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Alloy cyclocross bikes go high end with new Low MKII CX

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Know for straight forward performance aluminum frames built by hand in their San Francisco workshop, Andrew Low and his team at Low Bicycles have been trying to spark a resurgence of domestic alloy bike manufacturing. Low’s latest addition to the lineup is the new MKII CX bike. A direct descendant of the first generation (MKI) CX prototype that has seen racing over the last 2 years and that we saw back at NAHBS this past March, the MKII makes its way into production in time to start racing. Low has ironed out the development kinks and is ready to get you lined up to start racing this fall. Get a closer look at the new bike after the break, and see why Low’s US-made 7005 frame will make a perfect companion for your next cyclocross campaign…

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Like crit racing, cyclocross has long been a discipline that really made sense to race on aluminum bikes. The short duration, high intensity event favors stiff power transfer, and frequent crashing has tended to not be nearly as hard on alloy as it can be on carbon. But aluminum bikes were often plagued with a brutal ride that was hard to tolerate even for the 45 minutes most of us end up racing (OK, 60 if you are faster than me.)

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But Low’s alloy bikes have begun to build a reputation for a more comfortable ride, and the MKII CX is no exception, having been fine tuned through two race seasons of prototyping. Low is said to achieve this balanced ride through the use of a proprietary butted tubeset, some of which they shape by hand in house. That shaping goes from flattening the toptube for improved shouldering to curved and flattened seatstays that  build in a bit of controlled flex. Drivetrain and handling are said to remain solid through the use of Low’s stiff ‘Back-Bone’ from the headtube to the chainstays to limit torsion.

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The MKII is a disc brake only frame and comes paired with a Enve Disc CX fork. The frame gets full internal cable routing all the way back to the chainstays for a simple and mud free setup, with the bottom pull front derailleur routed outside and around to a cable stop just behind the bottom bracket. It also gets a chainstay bridge there, so it may not be best suited for the muddiest of cross courses. It does stick with a threaded bottom bracket, so at least that will be easy swap out if it gets thrashed mid way through a wet and muddy race season. Tire clearance is said to be good for up to 40mm tires with a 425mm long chainstay.

Low_MKII_aluminum-disc-brake-cyclocross-race-bike_headtube Low_MKII_aluminum-disc-brake-cyclocross-race-bike_dropout

The MKII CX is available now direct from Low for $2450 for the frameset, including the Enve fork. The bike comes standard only in this signature matte black finish with white/orange graphics, and in six sizes (49, 52, 54, 56, 58 & 60cm.)

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They say that stock is limited, so no time like the present if you are looking to get prepped for cross. Otherwise, if you miss out on the first batch of bikes they won’t be available until the end of October with the season in full swing. Custom geometry and other finishes are also available but won’t have you ready for racing this fall.

LowBicycles.com

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Seraph
7 years ago

Nothing I love more than a $2000 alloy frame. Give me a break, guys. Ridiculously overpriced!

strange
strange
7 years ago

$2500 for an alloy frameset is absurd. That cost negates any benefits that you would receive from choosing this over a carbon setup. You can get a Crockett frameset for $600..

DRC
DRC
7 years ago

Lol $2500 for an Al frame or $2500 for a full carbon build….

SSCXXCDIRTDROPS+
SSCXXCDIRTDROPS+
7 years ago

It’s a made in the USA frameset made from made in the USA aluminum from a boutique builder. Why do you think it’s relevant to compare China carbon prices to this?

Get a Spooky made by FTW if you want those specs, but at a more reasonable price. $2100 includes anodized frame, Enve fork and Chris King headset.

Timothy Guarente
Timothy Guarente
7 years ago

Or just get an FTW.

matt
matt
7 years ago

Seraph, Strange, & DRC: what do you think the rent for workshop space in San Francisco is? I’d be willing to bet that at $2500 this frameset sells at a loss for this guy, with his profits coming from the (shrinking) mark up possible with full bike builds. This builder is paying (really high) US rent & US utilities, buying US groceries and maybe even paying a US mortgage. Buy something made in Asia if you don’t care about the domestic vs. foreign aspect but don’t compare these apples to those oranges.

fealakwen
7 years ago
Reply to  matt

I’m here to buy a bike at a good price, not to support the lifestyle of a guy in SF.

Mike D
7 years ago
Reply to  fealakwen

fealakwen, you are a true American.

fealakwen
7 years ago
Reply to  Mike D

I’m sorry dude but I’m actually french.

Bikemark
Bikemark
7 years ago
Reply to  fealakwen

I like the bikes. I wonder if he’ll lower his price for me because I don’t make enough $ to afford one?

jlg
jlg
7 years ago
Reply to  fealakwen

You are here to complain.
By the way, BR do not sell bikes.

myke2241
myke2241
7 years ago

It is slightly over priced but your 100% correct. This frame is not for everyone. You would be hard pressed to find a alu frame of this level at that price. Carbon is not for everyone.

strange
strange
7 years ago

Matt // That’s just a bad call on the their end then. Comparing them on a performance to cost level is perfectly fine, and something that everyone will do. At the end of the day, you are receiving a very similarly performing product, but at a price difference that is staggering. And the argument that something made overseas is a lesser item when it comes to quality is nothing more than a pride issue.

It’s hardly an apples to oranges scenario.

myke2241
myke2241
7 years ago
Reply to  strange

Actually there is a lot be said on how carbon responds to crashes. So when we talk about performance there are different levels. Additionally there is a level art involved in building. Those things for right buyer will outweigh cheaper. Things your not going to find in a mass produced frame

Dinger
Dinger
7 years ago
Reply to  myke2241

Aluminum doesn’t respond any better to the rigors of crashing than carbon does, in some cases it does even worse. The idea that it’s more “crash resistant” does not come from it’s crash resistance, it comes from the lower financial penalty of destroying it. In this case, that benefit is erased, especially since many of the big brands offer crash replacement discounts to owners who damage their stuff in non-warranty racing crashes.

While many can appreciate the craftsmanship that can come from a small operation, it’s easy to forget the engineering resources that the big brands have. This is a nice enough looking bike, but the smart racer chooses the Crockett or Crux (both of which undoubtedly ride as well or better) and spends the difference on travel, more wheels/tires, or a whole extra bike.

matt
matt
7 years ago

Strange et al – There is no question that the performances differences between cyclocross frames (and perhaps all bicycle frames) is marginal. The user climbs on & it rolls, turns, & stops with varying degrees of efficiency based on terrain. None of them put out chemical fires, return credit scores, splice atoms, or produce pottery. So comparing the underlying product in this very narrow niche (alloy cx bikes) is particularly meaningless as you and others have pointed out: it’s a cross bike so of course they all do the same thing.

So what’s the value added here? Well, it’s mainly that it is US made. So the apples to oranges comparison isn’t the product, it’s the production of said product.

Greg
Greg
7 years ago

Hey man rent is expensive around here

DRC
DRC
7 years ago
Reply to  Greg

@matt Why exactly do I care what the rent is in San Fran? Cost of living in the DC area is super expensive as well, can he give me a discount?

myke2241
myke2241
7 years ago
Reply to  Greg

If you don’t understand that point then your not going understand any.

AngryBikeWrench
7 years ago

When is the silly and totally outdated notion that aluminum has a “brutal ride” gonna die? It’s been decades since the old cliche “steel is lively but flexy, carbon smooths road vibration but can feel dead, and aluminum is stiff but harsh” was true. In the right hands, any material can feel any way the builder wants it too. Hell, the third stiffest bike *ever tested* by Velo News was a steel Speedvagen! I’ve owned a couple dozen bikes, including several nice steel frames. The most comfortable bike in my stable is still my Cannondale CAAD10 with 32 spokes front and rear.

onrhodes
7 years ago

What he said! ^^^^^^^

Robin
Robin
7 years ago

Stop making sense. How are people going to keep on believing marketing spiel and baseless bike mythology if you point out facts to them?

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
7 years ago

Yeah, you can get a good ride from aluminium but the better the ride, the worse the fatigue life. Companies bank on you not riding enough to fatigue it before it’s warranty is up. With lifetime warranties, they expect you to sell your bike before it fatigues. That’s the nature of aluminum. Steel fatigues but it just gets flex rather than fail, most of the time.

AngryBikeWrench
7 years ago
Reply to  Veganpotter

You’re not wrong, but I don’t think those concerns affect many cyclists, for exactly the reasons you laid out. Most cyclists aren’t buying lifetime bikes. People who shop used better beware and are paying nickels on the dollar anyway. There’s no arguing that the fatigue life of steel is longer than that of carbon. Thas’ just science. But if you’re the owner of an aluminum bike, is it gonna affect you? Probably not, at least under “normal” riding conditions.

FoxySteve
FoxySteve
7 years ago

This bike is like a swiss watch – a person buys it because that person wants a boutique American made bike, not because that person wants best value per performance. Bikes can be like jewelry too.

Michael
Michael
7 years ago

If you are in the market for a sharply priced CX bike then there are plenty of big box stores that can serve you, this is not the bike for you.

Jeb
Jeb
7 years ago

Paul Sadoff/Rock Lobster for a $G less.

Kernel Flickitov
Kernel Flickitov
7 years ago
Reply to  Jeb

…and Primus Mootry

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
7 years ago

The price is far too high for a non-custom geometry bike made in the US. No way are they losing money, unless nobody buys which is what should happen. $2500 is fine for a custom frameset.

Blacksmith Cycle
7 years ago

Haters…
I love Spooky, Vynl, Van Dessel, and nothing wrong with modern carbon or far-east aluminum.
But Low simply produces some of the best handmade alloy frames in the world.
Finish quality and engineering are both top notch.
I’ve ridden one…probably stiffer than most carbon bikes out there FYI.
For those who out don’t believe in the value of being made in the USA, price is a tough comparison.

Best,
Mike

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