Better known for its exotic, highly engineered road frames, Storck also loves ’cross. There are three TiX (‘This is Cross’) frameset options: Platinum, Pro and Comp. We’ve gone for the Pro with Ultegra.
At first glance, the TiX’s flowing lines and mainly round tubes look simple. They are anything but. The oversized down tube connects a stout head tube and giant bottom bracket area that supports a wide press-fit 86.5mm bottom bracket. Beefy chainstays form a continuous curve through the 10mm thru-axle dropouts and into similarly sturdy wishbone seatstays. The broad-shouldered fork’s legs taper dramatically, and there’s heaps of tyre clearance, with a little less mud-shedding room between the chainstays.
The sloping top tube is a great way of maximising the frame’s resistance to torsional loads by reducing its size and improving standover height. Storck has also stuck with a higher bottom bracket than most, averaging 7mm more than the other bikes on test for additional ground clearance. It’s barely noticeable from the saddle, but if you’re used to lower-slung US-influenced machines, remounts will need a small adjustment.
Storck supplies its own alloy stem, carbon bar and monolink carbon seatpost, all of fine quality, and all enhance smoothness and vibration absorption. While the 31.6mm diameter seatpost does its job, we felt that the monolink rail seems to make the saddle nose unduly firm.
Acceleration at the start and out of corners is an essential part of the sport. Impressive torsional stiffness resists high-wattage efforts and transfers your energy to the rear wheel for a quick response. There’s ample rigidity from the bar and stem, and decent acceleration from the DT Swiss wheelset. The R23DB Splines are solid performers, which make up with reliability what they give away in speed to flightier options. There’s a sense of lost potential, as the frame has more to give than the wheels can handle, but Storck’s online bike builder offers alternatives.
Schwalbe’s Rocket Rons are a long-time favourite, which will work as a season-long tyre; not too draggy when it’s dry, they’re supple and hard-wearing, and capable of coping in the thickest gloop.
With the rise of single-ring transmissions, the question of whether a double-ring set up is still necessary for ’cross is harder to ignore. If you’re planning to swap to road tyres and make the TiX your only bike, it may make sense, but the freedom of not having a front mech and the hugely increased chain security are winners in our book.
Shimano’s hydraulic discs are smooth, quiet and powerful, with comfortable levers, but we often find there’s too much lever travel before the brakes bite. Pumping the lever twice can help, but it can instill a brief panic at times. That fork manages great lateral stiffness and resistance to braking forces while feeling light and nimble. Direction changes are precise, helped by the 9mm thru-axle, and it soaks up impacts without reducing feel.
As a way of attacking the trails, a race or the road, the TiX matches floaty comfort with a chiselled edge. Think bicycle Range Rover. The package isn’t cheap, and Storck only offers Shimano builds, but it’s possible to buy a frameset only and make your own trail-eating machine.