Monday, November 5, 2012

Bianchi Zurigo Apex- another multitool for your garage.

As many of you know by now, the US is mid-way through its cyclocross race season so here's a bit of what's in our que for you, this time of the year.

Racers typically do not buy bikes from shops at full retail but it goes without mentioning that participation numbers for 'cross racing show steady growth every year to the point of the past 2 years, our largest CX race in DC has nabbed 800 registered 'cross racers for its DCCX event. That's big and worth saying that the spill over of interest for cyclocross bikes in the DE, VA, MD states has caused surrounding bike shops to stock a few 'cross bikes every season (late summer/ early fall).

Consumers like options and our Zurigo cyclocross bike gives the consumer many to choose from. The primary option is a bike that can be raced at cyclocross races. Second is a multi-surface bicycle that the cyclist can take on pavement, gravel, or dirt roads spanning farm lanes or the State Game Lands of the Mid-Atlantic. Additionally the Zurigo can be used to tackle the Monday through Friday workday commute when equipped with rack(s) and proper safety lighting.

Bianchi uses a high grade, hydroformed aluminum tubing on the Zurigo. By hydroforming the tubes, you can stiffen the front and bottom end of the frame while keeping the seat stays compliant during hard efforts while pedaling across a choppy grass cyclocross course. This process is important when you're striving to create a frame with track bike acceleration and crit bike cornering.

Keystone Velo Racing- 2011 Rockburn CX / Mealey barriers. from stickboybike on Vimeo.
Speaking of cornering, the head tube of the Zurigo is about 10-15mm shorter than many 'cross bikes from other brands. Bianchi realized years ago they needed to lower the headtube height, since the 'cross fork bottom bearing sits about 15mm higher than a road bike fork. To maintain quick handling, you need to compensate for that lift with a shorter headtube. A lower height when using a minimal amount of stem spacers allows the rider to have about a 60/40 versus 70/30, rear to front weight distribution. A bit more weight bias on the front wheel will make the bike corner faster, requiring less rider movement along the saddle to shove the front wheel through a corner or stick to an off camber section of the race course.

Another component of cornering on the Zurigo is it's bottom bracket drop. The drop dimension is higher than Bianchi's carbon and aluminum road bikes by 3mm yet lower than the leading Euro brand in the industry. Not starting too high with the drop is important as the 32c tire casing provides a couple millimeters of lift, reducing the drop dimension. Too short of a drop, and the bike's center of gravity sits high and is compromised when you carve off cambered section on the 'cross course. Our drop of 65mm is still high enough that I haven't had a problem pedaling corners using a 175mm crank length. 

2011 Tacchino CX- MARBRA Super 8 race #2
With a 46t/36t chainring combination, 11-32t cassette and a SRAM Apex groupset, you have a wide gear range on the Zurigo for on-road and off-road riding. If you install a set of slick tires on the Zurigo, like the 28c Clement Strada LLG, you now have a pavement bike for the guy who weighs 235lbs. Many road bike frames will not allow clearance for a 28c tire where as a 'cross bike generally comes stock with a 32c tire and can fit up to a 38c in many cases. The ability to use various tread styles and tires sizes on the Zurigo opens up the possibilities for a bike where you can embark on local road rides, explore cycling on State Game Land fire roads (PA has about 1.2 million acres that are SGL); almost anywhere you want to point the front wheel. 

The top tube of the Zurigo is nearly horizontal and flattened underneath. This facilitates easy pass through of the 'cross racer's elbow when grabbing the downtube for shouldering a run-up.

The Zurigo user has the ability to mount fenders and a rear rack, turning the bike into a commuting option for the cyclist looking to leave their car in the garage Mondays through Fridays. Top mounted inline brake levers provide the cyclist with braking security. This creates a high point of view and an upright steering position without lowering the rider's head by over extending their arms when having to only brake from the shifters.

Whether you aspire to pin on a number any given Sunday in the fall to try a cyclocross race or need that Swiss Army knife of a bike for getting to work and chase county line signs with friends on the weekends; the Zurigo gives you burley frame construction and a flexible platform in which to create a riding tool that changes with the seasons.
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