It was around the end of last fall when I got the word from Jeremy, Airborne's bike design swami, that the new cyclocross bike will have... GASP... disc brakes! I live in New England, a hot bed for cross, I can't be seen with disc brakes on my cross bike... the Mafac gods would be turning in their graves...
A couple of weeks back I saw a big box (BIG box) sitting on my front door when we got back from school and I felt like a high school junior trying to get into his prom date's dress (or at least this high school junior)... that sucker was boxed well.
Yes, inside was Airborne's $1099 (Yes $1099) Delta. No decals meant that it was another pre-production model (I see a disturbing trend here). But that's OK, this one was a bit larger size that isn't slated for production...yet. I'll push for it for all us Sasquatches.
Here she is in her full build form. I kept the bike as stock as possible for fairness but I had to swap out the bar and stem to something a bit larger. Everything went together very smoothly.
So here's the problem... how do you test a 'cross bike? By definition cyclocross is a race usually run in the Fall, so that aint' happening. So what do you do? Go out and have some fun on it... dirt roads, bike paths, a bit of woods and some urban exploration are all open to you now. Let's be honest here, it's only a small percentage of cross bikes that really see a race anyways, so it's not a stretch.
So I headed out to the meadows on it the other day. Nice and rough and perfect for a compliance test. I came away pretty darn impressed with the ride quality of this bike. Purty darn comfy if you ask me. The BB30 bottom bracket was nice and efficient and the frame design made me feel fat dumb and happy.
Alot of it had to do with this... this was my first real foray into carbon fork goodness. Great design based around the disc brakes with no shutter and plenty of comfort.
Another feature is the Apex drivetrain, which is unheard of at this price point. Crisp shifting every time but I have to be honest here. I'm not completely sold yet on the SRAM Double Tap shifters. It seems like alot more throw is needed for that second shift... I think STI is easier, but the jury is still out. An 11-32 cassette will get you anywhere a bike like this should go (but more on that later).
And now to the crux of this bike and it's uniqueness, the disc brakes.
Like it or not, disc brakes are coming and I have to applaud my Ohio friends for taking a lead and putting them on the bike... most will do by the fall. 160 rotor up front with a 140 in the back gave me plenty of stopping power... I'd be curious to know why they didn't do 140 both front and rear. After playing a bit with the set up, I found the perfect balance between power and modulation with the BB5's. As for weight, I don't know yet. I'm rightfully assuming that they add a couple of pounds and I don't know how that will translate when you have to carry your bike up over hills and barriers when you're in oxygen debt. Time will tell. For commuting/ touring/monstercross... this is a perfect set up.
So what kind of bike is this? It is a cross bike, but any company would be silly to build and market a bike strictly to cross racers (low #'s) but on the flip side, racers may look at it and say "It's just a touring bike, I don't need discs"... it's an argument that is never going to be settled until some Belgium hotshot wins on a disc bike.
That's the beauty of the Delta though, $1099 gives you an opportunity to do what ever you want with it. Race it, tour it, commute it... it's all good.
If you want a true racer bike, you'll definitely want to work on shaving some weight.. best spot (with out going crazy) would be the wheels and tires. That's an area I plan to work on in the next month or so... You can also do OK with smart cockpit swaps too. The other thing to swap would be the cassette. There's no need for a 32 tooth on the back of a race bike.
If you plan on touring this would be a nice way to go. Comfortable efficient frame with plenty of gearing and powerful and reliable brakes. Just be warned that even though there are rack mounts on the stays, there aren't any on the drop outs due to the disc brakes. Any descent shop should be able to help you get around that.
Are you a commuter or just want to explore? Go ride and have fun. I'll have to try some bigger tires for a MonsterCross set up. I'll let every one know when that happens.
In short... fun bike... go get one here...