Saturday, September 3, 2011

Psst.. I got me a CX bike.. Salsa Chili Con-Crosso semi review & first ride

Back in February I ordered the Salsa Chili Con Crosso through Bikeman as I plan on doing some CX racing starting this season.  It finally came around last week and was delivered by my mother in law to try and save on shipping - (Thanks Cynth!)

 As much as I'd like to be cool enough not to care about the color - it was nice to see it wasn't that blah silver color they offered last year.  Instead a nice black base - with blue markings.  It won't match my Bikeman kit though. Bummer.

First impressions - wow.  It's very nicely built.  The joints are smooth - nearly Cannondale Aluminum frame smooth.  I did the old 'ping' test for tone variance then checked the spokes with a tensionmeter.  The wheelset (DT Swiss 450's) was built very uniform  - good sign.  The brakes are Avid Shorty Cantilevers - definately old tech - but with some proper toe-in / alignment and balanced tension  they work plenty well.  Forks: some nice carbon work here- very smooth - no shuddering etc when braking.  Seat: WTB Silverado - I usually ride the WTB Rocket - this one is a little skinnier & longer.   We'll find out soon enough how it is for longer rides.

I built up the bike in a couple of evenings and figured out how the SRAM double-tap shifting works.  I like it.  Shifting is crisp - and you might even be able to wear clumsy gloves with these and still shift.  Shimano brifters with their two-lever system can be nearly impossible to shift with bulky gloves.  I also like that there is no front derailleur - there is plenty of range available with the 42 chainring  / 11-28 cassette. 

An additional bonus:  Don't like gears?  No problem - swap out the dropout hardware at the rear and run it single speed.  Cool.  Always wanted to try single speed and I just so happen to have a single speed wheelset.

Today I went out for a shakedown ride starting at the house.  Destination:  George Washington Management area - the same place I rode several times last winter on the snow bike.  I thought it'd be interesting to check out the trails in summer mode.

The Con-Crosso comes stock with Clement "LAS" tires.  They look to be suitable for dry hard courses - and worked well on the road-ride to the entrance.  The ride on the road was amazingly comfortable - that's in part due to the width of the tires.  The carbon fork and engineering that goes into the flattened seat and chain stays really smooth things out as well.   My Salsa Vaya commuter isn't quite this smooth  running WTB Terrainasaurus tires (32's).  That says something right there - maybe it's the tires, maybe not.

Before getting to GW Management  - I took a ride up Jackson Schoolhouse Rd.  There are some bony little singletrack trails aways in.  After riding the trails for 25 minutes or so through the woods I accepted that there was just too much debris on the trails after Tropical Storm Irene to risk damaging the drive train.  Sure enough a twig got caught up under my chain at the chainring and jammed up into the Pauls Keeper.  To think I had contemplated a "no-tools" ride.  That'd have been the end of the ride right there. 

Fallen trees everywhere.  Plenty of opportunity for dismount / shouldering practice out here.  

I freed up the chain, re-adjusted the keeper and headed back out towards the real destination.

When I got into the management area they had gates up in several locations.  Huh..  Didn't have those last winter.  Riding in aways there were people camping all over the place.  Didn't have those either.  But what they did have were some really nice dirt roads to cruise on. 

Some seasonal comparison pics:

Winter from the parking lot


Trail in the winter

Same general location ..

And finally - the beach.

A little different today.

Consensus: She's a keeper. Often you'll hear folks praise CX bikes for versatility.   No doubt, the Con Crosso is pretty versatile.  That said - it doesn't have a plethora of braze-ons for racks fenders etc like several other Salsa products.  It's meant for racing - and you can bet she'll be properly fed.  On the other hand - it rides sooooo smooth!!  At the risk of offending the hardcore CX population... umm..  I kinda want to use it for commuting. 

Bonus shot from Pulaski (right around the corner from GW Management):  Some pretty mossy singly-track.  Who doesn't like pretty mossy singly-track??

Back home - with a proper coating of dust.  Soon it'll be MUD!! & BEER!! & WAFFLES!!!


  1. Sweet! Now all you need is a coach.

  2. And Money! Speaking of money - the payout looks a heckuva lot juicier in CX.

  3. yeah, good luck beating the 100 other guys for the money! :)

    I had me a ss cross bike once. loved it but the stable got too big so it had to go.