Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Trek Cronus CX Pro Gary Fisher 2013 (and Ultimate) Bike Review 

Sharing my initial thoughts here on the Trek Cronus CX Pro 2013 (Gary Fisher) bike that I recently acquired through eBay. I have been doing CX racing now for two years, initially racing my own custom build bike using a cheap Nashbar frame and carbon forks along with parts from my garage and from eBay that works surprisingly well.  The Stan's NoTubes wheels with tubeless Clement tires are an essential component, however the Cronus CX is obviously in a whole another league.

Buying from eBay is clearly dependent on your knowledge of the current bike scene and confidence in using eBay.  More reputable dealers and sellers provide lots of detailed pictures in high resolution and good lighting of the bike, plus history and trim of the bike.  And you can gauge prices from sites like the Bicycle Blue Book.  The listing for the Trek Gary Fisher Cronus CX Pro 2013 is reflective of the current market on eBay.

So now to the bike itself.  The one I have is significantly upgraded from the base CX Pro model to equivalent with the Ultimate trim.  Including the Ultegra CX70 crankset, Ultegra shifters, TRP CX9 brakes and Look carbon pedals along with the Stan's NoTubes 340 wheelset and Clement tires.  Then I also found a second set of NoTube 340's with DT Swiss hubs and tubeless Hutchinson 700x23 road race tires on eBay.  Equipped with these wheels the Trek Cronus CX Pro weighs exactly 17 lbs kerb weight ready to ride.  If you wanted sub-17lb bragging rights then swap the stock Bontrager stem with something 30 grams lighter. I am 6' 2" and the 56cm frame fits perfectly with the saddle height and angle extremely comfortable - almost embarrassingly nice - along with the reach onto the hoods and bars and cockpit overall.  Note that I put the stock Bontrager wheelset and QR levers and CX0 tires back on my old Nashbar ride.  The CX0 tires are actually very good, but the stock wheels are well, stock wheels, heavy and average, pushing the total kerb weight up to 18.7 lbs with the CX0 tires and tubes.

So the idea is with the way I have the Cronus CX Pro setup this is a "do it all" bike - cyclocross for three months of the year, some single trail off road riding in the winter months, and then swap the wheelsets and switch to a mean quick road machine for shorter summer rides and training runs.  I've tried it on my indoor training rollers too and 80rpm and 27mph on zero resistance were effortless to spin (riding is not supposed to be this easy).  Also because you can fit fenders and bottle cages, this would make an ideal commuter bike too. I have on order a 50T front chain ring also, as the stock CX70 crankset is a 46T x 36T ratio, so the 50T will give some more cruising and top speed on the road. One other thing I notice with the wide frame and clearances, this bike is super easy to wipe down and keep nicely clean from normal road use.

The most important aspect of course is how does the Cronus CX ride? This is my first Trek bike and I must say I am very impressed.  I have a stable of other bikes but equipped with the tubeless Hutchinson tires this Cronus CX rides smoother than any other, including my steel framed touring bikes.The acceleration and cornering are phenomenal, this bike flat out responds and flies.  Rock solid at speed in and through corners.  If you are into logging rides on Strava this road setup has serious KOM potential on shorter hilly and stop go sections with turns.  Plus the CX frame smooths out those rough road sections taking the jarring and bumping out. I already set one new KOM on my first ride on the Cronus where the road rattled the heck out of you on my trusty Kestrel carbon road racer but the Cronus took it in stride.  Now overall of course it is a cyclocross frame and geometry so I'm not expecting to push 50 mile and 100 mile rides, but 20 to 30 miles seems very doable.

I think Trek and Gary Fisher have this spot on.  If you drop this much on a bike you want to use it way more than just a few races in the fall during cyclocross season.  I'm planning to put some serious miles on this bike and it definitely gets you excited to get out there on the road and see what it can do and rewards with great road feel, cornering and ability to sprint and go under power and also mix it up on varied terrain.

I will provide more updates here as time progresses and I get more experience. Overall though if you are looking at the Cronus CX as a possibility then I don't have anything bad to say at this point; put the Cronus on your check list.  Here is what the BikeRadar Cronus CX Pro 2012 review had to say too, and then this review from the UK of the Cronus CX Pro 2013 model (and nice picture gallery views/details), but the most comprehensive review is here from Road.cc magazine on Cronus CX Pro 2012.


I just did my New Years 2014 ride with the local bike fraternity and get back home to find that Trek has released the new Boone CX as the top dog badass CX race machine. See the CX magazine Boone news splash.

Ah well, there is always the newer model out there; however looks like they are continuing the Cronus CX as it fills a more all-round space than the Boone, and priced and equipped accordingly. 

Further Thoughts

Spent last two days charging around throwing Cronus at local ride courses and the more I spend time on this bike, the more I'm impressed. Today I rode through our local park on rough wooden bridges and trestles - usually this is a bone and teeth jarring past time on my Kestrel carbon road bike with 120psi slick tires - but the Cronus glides over these with barely a rumble - tubeless 90psi rubber and OCLV frame and consequently averages 3 mph faster with no effort. Crazy impressive. Then a couple of tough hill sections - Cat 4 romps on Strava and I better both my best times and set one KOM.  The Cronus just invites you to throw the power down and then get out the saddle and crank and rewards that effort accordingly. But what about the raw sprint speed? Well I put on a 50T crank ring and so top speed is only a whisker under my Kestrel, but the overall speed is better as the climbing is so much improved and of course cornering and descending is rock solid. Quicker, smoother, more agile. Not bad at all for what is billed as a CX bike.

If the new Trek Boone is better than this then that has to be one heck of a ride.

For comparison of the bike specifications see this page on the Boone. Interestingly "Compared to Cronus, Boone has a lower head tube, longer top tube, steeper seat angle, lower BB, and shortened chainstays. This makes for a more forward, race-oriented riding position."  Probably means the Cronus is easier on the body when riding on road instead.  The road.cc review link above has a good assessment of the Cronus cockpit configuration and ride setup.

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