Back in 2009, we were able to take a First Look at Traitor Cycles' Crusade Cyclocross bike at Interbike. The company, headquartered out of Ferndale, Washington, proudly displayed a Columbus Maxlight steel frame and a carbon fork, with a full build that weighed in at 17.5 pounds, descent for a steel singlespeed cyclocross bike. The real surprise, however, came with the price tag, with the frames and forks going for between $600 to $800 dollars depending on options.
Five years later, we caught back up with Traitor Cycles at 2014 Interbike, and it was displaying its 2015 minty green, steel frame and fork models, which were priced between $549 and $599, with full geared builds starting at $1,399. Soon after, we were able to test out our own singlespeed model on the cyclocross course to see how this value-oriented build stood up.
The two words that best describe the Traitor Cycles Crusade are "versatile and practical." Need a rig to tackle a variety of cyclocross courses? Looking to peek your head into singlespeed cyclocross racing but don't want to buy a specific bike? Need something that will stand up to harsh-weather, salted road commutes? The Crusade has all of these features covered.
But the overall package isn't just the biggest selling point as Traitor Cycles hides some of the best features in the details. Between the 44mm head tube, the internal brake routing, the versatile dropouts and the gorgeous head badge, the frame design is made with as much care as you would expect from many hand-built bikes at a higher price-point. At races, we had a few people point these features out and tell us: "Wow, it looks hand-built!" (The Crusade technically is hand-built in Taiwan, but we knew what they meant.)
The versatile dropouts allow for tensioning a singlespeed chain as well as mounting a derailleur to the hanger, and the frame includes cable stops on the down tube just in case you want to add both front and rear derailleurs to the bike. This level of versatility could make noncommittal singlespeed cyclocrossers much more likely to buy it.
The steel fork doesn't beat you up like some of today's oversized carbon forks with tapered steerers, and the frame and fork has an overall aesthetic appeal: The steel Crusade looks retro but classy compared to those same oversized carbon frames.
Our biggest beef with the full build had to do with the FSA seatpost, which should have been swapped for a two bolts (fore/aft) design for saddle security on remounts.
Small qualms aside though, we are impressed with how far Traitor Cycles' was able to go with a frame and fork offering for $599, so much so that we have awarded the bike in Issue 28 with the Editors' Award of the Best New Affordable Bike. You could even hit the season with a few entry fees left over from a $1k budget. Need tips? Be sure to look at our cheap bike project.
Use the slider below for more images and a full spec guide to the Traitor Cycles' Crusade. More Info: traitorcycles.com. Issue 28 also has the Editors’ Awards and the Readers’ Choice awards, so be sure to order your backcopy today, which is also available on Uberflip, in the App Store on iTunes, and on Google Play for Android.