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Pro Cyclocross bike hacks from Robert Marion, Jen Malik & Eric Thompson

Robert Marion pro bike check with cyclocross bike hacks for better drivetrain management
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This past weekend’s NCGP UCI race is our state’s biggest cyclocross race, and a chance for pros to pick up a few UCI points without (usually) racing against all the biggest names in the field. This year, it was also a chance to plow through 10+ inches of fresh powder for my 8:30am start on Saturday, then fight through frozen ruts on Sunday. By the time I was warmed up, the pro’s bikes were being pulled out of the trailers. Here’s what we found…

Robert Marion pro bike check with cyclocross bike hacks for better drivetrain management

Shown at top and above, Carpe Diem CX (American Classic/Xpedo) team rider Robert Marion had his bike set up for the snow pack with modified Rotor chainrings. Between the teeth, he ground down the metal to an almost blade-like point to help shed snow. He says thick snow can build up under the chain sometimes, lifting it off the teeth. That’s no bueno, so this hack gives the snow a smoother path off the ring, letting the chain sink fully onto each tooth for maximum engagement.

He and teammate Jen Malik have both drilled out the cable stops on their Raleigh cyclocross bikes to allow full length cable housing to be run. Marion says this no only meant they were able to run almost a full season without having to change things out, but that when they do, it’s very quick and easy. The electrical tape “gasket” keeps water and crud from getting into the frame.

Jen Malik pro bike check with cyclocross bike hacks for better drivetrain management Robert Marion pro bike check with cyclocross bike hacks for better drivetrain management

Having custom stickers made ups your game. Unless you’ve got a knee injury, which Robert does, and has sidelined him most of this season. At least his bike looks sick, and he’s got an insane new 4WD Dodge Diesel cab RV that I should have taken photos of.

Mspeedwax pro cyclocross racer eric thompson disc brake rotor hack

Privateer pro Eric Thompson swapped out his stock disc brake rotors for this solid surface Carver Mud Runner rotors. He says when conditions are snowy-then-muddy, these keep extra grit from cycling through the pads, which helps everything last longer and work better. Formerly in Minneapolis (he used to work for HED, where it’s very, very cold and snowy in the winter) and now living in NC, we’re guessing he knows what he’s doing. Carver’s site says the rotors are meant only for CX where heat dissipation is not an issue, so definitely not for road or mountain bikes, and that they take longer to bed in properly.

Mspeedwax pro cyclocross racer eric thompson disc brake rotor hack

Thompson was running Jagwire semi-metallic pads with them, saying they offer solid performance in all conditions.

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33 Comments
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Huffytoss
Huffytoss
5 years ago

They could at least get the flag oriented correctly on their name stickers.

SH
SH
5 years ago
Reply to  Huffytoss

am i missing something? flag looks right to me.

Ghostparty
Ghostparty
5 years ago
Reply to  Huffytoss

Genuine question – what’s incorrect about the flag orientation?

OriginalMarkV
OriginalMarkV
5 years ago
Reply to  Ghostparty

The flag is supposed to be oriented as if it were streaming off a flag pole as the vehicle moves forward, so the field of stars should have been towards the front of the bike. If mounted on the starboard/right-hand side of the bike as is the case of Malik’s bike, the field of stars should be on the right-hand since that is closer to the front of the bike. I’m not sure if that applies to all gov’t vehicles or just military, but it is a legit regulation….just not one written for competitive cycling.

Seraph
Seraph
5 years ago
Reply to  OriginalMarkV

That’s really just a military thing though. Private sector doesn’t have to follow that rule.

bob 88
bob 88
5 years ago
Reply to  OriginalMarkV

At least the flag on the other side is right.

Stoli
Stoli
5 years ago
Reply to  OriginalMarkV

For the military application it is more that the US flag does not retreat. The star field must face forward.

Tyni Tyres
Tyni Tyres
5 years ago
Reply to  OriginalMarkV

Strong tail wind.

Tom in MN
Tom in MN
5 years ago
Reply to  Huffytoss

Orientation looks ok to me but they only have 11stripes! So they can orient it any way they want as it’s not a US flag.

Ryan S.
Ryan S.
5 years ago
Reply to  Tom in MN

You’re right, they’re missing the top and bottom red stripes!

mtkupp
5 years ago
Reply to  Ryan S.

It also doesn’t have 50 stars, sheesh.

Steve
Steve
5 years ago
Reply to  Huffytoss

Literally who cares?

Rocky Balboa
Rocky Balboa
5 years ago
Reply to  Steve

‘mericans

Padrote
Padrote
5 years ago
Reply to  Huffytoss

that’s not how “at least” works.

edge
edge
5 years ago
Reply to  Huffytoss

this ain’t the military.

DP
DP
5 years ago

@Huffytoss, seriously? Is that all you got? Didn’t you notice the green chain totally clashed with the red/white/blue frame? Maybe you should call the company that does the stickers and let them know they got it wrong. sigh……

Sean
Sean
5 years ago

Whats with the 3 hole positions on that chainring?

Kingdevin
Kingdevin
5 years ago
Reply to  Sean

Rotor Oval rings use different holes for timing the oval ring.

captain derp
captain derp
5 years ago
Reply to  Sean

it’s an oval ring, my guess would be to adjust the clocking/orientation of it.

dustytires
5 years ago

It’s awesome to see these hacks and customizations on pro bikes, thanks for the fun photosTyler! Great to see solid rotors and also who makes them. Offroad moto racers been using them for years in muddy conditions. Of course full length housing is superior, mtbs been using it for years now, but, dammit Robert you couldn’t come up with an uglier seal at the chainstay if you tried. All this time off the bike
and that’s as good as you can come up with?

hey Sean, check out Rotor web site, they explain how to adjust the clocking on Q rings.

captain derp
captain derp
5 years ago

wonder how effective the drilling on the chainring is. anyone done this?

PeteM
PeteM
5 years ago
Reply to  captain derp

Almost 40 years ago…drillium.

Patrick
Patrick
5 years ago

I have had two of those (current) RXC frames and modified them for full cable housing. The little metal inserts that can be swapped out for cable stops, di2, or closed/blanks are the only things that need to be modified. All I did was open the cable stop specific one to the exact same 4mm width as the shifter housing. Taking off the plastic guide piece (especially since they aren’t running a FD) under the bottom bracket and routing the housing through another removable piece (enlarging the hole to 4mm) and out the modified insert in the back. Literally opening 3 holes that already exist took maybe 2 minutes including removing them from the frame. The mechanic that did the electrical tape nonsense is no professional or just wildly short on time and tools. Nothing can get through the holes since the cables are a snug fit, so there’s no “water and crud” getting into the frame. Popping off the frame inserts and covering everything with electrical tape is just ridiculous.

JBikes
JBikes
5 years ago
Reply to  Patrick

Its not ridiculous. They are race bikes and looks don’t matter as much as function, unless you want it to. Electrical tape is fast, easy, cheap, and effective. Likely done in addition to your stated mods, or instead in case they want to go backwards prior to them knowing how it would work. Once there, no real reason to change as its again. Plus, every time you change your cables those holes will wallow out, so you’ll have to re-do it or find another way to seal.

Bikeguy 717
Bikeguy 717
5 years ago
Reply to  Patrick

Agree with Patrick on the cable stop mod. Did the same thing with a Trek Boone and all that’s required is to open the stops up to accept the housing diameter. Works and LOOKS pro, not like some amateur hack job. Perhaps no more effective, but…

ascarlarkinyar
ascarlarkinyar
5 years ago

I am calling bullcrackers on that modified chainring. We got tons of snow here and our share of mud. Never been an issue getting on the chainring. Other parts yes. Rims, brakes, loading up on the frame. But the chainring just slices through. Doesn’t make sense.

Adlejx
Adlejx
5 years ago
Reply to  ascarlarkinyar

In heavy mud with a narrow wide single ring I’ve had the chain ride up and off the teeth due to the crud gradually building up. I actually think this might work.

Gummee!
Gummee!
5 years ago
Reply to  Adlejx

I’ve run my Shimano 1x at 2 muddy CX races and both times had issues with mud/grass building up on the rings (and everywhere else!) and making things ‘interesting.’ I may have to try that hack on one of my chainrings to see if it helps.

TheKaiser
TheKaiser
5 years ago
Reply to  ascarlarkinyar

Regarding chainring mud/snow buildup, various brands of 1x rings have a less extreme version of this ground out tooth valley included from the factory, so it’s an idea that others think has some validity. 1x rings are often quite a bit wider and flatter in this area than 2x and 3x, so if you have not experienced it on those setups, it might be due to the differing setup. Or that you haven’t run into these exact mud/snow conditions, as there are about a million types of mud and snow.

dustytires
5 years ago

Hey Askar/// are you using a thick/thin ring with good results in heavy mud? Just curious, there are so many new 1X rings on the market, and so many trying to be different with shapes etc there certainly could be some better than others. If anyone lives and rides in the mud regularly, mtb /gravel etc share some ring brands

Tomi
Tomi
5 years ago

I’ve been using plain Avid Solid Sweep rotors for 2 years in CX and I couldn’t be happier. Pads wear way slower whatever the conditions.

rac1ngsnak3
rac1ngsnak3
5 years ago

I take it they used a dremel tool to make those chamfers

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