The cyclocross courses may still be grass covered and flyovers unassembled, but cyclocross season is right around the corner. This year, more than ever there will be a push towards disc brakes as just about every manufacturer now has a cross bike without cantis. In the case of Foundry’s CX race oriented Harrow – disc is your only option. In addition to the disc, the Harrow is all about stiffness and performance with a Whiskey No. 9 carbon disc fork complete with a 15mm Maxxle lite.
The Harrow is ready for bacon hand ups and barriers, are you?
Disc brakes for cross seem to be at a point where you love em, or hate em. Discs offer improved mud clearance at the rim due to the lack of cantilever brakes or mounts, and generally have much better performance in terrible conditions and continue to work if your wheel is badly out of true, however there have been instances where pad life has been an issue in certain races and rotors have to be shimmed out for perfect alignment between different wheelsets. In spite of the few draw backs, with frames and brakes continually improving the future of cross discs looks pretty bright.
Our test bike was built with Hayes CX-5 mechanical discs with 140mm rotors, though the B3 is speced with 160s officially.
Of course, the other slight oddity to some may be the inclusion of a thru axle fork. There is a lot of discussion about which is faster – a QR or TA, but in our experience the repeatability for perfect disc alignment that a TA offers is well worth it (not to mention the additional stiffness for the front end). Whiskey uses a 15mm Rockshox Maxxle QR which requires indexing the lever (which functions like a normal QR lever) with the locking collar and then spinning it open or closed.
The cable routing on the Harrow is internal for the shifting and external for the brakes. Each uses full length housing, though the front derailleur housing terminates just before it enters into a hole in the chainstay just behind the bottom bracket. This orientation allows for the use of a standard pull front derailleur without the use of a pulley, but it does leave us wondering what front derailleur performance will be like in sloppy conditions.
The Shimano CX-70 crank (36-46) is held in in place in the PF30 frame with a Parlee PF30 adapter though spec is an FSA Gossamer crank. The rest of the drive train is 105 with a Tiagra cassette and FSA parts group.
Tire clearance seems generous with the Clement PDX 33c tires and should be helped by the lack of rim brakes. We’ll see what our mud/frozen slop has to throw at it. Wheels are built by QBP’s in-house wheel program Handspun and feature Formula 6 bolt hubs with Alex 32h disc specific rims.
Harrows are offered in three builds, the B3, B2, and top end B1 for $2850, $3499, and $4915 respectively. Our 52cm review B3 bike fits me very well at 5’8″ with the ability for a fairly upright seating position or slammed if you’re into that. On the scale the B3 measured 19.6 lbs or 8.9kg while Foundry lists the frame at 1150g for a 54cm. Check out Foundry’s site for spec on the other models.
We haven’t seen the first race yet, but CX season is off to an anxious start with out weekly CX TTs attracting big crowds on Wednesday nights. Arriving a bit late after getting back from the POC Octal launch, I got a chance to sneak in a few laps on the Harrow. It has rained a lot this year, so the course was muddier than usual this early in the season, but still fairly dry.
Out of the gate the Harrow is a fast bike feels razor sharp through the turns, likely due to the thru axle up front. My last CX build had Avid Shorty Ultimates which were great brakes, but I have to admit so far I’m loving the discs. The ultimate test will be pad wear during a muddy race, but the modulation they offer is great. Quiet, powerful, and completely shudder free.
The end of summer is admittedly my favorite time to mountain bike, but a part of me is secretly looking forward to the cold, wet days of cyclocross ahead.