By using a decent aluminium frame instead of trying to fit a carbon frame into a tight budget, the Eastway CX 2.0 manages to hit an accessible price point without compromising on its components.
Dual compound, sparsely knobbed 35mm tyres take the sting out of the trail. The gearing occasionally feels challenging off road but is ideal for blacktop and there are well positioned mudguard and rack eyelets for those who want to use the bike as a complete all-rounder.
I have both fond and painful memories of racing, both on and off road, at the Eastway cycle circuit in East London so I was in two minds when distributor Fisher Outdoor Leisure launched their Eastway bike brand a couple of years back.
The cycle circuit itself was bulldozed a few years back to make way for London's Olympic Park, but Eastway as a brand is looking strong.
There are 13 bikes in the range, starting with a flat handlebar 'sports hybrid' at £599 and topping out with disc brake equipped carbon framed road and cross bikes at £1999.
The CX 2.0 is designed to cope with all manner of roads and trails, with a nod towards commuting and lightweight touring.
As a thoroughbred all rounder, it would readily cope with the occasional cyclo cross race or sportive too.
Its geometry and ride set-up creates handling that, either on and off road, is reassuringly neutral and its 52/54/56/58/60 size options should cover most riders.
The top tube reach is 5mm less than the seat tube length on the 56cm bike, with a 71.5° head angle and 73.5° at the seat, all proven norms on an all-rounder road/cross bike.
Geometry varies slightly on smaller and larger sizes and, if you're interested in making comparisons with top end bikes, is slightly more relaxed than on the £1999 carbon framed CX 1.0.
That makes sense as the CX 2.0 is more likely to be chosen by non-racers.
Eastway embraced the idea of disc brake equipped road and cross bikes right from the start. It's not just the raw power of discs that sets bikes like this apart from traditional cantilever brake equipped 'cross bikes. It's the modulation, the ease of lever pull and the stopping predictability in all conditions.
On tarmac it might only make a small difference in the dry, but the predictability of stopping in a safe distance is a real bonus in the wet, when traditional rim brakes often struggle for friction on a rim.
Off road, that predictability advantage is a major bonus, allowing you to brake later coming into corners regardless of the trail conditions.
The fact that you don't need to put as much effort into pulling the levers allows you to save energy and brake without grab on rougher surfaces, and a buckled rim won't interfere with braking.
With all that said, it's unusual to see Avids low budget BB5s on a bike at this price. BB7s cost very little more and offer more fine adjustment.
The CX2.0 frame is built from 7000 series double butted aluminium. The big triangulated down tube and almost horizontal top tube make the most of their shapes in creating plenty of weld contact area where they wrap around the head tube, bottom bracket and seat tube.
The welds aren't exactly pretty (we're becoming used to seeing smooth double-pass welds on mid range aluminium frames) but they do the job.
The carbon fibre fork has a tapered (1.5 to 1.125in) steerer with a 30mm washer stack for stem tweaks.
Both gear cables run through slotted guides along the top tube and the rear brake is neatly mounted between the chain stay and seat stay, with full outer cable running underneath the down tube and along the inner side of the chain stay. It does the job but might need an extra zip tie to prevent occasional tyre rub just behind the bottom bracket.
There are two sets of bottle cage bosses.
The Eastway's SRAM Apex drivetrain twins a 50/34 toothed crankset with an 11-28 cassette. This produces enough useable gear ratios for all but the least fit on the road but you'll rarely find yourself using the 50 off road unless you're a fit racer.
One minor advantage of SRAM, compared to Shimano, is that their drivetrains use the same sprocket spacing for road and mountain bike.. If you feel the need to fit lower gear ratios you can opt to fit a cassette with bigger sprockets, which you will probably need to pair with a longer, mountain bike style rear mech.
Even Alberto Contador has been known to race with a 36-tooth sprocket on his cassette.
The Eastway branded finishing kit is all good stuff and I particularly liked the compact drop bar, which has a heavily ovalised straight centre section that's very comfy on climbs and allows for a flat topped lever position that's great for shifting and braking in pressured trail situations.
However, fans of 'cross top' style supplementary brake levers will struggle to fit them on an ovalised bar. I mention this because I like using cross top levers for technical off road rides.
The two bolt seat post, slimline saddle and stem are all nicely made and the wheels are tightly built using Eastway's E28 semi-deep section rims, three cross 32 laced to Eastway hubs.
Kenda's dual compound Kommando 35mm tyres have a minimally knobbed, well spaced tread pattern that's great in dry conditions off road but not grippy in wet mud.
They roll fast on the road but experience tells me they wear fast too.
However, it's impossible to get tyres right on a bike like this. Ride them until they're worn out then fit your favourites.
The curvy chainstays could accommodate tyres up to about 40mm wide, bigger up front.
As I already mentioned, the CX2.0 has slightly more relaxed geometry than the carbon framed top of the range CX 1.0. Personally I really like that. I like the fact that it's so stable both on and off road. I like the fact that it's relatively upright in traffic and I like the fact that there's still lots of adjustment in the stem and saddle rails.
It could be a race bike if you wanted it to be, but it's also suited to commuting, playing with mountain bike mates on the trails or pannier equipped touring.
There are loads of other bikes around like this at present, some heavier duty, some slightly lighter, but the CX 2.0 is among the best in terms of have a go at anything ability.
Capable cyclo-cross biased all-rounder.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Eastway CX 2.0
Size tested: Medium, 56, Red/Black
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
7000 Series aluminium frame, carbon fork. SRAM Rival gears, shifters and crankset. Eastway rims, hubs, stem, handlebar and saddle. Kenda Kommando 35mm tyres. Avid BB4 cable disc brakes.
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Eastways says "Whether you use the CX2.0 for the daily commute, or to blast along your favourite byway, this multipurpose mile-munching machine will get you there with speed and style. A full SRAM Apex groupset and Avid disc brakes are matched to a 7000 series alloy frame and carbon fork to keep you going when the going gets tough."
It does the job nicely, although those looking for mainly off road potential might want to change the 50 tooth outer ring and/or fit a wider ratio cassette
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Build quality appears good although the welds are not as pretty as some.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The 7000 Series aluminium frame and carbon fork appear to achieve a decent mix of low weight, high strength and reasonable comfort with 35mm tyres fitted.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
71.5 degrees at the head, 73.5 at the seat and a 55.5cm top tube on the 56cm seat tube frame.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Spot on. Plenty stem and saddle adjustability allows for a racey or much more upright posture.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes. More relaxed than a thoroughbred race bike, easy handling both on and off road, and the 35mm tyres give comfort an extra boost.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Pleasingly neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It simply feels reassuringly stable, both on and off the road.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Loved the compact handlebar shape. Loved the fact that there's room for up to 40mm tyres if most of your riding is off road. Habitual off road riders might choose to ditch the 50 tooth outer rings in favour of something more useable, but habitual road riders will probably love the gearing exactly as it is.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Tyres are a fast rolling on/off road compromise. Wear them out then choose your perfect treads.
Road tyres would obviously add confidence to road cornering.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
A bike designed for both on and off road riding will never have gearing to suit everyone. Fortunately SRAM road and MTB gearing is interchangeable, so you could even fit an MTB rear mech and cassette if you want smaller off road gearing.
Wheels and tyres
Tyres are a decent on/off road compromise, but they'll wear out quickly if you do a lot of road mileage.
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
There's enough room to fit fat touring or off road tyres, but the bike would be equally suitable for much skinnier road tyres.
Loved the handlebar shape.
The saddle is more comfy than it looks.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
Surprising to see Avid BB5 brakes on a bike at this price. There's nothing wrong with them but the fine tuning adjustability of slightly more upmarket BB7s is better.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, very much.
Would you consider buying the bike? No.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
No on/off road bike is going to suit everyone, but the CX 2.0 comes closer than many. Apart from the sparsely knobbed off road tyres, it's more of an all-rounder road bike really (with rack and mudguard mounts if you need them) but the generous tyre room means it's eminently useable off road too.
About the tester
Age: 58 Height: 181 Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Merlin Ti My best bike is: Ibis Silk SL
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
<p>Steve's passion for riding started around fifty years back with blatting about in the woods, closely followed by CTC rides, touring, schoolboy track league, a brief obsession with time trials then onto road racing, touring and cyclo cross... roughly in that order. Mountain biking and triathlon got a look in later. He tested and wrote about bikes for over 25 years and rode about 2000 of them. Steve also rode for the British team in three World Championships in the very early days of mountain bikes. He left us after <a href="http://road.cc/content/news/115389-cycling-journalist-steve-worland-dead... a heart attack at the Ashton Court Parkrun</a> in March 2014, and is fondly remembered and greatly missed.</p>