Interim Dream Bike

10.24.2016 | 8:18 am

About a dozen days ago, I posted a little survey, asking you to tell me about your dream bike. (The survey is still open, by the way.) I wasn’t posting this survey idly; I’m really genuinely curious how other people think about dream bikes, because — much to The Hammer’s dismay — I have begun thinking a lot about my next dream bike.

So here’s the question: why don’t I have this bike that I want so bad? Well, when I asked this question in the survey, the most common replies to this question were that you can’t afford it (41%), or that you’re saving money for it (18%), or that someone is forbidding you from getting it (14%). 


Well, the truth is, two out of the three of those most common responses apply to me and why I don’t have the bike I’m dreaming of: I can’t afford it right now, and I am squirreling money away for it. (The Hammer never forbids me from getting new bikes; she knows me too well to do that.) 

But that little purple slice of the pie chart (7.5%) is the biggest and most important reason I don’t have this new dream bike: I have something really specific in mind, and it doesn’t quite exist yet. 

See, I want the new Felt FR road bike. So far, so good…except I want to build it up with the wheels and components I choose; I don’t want a stock machine (26.2% of you also want to start with a frame and customize the wheels and components for your dream bike, by the way).

Oh, and I want to build my bike from the FR FRD Frame Kit:


Which is fine. That exists. But I also want to build this dream bike with disc brakes so I can put an ENVE SES 5.6 Road Disc wheelset on. 

And that — The Felt FR FRD Frame Kit for disc brakes — doesn’t exist.


But — and I’m just speculating here, but I’m a pretty good speculator — I have a difficult time imagining that this frameset will continue to not exist. By this time next year, in fact, I’ll bet there’s a Felt FR FRD Disc-Specific frame kit.

By then, maybe I’ll have the money on hand to buy this frame and build it the way I want it.

And if it doesn’t exist, well, there’s a fair chance that by then my attention will have turned more toward something like the Cervelo C5, built up with a SRAM eTap drivetrain and disc brakes, along with an ENVE SES 4.5 AR Disc wheelset.

The nice thing about a dream bike, after all, is it gets to be whatever you want it to be and can change with your whims.

And I am nothing if not whimsical.

Meanwhile, In Real Life

“But why,” I hear you musing aloud, “do you want a new road bike at all?”

It’s a fair question. My Tarmac SL4 is an incredible bike. I’ve loved it for the past three-plus years and have no plans to get rid of it.

But in the past few months, there are a couple things I’ve started really wanting my next road bike to have:

  • Disc brakes: I’ve ridden with disc brakes on dirt for…I am not even sure how long now. Ten years? They’re just better, and that includes on the road. Every single knowledgeable person I’ve talked with who has ridden with disc brakes on their road bikes agrees they are way better. 
  • Clearance for wider tires: This CyclingTips podcast I did with James Huang convinced me: wider, lower-pressure tires will make a bigger difference in ride quality than pretty much anything else.

26mm tires is about as wide as I’m going to be able to go on my Tarmac (which I’ve done), and of course disc brakes aren’t going to happen. 

However, I do happen to have a really nice, lightweight CX bike: my Felt F FRDX, built up with ENVE M50 Fifty wheels and a SRAM Force 1 drivetrain and disc brakes

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Who could say it isn’t beautiful?

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The thing is, this bike is already road-bike light:

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And it’s obviously got clearance for as wide of tires as I care to put on. So I went with Compass Cycles 38mm Barlow Pass tires


Yep, 38mm road tires. Look how wide:

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I’m inflating these to 60psi in the front, 65psi in the back. Between this width and this pressure, there is no chipseal in the county (and there’s a lot of chipseal in Utah County) that doesn’t get magically transmogrified into the smoothest tarmac in the world.

In short, my current road bike is a…CX bike.

With mountain bike wheels.

And big ol’ balloon road tires.

Weird, I know. But it ticks all the boxes that matter to me and I’m excited at how great this bike rides on the road.

Big Test This Weekend

So far, I haven’t taken this bike on any really long road rides. That changes this weekend, when The Hammer and I do our 100 Miles of Nowhere ride (we have to do ours early this year because I — like a lot of you — have other stuff going on on the official race day).

This year, we’ve picked a route I’ve wanted to do for a long time: 100 Miles of Cascade Springs (I’ve talked about this road before). Here’s what this scenic mountain out-and-back climb looks like, profile-wise:

Screenshot 2016 10 24 05 16 10 

That’ll be just under seven miles (and around 2000 feet of climbing).

And then there’s the return trip back to Cascade Springs Park:

Screenshot 2016 10 24 05 18 23

That’s a much easier (just under) seven miles (although it still has around 300 feet of climbing). 

So about seven of these fourteen-mile out-and-backs, with each iteration taking about an hour and a half, on average, I’m guessing. That’ll be a 16,000 foot day of climbing, and will take tennish hours.

Since sunrise will be at 7:50am and sunset will be at 6:33 pm, we should have enough time to do this ride in the daylight.

Barely. As long as we don’t need to eat or rest or otherwise take breaks.

Anyway, I’m going to be doing this ride on my disc-braked, fat-tired, low-pressured, 1×11-geared CX bike.

You know, my dream bike. For the interim.

PS: If you would like to join us for the 100 Miles of Nowhere, we’ll be starting at the Cascade Springs parking lot this Saturday at 7:50 am (unless the weather forecast shifts, in which case I’ll post the new day/time on my blog).


  1. Comment by ColoradoXJ13 | 10.24.2016 | 8:33 am

    So what is the light blue piece (17.6%)?

    Great question: that’s the “other” responses. – FC

  2. Comment by BostonCarlos | 10.24.2016 | 8:42 am

    My Seven Evergreen is this bike for me. Clearance for whatever tires I want to run, low bb, Ti compliance and weight, etc… I love that bike.

  3. Comment by Madcityspecv | 10.24.2016 | 9:05 am

    Your CX/road ride is very close to my dream bike. after years of riding a cantilever aluminum cross bike as a road machine, I’ve decided i want to go bigger and badder with a setup that’s more akin to a touring bike with 650b wheels and 650×42 tires to soak up everything. it would also allow me to travel some gravel, and would be an excellent commuter bike.i already have a Fatbike for summer singletrack/winter snow play, so this would be a do-it-all bike. since i’m not a competitive cyclist, i don’t need the lightest or fastest, i need the bike that lets me do the things i love outside, and looks good doing it! 26343978912_06bf05a4b5_b.jpg

    I’m pretty sure I have never ever EVER seen fenders look so good on a bike. That is a gorgeous machine you have there. – FC

  4. Comment by rb | 10.24.2016 | 9:15 am

    This is so much fun.

    I have come to the conclusion my dream bike is a travel bike. C&C couplers needed and a “custom” case so I can be riding in “10″ minutes with a minimal number of tools.

    Therefore it will be steel or Ti (dream or attainable dream??), disc brakes, and an internally geared hub I think.

  5. Comment by Paul | 10.24.2016 | 9:27 am

    Can we change our earlier responses? You just reminded me that my dream bike exists, in your garage. It is literally any bike in your garage.

    Thinking about dropping off a “carbon fiber recycling” bin at your place and seeing what shows up in it!

  6. Comment by Tom in Albany | 10.24.2016 | 10:08 am

    Paul wins, today!

  7. Comment by Rick Harden | 10.24.2016 | 12:22 pm

    I ride the same tires on my gravel bike. I’m quite a bit heavier than you at around 225. I have run those tires as low as 40 in the back and 37 in the front. I bet you can go lower in pressure without losing any speed. The comfort, and speed, at the lower pressures is impressive.

  8. Comment by Arizona Guy | 10.24.2016 | 12:38 pm

    I’m glad to hear you are doing a longer MoN loop… I was considering a similar stretch in a canyon near Boulder. I think it will be cool to see how the vibe changes from morning ’til afternoon.

  9. Comment by Cameron Murphy | 10.24.2016 | 12:50 pm

    Mr. Fatty – In all seriousness, how would your “dream” bike better your current CX bike? Lower bottom bracket? Different geometry? (I currently ride mostly 70’s vintage race and touring bikes, so I’m not very well versed in the latest in Fred technology.) I do applaud your choice in tires. I’ve got a few bikes running 35mm Vittoria Voyager Hypers (Poor cousins to your Compass Tires.) I’ve sold off anything that won’t fit at least 32mm tires now.

  10. Comment by Don | 10.24.2016 | 3:21 pm

    Fatty, For the last 4 years I’ve been riding a carbon CX bike for everything. It’s not as light as your FRDX but it has been a solid work horse. I’ve put 15k miles on this bike running 700×28 on the highway and 700×35 on gravel.

  11. Comment by UpTheGrade, SR, CA | 10.24.2016 | 3:23 pm

    Fatty, if you put a compact chainring and electronic shifters on your CX bike, it seems it would fit your dream-bike criteria.
    I’m coming to the conclusion that what the ‘touring’ crowd figured out long ago, namely a multi-geared, disc-braked, fat-tired bike that can go anywhere, is the perfect bike. Does that mean I’m getting wise or just old?

  12. Comment by NDE | 10.24.2016 | 3:50 pm

    1st – are you running that tubeless?

    2nd – Our bikes are very close except my frame is the F1X Team and wheels are HED Belgium + because the rims are currently out of reach for me. I put a 50t chainring because I ride 70% on road and jump onto trails whenever it seems fun. As soon as I can get a 48t direct mount ring I’ll probably do that for when I’m loaded down more.

  13. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 10.24.2016 | 3:58 pm

    How is your FRDX geared? I spin out on my 38f/11-32r, but in process of swapping to 40 or 42 in front and 11-36 in rear.

  14. Comment by Dylan | 10.24.2016 | 4:52 pm

    I just recently purchased a Cannondale Synapse with hydraulic disc brakes and 28mm tires. I’m totally converted.

  15. Comment by Justin | 10.24.2016 | 6:01 pm

    Pretty much how I am feeling, I want a CX bike on steroids and ordered a salsa cutthroat so I can pretend to race the tour divide on my weekends.

  16. Comment by jh | 10.24.2016 | 11:20 pm

    LOVE that felt. Not a bad interim dream bike! Hopefully your road disc version will have “normal” length chain stays!

  17. Comment by New Zealand Ev | 10.25.2016 | 8:05 am

    My current road bike is a Focus CX Mares with 32mm tires and disc brakes. I got in Dec and now use it for everything commuting long weekend rides. Here in NZ we have lots of chip seal roads in fact the majority of roads are all chip seal so having this helps dampen the effect a lot. Just love it!!

  18. Comment by Jon | 10.25.2016 | 2:21 pm

    Nice felt! I still have a slight CX itch which I do not think will ever get released. The wallet, on the other hand, is still crying from other mods and projects which makes the CX bike still a dream to me.

  19. Comment by Daniel | 10.25.2016 | 2:59 pm


    My Trek Boone 9 Disc CX has become my main road bike — it is still a better road bike than I am a rider with plenty of tire clearance (Panaracer Gravelking) brakes that don’t quit and the most comfortable ride one could hope for while still keeping up with the group. My fixed gear bike is now the cyclocross machine.

  20. Comment by Bo | 10.26.2016 | 7:44 am

    “I’m saving up for my dream bike, look at this picture of my $8k cyclocross build that comes close to my dream bike” -out of touch Fatty

    So true. – FC

  21. Comment by Pari | 10.26.2016 | 10:52 am

    Please, please report how your bike with baloon tires rides on long ride. Your podcast about wider rims and tires was true revolution for my thinking about that topic…

  22. Comment by wharton_crew | 10.26.2016 | 12:12 pm

    the bike that I truly loved comes courtesy of the Netherlands


    It may weigh 50 pounds, but that thing offers a smooth ride and will never never never break. Bonus: it comes with a light and dynamo for continuous (albeit dim) light with no batteries!

    Anyone agree?

    I think it’s beautiful. – FC

  23. Comment by Thad | 10.27.2016 | 7:53 am

    I went disc last year at this time. (Giant Defy Advanced Pro2(Giant sucks at catchy names)) These new fangled bikes are so smooth, I’ve had the riders that were behind me ask me to pick a smoother line. They were getting bounced around and I had no idea the pavement was that rough. Wyoming freeze cracks, and SG chip seal are nothing.

    PS. I built a set of wheels for it with 25mm wide carbon rims, that are u-shaped. They are downright pleasant in cross-winds.

  24. Comment by Steve | 10.30.2016 | 3:31 pm

    Focus Izalco Max disc. Best road disc bike currently on the market. 15lbs on the nose.

  25. Comment by Chad | 11.2.2016 | 12:35 pm

    Although it’s not a sleek speed machine, had a chance to ride the new Specialized Roubaix with disc brakes a few weekends ago. Never ridden a bike so smooth so pretty dreamy ride for sure!

    Yeah, it’s definitely on my short list. – FC

  26. Comment by Daniel Kane | 11.10.2016 | 12:57 am

    WOW great bike looks very nice.


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