Things are going well for British cyclo-cross star Ian Field. Aged 25 and standing 47th in the UCI rankings, he's the UK's leading rider and currently resides in Belgium, mixing it with the world's top racers and carving out a name for himself.
Field, who rides for Hargroves Cycles Race Team, has switched from Scott to Specialized bikes for 2011/12 and will be riding the 2011 CruX Elite this season. The Ashford-born rider is still getting to grips with his new steed, having had three-and-a-half weeks (and nine races) on it during a season-opening US salvo. So far, he’s been more than impressed with it.
He reckons the bike's handling is much better than that of his previous race bikes. “In America, some races were really dry and fast, but on high speed corners I could just chuck it into them and it held on really well. It’s so stable and it accelerates really well too,” Field told BikeRadar. “It's an aluminium frame, and while the majority of top race frames are carbon, I really don’t think it affects it much. In fact, it’s a lot more comfortable across the rough stuff."
Much of the spec is Shimano Dura-Ace but the derailleurs and crankset are Ultegra – these components take a battering in 'cross racing so Field prizes durability over light weight. Other upgrades over the production bike include PRO's PLT alloy stem and carbon Vibe handlebar, front and rear TRP EuroX cantilever brakes, and Shimano Dura-Ace C24 tubular wheels.
What about fitting Ultegra Di2 to his race bike? “That’s something you’d have to ask Peter!” Field said, referring to Peter Hargroves, owner of his main sponsors Hargroves Cycles. He went on to say that all the top guys are running Shimano’s second-tier electronic groupset but the prohibitive cost of running it on the three bikes he needs at each race rules it out for the time being.
Does Field have a favourite bike? “No, and for me that’s quite a big deal,” he said, “Others can think, ‘I need to be on that one’ but if they suddenly have a problem five minutes before the start and they’re forced to change, they’re going to have a problem with it being ‘bike number two’. I can just jump on any of them and race. They’re all the same to me.”
How does he change the bike’s setup from race to race? Tyre pressures are the biggest decision. For a fast, dry race, Field might run 23-24psi in his tubulars. On a pre-ride he'll test the waters and tweak things. The dusty conditions during his recent US trip meant he was struggling with front end grip. Normally he’d lower his tyre pressures to remedy this, but he found that going up to 26psi helped the tyres to dig in a bit more. In mud, he runs them as low as 18psi.
While the UCI have lifted their ban on disc brakes in cyclo-cross, Field’s bike doesn’t have them and nor do those of most of his rivals. He says it’s because disc brakes designed to work with drop-bar levers don't yet work as well as they could. Besides, he says, brakes that powerful aren't needed in ‘cross.
Complete bike specifications
- Frame: Specialized CruX Elite
- Fork: Specialized
- Headset: Cane Creek
- Stem: PRO PLT, 110cm
- Handlebar: Pro Vibe, 42cm
- Tape: Specialized
- Front brake: TRP EuroX
- Rear brake: TRP EuroX
- Brake levers: Shimano Dura-Ace
- Front derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
- Rear derailleur: Shimano Ultegra
- Shift levers: Shimano Dura-Ace
- Cassette: Shimano Dura-Ace
- Chain: Shimano Dura-Ace
- Crankset: Shimano Ultegra
- Bottom bracket: Shimano Dura-Ace 7900
- Pedals: Shimano XTR
- Wheelset: Shimano Dura-Ace C24
- Front tyre: Specialized Tracer tubular
- Rear tyre: Specialized Tracer tubular
- Saddle: Selle Italia Flite
- Seatpost: Specialized carbon
- Rider's height: 1.78m (5ft 10in)
- Rider's weight: 63kg (138lb)
- Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 760mm
- Saddle setback: 75mm
- Seat tube length, c-t: 560mm
- Seat tube length, c-c: 500mm
- Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 560mm
- Saddle-to-bar drop (vertical): 60mm
- Head tube length: 160mm
- Top tube length: 540mm
- Total bicycle weight: 7.2kg (15.87lb)