Former Danish Cyclo-cross champion Joachim Parbo revels in cold, wet and muddy conditions: he finds that the worse the weather, the better for him. He’s been tuning his poor weather set-up for a while, but his recent switch to Leopard Cycles’ new carbon CX1 has provided him with a super stable and lightweight platform to launch into the mud with gusto.
When BikeRadar caught up with him in Colorado, we asked him why he favours the dire elements so much.
“The others break mentally,” he said. “It demands different power output in certain sections and I have that. Maybe I’m not so good with speedy, criterium-like courses, but when it gets more technical I’m usually doing better.”
We also discovered that Parbo has just exchanged his trusty ProTek Cycles aluminum frame for Leopard Cycles’ new carbon CX1. The CX1 may be Leopard’s first attempt at the genre, but Parbo says his initial impressions have been good.
“This is my first carbon bike, so I was surprised that it was stiff, very light and very responsive. The ride is a little softer than an aluminium bike, which is fine for ‘cross,” he said.
According to Leopard Cycles’ proprietor, Roy Grant, the top priorities for the CX1 were high stiffness and light weight. But rather than use complex shapes to achieve this, Leopard went with round oversized tubes made from high-modulus T700 carbon fiber, joined by a wrapped tube-to-tube construction. The big exception is the bottom bracket and chainstays, which are molded as a single unit (similar to Cannondale’s SuperSix) for extra rigidity.
Other European riders may balk at the low height of the American-standard bottom bracket, which doesn’t provide as much clearance as Euro counterparts for pedaling through corners, but the lower center of gravity offers a more stable ride that suits Parbo well.
Mud clearance on the CX1 is impressive, too. There’s a massive amount of room at either end – so much so that you can easily fit a finger between the tire and fork or frame
And going carbon has had other benefits for Parbo. The weight of his large-sized frame is now a slim 1,180g, with the Ritchey fork adding just 449g. The complete bike weighs in at a svelte 7.46kg (16.45lb).
For getting the power down, Parbo’s CX1 is equipped with SRAM’s Red groupset. It’s complemented by TRP’s EuroX Mag cantilevers and a Force front derailleur, which Parbo prefers for its rigid steel cage. His Red crankset is also ‘cross-specific – it’s been kitted out with 39/46T rings and a corresponding 11-26T PowerDome cassette, providing a wide choice of gear ratios.
Semi-slick Challenge Grifo XS on Zipp 404 hubs was the set-up when we saw him, but Parbo also has two other treads to choose from: the old-school standard Grifo and a new pattern called the Fango. Parbo co-developed the Fango with Challenge, so it features a more aggressive tread with big side knobs for extra bite in trying conditions.
If things go Parbo’s way, nasty weather conditions will follow him around the globe. After a few more weeks of racing stateside, he’ll head back to Europe and attempt to reclaim his Danish championship title. Parbo also hopes to earn a top-20 finish in the World Cup standings and at the World Championships in Hoogerheide, Holland.
“The course at Worlds this year is where I had my best World Cup result so far,” he said. “It was a very muddy race and I want to see that again. In a way, you could call me a ‘tourist of mud’ – I want to see the sights!”
Ok, Parbo, have it your way, but we’ll leave it to you to provide us with something interesting to see in February – we’ll bring the camera.