin’s range of Cyclocross tyres
Spd pedals are pretty near perfect for cyclocross. Mud shedding ability is vital and even the entry-level M520 provide decent mud shedding. Shimano M540 pedals are a great, low-cost pedal for cyclocross racing. Lightweight and built tough, M540’s are designed to keep performing under all conditions, therefore they are pretty ideal for cyclocross.
Shimano M540 SPD Pedals
Training in the Dark
One hard to avoid aspect of cyclocross is training in the dark. The end of british summer time means that now evenings are in full darkness. Decent lights are vital for those evening woodland skills sessions or muddy-banking hill repeats. While very bright lights need to be turned down for traffic use, it’s a case of ‘the brighter, the better’ off road. Therefore, powerful yet lightweight lights are the way to go. One large power / low-cost / lightweight option is the Moon Meteor X Pro and Arcturus Bike light set.
Moon Meteor X Pro and Arcturus Bike light set – An absolute bargain at Merlin Cycles!
Wheels & Brakes
Cyclocross inflicts a large amount of wear on rims, when using rim brakes. Mud and gritty grime gets ground into rim braking surfaces, speeding up the wearing process. Fulcrum Racing 5 LG CX wheels have all the great features of the standard racing 5 wheels but with extra heavy-duty double bearing seals to protect the smooth running bearings and provide longer service intervals. Rim brakes, however, would seem to be heading for near extinction on cyclocross bikes. More and more new cyclocross bikes are kitted out with disc brakes rather than traditional cantilevers. The huge benefits of consistent braking control and longer lasting rims, therefore outweighing the negatives of trickier wheel changes and slightly more weight.
Fulcrum Racing 5 LG CX Cantilever brake wheels. Hope 20FIVE-SP24 Disc brake wheels
We have a wide range of Cyclocross bikes here at Merlin. The Merlin CX2.0 is our CX range highlight, it is made in Belgium, where they know a thing or two about cyclocross (home to the biggest cyclocross events and best cyclocross riders in the world). The CX2.0 features a lightweight, but strong, carbon frame with a quality Shimano groupset and disc brakes to keep control when the going gets rough.
Once you have collected as much mud as you can on your bike, it’s time to get the gloopy stuff off again. An initial blast with a jet wash is pretty good (avoiding bearing seals etc), it’s then time to show your hard-working CX rig how much you love it, with some proper cleaning love. Cleaning your bike is a chore, but not cleaning is a sin. Therefore, the sooner you get all that muck off, and your drivetrain de-greased and lubricated, the better. If it could speak, your bike will thank you for it. Being clean your bike should perform more reliably for longer.
Check out Merlin range of cleaning products here.
Dirty but Dry
Just because you choose to get muddy on a weekend, there’s no need to get wet too. Cyclocross is more enjoyable when your feet and hands remain a bit warmer / drier. Why not invest in some waterproof socks and gloves? They do a decent job of keeping the your extremities drier and warmer. If spectating cyclocross, check out the sealskinz waterproof bobblehat. Pull it down over your ears if the cow-bell ringing just gets too much.
Check out the Sealskinz range at Merlin Cycles.