Bike Check: Michaela Thompson's Made-in-Colorado Rooted Cyclocross Bike
The Alpha Bicycle - Groove Silverthorne team is beta-testing aluminum 'cross bikes this fall for the new Colorado company
The Alpha Bicycle - Groove Silverthorne development program run by Adam Rachubinski has been a mainstay on the domestic cyclocross scene for years now. The program that counts Gage Hecht, Katie Clouse, and Brannan Fix as graduates provides opportunities for young Coloradoans to race on the national cyclocross scene. The team also embraces its Colorado roots and tries to work with Colorado brands as much as possible.
For years now, the team rode on titanium bikes from Colorado company Moots. However, this season, the team has a new bike sponsor in the Rooted Bicycle Company. Rooted keeps things metal for the team, but in this case, swapping in aluminum.
I took a closer look at Michaela Thompson’s Rooted cyclocross bike back during the Charm City weekend and talked to Rachubinski about the bike and the Rooted project.
Rooted Bicycles are not yet available to the public; the company plans on officially launching the brand this coming spring. “We wanted this to be the last beta test where we wanted to make sure the bikes went through a full 'cross season of the hardest conditions before we put it out on the market,” Rachubinski said. “Even though we could have taken advantage of the hottest bike market ever, we wanted to make sure we got it right.”
The project itself is kind of a long-time coming for Rachubinski. He explained that the Alpha Bicycle shop, which has two locations in the Denver area, has come to be known as kind of a cyclocross shop, and with the Rooted bikes, he wanted to embrace those roots and kind of buck the gravelization of cyclocross trend.
“Rooted is a project I've been working on kind of off and on for the last four or five years,” he said. “Domestic manufacturing has always been a passion of mine, and with the lack of true 'cross bikes on the market, everyone is kind of switching their 'cross bike to more of a gravel geometry, we saw a hole.”
The Rooted cyclocross bike has an aluminum frame, which is not something we see every day on the Elite cyclocross scene these days.
The bikes are manufactured in Colorado, and Rachubinski said they will be offered in five stock sizes, so they are not custom per se. The five riders on the team are riding three of the five sizes this year. Stock colors are also TBD. This season the team is riding a mix of the orange seen on Thompson’s bike and a green that can best be described as “Alpha green.”
The aluminum frame adopts a modern approach to cable routing with ports for internal routing on the left side of the frame. (I assume this is still considered modern, what with the trend toward “integrated” routing we are seeing more of)
While the frame is aluminum, the front fork on Thompson’s Rooted ‘cross bike is a Whisky No.9 Cyclocross Fork with flat-mount disc mounts. The Whisky fork also has internal routing for brake cables.
The metal frame retains the seatstay bridge rendered obsolete on carbon bikes thanks to disc brakes, but there is plenty of clearance for the muddy conditions the Rooted bike is most at home in.
One other interesting design aspect of the Rooted frame is the sliding adjustable rear dropout out. Bringing back memories of the Trek Stranglehold dropout on the old Crockett, the adjustable dropout will make the Rooted ‘cross bike a singlespeed option for riders such as team assistant and mentor Jake Wells.
Tubeless tires had a bit of a moment in domestic ‘cross in 2019 with the Squid Squad, Courtenay McFadden’s Pivot team, and the Alpha Bicycle - Groove Silverthorne teams racing on tubeless tires. Two of those three teams are gone from the scene this season, but the Alpha squad is sticking with tubeless.
The team is racing on Pirelli Cinturato tires the team worked with the company to develop. The tires come in an H version that is a mixed treat and an M tread that is more of a mud tire. I have a set of the M tires that are really nice because the 700c x 33mm tires inflate to … 33mm wide, which is not the case for all tubeless tires.
The team is still racing on UCI-legal 33mm treads, but probably not surprisingly, the company’s stock offerings are now all gravel tires in 700c x 35mm, 40mm, and 45mm and 650b x 40mm and 45mm widths. ‘Cross folks just can’t win these days.
The Alpha team is sponsored by Shimano, and is thus running the Dura-Ace R9170-C40 carbon tubeless wheels. Shimano also recently released R9270-series tubeless wheels in 36mm and 50mm depths.
Rachubinski explained the thought process behind going tubeless. “We're doing tubeless again. That's going well. Shimano has new Dura-Ace tubeless wheels out that are even lighter. We've seen that technology progressing, and we think it's the way of the future.”
Thompson’s groupset is the GRX off-road offering from Shimano. While Shimano-sponsored Euros have stuck with the traditional Dura-Ace gruppo, domestic teams have wholeheartedly embraced GRX and its clutch rear derailleur. Riders on the Alpha team get to choose between 1x and 2x setups, and Thompson opted for a 1x setup with a 40t ring in the front and 11-34t spread in the back.
A Wolftooth Gnarwolf chain keeper helps keep the 1x setup in line.
Shimano brand Pro fills out other components with a Vibe handlebar, stem, and seatpost as well as a Pro Turnix saddle. The handlebar holds the super-ergo GRX RX815 Di2 shift-brake levers.
With the season winding down, Thompson and the young Alpha program riders turn their collective attention to Pan-Ams and U.S. Nationals in early December. And who knows, maybe we’ll get into the review business and take a Rooted bike for a spin when they become available next spring.
Michaela Thompson’s Rooted Cyclocross Bike Specs
Frame: Rooted cyclocross, aluminum frame, 12mm thru-axle, flat-mount disc
Fork: Whisky No.9 Cyclocross Fork Disc, carbon, 12mm thru-axle, flat-mount disc
Shift/Brake Levers: Shimano GRX RX815 Dual-Control Levers
Brake Calipers: Shimano GRX RX810 hydraulic disc
Crankset: Shimano GRX RX810-1
Chain Ring: Shimano GRX, 40t
Rear Derailleur: Shimano GRX RX815 Di2
Cassette: Shimano Ultegra R8000, 11-34t
Wheels: Shimano Dura-Ace R9170-C40 carbon tubeless
Tires: Pirelli Cinturato H tubeless, 700c x 33mm
Handlebar: Pro Vibe
Stem: Pro Vibe
Seatpost: Pro Vibe
Saddle: Pro Turnix
Pedals: Shimano M9100 XTR SPD
More Info: rootedbicycleco.com