Ben Wilson

Ben Wilson

ben wilson This is the blog of a one Ben Wilson, a Louisville, Kentucky native who enjoys baseball, beer, music, bikes, things that fly and good food. By day he pushes pixels and makes the Internet happen for a local advertising agency. His wife, Kelly is an Ironman, and his baby Amelia is the cutest thing ever.

In honor of the USGP Derby City Cup cyclocross race this weekend, I give you this:

Look upon my works, ye mighty, and chuckle heartily.

Scattante XRL Cross Beast

What you see before you is my spring/summer waiting-on-the-baby project, a cyclocross bike. It’s a jumble of parts acquired from my basement, local sources, Craiglist and eBay. It is also my first from-the-group-up bike build. Finished in August, I spun it out the River Road Country Club cyclocross (CX for short) course to make sure it wouldn’t fall apart, and then… I raced it at the Tour de Louisville cyclocross race October 4th. The race and the bike were awesome. I even got a little bloody…


I’ll be racing this Saturday AM at 8:30AM in the Category 4 Open Men’s race. It’s gonna be NUTS.

More details on the bike after the jump…

Anyone who has experienced my own odd sense of fascination understands that I understand you need to get your hands dirty to truly know a thing. When confronted with the choice of purchasing or building, most people would probably side with the former. Let’s face it, it’s easier – whether it’s a computer, a model plane or even a loaf of bread. However, I am not that person. I am that person that bike shop owners and mechanics yearning to serve, wish would just give up and leave it to the pros.

So it was when I decided I wanted to try cyclocross. I read everything I could get my hands on and cashed in some relationship capital with Kelly to let me start sourcing parts over the summer so I could build it for the fall ‘cross season.

While I know the value of “doing something right the first time” I am also of the school of well-earned knocks. I could spend a ton of money and build myself an expensive, poorly built bike. It would be an expensive lesson – especially considering how really fair-to-middling I am as a rider. Instead, I relished the thought of finding that intersection of cost, reliability and performance and dove into researching. My Google-fu is strong and anyone who tells you otherwise is a fool! All told, I spent less than what I would have paid for the bike new and also gained a ton of knowledge in the process. (See the parts list at the bottom of this entry) But onto the gory details…

The Frame

I found a Scattante XRL Cross frame on Craigslist for $175 (a steal!) and worked up from there. For the money it’s a nice, lightweight frame with good welds and a nice integrated headset. Some folks complain about the ovalized tubing on the top tube where your shoulder would go when you carry it in cyclocross, but to be honest my shoulder is the least of my worries when I’m suffering like I suffer during a bike race. I also kinda like the color… or at least it’s unique.

The Wheels & Tires

Uh, well… it’s a pair of Ritchey clincher road wheels I had in the basement from a previous singlespeed project. I gather most dudes run lighter, tubular tires with more spokes, but again, my game ain’t at the level where that’s going to make a difference. I have found these wheels to remain true over my training and racing on them, but I’d really like to build some wheels this winter, so until then…

The tires are Kenda Kommando clincher tires I bought from Aaron at The Mountain Bike Depot. When I went in there and asked his opinion, he laid it out straight – “for you, I’d suggest these. Later, you can move up to these Grifo $80 tires”. He didn’t try to oversell me. He knew what kind of rider I was based on my insistent if underwhelming racing at their Shorttrack Mountain Bike Series. Much respect. I love those guys and their wonderful support of cycling in our town.

Drive Train

I did a one-by-nine setup (1 chainring in the front, a 9-speed cassette in the rear). Part of this is a practical solution – you don’t need the gearing you do on a road bike in CX, it’s lighter and there is less to be clogged with mud. But, in reality – the shifter bits (brake/shifter combo levers) are dang expensive! I figured I could get by with just one for now. I wanted to get a Shimano setup but found that 9-speed Shimano shifters of decent quality are expensive, even used… but Campagnolo ones aren’t. Odd! But you can’t run a Campagnolo shifter with a Shimano rear derailleur, right? Wrong! Enter the world of the Campy/Shimano… Shimergo setup!

Specifically, I found a Shimano Deore XT derailleur and a Campagnolo 10 speed Centaur brifter. Following the handy charts on the link above, I found that you can mate a Shimano rear derailleur with a Campagnolo 10 shifter with the “Hubbub” modification, which is simply a re-routed shifter cable.

Since this isn’t an EXACT match, getting it dialed it took a little longer that normal, but not too long. The XT derailleur also doesn’t come with a cable barrel adjuster (WTF?) so I had to use a Jagwire “Mickey” adjuster mounted on the seatstay cable boss. Just a little twist here and there keeps everything in line. I’ve practiced on this setup and I’ve raced on this setup, and I’ve had zero issues. CX racing is a little more rambunctious than road riding, so every once in a while I get a unintended gear change, but it’s rare.

The cranks are some older Shimano Ultegras with a 42 tooth chainring and a Spot brand bashguard. I picked em’ up on eBay for cheap.

The Other Stuff

I just recently put on the Crank Brother Candy SL pedals – and I am loving them! I previously had a set of the Crank Brother’s “eggbeater” pedals without the platform, and they were good, but in ‘cross you need to be able to “find” the pedal easily – and the platform surrounding the “eggbeater” pedal is great for doing so. They also feel a little tighter than the “eggbeater”, but are just as easy to get out of when you dismount the bike.

Noodle Bars! I love these Nitto “Noodle” handlebars. They’ve got just a little bend in the top (I find myself riding with my hands on the top of the bars) and just a slight flair on the drops. And they look classy, all nice and round.

On the top of the Nitto Bars are my Cane Creek in-line brake levers – and I’m loving those for their extra stopping power, especially on courses like the Fisherman’s Park course with crazy, steep, off-camber nonsense.

In the end…

I definitely spent less on the bike than I would have had I plucked something similar off the shelf… and I know this bike, and I am responsible for it working. It feels all the better when I cross that finish line, totally blown.

Parts Listing

Scattante XRL Cross Frame and Fork
FSA Integrated Headset
Nitto Noodle Bars
Shimano 600 Crankset
Shimano Bottom Bracket
Crank Brother Candy SL pedals
Salsa 40 tooth chainring
Spot Bashguard
Shimano Deore XT rear derailleur
Campy Centaur 10 Speed Shifter
Cane Creek Brake lever
Jagwire Basics cables and such
Dimension Seatpost
Bontrager Seat
Ritchey Wheelset
Kenda Kommando Tires

That’s 14 different manufacturers. It’s a beast for sure.

filed under Athletics,Cycling and then tagged as
Oct 21 2009 ~ 5:43 pm ~ Comments (4) ~


  1. Good luck this weekend at the USGP.

    Comment by Rob G — October 21, 2009 @ 6:07 pm
  2. soooo, 3 years ago I had the exact same thing going on. Different bike and all, but a ground up build made of what made sense to me. Guess what? I still have a “built up” bike instead of off the rack. I like knowing that I researched and listened and went with a mix of parts that made sense for me. I’ve even made some wrong turns, but ended up with a bike that, like yours I know this bike. Parts change and I went away from the single ring because of climby courses like Harbin Park and Gun Club, but you find what works and you run with it. Plus its more personal than grabbing one off the rack.
    Cool bike, looking forward to racing with you this weekend. Come have a beer with us at the LTP/RRP Tent. We’ll be set up wherever we can without getting kicked out.

    Comment by bria segal — October 23, 2009 @ 3:54 am
  3. A kindred soul, fo’ sho’!

    On the parts tip – yeah, the single ring is great for River Road Country Club, but Fishermans had me in my 28 tooth gear in the rear for most of the course. But, I chalk that up to being weak and shiftless (ha! see what I did there?)

    I’ll definitely hit up the Rogue tent to cheer for a bit after my race is run. I’ve got some Hell for Certain to share.

    Comment by ben — October 23, 2009 @ 7:53 am
  4. How much did you end up spending total on this. I am looking to build one up of my own and am a college student tight on cash.

    Comment by Zach — April 27, 2010 @ 7:41 pm

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