What was once seen as an interim sport, a way to stay fit in the off-season, is fast becoming one of the most popular cycling activities. I’m speaking, of course, about indoor unicycle mixed martial arts, or is it cyclocross? That’s it, cyclocross. I get so confused. Back when I was partying with Charlie Sheen I was “exposed to a whole lot of magic,” but unfortunately I did try the drug called “Charlie Sheen,” and while my face didn’t melt off and I didn’t die, it has left my brain a little fried.

Cyclocross is the thing where you take a road bike, put big tires on it, slacken out the frame angles a little bit, and ride around on grass in circles while people yell clever taunts at you and offer you dollar primes (which are sometimes clenched between the cheeks for their buttocks). The cyclocross bike is basically a “hybrid” of a road bike and a mountain bike, in fact, true aficionados of the sport have lovingly nicknamed it “hybrid bicycle racing.” The sport has become so popular in recent years that Shimano has decided to acknowledge its existence by creating a cyclcross-specific line of components at the 105 and Ultegra levels. But no disc brakes. At the rate Shimano is diving right into this wacky cyclocross thing, we should see cross-specific disc brakes around the time Justin Bieber is eligible to run for president…or 2013, depends on who you ask.

The new group features high quality, non-touring-specific cantilever brakes; smaller chainring sizes with less “jump” between rings; and four (yes four) different front derailleurs. Photos and actual facts after the break.

The main difference between the road and cross group is the brakes. Ya sure Shimano has been offering cantis for years. People throw the R550’s on their cross bikes, but those things…what’s the word (checking thesaurus), sucked. Shoot, you could even throw a pair of Altus brakes on a cross bike (if you didn’t mind the perpetually exploding return spring covers). These brakes look a little more boss than the R550’s or the Altuseses.

The CX50 brakes are pictured above, the CX70’s are pictured at the top of the post. The CX70’s use a replaceable cartridge style pad, while the CX50’s use a pad on an enormous, weird post-thingy.

The CX50 crankset with a 46/36t combo.

Its silver brother.

The CX70, Ultegra level crankset. Like the brakes, it has a little bit nicer lines than its cheaper counterpart.

Bottom pull front derailleur built around the smaller 46t chainring.

Braze-on version.

Braze-on, top pull.

And clamp-on top pull.

No word on when this stuff will be available, hopefully by cross season eh? If I stay clear of partying with Charlie “The Rockstar From Mars” Sheen, I may actually get to see it.


  1. At least a set of linear pulls would be nice…I loves me some Shimano, but really? Def. behind the fashion/tech curve, no disc, no linear pulls…silly

  2. Cool to see that someone out there makes a cross specific groupo. I have to admit that i’m not impressed but i’m pretty sure that others will follow. Sram Red Cross Specific Group? uhmm…

  3. @Uri, why would they make hydro STI levers when there is only a tiny tiny market for them and very few forks and frames to mount them on?
    besides, the bike is saw with mechanical discs this season really showed me no performance advantage, I mean that as in no on with them was winning or losing any more than the rest of the pack. Also there is no reason to do the disc brakes at a Ultegra level when they don’t have mud issue solved for back there.

    @jc, I haven’t tried linear pulls could you or someone else explain the advantage to me, from looking at them they look like they would apply more stopping force than speed modulation and also they look like they would get filled with mud easier than a canti brake.

    also, with the possible disc trend and the idea that mountain rear spacing may be the disc brake standard, how is campy going to take that. I know they are working on more cross part and have some already out, but i dont see either in their future. thoughts?

  4. @Garrett

    The number of frames and forks are growing, which probably has a lot to do with the UCI ban having been lifted, and the small number probably has a lot to do with their competition ban only having ended last year.

    Hydraulic discs generally offer more power, more even lever feel, better modulation, etc. than mechanical discs, and for cross, they offer weatherproof (and mudproof) reliability.

    I don’t buy your privateer observation based empirical evidence argument, given that there’s at least 10 times as many people racing without discs as with. Likewise, the best tech doesn’t guarantee wins, but it certainly helps.

    Not sure what that Ultegra bit at the end means, so I’ll leave that alone….


    Not until the Bieberian forces come to annex the US…

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