In cyclocross, there are lots of decision to make around the gear and everybody seems to have an opinion. Disc brakes, cantilevers or v-brakes? Knee warmers or embrocation? 30 psi or 50 psi? Go for the dollar in the sand or fight to stay upright? It can make it tough to decide,
Don’t make a simple sport difficult and let us help you cut through the confusion. At Higher Gear, we’ll eliminate some of the confusion for you. Our staff provided suggestions on what can make your lung-busting minutes on the CX course a tad bit better. Here are some of our staff picks for this season’s CX gear:
Cyclocross-specific tires give you the traction you need to power through the mud and sand without allowing it to build up between knobs and slow you down. Fredo at Higher Gear recommends the Clement Crusade PDX, named after the the Cross Crusade in Portland Oregon, the largest participant cyclocross series in the World. Clement’s Crusade PDX is an all-around performer with a particular love for mud. The center knobs are aligned to give you a fast roll on hard pack and pavement. Side knobs offer superior edge control so your bike stays under you in the curves, and the leading edge of the knob gives you extra traction coming out of corners. Since its introduction in 2010, the PDX has quickly become one of the most popular cross clinchers on the market.
Don’t take our word on this one. Check out the video on Bike Radar on Clement tires.
Off-road pedals and cleats can mean the difference between having the power of your full pedal stroke and watching other cyclocross racers sprint past you for the finish – or the bacon, depending on where you are on the course! When mud gets in some cleats, you may not be able to clip back in to your pedal. For this reason, Higher Gear recommends Crank Brothers pedals for cyclocross riders. The Eggbeaters are a favorite for anyone who rides through muddy conditions. The uniformity of the pedal means riders aren’t struggling to find the right position; it’s a click and go. The sparseness of the pedal also means that mud easily clears the pedal, eliminating the risk of not being able to get back in. The Crank Brothers Candy adds a platform, making entry available from two sides but also making it possible to ride while being unclipped.
Higher Gear cyclocross jersey by Kalas not only makes a great gift but it also makes great sense for the Chicago cyclocross season. While the material feels thin and comfortably soft, it offers good wind protection for the “windy city.” At the same time, our cyclocross jersey offers good ventilation and moisture transport which is important for 45 minutes of hard effort on the bike. The cut of the jersey also allows for increased upper body movement, so you won’t have any issues (with your jersey) reaching up for a hand-up or reaching back into one of the three rear pockets. Our Gearheads love that the material dries fast and keeps its shape after repeated washing. This year, we’re hedging our bets with the weather and stocking the jersey in both long and short sleeve options – so we’ve got you covered, no matter your preference.
Cycling glasses don’t just protect your eyes from sunlight. Glasses also keep mud and sand from the course from getting in your eyes. They can be life-changing in the event of a crash, where shatter-proof lenses can keep your eyes safe. So, glasses aren’t just for sunny conditions. For cycling in any conditions, Higher Gear favors transition lenses – lenses that change in sunlight. We carry Rudy Project and Tifosi cycling glasses, both of which offer lenses that go from colorless to varying degrees of darkness. With the overcast Chicago winters, you’ll benefit from the eye protection with the clear lenses but don’t need to worry if the sun suddenly appears. The lenses will transition to protect your eyes from sunlight when needed.
Enzo’s Embrocation can make the difference between enduring the cold and suffering miserably in it. Enzo’s Oil and Embro Stick skin formulas act as a protective layer for you legs during wet and cold riding, running or racing. Athletes who compete in these weather conditions understand cold muscles hinder your power output. Embro and Oil Stick assures your muscles stay warmer, allowing for maximum wattage output, increasing performance. Enzo’s offers two choices in embrocation: Embro Stick Orange is for temps ranging 40’s to mid 50’s and Embro Stick Red is for extreme cold conditions, low 40’s to 30F. Red is for experienced embro users. Oil Stick is for wet and cool conditions, 56F and higher.
Chain Catchers/Deflectors can be another hot button issue for cx riders. Those who swear by them, love the added security of knowing that they will not drop a chain at a crucial moment on the course. This simple, inexpensive and lightweight piece can prevent the chain from jumping up or off the ring. For some, the choice is clear. If you’re interested in learning more about chain deflectors, talk to our mechanics who can tell you which one will work best for your frame and your needs.