It’s bittersweet when a frame is toast, especially when the model has gone the way of the dodo. When you start shopping around to replace it, though, you may fall victim to paralysis by analysis.
In this case, a classic Lemond Poprad frame had finally rusted out after it served its purpose for years. The water-bottle bosses had rusted out a while back, exposing the True Temper tubing to the elements. After the initial decay and with much more riding, the lateral forces of the rider sheared the steel downtube at the points where the bottle bosses were located. Quite an impressive feat, but sad nonetheless.
With Tacoma’s gravel alleys and off-road riding opportunities, this rider had a decision to make. Did he want an entirely new bike or did he want to go with a custom build and a new-to-him frame? After much deliberation, he decided to take his box full of cyclocross parts, a spare wheelset, some PDX tires, and build up a new-to-him dreamboat of a ‘cross bike. We were both on the lookout for a new frame.
I sent a text message to him with a “For Sale” link to what I know as a high quality, Portland, OR-made, ZEN fabrications frame. These bikes were built for Van Dessel and the collaboration between the two companies created, IMHO, one of the best-handling and weight conscious ‘cross bikes on the market. Apparently my suggestion was taken to heart, and within two weeks, I had the parts and frameset in hand, ready to build.
I am a sucker for building cyclocross bikes. I truly do believe that anyone can put together a ‘cross bike. However, for those who live and breath ‘cross like myself, I dork out on every bolt, ferrule, and bearing seal to ensure that the bike can not only survive a race, but a whole season of racing.
I am very happy with the outcome of this build because this was not a “side-grade” by any means. The frame is stiffer than its predecessor, the bike tracks well in the corners, it has better cable routing, more mud clearance… the list goes on. Along the way, we made a few colorway upgrades as well to make the bike pop!
Since this build was initially completed, we have thrown on a few more red anodized bolts. It turns out brake bolts and bottle bolts are serious game changers for really making a Gucci bike.
Congrats to the owner of this rad Van Dessel. Even when you don’t get first place in your races, you’ll get best in show!
Side Note: Cyclocross Nationals will be coming to Tacoma in 2019. The ‘cross community will surely grow and more of these build will be coming through the shop. Keep checking back for more articles on these builds.