Top Tube Pads: The Future of CX?

Nov 28 2010

Chris Horner has never been an adherent to cyclocross orthodoxy. From top-mount levers, to paired-spoke wheels, to a whole lot of other things, Horner has always marched to the beat of his own drummer when racing on the dirt.

But at Friday’s Jingle Cross in Iowa City, Horner debuted another CX innovation:
Chris Horner's Top Tube Pad detail
(original image from Velonews, by Steve Fry. Thanks to Dave Chiu for the catch.)

Yes, that’s a top tube pad on Horner’s cross bike. Discussion points:

  • Is it for handlebar protection—perhaps the new Treks take a bars-to-top-tube impact less well than every Cannondale ever?
  • Is it a nod to urban style—could its presence on the bike of a marquee rider signal a new trend in racing machines?
  • Is it for actual urban riding—is this rig doing double-duty as a commuter, with a pad to protect the paint from Bend’s many bike racks? If so, why didn’t Trek just give him a Presidio?
  • Is it for brand protection—it obscures where the “XO” graphics would be on a stock Trek cross bike, and certainly seems to lack the questionable down-tube cable routing of the XO series.
  • Is it for grundle/man parts protection—the importance of this should not be understated.
  • Is it for shoulder protection while carrying—Horner has broken a few things up there over the past season or two and may want a little extra padding.
  • If either of the last two items, does this mean Horner has rethought the viability of Step-and-Hop Mounts and Hoisting the Ladder, once staples of his unique cyclocross style?

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