16th Sep 2008, 18:30:27
I've had a Dolan Multicross cyclo-cross frame built up to use as a commuter bike. Read on for my impressions of it.
Because it's designed as a cyclo-cross frame, this bike has all the major advantages of a proper road bike but also has clearances for fatter tyres, plus eyelets to mount full mud guards and front/rear racks. The cantilever brakes may be old-fashioned, but they are powerful and lighter than disc brakes. Cyclo-cross is an old sport, the bikes are conservative in terms of the latest technology, but what you get is tried and tested.
In its current set up it is a useful commuter machine, the 700x28c conti tyres I have on it make it pretty unstoppable, it just eats up cracks and holes in the road surface. It doesn't feel quite as free-rolling as my Langster and its 700x23c slicks, yet it still feels respectably racy on the road and I like having the ability to be able to go off road if I need to.
I spent a little time researching different frame materials. After ruling out full carbon fibre because of the cost, I decided on Aluminium with a carbon fork and seatpost. I was concerned that the Aluminium frame might be a little harsh, but it feels absolutely fine.
After specifying a Shimano 105 groupset, Mavic Aksium Race wheels, some decent Continental tyres and some SPD pedals, the complete bike cost me about £1,000, but I think I got my money's worth. If I'd gone for an off-the-peg bike, I'd easily have spent £300 replacing the components that broke or I didn't like.
I have descended some moderately steep hills at 35MPH or so and the bike feels absolutely stable, even with a load on the rack there was no hint of a shimmy starting up. The canti brakes are unbelievably loud, the front brake screams like a banshee no matter what brake blocks I use and irrespective of whether they are toed in, out or whatever. I initially had problems with a horrible fork shudder when braking hard at less than 10MPH or so. I mostly solved this by fitting a longer straddle wire, but fitting mini v-brakes would probably be the best option.
The waterproof Altura panniers enable me to carry a load of tools, my lunch, a change of clothes, shoes and pretty much anything else I need. I have plenty of hand positions available thanks to the drop bars and brifter hoods, I really feel like I could ride all day which makes my 19 mile commute seem shorter.
At 52cm this is the smallest multicross frame and even on this I feel really stretched out compared to my 54cm Langster. The top tube is very long compared to other bikes I've ridden, so based on my experience it's better to try a smaller size than usual, assuming you have that option.
I crave simplicity when I'm riding. It is for this reason that I enjoy my Brompton and my Langster - there's so little to do other than pedal the thing. I find it difficult to get truly excited about my Multicross, it's sort of like an estate car in that regard, very useful, comfortable and well appointed but it's not thrilling. I didn't buy the bike to be exciting though, I wanted a fast commute. On anything less than perfectly smooth tarmac, I'm pretty sure it's the fastest bike I could own, so it succeeds in this regard.
2 Archived Comments
6th Mar 2011, 08:25:45 by ostapbender
What fork are you using ?
6th Mar 2011, 08:48:38 by stocksy
It's a Columbus Tusk Trek, which I think is now sold as the Columbus Tusk Cross.