Faster than a mountain bike, more versatile than models made just for the road, cyclocross bikes have for years lived a double life for many riders.
The burly, do-all bikes are built for durability and speed on a cyclocross race course. They can take big, toothy tires and handle road, trail, gravel, mud, and even light snow, making them perfect one-quiver recreation rides.
Commuters love the category, too, as CX bikes go fast but are designed to absorb cracks in the road, potholes, and bumps. (Especially true with steel frame models, like the Macho Man in this review.) They commonly acquiesce the use of fenders and racks, but with loads more speed than a city cruiser.
We tested a mid-range ride in this category, the Macho Man model from All-City Cycles, which goes at $1,595 for a complete build.
A steel frame with thoughtful details is the heart of this bike — touches like hidden fender mounts, reinforced bottle bosses, retro paint job, and an All-City badge make it unique.
Cables routed on the top tube keep everything out of the mud and spray. Components include Shimano’s new top-pull, cyclocross specific derailleur, the CX70.
There’s a solid, straight steel fork, Shimano 105 STI shifters and 105 rear derailleur, a Salsa handlebar and stem, and FSA seatpost and cranks. The complete build comes with Tektro R720 brakes, Alex Race 24 rims, and tires from Continental, the brand’s Cyclocross Race 700 X 35c model.
The Macho was intended for people who “ride their bike all week and then do races on weekends, or someone who has no interest racing ‘cross, but has interest in the capabilities of a cross bike,” the company cites.
As such, comfort is balanced with speed with the frame geometry. We found it to be just that — it’s a fast, comfortable ride ready to take on any terrain you throw at it, from road to gravel to singletrack trails.
I rode the Macho for a month all over the place, on road and trail, as well as for my go-to commuter and urban bike. I pushed it through all kinds of weather this fall. It’s proven to be a fun, fast ride, and the 55cm frame fit me like a glove. (I’m 5’10” with a long torso and short legs.)
Overall, the Macho Man is a solid bike for the price and it could easily become the only bike you go to for daily riding. It works for cyclocross racing, too, but leaning toward the recreational side — solid and capable, but not the lightest or fastest ride on the field.
—John Peacock is based in Minneapolis. He is a founding partner with GearJunkie.