One of the job perks of working at Bicycle Paper is acquiring gear and giving it a thorough testing before writing a review for the publication (and for the web). By far, my favorite product to test among the myriad of options that are sent to me, or at least presented to me (some things are best left alone, as they are often needless products and are based on the assumption that someone would actually buy them) is a new bicycle. Enter the latest steed I procured: a titanium cyclocross bike from Portland's Sage Cycles.
Designed by Dave Levy of Ti Cycles, the PDXCX is a beautiful bike; I've always been obsessed with the looks of titanium since I laid my eyes on a Moots back in the '90s. The gunmetal gray of a titanium frame may be simple looking to the casual observer, but those in the know, know. I've taken it out on some technical and root-strewn mountain bike trails, long stretches of gravel, and put it to the test during cyclocross practice with some of my teammates.
It handles like a champ and everything you'd expect from the frame material is what I've experienced so far. It's light - although it could be lighter, but I'll get to that - it absorbs the bumps and flexes minimally when cranking on the pedals, leaving little energy wasted while hammering up hills or performing intervals on the ride to and from the office.
Though Sage Cycles are designed in Portland, they're made in Taiwan. That said, this lowers the price significantly and I believe they will sell well because of it. The welds are nowhere near as meticulous as a Moots or even a Lynskey, for example, but they look good enough. And if a weld does happen to fail, Levy will repair it in his shop; Dave Rosen, the companies sales and marketing guru, promises a quick turnaround to get owners back in saddle.
About the heavy stuff: the PDXCX that I am riding has a set of Mavic Crossride wheels, which are an inexpensive line designed for mountain bikes. While not exactly lightweight 'cross wheels, they make up for it by instilling confidence while riding off-road. Speaking of these hoops, disc brakes are the cat's meow. Equipped with mechanical brakes at the moment, the PDXCX can also handle hydraulics. For the upcoming racing season, I will swap out one or both of the wheels with my own Easton mountain bike race wheels, which should reduce rolling weight dramatically. In the meantime, the Crossrides are great for training and I have a feeling I'll be much stronger for it while battling it out for 20th-something place on Sundays this fall.