Too Good For Me (But I’m Gonna Ride It Anyway)

11.5.2015 | 7:13 am

Right now I’m traveling with my twins to Michigan to ride the 100 Miles of Nowhere and talk at the Camp Kesem Leadership Summit. I’m     excited.

Back in Provo, UT, however, there’s something I desperately wish I could see in person. Racer at Racer’s Cycle Service has been working on something kinda special for me: a new bike.

Yes, a new bike. My first cyclocross bike.

A Felt F FRDX frame, with ENVE M50 Fifty wheels, seatpost, bar, stem and computer mount, and SRAM Force 1 drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes

[Full Disclosure: SRAM and ENVE both provided products for this bike build]

It’s kinda killing me to not have been there for the build, but Racer’s been nice enough to have been sending me photos as he built it up.

Spoiler alert: it’s gorgeous beyond words. Which is why I’m going to show you a bunch of pictures, concluding with the actual finished bike.

When you see it, you will conclude — as I have — that this is a perfect bike, and is in fact way too nice for the likes of me (i.e., someone who has not up to this point ever owned a CX bike at all) to be riding. I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually been too good for a bike I’ve owned. Which is to say, every bike I’ve ever owned is capable of doing things I am completely incapable of.

Really, as a fairly pedestrian rider, I should be riding boring bikes.

But I don’t want to. I love beautiful, light bikes with amazing engineering. I don’t care if I never drive or own a Ferrari; I love that I often get to ride the bike equivalent, and can — by virtue of being pretty darned thrifty otherwise (my car is nine years old) —afford to ride bikes that are just mind-bendingly wonderful.

That said, this bike has taken this conceit to a completely new level.

Specifically, while I have never raced cyclocross (OK, once or twice more than a decade ago) and am terrified to even try it, I am now the owner of what I am pretty sure is the nicest cyclocross bike a person could own.

How will I use such a bike? Well, what a fine question. I’m glad you asked. Here are the uses I currently hope to put this super-dream bike to:

  • CX Racing: This is the obvious one, but also the one I’m most afraid of. Which is to say, I am afraid that I’m gonna get hurt, due to the fact that of all the humans on this earth, I am the least flexible of all of us. I don’t even know the names of the tendons and ligaments I’m going to put in danger when trying to do a running re-mount of a bike, but I’m sure I’ll learn, once I’m in the emergency room.
  • Crusher in the Tushar: I love this race (and promise I will finish my writeup of the 2015 version soon). So far, every year I’ve raced it has been on a mountain bike, and every year I’ve watched people just blow by me. For 2016, I hope to set a new PR on what I lovingly refer to as “Fred X.”
  • Cedar City Fire Road 100K: The Hammer and I raced this  Leadville 100 qualifier last year, and I expect we’re gonna race it again in 2016, primarily with the objective of me acting as a domestique for The Hammer (and Lindsey and Ben if they want to join the train). I will be working to get her (or them) into a Silver Corral upgrade. I think it’s entirely do-able, and will be an important part of helping The Hammer get a solo sub-9 at Leadville.
  • Local Riding: There are a lot of dirt roads in the mountains close to where I live, and they look like they could make for some extraordinary riding. To date I don’t really know them that well. For 2016, I think that ought to change.
  • A Gravel Grinder? I’ve never ridden a gravel grinder race like the DK200, but let’s face it: there’s a pretty good chance that this may be the most perfectly-suited kind of racing there is for a guy like me. Big miles, not highly-technical. Sounds like me all right. The only reason I haven’t signed up for the DK200 is that it coincides with the Rockwell Relay…and you all know how I feel about Rockwell. 
  • Road Riding: My beloved Tarmac S-Works SL4 is hardly a four-season bike. Fred X should be good for taking out onto the Winter and Spring roads.

Now, with all that said, allow me to invite you on a little show and tell of the Fred X bike build.

First, The Frame

Behold the Felt F FRDX.

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This happens to be one of the lightest carbon CX frames you can buy (and it’s available only as a frame, which is exactly what I wanted), but that’s not the reason I bought it (OK, it might be part of the reason). I own a Felt 9 FRD, built using the same Felt “Textreme” carbon layup tech, and I just love the way that frame feels. Oh, and I dig the checkerboard appearance:

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Anywhere I can put ENVE on a bike, I do. It’s just that good. Yes, it’s incredibly light, but that’s not the reason why (OK, it might be part of the reason). It’s just full-on bombproof, looks amazing, and feels perfect.

Here’s an interesting little factoid: I have ENVE wheels on six bikes right now (four of which are actually mine). Two of the wheelsets have been on those bikes (the Tarmac and my Stumpy Singlespeed) for three full seasons of riding. 

None of the ENVE wheels have ever gone out of true. Ever. At all. Even once. None of the rims have ever had any problems whatsoever, in fact. And I’m not the kind of rider who has one set of wheels for training and another for racing. I use the same ENVE wheels all the time. They just stay strong, true, dependable, and beautiful.

As far as I’m concerned, ENVE makes the best, most beautiful, most reliable wheels in the world. Yep, I’m going with all those superlatives.

So. Check out the wheelset I have for Fred X:

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These are M50 Fifties. They’re the same wheels I have on my Felt 9 FRD and the Cannondale F-Si. So yeah, I guess you could say I’m a fan of these wheels. 

Why these instead of a tubular wheel? Because I’m a big fan of tubeless, and tubulars are impractical for rides like the Crusher…where I’ve seen more than one person out of the race because their tubulars weren’t up to the terrain challenge. 

And don’t worry…I think you’ll see that these wheels didn’t exactly make the bike excessively heavy or anything. More on that later.

I did do one thing kind of new on this wheelset, though. I asked Felt to give me the Pantone colors for the red and blue accents on the frame, and then gave that info to ENVE, which created a custom version of the ENVE decals to beautifully match the frame:

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And they didn’t do it just because I’m a much-beloved, award-winning blogger, either. It turns out this is an upgrade ($100) ENVE has available for anyone who wants their already-gorgeous wheels to match their frames to a whole new degree.


Fred X isn’t just rolling with ENVE wheels, though. Here’s the stem (100mm, JFYI):

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And then the bars (I went with 44cm, which is wider than I’d go for a road bike, for extra row-ability). And I even added the ENVE computer mount, just to maximize the ENVE-ness of this incredibike.

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And from another angle, just because I have it:

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And it goes well with Chipotle burritos:

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Use the Force

With the new Star Wars movie coming out soon, there’s no way I’m the only one talking about SRAM’s Force 1drivetrain in terms of Jedi-ness, is there? 

No matter. The fact is, SRAM’s 1X drivetrains are just killing it. 

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A lot of people have asked me why I haven’t been riding single speeds lately. SRAM 1X drivetrains are why. They have a quiet, direct feel that is similar to singlespeeds…but you can shift. Reliably, beautifully, every time.

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Ooohhhh…it’s all starting to come together:

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And you’d be able to see exactly how much of a believer I am in 1x shifting if you went into my garage, where there are currently no fewer than six mountain bikes with SRAM 1x shifting. 

Going with SRAM Force 1 for Fred X was an easy choice.

How’s It Look?

By the time it all came together, this is what Fred X looks like: 

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Oh my. I believe that Fred X is the most beautiful bike I have ever owned.

And here’s how much it weighs:

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It’ll be closer to 17lbs by the time I add pedals. 

And How Does It Ride?

Here’s the thing: I haven’t ridden this bike. It’s all finished and ready to go…and I’m flying to Michigan.

I feel this problem acutely

You can bet I’ll be taking this bike out really soon. Too-good-for-me-ness notwithstanding.


  1. Comment by Andy@WDW | 11.5.2015 | 1:31 pm

    Great. Now I have to wipe drool off of my phone.

  2. Comment by Bart the Clydesdale | 11.5.2015 | 1:38 pm

    Sweet looking bike! I am sure you will enjoy cyclocross, it is hard, exhausting, and addictive. One hint search youtube – cyclocross Joey, and always remember to pick up your bike high enough when going over the barriers.

    Enjoy your time in the great state of Michigan, it is a great place to be.

  3. Comment by Anonymouse | 11.5.2015 | 2:34 pm

    Gorgeous. But you missed a chance with the bar tape — one side red, one side blue. Just a little extra splash of color!

  4. Comment by wharton_crew | 11.5.2015 | 2:47 pm

    Beautiful bike, Fatty. But with Utah winter coming soon (FYI, light snow fell today for a bit), are you ever going to own a true fat bike? Shouldn’t this be your winter riding choice?

  5. Comment by Corrine | 11.5.2015 | 3:17 pm

    OMG. 17 lb bike! Beautiful. Been thinking of a cross bike myself and seeing this makes me want to get one NOW.
    BTW, Fatty, I sent you my 100 MoN video report that I think you should post Friday (save you some work) and will get people excited about their rides. Good luck all FoF’s with your 100 MoN rides this weekend. I’ll be thinking of you out their and can’t wait to read all the “race” reports.

  6. Comment by Paula | 11.5.2015 | 3:22 pm

    Now you need to come and race cross with us in Oregon! this is from a race a few years ago

  7. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 11.5.2015 | 3:53 pm

    I have coveted bikes before. As a relatively new serious rider (2007), the names are all recent. Venge. Seven. Various Cannondales for CX.

    I don’t think I’ve EVER coveted a bike this much. Well done, Fatty!

    BTW, Fatty, I think that flexibility and CX are overrated. Sure, there are those (not Joey) who gracefully dismount, glide, and remount. There are others, myself included, who do so quickly enough, but absent grace.

    Wherever you fit in the spectrum, I have no doubt that you’ll stay upright and out of the hospital. And your MTB skills and climbing/general power will serve you well.

    I see you quickly progressing to Cat 3.

  8. Comment by Bryant Likes | 11.5.2015 | 4:29 pm

    11-36 cassette and a 48 in the front? Looks like a fun bike!

  9. Comment by GT | 11.5.2015 | 4:56 pm

    Looks good Fatty.

    Colour suggestions – needs a bit of red/blue on the shifter paddles, crank and seat so as to tie it all together matchy matchy like.

  10. Comment by SK | 11.5.2015 | 6:25 pm

    Did that whole “riding a Specialized Tricross at the Crusher in 2012″ thing just not happen?

  11. Comment by Chris | 11.5.2015 | 6:57 pm

    Nice bike. Go for a 40 or 42 chainring. And you’re gonna miss the seattube-flex of the Trek Boone soon enough. Have fun!

  12. Comment by Kate | 11.5.2015 | 7:32 pm

    DK is awesome, no question. I don’t know about closer to you, but there are two other similar distance gravel races I can think about, both in Iowa. 24 Hours of Cumming (start/finish in Cumming, IA) is 400K in early August, and the Spotted Horse gravel grinder (new in 2016) will be 200ish miles and on October 29.

  13. Comment by MattC | 11.5.2015 | 9:57 pm

    Wow….I’m still saving to replace my ancient Blur w/ a new MTB. Hopefully next year it will happen. So that makes HOW MANY BIKES (of just yours) in your garage? ENVY…or is that ENVE? Yep….it’s both.

  14. Comment by Jimmer | 11.5.2015 | 10:54 pm

    Considered a chain minder?

  15. Comment by Shugg McGraw | 11.6.2015 | 5:04 am

    I’ve got ENVE envy. I’m trying to feel pleased for you that you get this stuff for free. Really I am.
    Is cyclocross your cunning winter weight loss strategy?

  16. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 11.6.2015 | 7:37 am

    FWIW, since the beginning of the season, I’ve been riding a non-stock Shimano 1×11 setup on my Focus CX bike. 38 in the front, 11-32 in the back. No chain minder, and haven’t had a chain drop yet (knock on wood). Oh, the rear derailleur IS stock, and it’s not clutched.

  17. Comment by Jimbo/Rumpled | 11.6.2015 | 11:35 am

    SK mighta beat me too it – but I thought you’d mentioned a few times that you did have a CX bike.
    Oh well, you definitely have one now.

  18. Comment by Glen | 11.6.2015 | 11:43 am

    When I was in the SAG wagon catching a ride to the mechanic at the next aid station during Levi’s GranFondo because of a broken spoke, the other four guys enjoying the scenery with me all had ENVE wheels that had failed on a steep descent (warped, delaminated, etc.) from the heat of braking. The mechanic trued up my (~$200) aluminum wheel, and I went on to finish the race (minus one spoke); the guys with the (~$3,000) ENVE wheels were out of luck and had to wait for a bus back to the finish. What had been a growing ENVE envy for me has now deflated considerably.

  19. Comment by NDE | 11.6.2015 | 5:53 pm

    @Glen – his is a disc brake wheelset so heat damage to the carbon is not a concern.

  20. Comment by Arizona Guy | 11.11.2015 | 11:53 am

    Beauty FatMan –

    I got my first CX bike last year and I hack my way around a few cross races every year – but the real pleasure I find is taking it out on random rides through the winter. Climb up the slushy, icy roads you would never tackle on slick road tires? no sweat. Detour down the dirt road to avoid the road spray? Of course! More traction than a road bike, less mud-boggy than a MTB – they are a great addition to the quiver. For maximum value – get a set of insulated winter cycling shoes to keep the dogs warm and dry.


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