I love my Domane! It’s a very comfortable bike. Still, I longed for the ability to fit fenders AND large tires, as well as having mounting points for baggage racks, all without necessarily committing to a dedicated touring bike. I’m a Trek man as a result of the fantastic relationship I have with my local dealer, Bike Beat in Yorktown, VA. Therefore, I bought a 2014 CrossRip LTD, an urban/utility bike which is equipped with 10-speed Shimano 105 and TRP cable-actuated hydraulic disc brakes. The LTD has a ball-burnished aluminum finish. It wasn’t even the model year yet and the newly-released LTD models were already backordered. Trek employees allegedly snatched up the first batch for themselves. I got a bike from the second batch. I’m told my bike commanded a small audience as it was assembled and continued to get visitors as it sat in the shop.
It’s almost too beautiful to adorn with racks and fenders, and to use as a rain bike… ALMOST. I’m the type to use my equipment to its fullest. I expect it to get wet and dirty, including rides on forestry roads. I’ll be thrilled if the bike remains shiny and attractive as well. My bike gave the shop its first look at TRP’s new HY/RD (pronounced “hi-road”) cable-actuated hydraulic disc brakes (pictured). The CrossRip has a 160-mm rotor in front and a 140-mm rotor in back. I like the idea of having disc brakes to control my 260-lb combined weight in the mountains. Disc brakes are becoming popular on road bikes, anyway.
Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone for long. I replaced the stem with a 40°x90-mm high-rise stem to mimic the upright riding position afforded by my Domane. I also mounted a Brooks B17 leather saddle and a pair of Shimano Deore XT SPD pedals. I have all of the “touch points” within 1/2-cm of the Domane. I replaced the cyclocross tires with 700×32 Continental Gatorskins and inflated them to 65/90 psi (F/R). I also have a set of Bontrager NCS fenders. Later, I added a Topeak Super Tourist rear rack (not pictured) and an AC LowRider by Arkel so I could carry a full set of Arkel Orca waterproof panniers. The Shimano 105 long-cage rear derailleur easily clears the factory 11-32T cassette. I am not a strong climber. Riding a 34x32T gear ratio in the mountains last year was helpful compared to the 12-28T cassette I normally ride. But I wanted even lower gears! I replaced the R600 crank with a Truvativ X0 2×10 42/26T mountain crank (requires a GXP bottom bracket on a Trek). This allows me to avoid a finicky triple crank, gives me lower gearing (two steps), and maintains closer gear spacing, all while sacrificing just one top gear when compared to the 50×12 on my Domane. The setup worked fine with the Shimano 105 front derailleur, but I still opted to replace the 105 unit with a Shimano XT FD-M785 front derailleur (not pictured). It works great and is less prone to rubbing.
Most fans of steel bikes do not consider aluminum to be great for randonneuring or touring. However, I tend to believe I have a good compromise between weight, performance and comfort. The 32-mm tires seem to take up most of the “harshness” inherent in an aluminum frame while the longer wheelbase provides a nice, stable ride. Would a steel bike be better? I don’t know. At 25 lbs unloaded (28-lbs w/racks and fenders), the bike is a tad slower and a bit more work on climbs than my 19-lb Domane. But I tend to believe it’s more responsive than the steel bikes I had considered. I may never really know. Regardless, I’m happy with the bike and I like the fact that I’m able to quickly swap components/accessories (seats and lights) between each of my bikes without having to realign anything (allowed by identical frame angles). For now, my plan is to ride the CrossRip as my “training” bike with the hopes of the Domane feeling extra speedy on the days when I want to instantly drop seven pounds.
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Look! Something Shiny!