Cyclocross Buyer’s Guide, part two: Mid-priced ‘cross rigs

In part 2 of our addendum to the November issue of VeloNews magazine, our tech editors detail the 'cross bikes they picked as favorite mid-priced race bikes for this season. Up next: The budget bikes.

Cyclocross Buyer's Guide: Mid-priced cyclocross bikes
The Van Dessel Full Tilt Boogie

Readers of the 2010 VeloNews USGP of Cyclocross Guide could start the process of choosing a new bike with a flow-chart spread, an amusing visual that the staff, the editors, and graphics department had some fun putting together. The graphic was designed to showcase and differentiate between 15 of our favorite fall-time steeds. What it was missing, however, was details of the bikes themselves – a sad result of the limited space print provides.

If you haven’t checked out the November Issue of VeloNews and the included USGP of Cylocross Guide, go take a look. If you have, we hope you’ll enjoy this online supplement.

Tuesday’s Web-Optimized ‘Cross Guide Part One focused on dream bikes, the rigs that sit proudly at the top of the heap and have price tags to match. Today, we present a collection of our favorite mid-to-high range race bikes, selected for their supreme performance at a slightly more reasonable — but still not cheap — price point. Each of the bikes below have been tested at the highest levels of the sport and passed with flying colors, and are ready to help you add to your own palmares.

We realize that even these mid-priced bikes are a far from cheap, especially for a cycling discipline that should be fun and low key. So part three, online later this week, is focused on bikes for the more modest budget.

These choices are based on editors’ opinions after reviewing as many new bikes as we could (the choices were unrelated to advertising concerns, by the way. We don’t dare venture downstairs to the Ad Pit, except to borrow their coffee). If you disagree with our choices, or have other favorites, let us know in the comments section.

Core ‘Crossers

Blue Norcross EX – $2,450

Cyclocross Buyer's Guide: Mid-priced cyclocross bikes
The Blue Norcross

Blue picked up a sponsor-less Jonathan Page in 2008, and used his expertise to debut the Norcross shortly thereafter. This year, the company has stepped up their ‘cross game once again with a range of new Norcross setups. The 20011 Norcross EX is one of the few high-end rigs available with SRAM’s new budget-friendly Apex road group, which seems well suited to the rigors of ‘cross and helps put the EX in a exclusive group of race worthy carbon ‘cross bikes under $2,500. The frame itself is no slouch either, adorned with a BB30 bottom bracket, tapered head tube, and tried and true geometry tested on the world stage by Page.

Trek XO2 – $2,619
The rock solid aluminum XO2 has been revamped for 2011, and is a big step up from last year’s model. The inclusion of a new, wider carbon fork adds a tad more stiffness and a heap of tire clearance. With the front-end change, the front brake hanger has been lowered to the fork crown from the headset, an effort to prevent dreaded brake shudder. The frame uses Trek’s BB86 press-fit bottom bracket for additional stiffness. Component highlights include a SRAM Rival drivetrain, Bontrager cockpit and Race Lite wheelset, and Avid Short 6 brakes.

Focus Mares CX 2 – $2,700
The Focus CX 2.0 defines race worthy carbon at a great price point. The German company builds the CX 2.0 around the same monocoque carbon frame as its top of the line ‘crosser, including all the usual bells and whistles — a flat top tube, plenty of tire clearance, BB30 bottom bracket and tapered head tube — but choses a more modest component package to keep the price down. The build is nothing to scoff at though; Avid Shorty 4 brakes, FSA Energy BB30 crankset, Schwalbe Rocket Ron tires, and a Shimano Ultegra drivetrain make the CX 2.0 one of the best bargains in carbon ‘cross bikes.

Cyclocross Buyer's Guide: Mid-priced cyclocross bikes
The Focus Mares

Cannondale SuperX Rival – $3750
For the first time this fall, the powerhouse trio of Tim Johnson, Jeremy Powers, and Jamey Driscoll is forgoing Cannondale’s venerable aluminum ‘cross frames in favor of carbon. The SuperX looks to be worth the switch, featuring a tapered 1-1/8” to 1-1/4” head tube, flat top tube section for comfy shouldering and a BB30 bottom bracket. The Rival model includes Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels and rock-solid Sram Rival group, with a claimed weight of 16.7 pounds. In other words, the SuperX is race-ready, right out of the box.

VeloNews’ own Ben Delaney rode the SuperX in the Wheelers and Dealers race at Cross Vegas in September.

Van Dessel Full Tilt Boogie – $1,999 frameset, $3,999 with SRAM Force build
The Full Tilt Boogie takes a number of design cues from its metallic brother, the Gin & Trombones, rehashing them into a full-carbon, no compromise ‘cross racing machine. The Boogie is race-focused, leaving off pleasure-riding niceties like bottle cage mounts, and including a BB30 bottom bracket, tapered 1-1/8” to 1.5” head tube, and reinforced top tube to prevent handlebar induced cracking when things go awry. The Boogie Rival build includes a matching set of yellow TRP EuroX brakes, Vittoria XM tubulars, and an FSA cockpit.