Friday, April 2, 2010

New Pake C'Mute 1X10 Cyclocross Bike - Initial Impressions

As my mountain bikes, single speed and geared road bikes and BMX bikes all hang in the garage, my single-speed cyclocross bike (Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno) is pretty much the only bike that leaves the hanger. Why? Because the fun factor is unmatched.

Using a cyclocross bike on the trails is essentially riding a rigid 29'er with incredible climbing geometry and drop bars. My aspirations of trying to bomb down crazy rock gardens on a 8" travel, 45lb. downhill bike are gone, so trail/singletrack riding on super lightweight, nimble (yet stable) off-road bike is more my cup o' tea.

Although I love my single 'cross bike, I often times wished I had some gears and the option to tackle some big climbs. Most of the climbs I did on the single 'cross bike were short and I'd sprint up them. After staring at my Surly Pacer road bike, I decided to swap out frames (and add a few parts) and build a 1X10 cyclocross bike. This bike would double as a road bike with a quick swap out of road tires for the big social rides we have planned this year.

After looking at a few different options, I went with the Pake C'mute because of the price, value and quality of the frameset. The geometry is relaxed and made out of my preferred material - steel.

I went 1X10 as to not go too far from my single-speed preference, but after today's ride I did discover that the gears came in handy (and in some cases, I wish I had that granny gear!). I used the same handlebar and stem from my Surly Pacer - but on the dirt, I realized that a 46cm wide bar would probably be better suited for me as opposed to the 44cm. I have 46cm wide bars on my single 'cross and my road single speed and I really like to grab a handful and crank away (that didn't sound too good).

I played in Santa Teresa County Park for about two hours, hitting my normal route and rocking the big Coyote Peak climb, Rocky Ridge, etc. One thing is for certain - I need to mix up my geared riding more. I DEFINITELY felt the legs and lungs burn, which surprised me since I'm pretty good with the single-speed. Different type of workout, I guess - but something I'll focus on for a bit.

The Pake' felt really good; super stable and very comfy. I think, combined with the wide 700c X 35 tires, it makes for a nice trail bike. It is not nearly as twitchy as my Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno and I was notably faster on the descents. On the road, however, I know I will be spinning out even with the smallest cog. But, for what I want to do with this bike - it will work perfectly.

I'll do another review of the bike in 3 months. So far, I'm stoked.


  1. Dion,

    What size is you Pake C'Mute, and what do you think of the quality of the frame compared to the Surly Pacer you had before it?

  2. Hey Nate,

    The biggest difference between the two would be the geometry - the C'Mute is more "do-it-all" oriented while the Pacer is road oriented. The main reason why I swapped them out was because I needed a frameset with cantilever brake mounts. If the Pacer had those I would've just left everything as-is... I need canti's to accomodate mud clearance. Otherwise, if somebody is going to ride only on the road (maybe very light, groomed, hard-packed fire roads) then the Pacer is a great choice.

    As far as quality is concerned, the C'Mute and Pacer are pretty much equals. The welds on both are beautiful and the construction is solid. I think they both are great values being sub-$500 framesets. The C'Mute's head tube is extended at the top, allowing the rider to use less headset spacers - again, another feature of a do-it-all frame. The Pacer does not have that.

    The Pacer frame is slightly lighter, but the C'Mute looks like it's meant to be tossed off the Grand Canyon and keep on riding. The tubes are bigger and beefier. I can't go without giving the Pacer its props in the beef category - that thing is meant to last.

    And finally, the rear dropouts on the Pacer are vertical and the C'Mute has old-school horizontal drop-outs. If you wanted to single-speed the Pacer, you'd have to use an eccentric hub, eccentric bottom bracket, or some sort of chain tensioner to replace the rear deraileur (kinda defeats the ingetrity of a SS build, IMO).

    If you've seen my previous posts, you've read that I also have a SS cyclocross bike. I wanted to build a gear cyclocross bike that I could swap on road tires for social rides (I have about 4 or 5 centuries I'm riding in this year). My brother's 20-year-old Rock Lobster is what inspired my final decision on the do-it-all frame.

    FWIW, my complete bike weighs 22.88 lbs. - which actually isn't that bad considering the heavy frame and fork.

  3. Thanks for your impressions of the C-mute, haven't found many reviews on the web.

    What size is your frame?

  4. I have a 52cm, and I normally ride a 54cm road frame. Thanks for the comment - and I also didn't find many reviews on the web, either. It's a fantastic frame and I'm definetely getting a lot ofuse out of it. I ride 100-200 miles a week on this bike, mostly on trails. Love it!

  5. What's the largest size tire you have ever put on you Pake? I know you talk of 35mm, but have you put anything larger on just to see?

  6. I contacted the folks at Pake' and here's what they said:

    "Hi Dion: The max it might fit is 41c. depends on tire's real width and height. height is the limiting factor.


    Just for an update, I rode a metric century this weekend on my Ritchey SpeedMax tires (700X32c) which I also ride on the trails. The only difference was air pressure. They worked awesome!

  7. Thanks for the helpful review.

  8. Hi Dion,

    big thanks for very useful review. I have roamed around the net, and failed to find any useful review on the frame.

    I'm currently looking for do-it-all frame, and considering Pake C'Mute and Surly Cross Check. Budget-wise, I may opt for C'Mute.

    Do you mind to share your C'Mute set-up? Thanks again.

  9. Hey Wimbo,

    Off the top of my head, let me kinda give you a component spec....

    1. Pake C'mute Frame and Fork
    2. Cane Creek Headset
    3. Ritchey WCS Stem
    4. Easteon EC70 handlebars 46cm wide/130 drop/75 reach
    5. Soma bar tape
    6. Ultegra 10-speed lever/shifters
    7. Tektro Onyx Canti-brakes
    8. Ultegra 10-speed crankset (converted to 1 ring)
    9. Dura Ace BB
    10. Crank Bros. Eggbeaters
    11. Shimano 34T chainring
    12. Ultegra 11-28 cassettte
    13. Ultegra Derailleur
    14. Dura-Ace chain
    15. Mavic Open Pro rims laced onto Ultegra hubs
    16. Ritchey seatpost
    17. Forte Seat
    18. Paul Comp Chainkeeper

    Going to installed this week: Hutchinson Bulldog and Pirana Tubeless tires with Stan's rim strips/sealant

    Since April, this bike has gone through a few minor tweaks. I'm always looking for a hot set-up, especially in the tire department. Recently I swtched to ghetto tubeless with some hybrid tires, but that was awful for riding in Santa Cruz.

    I'd like to eventually switch to a mountain 9-speed 11-34 cassette and derailleur. Problem is I will have to also get new 9-speed lever/shifters and this can be pricey. When my Ultegra derailleur craps out, I will definetely make the change.

    Check out my latest posts for ride reports and such regarding this bike!

  10. Hey Dion,

    Very nice looking ride. Curious to know what tires you have on it in the pics? I'm looking to "MonsterCross" my Singlecross and trying to decide on tire selection/size for hardpack, loose on hardpark, and some tarmac 35c+.


  11. Yo Stick! Those tires on there are Kenda Kwick 700c X 35. I've since swithced to tubeless Hutchingson Piranha in the rear (slicker, faster rolling) and a Hutchingson Bulldog on the front (knobbier, more traction). So far, I like the tubeless.

    But if you're looking for a wide fast rolling tire, I'd recommend the Ritchey Speedmax or the Schwalbe CX Comp HS. I like these types of tires because they roll fast on tarmac and handle quite well on hardpack as long as you let some air out to handle the bumps. These are both offered in 700c X 40. I have the Speedmax 700c X 32 on my SSCX rear and a Kenda Kwick 700c X 35 front, and that setup actually works real well.

    Continental makes a SICK cyclocross tire on 700c X 42. I'm thinking about throwing those on my SSCX come winter.

  12. BTW, I see earlier I said I put some hybrid tires on this bike, and after one hard-core ride with my brother - this wasn't the best idea. These will definetely go on my wife's bike, where they'd do MUCH better for her style of riding.

  13. Hey Dion,

    Thanks for the info! Love your blog, it looks like we're similar vintage and background. I really dig my Singlecross but a 1x9 cyclocross would be the cats meow to fill the gap between my 29er and Singlecross. It's crazy fun to rip around ANYWHERE on the cross bike!!

    Ride on,

  14. Popular blog post! what size is it and what is YOUR size? thanks :)

  15. Hey Justin,

    It's a 52cm and I'm 5'9" (went a size lower for 'cross). Check out the 6 month review:

  16. Awesome! I'm 5'9 as well and that's what I was leaning towards. I've read they run a little larger...


  17. Hey Dion, thanks for the review and write-up. I'd been waffling on a Surly Cross Check when I came across the C'Mute. I just ordered myself a 54cm in dark gray on Monday(should show up today!), mostly based on your input and the fact that I got the frame and fork shipped for less than $275!

    The plan was to build it up as a commuter, but looks like I've got a lot more options to use it as a trailbike.

  18. Hi Ben,

    GREAT! First, I wanted to make a point that I get no kick-back/money/discounts from Pake'. This review was soley based on my experience and it has been positive. That being said - if I thought it was junk - I would have let you all know! But... I'm very happy with it and I think you will be too.

    Did you get a chance to chcek out my 6 month review? I think it's in the October or November month.

    Have fun with your new ride!

  19. Thanks Dion, I did read the six month review and really enjoyed it. I do have a question I can't find the answer to (and haven't had a chance to call Pake yet...)

    What are the specs/dimensions on the bottom bracket and seatpost?

    Thanks for your help.

  20. It takes a regular English thread 68mm BB and a regular ol' 27.2 seatpost. You don't need a seatpost clamp for it.

  21. Thanks from me too, Dion. I bought a 52cm Motobecane Fantom Cross Check Pro last fall for a commuter bike and have enjoyed it a lot. However, I am still partial to steel frames, and I found that I had to raise the bars quite a bit on the Moto, as I still prefer to be a bit upright in the saddle for commuting and the longer touring style rides I enjoy. So I have been waffling between the Surly Long Haul Trucker and the C'mute all winter. After reading your review, and then spotting the C'mute on sale for under $200 shipped, I pulled the trigger today. I'll be swapping all the components over from the Moto and I may even ditch the large chain ring in favor of a bash guard and just run the bike as a 1x10. I'm really looking forward to the build.

  22. Question for the masses...I just bought a C'Mute this past week. 52 cm Pavemint. Is this more like the Surly Cross Check or LHT? I bought it with the intention of going monster cross with it. Think I made a good choice? Thanks!

  23. Hi Mike,

    Take a look at my my recent reviews - I have a 6 month and a 1 year in case you're curious.

    The C'Mute is going to be more like the Cross Check than the LHT. In fact, my final decision was a toss up between the Cross Check and the C'Mute.

    The LTH, I believe, is more of a touring frame than anything. But if you're going MonsterX, you made the right decision! I recently mounted 700x42 CX tires on my C'Mute and they fit perfect.

    Defintely check my ride reviews of this frame.

  24. Dion - yep, been on your blog for a few days now checking the reports etc. Your review of the C'Mute pushed me to the purchase as a matter of fact. I'm 5-9, so based on your comments, I too went with the 52cm. I am buying parts now to get it built up when the frame and fork arrive. Question sir! What size cranks are you running? Is 170 recommended or can I do 175's? Also, would you run the Midge bar with this - or would a traditional randonneur bar do fine? Your blog is awesome - I really appreciate it!

  25. Hi Mike,

    I actually went right in the middle of the road with some 172.5's! I'm your standard 30" inseam, and the 172.5's work great for me.

    I am very biased to wide handlebars (as you can see my current configuration with the 29" Azonic MTB bar) so personally, I would go with the Midge bar. If you're going to go with dirt drops, take note on the set-ups you see on the MonsterCross thread on the 29'er section of - almost everybody uses a steep, high-rise stem with the drops at about a 10-20 degree angle from parallel with the ground. When I had the Midge bar on my 29'er, this worked out great for me.

    If you're interested in a true, wide MonsterCross bar, check out the Ragley dirt drop - that offers even a wider grip. For anything more than plain fireroads, I really wouldn't go with a road bar, as I came to find out when I had my C'mute configured with a road bar. Good for cyclocross, but for an all arounder, true dirt drops are the way to go.

    Again, this is all preference, so check out that thread - lot's of real neat builds on there!

  26. Dion,

    I enjoy reading your blog, esp. on the builds and rides. (I live in the Bay Area too.) Your entries on the initial build of the C'Mute and the 6-month update are particularly interesting. You swapped the drop bar for a riser (MTB-style) bar. Any thoughts/insights as to why you made the change and how it affects your rides? I'm thinking of getting either a Soma Double Cross or a Pake C'Mute and debating which bar style to get. The idea is to use the bike primarily for commuting, winter training, and riding on paths and fire roads.

    Thanks in advance!



  27. Hi Alwin,

    It's just a personal preference. I ride my CX bike on a lot of the mountain bike trails and the flat bar works great for it. Drop bars do, too, however.

    I've contemplated on putting the drops back on, but that would mean I would have to purchase new shifters (I sold my Ultegra ones), and well, it's fine as is. I've also gotten used to shouldering this bike with a flat bar for racing.

  28. Thanks, Dion!

    It looks like I'll have to experiment a bit more to find what works better for me. Off to the LBS I go . . .


  29. Dion,

    I'm thinking about pulling the trigger on one of these to be used as a commuter/weekend ride bike. I have a Moto Fantom Cross in a 49 (I am 5'7" with short legs). I'm thinking I should go with the 47 C'mute... does your Pake fit a little bigger than your Moto?


  30. I just picked up this frame set this week and plan to build it into a CX/off season commuter. I actually raced class C in the Santa Cruz Surf City Series this winter on my 29'r converted to full rigid with CX tires. Placed in the top ten overall, hoping to improve that next year with the C'Mute as a dedicated rig.