Early last year, Dedacciai Strada – the frame division of component maker Dedacciai – charged ahead of the market with its disc-only Super Cross carbon cyclocross frameset. It's fast, light, and comfortable, and while it has some bugs to work out it's a good testament to what disc brakes can offer in the right conditions.
Ride & handling: Ultra-nimble and smooth in the rough stuff
Dedacciai Strada builds the Super Cross like a modern road racer, with relatively small fork blades and tiny seat stays that provide a smooth feel on rough courses. This isn't just for comfort when it comes to 'cross – the less jarring ride lets you stay in the saddle longer and arrive at the finish line fresher, and helps the tires stick to the ground a little better than they would on a bike that's more unyieldingly rigid. All of which equates to more speed.
Sticking to the road-like theme is the excellent frame stiffness. The Super Cross has a lot of snap to it when you put the power down, which is great for the fast starts, short and steep climbs, and frequent accelerations common in 'cross. We were particularly impressed by the front-end rigidity – wrestle it in a sprint and, for the most part, the Super Cross tracks true.
The bike's obvious ace in the hole is its braking performance. While Dedacciai Strada fits the Super Cross with small 140mm rotors front and rear (160mm discs can be used with adapters) we had more than enough power for racing with Avid BB7 mechanical calipers. We were able to hit corners harder and stop later with predictable braking regardless of conditions, especially in the wet and mud where conventional cantilevers or V-brakes can struggle to grip on carbon rims.
Slippery courses highlight the controllable modulation. Last year, one local late-season race sent riders down a steep, icy chute that was immediately followed by a sharp left-hand turn on hardpacked snow. Where many other riders found themselves careering towards the bottom with too much speed or had one or both wheels locked in an uncontrollable slide, we were consistently able to check our speed and exit safely.
The minimalist seat stays contribute to a smooth ride
The Super Cross's ride quality might be smooth and its backbone stout, but handling is notably on the faster end of the spectrum, with a relatively speedy 71-degree head tube angle and a compact wheelbase that measured barely one meter on our small-sized sample. Unlike some other 'cross bikes, whose longer wheelbases, slacker front ends, and longer front centers are more conducive to being thrown recklessly into corners, the Super Cross is more slice-and-dice.
The bike is eager to change direction, and while the 66mm bottom bracket drop provides good stability through the corners once the bike takes a set, riders with less-than-calm upper bodies might find it a bit twitchy.
Dedacciai Strada was admirably forward-thinking when it came to producing the Super Cross with a disc option, but its early entry also means some inexperience on the topic. The rear post mount felt reasonably sturdy and the fork dropout slots are angled forward to prevent unwanted wheel ejection, but the front caliper mounts are simply underengineered.
In most situations we didn't notice much of an issue, but very hard braking – especially when the traction is good – reveals some asymmetrical fork flex, plus some flex right at the upper post mount itself. The lower mount seems to be integrated with the dropout, but the upper one is merely riveted on to the thin carbon skin instead of being co-molded into the structure.
According to Dedacciai, however, our particular test frameset was a preproduction model and the tabs were not mounted correctly - something that should be rectified with 2013 production machines.
"The brake mounting boss is fitted via a jig, with pre-drilled holes for proper rivet placement, and Dedacciai has extensive quality control in place at our vendor," said Strada research and development manager Andrea Invernizzi. "Gluing of the brake mounting boss is not necessary – a mechanical (riveted) fixing is stronger and a glue bond will deteriorate over time with vibration and moisture infiltration."
Regardless, we feel that Dedacciai Strada should bolster the upper front caliper mount in some fashion – be it through co-molding, integrating the two posts as a single part, bonding, or otherwise. As is, the rivet-only attachment doesn't provide as firm a foundation as it should, and we can't help but wonder about the fork's long-term durability. We ultimately swapped in a 3T Luteus fork and were much more satisfied with the overall stiffness and projected reliability.
Frame: Road-like construction with good cyclocross details
Dedacciai Strada builds the Super Cross with mostly medium-modulus carbon fiber, which seems to strike a good balance of stiffness, weight, and durability.
While the company's latest Ran ultralight road frame is supposedly just 810g, the actual weight of our small-sized Super Cross frame was a light-but-reassuring 1.03kg (2.27lb) with rear derailleur hanger, seatpost collar, and water bottle bolts. The large-diameter tubes yielded little to the decidedly subjective squeeze test. The matching carbon fiber fork adds another 480g.
A tapered 1 1/8in to 1 1/2in front end and a press-fit, BB86 bottom bracket shell provide room for the enormous, trapezoidal-profile down tube and modestly tapered seat tube, which are likely responsible for the bike's excellent front triangle stiffness. The extra bottom bracket width also allows for wider chain stay spacing, which provides outstanding mud clearance down below with no shelf behind the shell on which mud can collect.
Dedacciai Strada leaves a lot of open area around the bottom bracket shell
In fact, rear mud clearance is superb overall, with lots of space surroudning the rim and tire around the wishbone-style seat stays. Clearance up front could be better, though, which reinforces our theory that the Super Cross's disc-only fork is essentially a subtle rework of a rim brake model.
Otherwise, Dedacciai Strada has done a good job sweating the cyclocross-specific details. The bottom of the top tube is flattened to lessen the pain of shouldering, the derailleur cables are run through the top tube to protect the lines from contamination and provide a smoother surface for dismounts and barriers, the rear end is spaced for 135mm hubs, and the rear brake line is externally routed to accept hydraulic setups easily.
Interestingly, the rear dropouts are tapped for fender stays but there are no mounts up top or on the chain stay bridge. Likewise, the stock fork has no such provisions.
Equipment: Sold as a frameset-only so feel free to DIY
Dedacciai Strada offers the Super Cross as a bare frameset only, which is how it came supplied to BikeRadar, so we won't spend too much time commenting on the build as buyers will be able to spec to their needs and budget.
We built our sample up with a solid, privateer-friendly package that included a SRAM Force group, Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes, Stan's NoTubes ZTR 29er Race Gold wheels set up tubeless with Clement rubber, and an all-aluminum cockpit from Deda. Total weight without pedals was a very respectable 7.53kg (16.6lb).
Avid BB7 brakes may be old but they still work very well
All the components are well proven, so there were no surprises there, but the wheel and tire setup deserves some extra mention. Historically, tubeless cyclocross setups have been notoriously finicky but the ZTR 29er Race Gold's wider and tighter-fitting rim has reliably allowed for surprisingly low pressures.
We used a mix of tires from Kenda and Clement, and comfortably ran as low as 23psi when courses allowed. The wider rim also lent additional casing support (especially important with the Clement tires' unusually supple sidewalls) but prospective buyers will want to keep in mind that it also inflates the printed casing width. For example, our 33mm-wide Clements measured closer to 36mm – well outside the UCI guidelines.