Cyclocross Magazine - Digital Edition

Cyclocross Magazine Issue 9 - Digital Version

Cyclocross Magazine - The Digital and Print Magazine Dedicated to Cyclo-cross and Veldrijden

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Page 76 of 104

From top: No plastic glue-on head badge here; IF avoids flex with oversized tubes; Looks like ti but is lighter and stronger; Decent clearance for New England slop. The Ride After almost a year of riding the SSX on the trails, at the races and on the road, I’ve found it to be a fantastic bike. The ride was much stiffer than my titanium Planet Cross, which was a welcome feeling. I’m a bigger guy, and I had some flex riding the titanium Planet Cross, es- pecially when climbing out of the saddle. That’s not to say titanium can’t be stiff, but as built by Independent Fabrications, their titanium frame does not offer the rigidity of this SSX model. This frame is stiff, but not rough. With high pressure tires on pavement, it gives that supple feeling of being one with the road. You feel the ride, but it doesn’t knock your fillings out like some oversized aluminum frames can. I mostly noticed the increased stiffness on the smoother sections of the course. I could jump out of the saddle and hammer, feeling as if all the power I was putting into the pedals was being transferred to the rear wheel. It tracked very well throughout the ’cross course. Wher- ever I pointed, it went. The bike was equally at home on the grassy sections and the small stints of singletrack. The short chainstays were nice for climbing, and having the rear wheel tucked in a bit had a noticeable effect, improving my climbing by getting more weight over the rear. The tall head tube on this bike, measuring 18.36cm, made shouldering the bike a breeze. A true race machine, it lacked water bottle cage mounts, but these are available as custom options. The Verdict At $3,590 for frame and fork, it isn’t cheap. Many other high-end bikes cost less fully built. Because of this, the SSX isn’t for everyone. But you could get the steel Planet Cross with custom steel fork, a bike that has taken National Championships under Tim Johnson and Maureen Bruno Roy, for $1,950. The SSX’s paint job was stunning, but didn’t have the durability I expected. There are chips and cable rub that would not have existed with a powder-coated frame. After nearly a year spent getting to know this bike, I’m confident in its ability to get rac- ers as far as their bodies can physically go. The bike was stiff without being jarring—a happy medium between my experiences with titanium and aluminum. A true ’cross race machine, it accelerated, climbed and handled technical sec- tions very well. I can dive this bike into turns and off-camber situations that may have previ- ously had me second guessing myself or scrub- bing some speed for better control. This bike now feels like an extension of me. Isn’t that the point? At least at this price, it should be. ⌂ Psyched • Racers who want titanium strength with a steel feel • Steel lusters, rust haters • NAHBS fanatics • Appreciators of pedigree CYCLOCROSS MAGAZINE | ISSUE 9 Bummed • Racers on a budget • Carbon lovers The Specs: Brand: Independent Fabrication Model: SSX Size: 57.5cm effective top tube length Frame: Reynolds 953 Stainless Steel Fork: True Temper Alpha Q CX20 (no longer avail.) Frame Weight: 2.7 pounds, size 57cm MSRP: $3850 frame with Edge carbon fork, $3590 with IF steel cross fork Country of origin: USA For more info: 77

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