The Evaluation Process
Each bike will go through an 8-point evaluation process that assesses assembly, weight, frameset, components, and test rides that include road, off-road, trainer, and race courses.
Assembly & Weight
When we get a bike in for evaluation, the first thing we do is assemble and weigh it. We will tell you our initial impression of the bike along with how easy it was to put it together.
Frameset & Components
The next step is evaluating the frameset. This includes geometry, welds, tubing selection, fork construction and paint. Laid back or aggressive geometry is also assessed at this point.
From there, we look at the component package of the bike. This is broken out into three areas: the drive train, cockpit and wheels. We will evaluate the tires separately, as tires are very important in cyclocross.
Road Test Ride
After attaching pedals, we saddle up and take the bike out. This just happens to be the best part of this job. Unlike many review sites that ride the bike once and publish the review, our evaluation process is thorough, as we test the bikes in 4 separate arenas. First we will take it out and evaluate how it rides on the road, assessing how well the bike handles, climbs, corners and feels. After all, there is pavement in a cyclocross race.
Dirt Test Ride
Following the road test, we take the bike and put it through it's off-road paces. No holding back here as we ride it on the trails, single track, parks and grassy fields. For this portion of the testing, we attempt to put it through everything that you would find in a typical cyclocross race.
Trainer Test Ride
The trainer test comes next, where test bikes endure plenty of mashing on the indoor trainers. We hate this test because that means that we are on the trainer and not out in the mud. But as all cycloross racers know, a ton of training is done on the trainer during cross season. It's important to know what to expect from a bike on a trainer and if it is as stiff as the manufacturers say it is.
Race Test Ride
So after all that, then what? We race it! We take the bike out to the local race and actually race it. No race simulations here! Totally stock! What ?! Yep! Exactly the way we pulled it out of the box. If it has crappy tires, we won't change them out. If the brakes stink, we'll leave them be. We will race the bike straight out of the box, and you will find out first hand how bad or good the stuff really is!
The Final Say
We will tell you what we liked and didn't like about the bike along with any upgrades we would recommend. Bikes will also be compared on price point. Then we will give the final say, including overall thoughts on the bike and it's rating. Our goal is that it will give you enough information to decide if it's the right bike for you.