Lugs to Lightweights – Episode 22: 1200km On…

So, with a good 1200km+ on it now, how is the Baum fairing? It’s still my dream bike, that’s for damn certain.

Where to start though – there’s so much to say…

There was some extensive, pain-staking (both for me and my Twitter followers who often got fed up of my deliberations) and involving thought processes behind some (most) of the components chosen for the bike with the only ‘done deals’ early on being Di2 and EE Cycleworks brakes. As I’ve said before, pound for pound the Vertebr.ae brake cables were possibly the most expensive and outrageous of those – can I tell the difference and were they worth it? Frankly, not really (you’d notice them more as gear cables I think). But I do really like them and the colour has certainly been a talking point! Those EE brakes have proven to be the perfect choice though, they’re fantastic.

Were the Lightweights worth the expense and the effort of the custom colour? Without a doubt, yes. For this bike at least. I did have ‘a moment’ after a weekend away with the bike in the back of the car where the expensive-sounding carbon noises of the bike jiggling about behind me got me scared and I wanted to sell them for fear of damaging them. I got over that thanks to the help of friends calling me an idiot and after reading something that rang very true with me: “life’s too short to not ride your best wheels”. Amen. I switched them to run my Mavic SLRs for an Italian Gran Fondo on the basis that I thought the braking would be better, but riding the Lightweights the following weekend in the Alps made me realise there was no need to have done that. Again, it’s difficult to justify their expense but for this bike they truly were the right decision.

And the Di2? Incredible. I just love it. It really is the future and I truly believe SRAM are missing a trick if they don’t launch an electronic groupset (but I still refuse to believe they won’t). It’s worth noting that it can be fussy though – after adjusting it to ensure correct indexing following switching to the Mavic SLRs I decided not to bother on the switch back, thinking it’d be ok. It was, mostly. But it did need a re-adjustment to make it perfect. You need to be careful with mounting the front derailleur too, particularly in setting the support bolt correctly. Compared to a traditional cable setup it’s nothing though, and once adjusted that’s that. The satellite shift button is a stroke of genius too.

My bike has been built with quite a short top tube (55.5cm) and a long head tube (around 20cm I think) because I have long legs and a short torso and so need a tall head tube to avoid a monster saddle-to-bar drop (my saddle height is 79.5cm, and the drop is still around 90cm). Consequently it would normally have quite a high centre of gravity – it’s a problem my similarly dimensioned Look suffers from as it can feel unsteady out of the saddle. The chainstays were lengthened and the BB dropped to compensate, and the bike feels steady as a rock.

Additionally, as I’ve explained before, because of the way I like my bikes to ride this one was built to be a little slower handling. Having now ridden a Gran Fondo and spent some time in the Alps I am blown away at the difference this has made to the way I ride long descents. Coupled with the Enve 1.0 fork being as positive and direct as it is, I am so much more confident and smooth through corners and am more likely to jump out of the saddle and wind the pace back up again afterwards. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not what you might call ‘fast’ downhill, but I’m definitely better than I have been before!

This Corretto is the stiffest of the Ti frames I’ve owned (previously had an Omega, an Enigma and a Lynskey R330) by quite some margin, and is really ‘zippy’ – when I reverted back to carbon I realised that my Lynskey had felt like some power transfer was being lost through the frame because it was quite ‘soft’ by comparison. The chainstays on the Baum are quite broad for a Ti frame and when attached to the oversize PressFit30 BB it makes for a solid build and excellent power transfer which feels easily on par with my old Cervelo R3.

The decision to go with an integrated seatpost (ISP) was a personal one, and based purely on a desire to make the bike more my own rather than ‘just another Baum’. Actually the ISP could possibly do with being a bit less stout to be honest – if I had a chance to get this frame re-finished or if I did this again I think I’d revert to a normal setup with a carbon seatpost or try to use an ISP head that has a level of shock absorption built in (like the Look ISPs do). With a 34.9mm tube diameter straight up from the oversize PF30 BB to the Tune Cappy it does a great job of transferring most road shock quite directly, especially when topped by a very rigid carbon saddle! I do love the creak-free, slip-free nature of it though (whilst not all my previous bikes had creaky, slipping seatposts it was often a cause for concern) and I really love the removal of doubt on my saddle height too – just drop the Tune Cappy on, do it up and you’re away (which is especially great for travel incidentally). It also means the lines around the top tube-seat stay-seat tube interface are really clean, and I just love the look of that.

I’m still yet to be convinced by the elliptical Rotor Q-Rings to the point of being ready to switch back to standard round ones. The Rotor 3D+ chainset was a good choice though and is now wearing an SRM for those all-important power figures (I don’t train by the numbers religiously, but it’s good to know that I can if I need to and it’s handy for metering effort on the longer rides). I have to say reckon I could easily be tempted to switch to a pedal or cleat-based power meter and run a nicer crank in future – I still dream of having an AX-Lightness Morpheus chainset on there…

The only other thing I’m still contemplating is some shorter reach bars. When I was at Baum talking through the setup we factored in my current stem length and bar reach. Darren asked if I wanted to do anything different on that knowing that the Di2 levers are longer than most others (particularly the SRAM Red I run on the Look). I responded saying I was sure it’d be ok and we went ahead on that basis, but the reality is at times I do feel like I’m overreaching. It’s just a shame Zipp don’t do a shorter reach bar than their 85mm ‘short & shallow’ option as the shape and feel of the Contour SL bar is fantastic.

I can – and do, regularly – readily do 200km plus rides on this bike (I did 215km only yesterday in fact), even with the carbon Superleggera saddle – I did try a couple of saddle variations (as my Twitterati will be only too aware) in an attempt to find one with a little more cushioning, but the Superleggera shape is just fantastic, despite it’s lack of ‘give’ / flex. Of course it helps that the saddle is painted to match too…

I originally thought that this bike would be for nice days and special events only. I thought I’d be too precious to run it every day. I thought the Look would still get used most of the time, and especially for training. The truth is since I’ve had the Baum I only used the Look for training a handful of times because the Baum didn’t originally have a power meter on it, and for a couple of rides whilst the Baum cranks were with SRM having a power meter fitted. At the moment I honestly don’t know what would make me reach for the Look over the Baum aside from racing, and even then it’s only because I wouldn’t want to risk crashing the Baum!

Stoutness of the ISP, reach of the bars and Rotor Q-Ring doubts aside, it’s become my default, go-to bike and I just cannot see that changing.

Once again I cannot thank Darren, Nick, Jared, Jodie and the rest of the team at Baum Cycles enough for this bike. The efforts they all went to at various points along the way all make up a part of what makes this bike so special. The visit to their workshop was without a shadow of a doubt the overriding highlight, perhaps nudged into second place by the arrival of the frame itself. Thanks guys, genuinely.

I love it. It makes me smile every time I look at it, the colour of that paint when it catches the light still blows me away, and when I got on it the other night to go for a spin it just made me giggle. It feels – and is – perfect.

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