On the sunny side of the … alley

The Bianchi Zurigo Disc, coming soon to a Pikes Peak Greenway Trail near you.

The Bianchi Zurigo Disc, coming soon to a Pikes Peak Greenway Trail near you.

Colorado being Colorado, we’re cycling through a wide range of weather possibilities this week — cloudy, sunny, chance of thunderstorms, plague of toads; you get the idea.

Speaking of cycling, there’s a new bike in the garage. It’s a Bianchi Zurigo Disc, and it’s slotted in right behind the Salsa Vaya for review in Adventure Cyclist.

This is not your granddaddy’s touring bike. In fact, if you were to mistake it for a cyclo-cross bike, you’d be forgiven, in part because it’s named in honor of the 1967 ‘cross worlds in Zurich (won by Renato Longo of Italy) and in part because, well … because it’s a bloody cyclo-cross bike.

The $1,799 Zurigo has an aluminum frame and carbon fork, knobby Kenda Kwicker 700×32 tires, and a SRAM Apex 10-speed drivetrain (48/34 up front, 11-32 in back). But it also has eyelets for mounting fenders and a rear rack, so a quick-and-dirty, lightly loaded tour is not out of the question.

I hope to get one of those in here directly, if weather and work permit. We have something of a full plate here in Dog Country from May through July, and a little road trip would do wonders to flush out the headgear.

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29 Responses to “On the sunny side of the … alley”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    Nice looking bike.

    I’ll be curious to what you think of this rig as a light tourer. The shorter wheelbase, quicker handling, and steeper gears on a cross bike would seem great for cross but poorly suited for touring. Perhaps “lightly loaded” touring is the key.

    My disk brake equipped cross bike is used as a daily commuter with a single pannier. Occasionally I hang cross knobbies on it and ride the trails home from the factory. Its great for that, and I too have thought of a light tour on it, but thought if that were the case, I’d hang a triple crank on the front.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      It’s gonna be interesting, for sure. ‘Cross bike geometry is all over the place these days. This bike has a comparatively steep seat-tube angle (74°), but the chainstays are OK at 430mm. The Redline Conquest Disc ‘cross bike actually has chainstays that are 5mm longer. The Jamis Nova Pro has stays that are 5mm shorter.

      What’s interesting is that the SRAM Apex double yields a low end of 34×32, or 28.7 gear inches. The Salsa Vaya’s triple bottoms out at 30×28, or 29.3 gear inches.

      And the Bianchi is 4.5 pounds lighter … even with pedals.

      • khal spencer Says:

        Will the SRAM rear derailleur handle a 34 tooth low cog? That would give you a 1:1 ratio, which is pretty good unless you are doing loaded touring on long climbs. I did a several day tour around the UK and Netherlands back in my youth with double rear panniers and a 52/42 up front and 13-29 in back. Of course, that was mostly flat riding and in 1986, I was in the best shape of my life.

        Then again, I’d ask Schubert what he thinks.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I don’t think so, K. The Apex RD seems to max at 32 teeth. I notice that whenever a product manager wants to go full-touring rig with SRAM he usually specs an X9 RD, which will let him go all the way to 36 teeth.

        Remember being young and fit? Me neither. I blame Obama.

        I think I already know what Schubie will say: “At some point on a long tour, you’ll encounter the perfectly bad confluence of events: a steep hill, a sore butt, and low blood sugar. That moment, and not the test ride at the bike shop, is when you discover the utility of low gears. … You need a gear between 20 and 25 inches for that moment on tour when the hill is two miles long and you’re already tired.”

      • khal spencer Says:

        Yep, that’s what JS would say. I think it is written in The Second Book of Berto, Chapter 4, Verses 5-9, Revised Shimano Version.

      • veloben Says:

        Schubert also says “…we relentlessly pound the table and tell people to use both front and rear panniers, to make the bike
        handle better.”

        Veloben says (repeats other more knowledgeable types) “19 gear inches is the grail of touring. Failing that, 1:1 gets your butt and gear up that hill to the diner.”

        Light touring sounds like just the thing, but I’d have to lose 20 pounds.

  2. Jon Paulos Says:

    Ooh baby, I’ll take it. Riding the Pittsburgh to DC rail trail this fall and that looks like the perfect bike. I wonder how I can talk my wife into this one. First, clean the drool off the monitor……

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Jon, it reminds me quite a bit of the 2008 Jamis Supernova I used to have. That bike would take a rear rack and fenders, too. But the Bianchi’s gearing is easier on an old feller.

    • weaksides Says:

      Jon…the perfect machine for that trail is the simplest machine- a fixed gear (42×17 is what we rode as I recall, the “party gear”) on an old tourer with horizontal dropouts; and don’t even think about putting brakes on it! When you get that back wheel rolling, it’s like you’re not even working. Of course if it rains for better than half the trip, do what we didn’t do and have a bigger cog on the other side and the spare links to cover it. Oh and a pre-aged Brooks saddle- the barstool.

      One bit of info to keep in mind- the shop in Cumberland has beer.

  3. Pat O'Brien Says:

    Read your review of the Kona Sutra yesterday. Nice work, and the whole issue was very interesting, including the little sidebar on Pete Seeger. When I told my sister in law today to put me on the compost pile when I return to the source, she said that was crazy. Had to send the the lyrics to “In Dead Earnest” to her. You would think a farmer would understand.

    I guess the “D2 cross” decal on the top tube is a giveaway? My love affair with aluminum faded after I sold my last C’Dale. Those chain stays should accommodate a medium size pannier unless you have really big feet. But I learned about road triple gearing and light touring while trying to ride that Trek Portland to Bisbee. I had a bad headwind the whole way and did some serious mashing climbing out the the river valley.

    We cancelled the camping this week to attend the annual city bike ride. I forgot it was this weekend. Did it the last 3 years and you usually meet some new and interesting riders.
    http://www.sierravistaaz.gov/egov/apps/events/calendar.egov?view=detail;id=207005

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Thank you, sir … and thanks, too, for the little gift you sent. I have one I think you might like in return, if I can get off this big thing I’m sitting on and go fetch it.

      Meanwhile, here’s the video teaser for that review:

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        You are welcome. Hope you enjoy it.
        That video is too much fun, and a perfect intro to the review.

      • weaksides (@weaksides) Says:

        Haha…very well done Patrick-san! That might be the best one yet. I especially like the seat tube camera angle. My friend that owns an LBS and is a Kona dealer told me about your video just yesterday, so you must be getting around outside of here a bit at least.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Cheap entertainment, eh? Looks like the Kona boys posted a link to the video on their Cog blog, so my Quentin Ferrentino act will be making the rounds for sure.

  4. John Dallager Says:

    OK…..so back to the “Old Guys who Get Fat…….” jersey discussion.

    OG: What’s the upfront cost to do some and how can we help? By my count, you’d sell at least 100.

    And….is there something comparable for the ladies that might fetch some additional coin?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      John, I need to tug on a sleeve at Voler, which handled the original. The more we do, the cheaper they are … but it’s been a while since I ordered kit, so I have absolutely no idea what to expect in terms of cost.

      As for women’s kit, now … I’ve never considered it. I think a Fat Chick jersey might get me killed to death.

  5. Larry T. Says:

    But wait, couldn’t this Bianchi also be a GRAVEL BIKE if they’d just put two threaded bosses on the downtube for another bottle cage? Funny that – we rode old-time ROAD bikes on Sunday over plenty of gravel with no issues (discounting the wife’s blasting into sharp rocks and pinch-flatting, that is) but these days you need a ‘cross bike for ‘cross, a gravel bike for unpaved roads, not to mention a quiver of MTB’s with 27.5 and 29 wheels on ’em. Are folks too busy shopping and/or pondering their next purchase to actually RIDE these days?
    On the weather front, unlike down in the south for the Giro boyz, the weather up here in the north has been splendid. I’ll post some blue-sky, tiny hilltown, make-you-jealous photos on the CycleItalia blog soon.

    • mountainhigh10200 Says:

      I believe mostly the answer is yes Larry. Product managers spec non compatible equipment constantly because the magazines are touting the need for a certain something and it is possible to bolt it together on paper. Paper truly sucks ass when it comes to either getting bodies in motion or then slowing them down safely. Shop mechanics are stuck with brand new equipment that couldn’t possibly work (or just barely does only when brand new) and the test begins. Who can figure out the new method of adjusting that will make the brand new wrong parts work. Do it fast because we have to build 500 of these this week.
      The reason we need 500 of them is because all the consumers are on the couch pouring over information about all the goo gaws available.and will all come rushing in at the same time to purchase said items. Tomorrow you will need a new color or extension or tire size.
      I know people who have ridden with pain for double digit years because they where told to ride in “this” position and they never tried anything else. We are lemmings. Lead us so we don’t have to think. The inner tubes have only made that worse.
      If more people spent time riding and then figured out hey this hurts my wrist lets fix it and then tried different handlebars or grips or something we would all be healthier. Instead we consult experts to tell us what we need.
      Conversely, find a knowledgeable shop, (http://www.oldtownbikeshop.com/ plug inserted here) and they can steer you away from the current crop of manufacturing stupidity.
      I ride the same bike pretty much everywhere and by everywhere I mean road, trail, gravel, pump track, park, etc. Everything pretty much but serious downhill or pro BMX courses. I get my ass handed to me on the road by roadies. Otherwise I hold my own until it gets steep and you get to count your airtime like an NFL punter. You don’t need a quiver of bikes to go someplace and ride.
      Having said that, should anyone who has a decent 160mm travel frame feels the need to sponsor me, I sure could use the help. POG, I apologize for using your forum as a platform for begging.
      You roadies I shall battle on my mighty Surly Pacer with my eight speed drivetrain. I fear you not, except the skinny guys when it turns uphill. My BMX situation is tenuous, having not paid off my last hospital bill. (umm tire donations anyone).
      Have more to say but must go ride to work. Sorry for the diatribe.

      • Larry T. Says:

        I’m there with your mechanical issues, having been a shop mechanic for a few years plus more than 25 working bike tours. Some of the crap people put together and expect to work is truly mind-boggling. My fave is the “But this (impossibile) setup worked just fine at home…I don’t understand why it won’t work over here.”
        On the position side of things I wonder – NOBODY who knows anything would be putting the folks I see in the gawdawful positions I see ’em in. All I can do is laugh when I see all kinds of expensive “aero” crap, but a rider sitting bolt upright on the thing, catching the wind like a billboard. What percentage of the total drag number is the damn bike anyway, maybe 5%?

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      When left to my own devices I generally ride a steel cyclo-cross bike everywhere. It’s almost perfectly suited to the kind of riding that’s available around here. And back when I was still racing, I almost always used a ‘cross bike on early season road rides to make sure I didn’t push too big a gear too soon.

      For my money, a solid all-rounder for the average Joe and Jane would be a steel ‘cross bike of reasonable weight that would let you run 700×38 knobbies. Fit it out with that SRAM Apex/X9 combo, so you could run a 34×36 low gear. Discs if you like ’em, cantis if you don’t. Eyelets for racks and fenders, of course.

      A Soma Double Cross would fit the bill mighty nice and keep the price reasonable. Mine’s built for loaded touring at the moment, and it still makes a nice roadie if I pull the racks and fenders off.

      If I ever rebuild the drivetrain on the old Steelman Eurocross I might go to a Deore rear derailleur and bar-cons, run some mountain-bikey eight-speed gears on that bad boy. I have the bar-ends already, on another bike. I don’t think I can squeeze 38s into that rear triangle, though. 35s are probably about the max.

      • Larry T. Says:

        Pretty well describes my now-ancient, Reynolds 853 LeMond Poprad. I put some well-used Campagnolo Veloce Ergopower 9-speed triple stuff on it along with fenders. It’s my winter bike and as much as I love my Mondonico-built machines, if I had to choose just ONE bike and ditch all the others, this ugly (kind of a metallic beige with red panels) thing might be the one – for all the reasons you listed. Second choice might be one of our standard steel rental machines by Torelli, I’ll keep one of those in my size even after the rest of the fleet’s been liquidated!

  6. mountainhigh10200 Says:

    We all must be old, look at how reasonable our bikes are. Although mine is going to have some down time due me not making through the hwy 24/ 31st street intersection. Light rain, painted crosswalk, big ring and down you go rather quickly. Sling and right arm out for four to six weeks hand/wrist/elbow/shoulder. Just to be thorough I sprained the left wrist as well. Karma is a bitch. After I pulled my bike out of traffic while I am doing the appendage/limb body part count thing this salmon on a poorly fitted carbon road bike rides right past me.

    • weaksides Says:

      Damn! Take it from how bad that sucks!

      Heal up quick and remember- in this game, safety is sold separately.

    • Pat O'Brien Says:

      Get back to 100% quickly! Paint and water is almost as bad as steel and water. Damn railroad tracks and cattle guards are the worst in the rain.

    • Larry T. Says:

      OUCH! You were in sympathy will all the guys crashing in the Giro the first week. Some real domino action there along with all kinds of polemics on the causes, from “get to the front” yelled into earpieces, poor-quality pavement, too much tire pressure, wheels that are too stiff….and on and on. Now it seems sunny and dry for them while nasty-looking clouds are building up in the extreme northwest of Italy where we are at present.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Damn, that sucks. Having broken both collarbones in crashes and dislocated a couple digits I feel your pain. Happily, docs always overestimate the recovery an active person needs, seeing so many of the other sort. You’ll be back out there enjoying fresh salmon in no time.

      I ate it in a light rain on an angled railroad crossing in Denver on the way to work in the mid-Eighties. Man, I was on the deck and sliding so fast I never even knew I was going down. Same with the ice-floe crash that did for my left communications finger in 2009. Dunno if it’s better or worse when you never see it coming.

  7. Arnold Says:

    Patrick,
    Great review – am about to buy a Zurigo – could yo uadvise on size ? Which size was good for you and how tall are you ? I am 6Ft – wondering if i should go for 55 or 58 – any thoughts ?

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