Justin Lowe’s Iron Cross XII Race Rig

If you haven’t heard Justin’s name before, take a gander at the results list for Iron Cross XII, 2014.

Fourth fastest overall, 4:11:45 ride time, amazing stuff.  Justin is 37yo, meaning the 40+ Masters men category is in trouble, again, when he turns 40.


Justin’s Bike

Justin and I met each other on Saturday, and again after Sunday’s race, where we traded notes about our respective race bikes; the genre of which I refer to as a Monster Cross bike.  Justin likes to call his machine a Frankenbike.

This beast took 4th fastest time overall.

Frame: Warp 9 Carbon 29’er.

Fork: Specialized Rigid Carbon.

Saddle: Fizik Arione VS.

Wheelset: Specialized Roval Control SL 29’er.

Tyres: Specialized Renegade 1.8″.

Shifters: SRAM 11 Speed Hydraulic.

Drivetrain: SRAM CX1 11 speed.

Crankset: SRAM XX1 Mountain crank, 38T single chainring.

Cassette: SRAM PG1070, 11-32.

Brakes: SRAM Hydraulic.

This bike is FAST, as is the rider aboard it.  Justin reported the SRAM CX1 groupset performed flawlessly; CX1 is something to consider if you’re looking to utilize a 1 x 11 drivetrain setup.


Why a Frankenbike or Monster Cross Bike?

Mega tire (tyre) clearance on a Monster CX’er! Those are 1.8’s pictured.

Readers can view my original article on the subject, What the heck is a Monster Cross Bike?  Justin’s bike, like my own, was built to be the near perfect gravel machine.  With easy provision for tires (tyres) up to 2.2″ in width, and a wide gearing range, they are extremely versatile bicycles.  There’s also the drop bars, which replicate one’s road position, with multiple hand positions, versus the one or two associated with regular MTB handlebars.

One can safely bomb chunky gravel descents on a Monster CX rig, while riders aboard regular cyclocross bikes with narrower tyres generally tip toe down, out of fear of puncturing a front or rear tire (tyre).  Having punctured a front wheel and crashed on a knarly descent at Hilly Billy Roubaix 2013, building a Monster CX bike was also about safety for yours truly.

Also, check out the custom Quiring Monster CX Gravel Race rig of Dr Pain.



I hope to feature more bad-arse bikes from the gravel racing scene, here on the Gravel Cyclist blog.  Garth Prosser’s bike is one I’d like to get under the microscope.

Thanks for reading.


  1. so i am looking to build a gravel bike. found a NINER carbon RDO hard tail frame at half off for the chassis. do i go with a 29er wheel or a 700c wheel? shimano hydralic road shifters…

    XT or Ultegra drive train?

    are 29er tires and 700c tires compatible (tubeless)? I would guess no, but seems worth checking.

    loving the mix match project.

    • JOM JOM

      Jonny, 700c and 29’er wheels are actually the same size edge to edge, but “29’er” wheels generally have wider rim beds. I am running an American Classic 29’er Race MTB wheelset on a Litespeed T5G review bike at the moment – the wheels increase the width of my 35mm wide tyres to 40mm – all due to the wider rim bed. That is a pretty sweet side effect.

      The Niner frame is technically an MTB frame, so that means you won’t have the chainring clearance to use an Ultegra crankset. You would have to check compatibility on the mechanical shifting stuff – I only know Di2 really well – but some of the groupsets can be mixed, so MTB derailleurs and crank but road shifters on a drop bar, etc. Whether a tyre is tubeless or not is dependent on the manufacturer, and the tyre will usually state its compatibility somewhere on the package, etc. But, a lot of non-tubeless tyres can be run tubeless.

      I hope this info helps.

  2. ok. thanks for the tip re the crankset. so XT cranks, done. now shimano RS685 levers…ultergra rear deraileur should be solid, long cage…front deraileur, maybe XT…mechanical. what else am I missing??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.