Phil Roberts lives his dream. A bicycle racer from early on, he thought of ways to make his passion his work, so that work would be his passion. So in forming Cycles Fanatic, Roberts sought to help out a sport that has been such a part of his life.
Roberts races local Northern California masters road, mountain and cyclocross events, though in the past couple of seasons he’s spent many of his cyclocross season weekends offering neutral support for Pilarcitos Sports Bay Area Super Prestige and SuperPro Racing Northern California CX races in the San Francisco Bay Area, yet another way he could contribute to his cycling community. He still gets to race on some of those weekends, but he also supports the Cycles Fanatic cyclocross and road teams, so ’cross season in particular are busy times for Roberts.
Roberts’ company, Cycles Fanatic, embodies his fanaticism for bicycle racing. It’s a company that is focused delivering quality, durable performance products to cyclists, not on pro sponsorships or big corporate profits. By keeping his overhead low, Cycles Fanatic can offer products for competitive prices. Roberts says he can completely kit out a team, providing frames, components and custom clothing that he sources from factories that he has partnered with around the world. For Cycles Fanatic bike frames, Roberts partners with a company in France for engineering and design, and a factory in Asia to have the frame built. According to Roberts, all frames and forks are all certified and tested by the factory to pass EN standards.
An order or inquiry for a Cycles Fanatic semi-custom bike is an email away. A custom spec form is sent back to you and once submitted, Roberts returns a quote and hopes you’ll be surprised by the relatively low cost of a complete Cycles Fanatic bike. Roberts’ goal is for the Cycles Fanatic customer to get exactly what he or she wants to fit their budget.
The Cycles Fanatic CX1 is a carbon monocoque frame with curved tubes blending one into the next. The top tube appears to wrap around the seat tube and head tube, the latter which is tapered for the fork steerer. The down tube is a large rounded triangular shape with internal cable routing for the rear shift cable which exits on the outer side of the right chain stay. The front shift cable runs internally through the rounded, flat topped top tube, but exits to an external housing stop on the seat tube to take a traditional run to a reversing pulley for a bottom pull front derailleur, a somewhat unusual path of an internally routed front mechanical cable. However, with the 2015 version, the front derailleur cable will enter the down tube, run internally and exit behind the bottom bracket. Roberts says this design change was an evolution, allowing a cleaner cable path and compatibility with electronic shifting wires.
The rear brake cable also runs through the top tube exiting to the cantilever housing stop on the wishbone rear stay arrangement. On the disc specific version, the rear brake line runs a similar path, exiting the top tube at the same location, then continues its run externally to the rear caliper mounted on the left seat stay. No reinforcing truss is used but Roberts states that the left rear seat stay was re-engineered to account for the braking force down low as opposed to up high for cantilevers. The same was done for the fork on the disc model.
Other details worth noting are the use of a tapered head tube/tapered steerer and the lack of a “mud shelf” behind the bottom bracket shell. Though Roberts’ personal frame has a threaded bottom bracket, the frame is also available with a BB30, depending on what the customer wants. He does note that the BB30 version can be converted to single speed with a BEER components eccentric bottom bracket.
Our measurements of the Cycles Fanatic CX1 revealed excellent cyclocross geometry, proven successful on many bikes we’ve ridden. Roberts’ frame is 55cm measured center-to-top along the seat tube, with a 55.5cm effective top tube length. Chainstays are 42.5cm long, pretty standard among today’s bikes, and combined with a 60.8cm front center, it yields a 102.2cm wheelbase with minimal toe overlap. The included carbon-steerer fork features a standard 4.5cm rake.
The bottom bracket drop is 6.0cm, an old European standard that may have come from the days of toe clips, but a bit high by today’s standard. The 2015 version is said to feature a lower bottom bracket, but we haven’t seen this model yet.
Double water bottle mounts are included, but there are no provisions for fenders or racks, so this is engineered and designed as a cyclocross race bike.
The somewhat old-school build was from Roberts’ bin by his admission, and included a complete Shimano Ultegra 6700 10-speed drive train component set paired with a Truvativ Roleur carbon crankset with a polished aluminum spider with 46/36 chain rings and a Truvativ GXP external bearing bottom bracket. The bike is equipped with Avid Shorty Ultimate cantilevers, set up in the narrow profile, an attractive and proven cantilever choice.
The cockpit is outfit with a Cycles Fanatic carbon wing shaped bar that is hollowed out on the underside to hide the brake and gear cables, carbon stem and carbon seat post with a 2-bolt clamp, though the front bolt is an Allen key fitting that is accessible from the top, which makes it a bit of a nuisance to fine tune the saddle angle. However, once that angle is set, you can be assured it won’t slip as some single bolt posts or two side-by-side bolt posts might.
The Cycles Fanatic tubular wheelset has 38mm deep carbon rims with 20 radial bladed front spokes and 24 X 2 on the rear. Roberts told us his personal wheelset used standard bearings, but there are ceramic bearing color and finish options should you choose to spec Cycles Fanatic carbon wheels.
The curb weight for Roberts’ personal bike is a svelte 16.7 pounds, 11. 3 pounds without the carbon tubular wheelset.
All this taken into account, Roberts says that a more typical build with a disc-brake-only frame with Shimano 6800, TRP Spyre brakes and similar carbon bars, stem, seat post, and wheelset would cost $3,950. Not bad for a carbon disc bike with that spec. Opt to skip the carbon cockpit and wheels and of course you can get the price quite a bit lower, albeit a bit heavier.
How does it ride? Continue reading the review on page 2.