Louisville Nationals will likely be, in part, remembered for its weather. The weekend’s racing was marked (quite literally) by mud that saw riders running much of the course after rain Thursday night turned the course into a mud pit.
Races held earlier in the week, however, saw transitional temperatures and tacky dirt that made for very different types of races than what would unfold only a few days later.
The Masters 30-34 categories, widely known as Baby Masters, kicked off championship racing on Wednesday with sunny conditions at Joe Creason Park. The course was relatively fast, with frozen mud starting to melt as the morning heated up.
Taylor Kyuk-White took the Women's Baby Masters win, and in the Men's race, Dan Chabanov proved that steel is not only real but deserves a place at the top level of the sport by taking a decisive victory in a field where a UCI license was far from rare.
Chabanov races for the Richard Sachs Cyclocross team and not surprisingly, was riding a steel team edition bike hand made by Mr. Sachs himself. For our latest Nationals bike profile, we look at Chabanov's very real, very winning Richard Sachs Cyclocross bike.
Dan Chabanov's Steel Richard Sachs Cyclocross Bike
Dan Chabanov has been racing for the Richard Sachs Cyclocross team since 2011. All members of the team ride team edition bikes hand made by the eponymous team owner. In the past, we have profiled an earlier bike of Chabanov's and BritLee Bowman's build. Also, Jonathan Page and Amy Dombroski rode Sachs' bikes early in their careers.
Sachs himself knows a thing or two about how his bikes race. He toed the start line in the Masters 65-69 race in Louisville.
For more than 45 years, Richard Sachs has made bikes one at a time using traditional methods he learned as a production builder at Witcomb Cycles in England and then refined over years of making his own bikes. The use of traditional methods is an argument that technology alone is a poor substitute for experience.
Sachs builds team bikes using traditional lugged construction with tubing and lugs he designed, giving him almost total control over his materials. Sachs uses Columbus PegoRichie steel tubing—a collaborative effort between Sachs and the late Dario Pegoretti—designed to provide tubing to builders who braze, not weld, modern bikes.
Originally known as Spirit for Lugs, the collection has grown to include the most modern ÜOS (Über OverSize) tube dimensions, with 27mm fork blades and 28.6mm steerer diameters available.
Further contributing to the landscape of modern framebuilding, Sachs developed Richie-Issimo lugs, which pull from his experience in design dating to 1981. The collection includes most of the frame fitments, accounting for the lugs, bottom bracket shell and fork crown. Additionally, Sachs’ own Piccoli-Gioielli-investment cast dropouts round out the frame and fork.
Sachs builds his own forks to accompany each frame. "Frames and forks are a unit. A whole." Sachs told Cyclocross Magazine. "If I concede to letting someone else dictate where the front wheel will be and how it's held in place, well that's the beginning of the end."
The handbuilt fork, like the frame, uses PegoRichie tubing, a Richie-Issimo fork crown and Piccoli Gioielli dropouts. It has a 385mm axle to crown measurement and 48mm of rake.
As a custom-built bike, the frame is made expressly for Chabanov’s proportions but would most commonly be referred to as a 54cm frame with its 54cm seat tube and 54.2cm top tube. While frame angles are not available, his saddle offset of 48mm with a setback seatpost suggests a steeper than usual seat tube angle. Also outside the bell curve for average ’cross geometry are the low bottom bracket height—a 7.8cm drop—and short 42.2cm chainstays.
As is typical for Richard Sachs team bikes, Chabanov’s bike included several SRAM drivetrain components. He paired a Wolf Tooth 42t direct mount chain ring with a SRAM Force 1 crankset with 172.5cm crankarms. His rear derailleur was a SRAM Force 1 model, and he used a Connex chain to complete his drivetrain.
While SRAM chain retention is quite good, Chabanov ran a chain guide, just in case.
Chabanov's throwback steel frame paired with what has become another throwback: TRP RevoX cantilever brakes.
Chabanov rolled to his National title on Cole carbon tubulars paired to Challenge Team S Limus tires for the thawing mud on that Louisville morning. Cole built his T38 Lite wheels around patented DSA2 hubs, which have a paired spoke design and rather low spoke counts of 16 front and 20 rear. The T38 Lite wheels are the cousins of the T38 CX wheels with more spokes we saw Sanne Cant run this season.
Cockpit components came courtesy of team sponsor Cinelli, which supplied Chabanov with a Dinamo handlebar and stem wrapped in team edition Cinelli bar tape as well as a Neos seatpost, in a setback variant, of course. Chabanov mounted a San Marco Aspide saddle and Crankbrothers Candy 7 pedals to round out his contact points.
Chabanov proved to be a bit of a designer himself at Nationals. With frozen mud starting to melt during the Men's Baby Masters race, Chabanov went to toe spikes he filed to be more pointy, making them a kind of cyclocross crampon.
For more on Chabanov's steel steed, see the photo gallery and specs below.
For more Nationals bikes, see our growing collection of bike profiles.