Seeing that I've been racing almost every weekend since the cyclocross season has started and now I'm sidelined once again by the evil Epstein Barr Virus, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to share with you my thoughts on the Orbea's newest carbon Cyclocross ride! As you can tell right of the bat, this is one gorgeous bicycle! From the colors to it's sharp lines, this is without a doubt, a serious eye turner. Not only is the frame a beautiful looking product, the engineering and construction of it is also spectacular. Created with Silver carbon, the bike is extremely light and perfectly rigid for the ultimate race blooded rider. The ATT Ergonomy System technology took all things cyclocross into consideration and gave the bike an asymmetric horizontal frame design suited for ease of carrying it on your shoulder. All cross racers know how difficult it is to properly lift your bike up and place it correctly on your shoulder while your heart rate is near 200 BPM, but with the Terra, you have no worries. The frame design makes it much more comfortable and makes running up those stairs is that much easier :)
Along with the brilliant frame shape, the designers also routed all of the external cables to the right side of the top tube for yet another ergonomic feature when shouldering the bike! Lastly, along with all of the new Orbea's, the Terra incorporates the new GORE cable housing throughout the bike. This housing is perfect for the CX racer because we all race in a variety of conditions and it allows the cables to remain smooth and debris free no matter what the weather is like. There's nothing like getting a gunked up cable and not being able to shift during a super muddy race and the GORE housing will completely prevent that from happening.
We all know that Shimano has the most reliable products on the market so I went with an Ultegra 10speed shifting setup with an 11-25T cassette. Since Shimano's CX components will not be released until 2012, I'm running an FSA SL-K crankset with 46/36T chainrings and feel as though the gearing combination is perfect. A lot of people choose to race on a single front ring set up to avoid dropping their chain but I find having the gear options is much more advantageous. I prefer to use the same Shimano XTR pedals that I use for mountain biking for reliability and ease of getting in and out of no matter what the conditions.
Until all cross bikes convert to the disc brake system, in my opinion there will never be the perfect cantilever brake. These brakes are extremely finicky to setup and never seem to work worth a damn in any other condition except when it's dry with zero dust :) Can you tell I have beef with CX brakes?!? Coming from a mountain bike background, I've been spoiled with unbelievably great working hydraulic disc brakes so it's difficult to switch to the polar opposite and I find myself forgetting how different they are when racing! However, like everyone else, I cope and have found the Avid Shorty Ultimates with Swiss Stop yellow pads to be the best working combo for both carbon and aluminum rimed wheels.
Wheel and tire setup might possibly be the most important part to a successful cyclocross race. Most competitive racers want to run the lowest tire pressure possible to maximize traction while braking and cornering. Each second you save in a corner is multiplied by the hundreds of corners on the course. The preferred setup with most racers is a stiff, lightweight carbon wheel in conjunction with a tubular tire filled with sealant. On the plus side, without the use of a tube inside the tire, you don't have to risk any pinch-flats. However, unless you have multiple sets of tubular wheels, you have to choose a suitable tire that you won't have to change throughout the season as gluing and ungluing tubular tires is NOT fun! For my personal race wheels, I've chosen to the Vittoria Cross XG Pro tire that is multi-directional (at least for the front wheel) for a choice of tread pattern. Colorado doesn't have too many mud races so it's overall the best option for my specific race terrain.
My training/pit wheel setup, however, has multiple options. The Shimano Dura-Ace C24 wheels have a tubeless ready rim (similar to mountain bike rims) so you not only have the option of easily changing the tire for various conditions, you also have the option to run the setup without a tube. Although the tubular setup allows you to get away with a slightly lower tire pressure, the tubeless setup is a great alternative and may even be a bit lighter!
All in all, I couldn't be happier with my 2011 cyclocross rig and have nothing but great things to say about how Orbea has gone about constructing this phenomenal bike. If the Luna Chix are winning World Cup and USGP races on it and I can manage a podium here and there in the Colorado series, I don't think anybody would disagree :)