Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Pro bikes, October 8, 2008

Joachim Parbo’s Leopard Cycles Leopard CX1

(Click for larger image)
Photo ©: James Huang

Mud, glorious mud

By James Huang

Former two-time Danish national cyclo-cross champion Joachim Parbo
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)
The bottom bracket shell and chain stays
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)
More clean lines are found at the rear end
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)
Parbo's top goals this year
Photo ©: James Huang
(Click for larger image)

For many cyclo-cross racers, the cold, wet and muddy conditions that accompany many courses are a nightmare come true; frozen fingers, complete lack of traction and the bone-piercing chill that sometimes takes days to overcome.

But for former Danish cyclo-cross champion Joachim Parbo, the worse the conditions, the better.

"The others break mentally," he said when we caught up with him during a brief stay in Boulder, Colorado with local cyclo-cross race promoter Chris Grealish. "It demands different power output in certain sections and I have that. Maybe I’m not so good with speedy courses, criterium-like American courses, but when it gets more technical with sand and mud I’m usually doing better."

After racing aboard an aluminum frame from Italian builder ProTek Cycles in years past, Parbo has now made the move to carbon with Leopard Cycles’ new CX1. Leopard Cycles has only been in business since 2004 and the CX1 is its first attempt at the genre but Parbo says his initial impressions have been quite good.

"This is my first carbon bike ever so I was surprised that it was actually so stiff and very light and very responsive. The ride is a little softer than an aluminium bike which is fine for ‘cross. Other than that, it fits me really well and I’m surprised it handles so good, also," he explained.

According to Leopard Cycles proprietor Roy Grant, the top priorities for the CX1 were high stiffness and light weight. Rather than use fancy complex shapes, though, Leopard went with tried-and-true round oversized tubes made from high-modulus T700 carbon fibre, all joined together with wrapped tube-to-tube construction. The one exception is the bottom bracket and chain stays, which are moulded as a single unit a la Cannondale’s SuperSix, for extra rigidity.

As compared to the high bottom brackets of many European bikes, Leopard adheres to the North American style of geometry for the CX1. The CX1’s lower bottom bracket doesn’t provide as much clearance for pedaling through corners but the lower center of gravity offers more stability. Mud clearance is undeniably Euro-esque, though, as there’s massive amounts of room at either end. In fact, there’s so much room you can easily fit a finger or two in between the tire and frame or fork and there’s no shelf aft of the bottom bracket shell to collect dirt, either.

According to Parbo, actual weight on his large-sized frame is an impressive 1180g and if you believe Ritchey’s claims, the fork only adds another 449g. Total weight on the complete bike is a race-ready 7.46kg (16.45lb).

Parbo’s CX1 is equipped with a mostly complete SRAM Red group with the exception of wide-profile TRP EuroX Mag cantilevers and a Force front derailleur whose steel cage offers a bit more rigidity than Red’s lighter - but more flexible - titanium version. Chainrings on the Red crankset are also more ‘cross-specific with 39/46T rings and the corresponding 11-26T PowerDome cassette provides Parbo with wide choice of gear ratios.

Zipp recently did a complete overhaul of its 404 wheelset and Parbo says he was one of the first sponsored riders to receive a set. In addition to the new, wider rim shape, the hubs have also been redesigned with adjustable bearing preload and larger diameter spoke flanges that are also more widely spaced for better wheel integrity.

Parbo is sponsored by Challenge for tyres and while his rig was equipped with semi-slick Grifo XS when we caught up with him, he also has two other treads to choose from: the decidedly old-school standard Grifo plus a new pattern called the Fango. According to Parbo, he co-developed the Fango with Challenge and the more aggressive tread features bigger side knobs for more bite in trying conditions.

If things go Parbo’s way, those nastier conditions will follow him around the world as he travels the race circuit. After a few weeks of racing Stateside, the adamant anti-doping spokesman will head back to Europe with the aim of reclaiming the Danish championship that he relinquished last year (he finished second). 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've had my best world cup result so far," he said. "It was a race with very muddy conditions 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, Joachim, have it your way. In this case, though, we’ll leave it to you to provide us with something interesting to watch come February; we’ll bring the camera.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Full specification

Frame: Leopard Cycles CX1, Large
Fork: Ritchey WCS Cross

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 1.89m (6' 2") ; Weight: 78kg (172lb)
Seat tube length, c-c: 540mm
Seat tube length, c-t: 590mm
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 810mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 564mm
C of front wheel to top of bars (next to stem): 648mm
Top tube length: 575mm (effective)

Front brake: TRP EuroX Mag
Rear brake: TRP EuroX Mag
Brake levers: SRAM Red DoubleTap
Front derailleur: SRAM Force
Rear derailleur: SRAM Red
Shift levers: SRAM Red DoubleTap
Cassette: SRAM OG-1090, 11-26T
Chain: SRAM PC-1090R
Crankset: SRAM Red, 39/46T, 175mm
Bottom bracket: SRAM Red GXP

Wheelset: Zipp 404 tubular
Front tyre: Challenge Grifo XS tubular, 32mm
Rear tyre: Challenge Grifo XS tubular, 32mm

Bars: Selcof Art. KP04 aluminum, 44cm (c-c)
Stem: Selcof Art. KA24 Over Carbon, 110mm x -6°
Headset: Integrated
Tape/grip: SRAM

Pedals: Shimano XTR PD-M970
Seat post: Selcof Art. MC08 Carbon Monocoque
Saddle: BBB UltraBase DTL Deluxe
Bottle cages: n/a
Other accessories: Woodman Components Death Grip SL Ti seatpost collar, Capsule PH headset compression plug, and BlackRing carbon headset spacers

Total bike weight: 7.46kg (16.45lb)