What the heck is a Monster Cross Bike?

Frankenbike?

CHECK OUT THE LATEST REBUILD OF THIS BIKE – NEW SPECS.

Is it a cyclocross bike?  Is it a mountain bike?  Is it a hybrid bicycle?

No to all the above.  A monster cross bike is not something you’ll find in the showroom of your local bicycle shop.  Nor is it something you can order online.  The Monstercrosser Facebook page definition is as follows – “that sweet middle ground between a cyclocross bike and a 29’er that makes it the best all around bike one can build”.

Note the key word in that quote – BUILD.  For this type of bicycle, every part and component needs to be specified, whilst considering issues such as compatibility between components.  In essence, a complete custom bicycle.

Why build a Monster Cross Bike?

CalfeeCXV2
Calfee CX, Revision 2.

Enter, the 2013 Hilly Billy Roubaix UltraCX race.  As part of my race preparation weeks before the event, I meticulously built and tested my machine for that race, namely a custom-built Calfee Cross bike.  The frame technology may be older (but proven), but everything on the bike was state of the art at the time.  Not pictured in the image here, was the Hope V-Twin mechanical-hydraulic brake system I used at the race.  Shimano’s Di2 shifting and Reynolds tubeless carbon disc brake wheels completed the package.

This was no ordinary cyclocross bike.

If you visit my race video here, around time marker 3:54, you’ll see the issue I had with a front wheel puncture.  Incidentally, I separated my shoulder in the crash, but still finished the race!  However, there was more to my 2013 race than a crash.  In my mind, this wasn’t the optimal build for a challenging race of this nature.  The rim bed of the Reynolds wheels were too narrow, and the Michelin Jet cross tyres weren’t wide enough for me to feel safe on this course.

I needed wider everything, from rim beds to tyres.  Rather than the accepted norm of 40mm “wide” cross tyres, I needed wider options.  If I was going to insist on wider tyres, I needed a frame that could provide adequate tyre clearance.  In a nutshell, I needed a bike that helped with my own shortcomings in technical terrain, but remained lightweight, nimble and responsive, without being bogged down by heavy suspension.

 Solution

MonsterCX1
Monster CX bike front, CX bike rear.

Various manufacturers are pumping out “gravel bikes” these days, but none of them fit the bill.  Every one of these bikes fell short in one area; they didn’t have the tyre clearance I was looking for.  Forty two millimetres of tyre clearance is fine for most dirt, limerock and gravel roads.  For knarly descents with fist size chunks of rock, clearance for tyres fifty millimetres in size, or two inches if you prefer, is preferred.

My solution?

Take a titanium 29’er hardtail mountain bike frame, build it with road drop bars, and configure an aggressive position to help cheat the wind.

Click to enlarge images below.

Frame: Lynskey Ridgeline 29’er.MonsterCX2
Fork: Niner carbon 29’er, thru axle.
Headset: Chris King.
Seatpost: Lynskey Ti, 27.2mm x 400mm, zero setback.
Saddle: Fizik Arione Titanium rail.
Wheelset: American Classic Race 29’er.
Tyres: Schwalbe Furious Fred 2.0″ or Specialized Renegade 1.8″.
Handlebars: Kestrel Carbon EMS SL, 42cm.
Stem: Syntace Flatforce, 66mm.
Shifters: Shimano Ultegra Di2 3-port, climbing and sprint shifters.MonsterCX4
Derailleurs: Shimano Ultegra Di2 10 speed.
Battery: Shimano Di2 internal (seatpost).
Crankset: Shimano XTR, 172.5mm, 42 / 28 chainrings.
Bottom Bracket: Hawk Racing, Stainless Bearings.
Pedals: Shimano XTR.
Cassette: SRAM PG1070, 11-32.
Brakes: TRP Spyre Mechanical.
Brake Rotors: TRP Spyre 160mm front, Hope floating 160mm rear.
MonsterCX5Additional Brake Levers: TRP Carbon Cross Top.
Bottle Cages: King Cage Titanium
Titanium bolts just about everywhere.

CHECK OUT THE 2015 REBUILD OF THIS BIKE – NEW SPECS.

What is the optimal setup for racing Ultra CX, gravel grinders and dirt roads?  I believe there is no optimal setup for every course, but two bikes; a purpose built Cyclocross bike AND a Monster cross bike, would be the perfect tools.

CXFight
Aaagh, somebody stop him!

In reality, there is no winning formula for a machine designed for gravel racing. Rider ability, and the machine they are comfortable on is what counts.  This genre of racing features all sorts of machines. Cyclocross bikes, monster cross bikes, frankenbikes, mountain bikes, single speeders, etc.

Check out the Gravel Cyclist Calendar.  Stay informed about the gravel rides and races that are springing up everywhere.

Remember, CX bikes can be utilized for more than three months out of the year! 🙂

And, don’t forget to LIKE the Gravel Cyclist Facebook Page!

13 comments on “What the heck is a Monster Cross Bike?

  1. Did you size down on the niner? I ride a 62 on my Gunnar Crosshairs gravel bike right now and it seems like the Ridgeline large is equivalent on stack and reach. My FS is an XL (and a big one, Ventana) and my Lynskey Cooper is an XL

    1. Dave, I’m running a size medium Lynskey M290 frame. That would ordinarily be my size if I assembled the bike as an MTB. However, because I’m using drop bars, and *trying* to replicate my road position, I had to use a Syntace Flat Force stem, at 66mm in length, to get close in terms of drop and top tube length. My handlebar configuration isn’t pretty. On the road, I usually ride a 54 – 55cm top tube.

      The seat tube is pretty short on the Lynskey, meaning I have a good amount of the 400mm seatpost showing.

      1. That was me above, too. Thanks for the answers here. I bent my forks on that last downhill at southern CX, so going with a custom build on the new frame

  2. So funny, at Southern Cross I was checking out this cool monster build with a Lynskey frame and was thinking “Just like Gravel Cyclist…” Should have said hello. This thing is sweet in person.

  3. I like the idea very much, I been toying with thoughts of either building a carbon 29er with furious Fred’s or trying to find a cross frame to be able to run the furious Fred tyres. Was thinking the latter would be better because it’s slightly lighter in terms of overall weight, would be at least 400g lighter.

    I got an old specialized fact carbon v brake fork that can run the furious Fred no problems but need to find the right modern day equivalent to run disc brakes.

    Nice to see your webpage by the way! I found it by Google image searching for cyclocross bike with furious fred

  4. I currently have an On One Lurcher rigid 29er. I am running 1 x 10 Shimano XT gearing. I like the idea of turning it into a monster cross bike.
    I have a couple of questions. I know that shimano road levers work with their mtb groupsets but STI levers are 2x 10/11 not 1x. I guess the left lever can be used without connecting thee gear lever. Can SRAM levers be used?
    Also my brakes are Deore discs. Is there any device that can convert mechanical levers to operate hydraulic calipers? I ask as STI hydraulic levers are very expensive.

    1. Hi Kevin,

      If you’re going to mix and match drivetrains, you need to look at this device by Jtek Engineering – https://jtekengineering.com/

      The only device I know of that can operate the calipers would be this – https://www.hopetech.com/product/v-twin-brake/ – however, they generally spec that gadget with their own brakes and I have no clue if it would work with Shimano. Alternatively, there is the TRP HYRD and Yokozuna Motoko – https://www.bikerumor.com/2016/11/15/yokozuna-drops-into-components-with-new-motoko-mechanicalhydraulic-disc-brake-caliper/ (we have one of these for review). However, these systems come with their own brakes – their reservoir systems reside at the caliper itself.

      Good luck!

  5. Hi Jayson,
    Another monster cross question.
    I am looking to build up a similar bike to this one and have been looking at the frame specs. Lynskey says their geometry is based on a 510mm axle to crown fork length but I see that the Niner fork you are using has 480mm axle to crown length. Didn’t lowering the front end of that frame 3cm completely change the geometry(change the seat angle to around 76 degrees)? I am surprised that you are able to use a 0 setback seatpost after making that change.
    Can you give me any info on what saddle setback you were able to get with your setup?

    1. Andy,

      I would have to bust out a plumb bob to tell you of the saddle setback, etc. In a nutshell, I based my setup on that bike as close as I possibly could to my road setup. The top tube on the MTB frame is so much longer, thus I had to resort to a very short stem, and a zero setback seatpost. It took me a while to dial it in – I am lucky in that I can generally get away with looking at the top tube length of a bike, and in most instances, run a 110mm stem. Obviously I had to make some concessions with this bike. I did call upon the help of my good friend, Dr. Pain – a plumb bob and a few other measurements were taken to get it close.

      It is likely this bike is going to be retired soon – I am working on a new project bike which will probably end up replacing it – that will be featured on the site at the appropriate time.

  6. Hey! You hit the nail with this crossover bike! You inspired me so much, I decided to rebuild my three old C-dale mtb bikes into monsterbikes!
    One question, though. How’s compatibility of drop bars shifters (road groups) with mtb standard front mechs? I just can’t get hold of a modern road group front derailleur with a frame clamp mounting (not to mention matching a proper seat pipe diameter). All the front mechs available are braze-on, while older frames do not have them.
    I just saw a brand new Breezer Radar with Tiagra drop down shifters and Alivio front mech. That is factory specs! How come?
    P.S: Greetings from Norway!

    1. Hey Zibi,

      I used Di2 with every variation of this bike, which has been perfect with MTB cranks. If you’re using a 2x setup on an MTB crank, you should be fine using a road mechanical front derailleur. Don’t forget, you can use a braze-on clamp which allows you to use a braze-on derailleur.

      With the Breezer, my guess is they’re trying something different for the Adventure bike market?

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