Does cyclocross season ever end? It seems the moment the race calendar comes to a close, ‘cross is already coming back. With a bike you love, you certainly won’t let it end because once the fun on the race courses concludes, you’ll continue coming up with creative ways to keep riding your ‘cross bike. At least that was my experience during my time with No. 22’s Broken Arrow cyclocross bike.

The Broken Arrow is a North American Handmade Bike Show award winner for Best Cyclocross Bike. Crafted from butted titanium tubing, the frame geometry is dialled for technical cross racing. The durable, light metal is easy to fall in love with, especially with the stunning anodized fade I got the Broken Arrow in. The bike is welded in Johnstown, NY and was finished with a 1x Shimano Ultegra groupset with the Ultegra RX clutch rear derailleur for keeping the chain tight while riding rough terrain. Reynolds Assault Carbon provided a light, fast wheelset to drive into technical sections or power up steep inclines.

On the racecourse and beyond

The Broken Arrow has a good combination of the characteristics I look for in a bike I intend to race hard through mud, around technical obstacles and fast on sections of smooth pavement. One gravel event I took the Broken Arrow on had deep muddy sections with uneven gravel and wet leaves. While riders around me struggled to maintain control of their bikes and had to dismount through particularly rough sections, I found the headtube angle and overall frame geometry gave me an ideal platform to maintain traction and control. On fast road sections, the bike also felt really at ease helping me to power up rolling climbs and maintain speed on the flats even with knobby rubber.

Towards the end of the race we headed into some single track, and hopping over downed trees and driving into technical corners was a blast. At times, I thought I would lose traction but the geometry of the bike really kept me far more grounded than I expected. The frame is also very easy to shoulder because the ample space between the top tube, down tube and seat tube on the 54 I rode. No. 22 do make custom geometry bikes but their stock Broken Arrow delivered a fit that felt perfect for me.

Near my home, there’s a short network of single track with downed trees, technical corners and flowing sections of single track through the forest. Hopping out of the single track onto a paved path, it’s fun to gain speed and then dive into another section. When I’ve ridden gravel bikes through this terrain, I missed the geometry of a bike designed for more aggressive technical riding that’s not just focused on stability on uneven terrain. The Broken Arrow continuously offered a ride that feels designed for outings that mimick what is often found in ‘cross races.

Sometimes it’s nice to switch things up and having a fun cyclocross bike on hand to ride, I was driven to seek new challenges. I urged friends to follow me up ravines with unfamiliar paths and sought new trails I could interrupt paved sections with. I went on century gravel rides, hit wet roads when I’d usually opt to stay dry and discovered a new more casual way of riding with the Broken Arrow. I love aggressive road bikes and while the No. 22 Broken Arrow is slack to provide the optimal position for navigating tricky conditions, I was constantly pleasantly surprised by how springy and nimble the bike felt when pushing it fast on paved sections.

Custom details and more versatility

While gravel bikes cater directly to cyclists seeking more adventurous riding opportunities, the Broken Arrow had two water bottle cages and mounts for fenders or panniers so it could become a foul weather machine or it could be converted to tackle a bike-packing trip. With clearance for 40 mm tires, the Broken Arrow also offers a nice range to experiment with different setups. On my next trip, I could see the option of mounting it with 30 mm road tires but bringing along a 38 mm gravel tire as well depending on the destination. With a front derailleur and more traditional road gearing, the Broken Arrow would be a great adventure bike.

No. 22 have upped their anodizing considerably in recent years and now offer finishings with a brilliant array of colours that are beautiful. The blue to green fade was particularly stunning with the colours shimmering purples and turquoises for an effect that slightly changed depending on the light.

For ease of maintenance, the shift cables run externally on the top tube. While it’s not the cleanest setup and covers some of the anodization, it does the trick and keeps the cables away from the mud where things could get clogged up. With an electronic groupset, the cables run internally. The hydraulic disc brake cables do run internally.

A straight flying arrow

The No. 22 Broken Arrow is a very well designed cyclocross bike that gave me the confidence to push it further in tough riding and race conditions. When I wanted to go fast, it bounded into motion and when I rode more casually on trails just seeing where the ride took me, I was happy to have a bike that responded to my command as I pushed through mud, leaves and puddles. For those dedicated to racing ‘cross, and carving mud, it’s hard to beat the Broken Arrow. If you want to ride more adventurously and further, it’s up for that too.

The No. 22 Broken Arrow frameset is available for US$3,600 at 22bicycles.com or through Canadian No. 22 dealers.

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