The bike we had for review was Cycles Fanatic owner Phil Roberts’ personal machine that he handed over just as the last cyclocross season was over for him. He admitted to washing the bike and that it might need some post-season tuning, and he was right.
The brakes cables, run internally with housing stops at the frame entry and exit points, were completely without lubrication and the shift cables, which use full cable housing for its runs was also a bit sticky. Braking with cantilevers always left something to be desired, but combined with poor cable maintenance made brake confidence minimal and I did not want to push the bike until I’d removed and lubed the cables. Riding and reviewing such a well-used bike is needing to tune it up is certainly not something we’re used to.
Once some maintenance was done to Roberts’ personal Cycles Fanatic CX1, I could ride and take the bike through its paces over our usual test terrain, though no thanks to the California drought, there was not a ton of mud to run thorough. Because the terrain was dry and hard, I could tell that the CX1 is quite a stiff bike, a characteristic many want for a certain degree for efficiency when pedaling and cornering hard.
This bike handled like a road bike on pavement and smooth track, but rattled my bones a bit when the surface was bumpy such as on roots, or bumpy grass or rutted packed dirt. The pedaling stiffness was nice when pushing hard through sand or up a ride-up and when climbing or sprinting. Tracking also benefited from the frame’s stiffness.
Roberts’ tubular setup certainly smoothed out the ride, and dedicated tubular racers, or high volume tubeless converts, can rely on tires and (low) pressure to sail over bumpy terrain. Powerful riders and heavier riders will appreciate the good handling and tracking of the CX1, especially in high speed corners. However, lighter racers may find the ride quality and driver control control is compromised on bumpy turns and over bumpy track.
On smooth courses, the Cycles Fanatic CX1 flies. If the corners are smooth, coming out of those corners, you can stomp on the pedals and the bike will get up and go—same if you punch it on a climb. The bike’s light weight certainly helps, and the carbon wheels are part of that equation, but the frame’s efficiency is a big factor.
The edgy handling on bumpy courses was not a deal breaker for me, and when considering that this is a race-specific bike, you learn to adjust tire choice, choose tire pressure according to the terrain, and ride the bike faster, to smooth everything out.
The CX1 meets Roberts’ goal of being a race-worthy machine that can compete with the bigger brands. It’s not hard to find an Ultegra-equipped bike for less, but for this price, you end up with some worthy carbon race wheels and a carbon cockpit, and can take some pleasure in knowing some of your dollars go back to supporting grass roots racing.
Want to custom spec a bike to your own needs? Roberts wants to make you a fanatic.
Watt monsters and clydesdales
One bike idealists
Commuters, tourers and monster crossers
Brand name show-offs
Cycles Fanatic CX1 Cyclocross Bike Specs:
Fork: Cycles Fanatic
Weight: 16.7 lbs, 11.3 lbs without wheels
Shifters/Drivetrain: Shimano Ultegra 6700 10-speed
Crankset: Truvativ Rouleur
Brakes: Avid Shorty Ultimate cantilever brakes
Cockpit: Cycles Fanatic carbon fiber handlebars and stem
Seat post: Cycles Fanatic carbon fiber seat post, two bolt
Saddle: Fizik Allante
Wheels: Cycles Fanatic tubular wheelset, 38mm deep
Tires: Vittoria XN Pro 700×32
Warranty: Two years on frame, one year on wheels
More info: cyclesfanatic.com