Rashad F
Hello all, I have been lurking for a couple of weeks, but this is my first post.  My family and I moved to Denver this week and I am looking to get into the local gravel scene here, which seems to be thriving.  Due to costs associated with the move, I want to ease my way in financially, but still plan to build my first bike from the frameset up.  The new Crockett and Search XR are my two finalists (open to other affordable framesets though).  I would love to hear your thoughts and/or experiences with these two bikes.  I should be able to get a significant discount on the Crockett due to some work relationships, but I really like the Search XR Steel and the ability to run 650b wheels on it as well.  Trek discourages people from running 650b wheels on the Crockett.  I like the weight and internal cable routing and the ability to adjust the rear wheel placement on the Trek.  Fit seems to be similar on both. I welcome any thoughts or advice you have.  Thank you in advance.  



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I love my 18’ crockett. I got it for Xmas and built it as a SS CX bike. The frame is really snappy and feels quick to maneuver compared to my Boone. The break cable to the rear is a little tight in terms of line bending for my mechanical brake cables. The TRP HY/RD cable angle attachment puts a strong bend getting from the chainstay to the caliper. Other than that, everything else is awesome.
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The Flaanimal 4.0 is a 725 steel frame also. Is $1350 in your budget?
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Have the 18 Crockett 5 and I love the bike for winter road riding and gravel. I was not looking at the Crockett early on as I was looking for a gravel bike and prior to the 18 model it didn't have what I wanted. But, as you know, Trek updated the Crockett not only to be a good CX bike and decent road bike but now it's a really good gravel bike too. They added 12mm Thru-axles front and back, flat mount disc brake and tire clearance for at least 40C tires. I probably could go a little wider but it might not clear the mud on wetter rides. Besides 40C is pretty good for gravel.

I bought an extra set of wheels and run Hutchinson Sector 28s on the stock wheels for winter road riding and bought some Pacenti Forzas to mount Kenda Flintridge Pros 40C for gravel. Even with an aluminum frame, this is a very smooth riding bike...of course the tires I have that I run at lower pressures (Tubeless on both sets) help. I moved my adjustable axles all the way back mainly for comfort and smoother handling for gravel riding but I leave them that way for road riding too. I have a nice road bike if I really want speed and quick handling. But the Crockett with go in the upper 20's when I need to. It's a good road bike for all but the fastest group rides (only due to gearing). I also added an 11-36 cassette to the gravel wheelset for steeper gravel climbs.

I've not ridden the Norco but I can tell you I love my Crockett. My Trek Madone is gathering dust right now!
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Mr E
I would buy a complete Crockett, and sell off what you don't need.

It'll cost you less in the end.

If I remember correctly, Crockett hydro line is run internally.

I like 36 or 38mm tires
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I called about a Search in steel last week and was told they are already sold out for the entire year and that production for next year’s bike wouldn’t start until August.
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Buy the 2018 Trek Crockett...you won’t regret it. If you have the money the 2018 Boone is the same bike in Carbon...or you could wait on the new Trek Checkpoint (see other thread) which is more gravel/adventure oriented...it’ll have 2X drivetrain as opposed to 1X with the Crockett / Boone line.
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Rashad F
JSinLR wrote:
Buy the 2018 Trek Crockett...you won’t regret it. If you have the money the 2018 Boone is the same bike in Carbon...or you could wait on the new Trek Checkpoint (see other thread) which is more gravel/adventure oriented...it’ll have 2X drivetrain as opposed to 1X with the Crockett / Boone line.

Thank you for the advice.  The Crockett definitely looks like a solid bargain option.  I have a list of about 4-5 finalists I am currently whittling down.  The new Checkpoint made that list, but the Crockett didn't.  I want to make my decision by 3/1 and then I plan to make a purchase within days of that.  
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There are some fairly significant geometry differences between the Trek cross bikes and the Search XR.  The Norco is more relaxed, and presumably more comfortable to ride. It's also optimized for 650b or 700c.  I've never ridden the Treks, so I can't say I've actually compared them.

I'm not a racer, and prefer long endurance/adventure rides in the woods (100+ miles) over fast thrashing around a CX course for an hour.  I chose my bike according to those needs.  

I'm not sure where the Boone and Crockett are with 650b compatibility, or if that is of interest to you, but that is one the strengths of the XR.  It has the lowered chainstay and it's geometry is suitable for a 650b or 700c setup, depending on your specific needs.  Some of our fire roads can be harsh and full of washboards and potholes, especially in the spring after snow melt and late fall when the rains start up again.  Having the option of a 47mm 650b for those harsher conditions is nice.  For most of my riding, I'll probably be on 700c X 35mm-40mm depending on the terrain.   I just really like having that versatility.  

Another deciding factor for me was the fact that the top level build (SRAM Force 1) actually came with a decent set of 650b WTB Frequency i23 wheels. I already have several sets of 700c wheels suitable for gravel setups, but didn't own any 650B wheels.  This gave me the chance to ride the bike with this setup without having to invest separately in another set of wheels.

For me, the only downside is that you really must have a local *authorized* Norco dealer if you are going to need any kind of maintenance, support, or warranty stuff done.  Norco does not have any direct to customer support at all. You have to go through a local shop.  This is great if your local shop knows the bikes and has good contacts with the company.   Fortunately, I have the #1 Norco Dealer in North America a few miles from my house, and I can bend the ear of the rep when he's in, and the guys as the shop know the product and technical stuff really well.
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Here is a picture of the Search XR Steel in the gray/black combo.

Sadly, there are no more of these available other than what is in stock at dealers.  Norco won't be shipping any more until the new model year comes out in August 2018.

I'm really impressed with the frameset.  Shaped Reynolds 725 tubes, Norco carbon fork, 12mm thru-axles, flat mount brakes, dropped chainstay adpated specifically to fit 650b

I'm not a weight weenie, and I'm building this bike for someone else (who is also not a weight weenie), so I never got around to weighing it. 

Some people will be put off by the press fit BB shell.  While I would prefer a threaded shell, I would never let this be the deciding factor in choosing an otherwise awesome bike.  

In this case, I went with the Praxis Alba crankset and the Praxis press fit BB30 bearings.  It's my first time using these, but the installation was a breeze.  I followed the Praxis instructions to a "T", including using the recommended Loctite 609 reataining compound.  I'm confident this is going to work out fine.  If not, I'll just go with a threaded aftermarket BB/Adapter.

The rest of the build is a mix of spare components I had laying around and a few new things.

  • Frameset: 2018 Search XR Steel (48cm - 650b only)
  • Crankset: Praxis Alba 48/32
  • Wheels: WTB Frequency Team 650b that came on my personal 2018 Search XR (I upgraded to Boyd Jocassee). 
  • Cassette: Shimano 8000 11-34 (may go to SRAM 11-36 if the new owner needs more gears)
  • Shifters: Shimano 8000 mechanical
  • Derailleurs: Shimano 8000 mechanical
  • Brakes: TRP Spyre SLC Dual Piston Mechanical
  • Tires: Compass BabyShoe Pass 42mm
  • Stem: 100mm Redshift ShockStop
  • Handlebars: Easton AX70 Gravel Pro (40cm)
  • Seatpost: BMC Zero Setback (pull-off from another bike)

Note that this bike has not been fitted yet, so I have not cut the steerer or the seatpost yet.  I'll do that after I get the detailed measurements from the new owner and get her fit dialed in.

One caveat with this bike.   There is not a lot of room at the junction of the rear chainstay/seatstay for the rear brake caliper.  I originally wanted to spec TRP Hy/Rd's new flat mount version, but these turned out to be too tall, and the actuator arm hit the seat stay.   I ended up spec'cing the same brakes Norco specs on the full build (TRP Spyres Flat Mount).  I would have opted for flat mount Ultegra 8000, but I was re-using a set of mechanical shifters from another bike and was trying to keep costs down.  The dual piston Spyres have pretty favorable reviews, and the rider is relatively small and light, and won't be bombing down super fast descents in wet conditions, so I think they'll be fine. If they turn out to be a flop, I'll just bite the bullet and upgrade to the Ultegra 8000 hydraulic flat mound calipers and new shifters.

Also worth noting.  These are brand new Babyshoe Pass tires I just recently purchased from Compass.  I'm not thrilled with the color of the sidewall on these.  I've used many compass tires in the past and have always been happy with them for road plus use, but the color of these is a bit off-puting.  They actually have a bit of a green hue to them.   I called Compass to inquire about it.  I was told that they had to find a new source for some of the materials and they are still working through some details.   They assured me the tires are fine from an integrity standpoint.   My comment back to them was, for $80+ per tire, I would not expect this kind of a QC issue.   If they aren't happy with the color, they should send them back to where they came and insist on them getting it right.

Lastly, some of the specs on Norco's website for this bike are incorrect.  For example, the website calls for a braze on front derailleur mount, but there is no braze on.  You need a clamp on FD for a 28.6mm seat tube for this bike.  I let Norco know about this, and they promised to update the specs.  Also note that this makes using the seat-tube bottle mount a bit of a challenge.  You can use it but you'll need small spacers to account for the clamp in between the bottle bosses.  There are plenty of alternate bottle mounts available (top and bottom of the down tube and both sides of the fork), so it's not a huge deal.


It will likely be a few weeks before the first rides on this one.  I'll report back with updates.

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