This season, I called in the big guns, looking for cyclocross bikes actually made for cyclocross racing, not a versatile something-or-other that could work for ‘cross but also for gravel and touring. Bike No. 1 on the list? The all-new Sage Cycles PDXCX, a titanium cyclocross racer hailing from America’s capital of ‘cross, Portland. It debuted at Sea Otter Classic this year and is made in the USA of 3/2.5 ti with a bi-ovalized down tube and their patented Cable Clip System to run everything tight.

sage titanium PDXCX cyclocross bike review and tech details

The PDXCX is designed for “the tight, wet, technical” terrain of northwestern cyclocross racing that Portland is known for. As such, it’s shaped and angled for turning quickly and getting up and over crud.

It’s sold as a frame-only for $2,900, or as a frameset with ENVE CX Disc fork and Chris King headset for $3,652. Complete bikes start at $5,704 with a SRAM Rival mechanical group. Sage’s website lets you build out the bike exactly as you want, with tons of component, drivetrain and spec options. The bike shown here would end up around $7,500 or so.

sage titanium PDXCX cyclocross bike review and tech details

Sage founder Dave Rosen put all cable and hose runs along the top side of the top tube to keep them as far away from the mud as possible.

sage titanium PDXCX cyclocross bike review and tech details

His Cable Clip System uses swappable alloy cable stops that bolt into the frame to accommodate shift cables. For 1x groups, there’s a single-stop design, and for 2x groups, there’s a double stop. For Di2/EPS wired shifting, he makes a special pass-through rivnut bolt that lets the wire pass though, then snakes backward to run down the head tube and then down the seat tube to reach the derailleurs.

The brake hose/housing clips to fixed mounts welded to the top tube, which is really my only gripe with this frame. I tend to rub my knees on the top tube as I ride, and the plastic clip that held the hose in place continually scraped me. I removed it, and that reduced the issue, but the edges of the metal mount still brushed my knee occasionally. Were this my own bike, I’d file down the mount’s edges to remove any corners, then either use thin wire to secure the hose to it, or just run a strip of electrical tape around the cable and top tube. Elegant, I know. I’m hoping Dave moves the cable mount ~10º upward on future models, which should rectify the situation.

sage titanium PDXCX cyclocross bike review and tech details

Frames use a standard threaded BSA bottom bracket.

sage titanium PDXCX cyclocross bike review and tech details

The backside of the seat tube provides the roundabout cable mount for mechanical systems and the Di2 port. It also gets fender mounts on the back of the chainstay bridge, as well as streamlined lower fender strut mounts on the outside of the chainstays:

sage titanium PDXCX cyclocross bike has fender mounts for all season training

It’s a 12×142 thru axle rear end with Breezer-style dropouts that keep the stays running full diameter all the way to the axle.

sage titanium PDXCX cyclocross bike review and tech details

sage titanium PDXCX cyclocross bike review and tech details

Both the fork and the frame will take a 140mm or 160mm rotor.

sage titanium PDXCX cyclocross bike review and tech details

The seat tube uses a thinner wall tube most of the way up, with a sleeved, thicker tube section at the top to fit and provide the structural integrity needed by the seatpost. It also shows off the weld quality…consistently smooth and well done across the entire frame.

sage titanium PDXCX cyclocross bike claims to have clearance for 700 x 42mm tires

Tire clearance is claimed at 42mm max, which seems OK based on the 700×33 Clement PDX included on the test bike, buuuut

sage titanium PDXCX cyclocross bike review and tech details

…at the chainstays, though, that might not be the case. Clearance looks tight, but on the HED Ardennes+ LT rims, they measure an actual 37.5mm. Personally, I don’t think I’d run anything wider than an actual 38.

sage titanium PDXCX cyclocross bike actual weight

My size 58 test bike, built with SRAM Force 1, a 3T alloy cockpit with carbon seatpost, Specialized Power saddle, HED Ardennes alloy wheels with Clement PDX tubeless tires (set up tubeless), ENVE CX disc thru-axle fork and Chris King headset came in at 18lb 14oz (8.56kg).

SAGE PDXCX CYCLOCROSS BIKE RIDE REVIEW

sage titanium PDXCX cyclocross bike review and tech details

The PDXCX rides fast, with the typically rough-but-manageable feel of titanium. It has big chainstays and seatstays, so there’s not much in the way of flex or compliance, leaving the seatpost to pick up the slack. But this is racing after all, and a good titanium frame should last you a lifetime.

sage titanium PDXCX cyclocross bike review and tech details

Power transmission is direct and efficient. No creaking, squeaking or other ailments have been observed over the past couple months of riding, training and racing…and that’s despite leaving it outdoors dirty and in varying states of wetness for a few straight days following a lightly grassy/muddy race. A good scrubbing later (with a little extra attention paid to the chain) and it was good as new. Aaahhh, titanium.

sage titanium PDXCX cyclocross bike review and tech details

Riding the bike around for general fun or light training revealed nothing out of the ordinary. It handles predictably, rides smoothly and definitely goes where I pointed it. The bike is not one to take wide sweepers as gracefully as others, but shines in the tight, twisting turns of course tape and picking its way around competitors.

Looking strictly at the numbers, it took me a while to figure out why, exactly, it handles the way it does. Compared to the Specialized Crux, almost all of the key figures are nearly identical at the size 58 range. In fact, the Crux even has a longer fork rake, which would typically give it a shorter trail. But, because the head angle is a mere 0.25º steeper on the PDXCX, it ends up with a slightly shorter trail. Longer trail makes for a more stable bike, shorter equals snappier handling.

sage titanium PDXCX cyclocross bike review and tech details

One other geometry figure that stood out is the BB drop. At just 60mm, it sits 7mm taller than the Crux, and 8mm taller than the Cannondale Super-X (which are the other two bikes I’m currently testing). This means I’m sitting higher on the bike, which means a higher center of gravity.

Put it all together, and on transitions like what’s shown in the two photos directly above, descending and rolling into a fast turn, especially off camber, took a little extra attention. But just a little. It’s not twitchy, it’s just not a bike I felt super comfortable leaning hard into a big turn. It also meant I buzzed the toe of my shoe on the front tire a couple times in a race. Not enough to be dangerous, but worth noting.

Everything plays to its strengths. It’s by design that the PDXCX does what it does, after all, it’s designed and made in the Northwest for those types of courses. It’ll work everywhere else, too, it just took a little getting used to.

If your tracks tend toward the tight and technical, or you need a little extra ground clearance, the new Sage PDXCX ‘cross bike could be the right race horse for your course.

SageTitanium.com

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29 COMMENTS

  1. Ok, so just so I’m clear, this is a dedicated race bike … that also has fender and bottle cage mounts, fits 38 (or claimed 42mm) tires and has a fairly neutral geometry that could certainly make this pass for a road or gravel bike with a wheel swap.

  2. Tyler, this is the first time I read someone claiming “with the typically rough-but-manageable feel of titanium”. I can’t speak for this frame as I have not ridden it but what other ti frames have you ridden that you think it’s typical for them to provide a rough ride? I have ridden many titanium frames (50+) and also frames made from the other three materials and in general I have ridden only very few carbon frames that could match or trump a well made titanium frame when it comes to smoothing the ride.

    • Yeah, whether it is true or marketing fiction, the bike industry pretty much requires review copy for Ti bikes to include references to a “magical and lively ride” the “takes the edge off” bumps. Although, I resent your statement about having ridden “frames made from the other three materials”. That is a microaggression that undermines the validity of other legitimate frame materials such as bamboo and magnesium. ;-P

    • The old Dean frame I had was one of the harshest frames I’ve ever ridden. I’m sure it all comes down to what butting/thickness you spec the tubing with.

      • Hey, you can’t use common sense like that. You can only use bike world material science facts: steel bikes always have a magical ride (that’s why they’re real); aluminum always rides harsh; CF instantly kills all vibes; and Ti is just a little bit less magical than steel and CF.

        There’s no way that tube size, wall thickness, and frame geometry can have anything at all to do with ride quality.

  3. Old school geometry ill suited to U.S. racing, top tube cable routing, negligible tire clearance… This looks better than my Stigmata in exactly 0 ways. Santa Cruz’s warranty is also probably better when you factor in the 100% chance of existing in 7 years.

    Oh, and calling Portland the “capital of ‘cross” is like calling Brooklyn the “capital of US track racing” for the hipster alleycat races… Sure, some fast people show up and throw down, but this pales in comparison to the majority of the field. Booze, costumes, and other shenanigans abound, and are a ton of fun, but it’s hardly the place to go if you want to focus on actually racing cyclocross.

  4. I hope Tyler actually knows the difference between the chainstays – which he says have the fender mounts – and the seatstays, where they’re visible in the photos.

  5. Those cable stops look like a mentally challenged high school student made them in shop class. If keeping you cables clean and out of the mud is the main goal would it not make more sense to route them internally? this looks like typical hipster trash that is overpriced and over hyped. slapping Chris King and Enve on there just top off the feeling of getting bent over the counter at the value shop.

    • You guys are killing me here with these comments! So funny. Yeah, those cable stops are pretty unattractive. Having said that, cross cable routing seems like a pretty contentious issue due to both the bad conditions and the amount of contact the frame has with the riders body. Internal seems great, except all the mud and power washing means you need to do more maintenance. If you run electronic shifting and hydro brakes then it would be ideal, but otherwise external is a lot easier to lube and replace. Running external is tough though, because the downtube is getting sprayed with mud. The top tube is iffy too though, as a lot of riders grab the top tube when carrying the bike, suitcase style, over a flat section of barriers, and the cables can interfere with your hold, plus it will scratch the crap out of the tube. Then guides on the underside of the top tube, will of course interfere with shouldering the bike.

  6. In the picture that shows the top tube, seat tube, seat stay junction could someone explain the purpose of the weld line that runs around the circumference of the seat tube just below the cluster of welds? I have seen this weld line on just a few other ti frames but it does not appear that common.

    • @jman, the text right under the pic says they use a thin wall seat tube up until the upper few inches, then run a thicker tube at the top to deal with the seatpost interface and stresses. That weld is the transition point. Some Ti bikes don’t need it though, as they use an internal aluminum sleeve, or a thick tube the whole way, or a butted tube, which is why you only see that bead on some examples.

  7. What’s the point (value) of buying a re-branded Lynskey?
    – Custom geometry… is it not better to go totally custom instead?
    – To buy a Lynskey but not carry the Lynskey stickers… yet everyone knows its a Lynskey?

    A mystery to me, but perhaps I’m the only one?

    • Lynskey builds to frames under contract, the way they did when they were Litespeed and just like Waterford does with steel today. There are certainly varying levels of design and engineering input. I guess the question is, how much of those two things were contributed by the guys at Sage?

  8. This is a lot of money for a cludgy mess of cable routing, shit tire clearance and wart like rack and fender mounts as well as confused geometry . After reading a ton of the comment section over the years here at BR I KNOW even a full race CX bike don’t have threaded mounts a bunch will complain, but dam I wish these weren’t so fugly. Maybe instead of racing for whiskey handups, the peeps at Sage should be paying attention to how the bike works when on the race course?

  9. So I’m likely biased, as I raced the PDXCX for this year’s cross season in the Pacific NW. I loved the bike… the frame is responsive and the build quality is first rate. My particular set-up was Di2 Hydro, and that kept the top tube super clean. Additionally, cleaning up the bike after mud races was easy as I didn’t need to worry about exposed cables. (The beautiful thing about unpainted titanium for cross is that you can use a brillo pad at the end of the season to rub out any scratches and the frame looks like new.)

    For me the fender rack mounts are awesome as it’s a quick turn into a great winter/rain bike. Dave Rosen is passionate about Titanium, and his commitment to the material and the sport are self-evident when speaking with him. (Which I did frequently while I was determining my set-up.)

    Finally… the Portland cross scene is pretty outstanding. There might be better races scattered around the country, but for about twelve weeks out of the year, cross is king in PDX. There are a number of weeks where you can race 3-4 days a week (Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Saturday and Sunday). I think it’s safe to say that no one has more fun with CX than Portland.

What do you think?