Cyclocross is the hottest potato in the cycling world right now, and it’s not without a few good starchy reasons. The courses are spectator-friendly, there’s mud/sand/grass flung at every turn and it takes a more eclectic approach to the straight-laced, shaved-legs, sponsor-dominated world of pro cycling. It’s also biggest in Belgium, which means good beer is a necessity for any stateside iteration of the spectacle.
Thanks to the rise in popularity, most major manufacturers have now adapted one of their roadies into a disc-brake version. The common consensus on the contemporary cyclocross bike is a wider fork and seatstays to allow for wider, knobby tires (traction, baby), hydraulic discs for better and more consistent stopping power, a 1x drivetrain (adios, front derailleur), and all the aggressive geometry, lightweight carbon and rigid stiffness of a performance road bike. In short, slap some discs and some knobbies on, and you can be set. But some are taking the time to consider exactly how to optimize the cross bike, not just create a hairier cousin to the roadie frame.
Frame: IMP Superlight Carbon
Fork: Addict HMX Disc
Groupset: Sram Force CX1
Wheelset: Syncros RP1.0 Carbon Disc
Tires: Continental Cyclocross Race Fold, 700x35C
Saddle: Syncros FL1.0
Test Location: Goshen, Vermont and Palisades Interstate Park
Rider Wearing: Velocio Apparel
The Scott Addict CX 10 Disc transformation to mud-slinger came as part of a three-way renditioning, and Scott has articulated the fantastic Addict road frame into three models — road, gravel and CX. Each comes with their own specialty, with the CX and gravel being relatively similar sisters. To give the real crossers a grand advantage over the competition, Scott’s engineers set to work making all the small tweaks make sense for a bike made for off-road. For starters, they dropped weight, bringing in the frame at a claimed 890 grams (the entire frameset tips the scale at 1,300 grams). This makes it, Scott claims, “by far the lightest disc-brake-optimized cyclocross bike currently on the market.” It also comes with a package of CX-friendly design bits, including chainstays designed for dropping mud (they come to a point at the top, rather than a rounded edge), a flat underside of the toptube (for easier carrying over the shoulder), internal cables with enough space to route an internal dropper post cable (if one so desires), a more vertically friendly geometry and front and rear thru axles. In all, it’s a hyper-light super-racing machine.
To test these specs out, I tossed it in the back of our BMW and drove up to Vermont, meeting with local cross legends Andrew Gardner and Adam St. Germain. Riding on the snowmelt-softened dirt roads around Goshen, Vermont, the trek was a watt-topia of slogging up ascents in granny gear fully strained and out of the saddle. It was a day where the price tag of this lightest of frames is worth all the Benjamins. The bike’s stiffness and low weight alleviated as much of the hustle as it could, leaving just the dirty work to get my own winter-weight self up the hill. It is nice to have a bike simply recede into the background and let the StairMaster-like pedaling ensue without any flex or feedback from the frame.
On descents — sometimes slippery, always pocked — the Addict also did its due diligence to absorb road reverberations. Steering came with good precision, and the stiffness of the front fork was definitely felt (and greatly appreciated). While there was no over-the-shoulder huffing and I didn’t run the CX bike against the ranks in a proper race, it did do its job to keep up with the Vermont local pros, who were more than willing to let me slip away on the 20-degree inclines. A less competent setup, and I would have ended the day collapsed among the maple trees.
The Addict CX10 is not a cheap bike, and it’s not meant to be an entry into the cyclocross market. Rather, it’s meant to set a high bar of what a cross frame can be: an exceptionally light and stiff bike with all the toughness of a steel or aluminum frame. And on a day when the mud is deep and the trails are steep, it pay dividends to drop grams, use that beefy bottom bracket and slog ahead with all the rigidity of a premium carbon steed.
The Canadian Counterpoint
The Norco Threshold SL Force CX1 not only looks fast, but rides fast, too. From snow, to mud, to dirt, to road, it handles it all. Read this story.