Tag Archives: Lightweights

Z1 Belt

Friday Bike Lust

I’d forgotten about this one…

I spoke to the owner of this just after he took delivery – he was raving about how super-smooth is was, and how it was almost eerily quiet to ride.

I want one, but perhaps a Baum or Firefly version…

Personally I’d have gone with a full Tune setup on the ISP topper, stem and cranks, and I’d have run a rear brake too.  As a concept though, it’s flippin’ tasty!


Ambrosio Wheels – Thoughts So Far

Can you say “smoooooth”?!

So finally my Ambrosio wheels arrived in Sydney with the rest of our air freight and I’ve been able to get some miles in on them. Here’s the verdict…

After the delightfully cathartic process of gluing the tubs onto these wheels was complete I tentatively mounted them on my Corretto and stood back, almost cringing – I’d been busting to try them out, but I just wasn’t sure if they looked right at all. Would the Bike Tart be able to live with that? It would be a test, no doubt about it.

By fortune I’d been able to build these wheels on a relative budget, and on that basis my tyre choice – the skinwalled Schwalbe Milano – followed suit. What they didn’t follow suit on was that my usual preferred tyre width is 25c. These are 22c. Another mistake? Was I about to lose the sofa-like comfort I’d come to know and love?

Quite the opposite.

More on that later though – the first test, and possibly my biggest pet hate with wheels, was whether or not I’d get brake rub with them. Don’t ask me why this is such a bugbear of mine because I’m not sure I even truly know myself, but it is. I guess I just figure that if a set of wheels can’t take my circa 85kg (*ahem*) weight without rubbing against my brake blocks when I’m out of the saddle then they’re probably not quite strong enough for me generally. Or something.

And?… Nothing. They don’t budge. I’ve even looked down at them whilst out of the saddle to see how much they are moving – I have to say it’s difficult to tell if there’s any movement there at all. I mean, I know there must be, but to not be able to clearly see it is a testament to the quality of the build (for reference and by comparison, I can see my R-SYS SLRs moving quite easily).

So what about that choice of tyre width?

Rolling along a section of road I knew to be particularly poorly surfaced (and only the morning after having rolled along the same stretch the previous afternoon on my 25c-shod Lightweights) I must have looked delirious. Don’t get me wrong, the bumps were still there – they’re just a very different prospect on these wheels compared to my Lightweights. Why delirious? That would be down to me constantly looking around my bike to check I hadn’t already lost air in one or other tyre, followed by laughing to myself and shaking my head. Repeatedly.

I expected the wheels to be good, but I didn’t expect to be quite so impressed at how good they really are. I find it incredible that despite the fact that I’m running a 22c tyre these wheels can be so much more comfortable than my Lightweights, and yet still be every bit as stiff laterally. Now I get the whole ‘classics wheel’ thing – I can only begin to imagine what wheels like this feel like with a 27c silk tubular on them… *enters wistful dream-like state*

It’s probably worth noting that some of that comfort will be down to the tubular tyre itself. Part of the beauty of a tubular tyre is the fact that they tyres are more supple than a clincher tyre – this allows them to deform around objects more easily without interrupting the forward momentum quite so much, which contributes to the different feel of a tubular wheel in general. Still, the wheel itself needs to be built well in the first place to allow the tyre to do its bit effectively. The beauty of buying handbuilts that have been built just for you is that they will be (or at least should be) tuned to your weight to even more effectively enhance all of this. That is where a factory wheel, and even a handbuilt factory wheel, just cannot compete.

It’s not all sweet perfection – they are slower to spin up, but they’re also over half a kilogram heavier than my Lightweights so that’s hardly surprising. Eventually the hard anodised coating on the brake tracks will wear too, and then they’ll lose the effortlessly cool appearance they currently have. However, they’ll then look well-loved and well-used.

Besides, arguably offsetting any potential negativity is that Chris King buzz, and that’ll never go away… SUCH a cool noise! Luckily I now also love the look of them on the bike:

And what about those hubs? In truth, there’s not a lot to say – so much so that I even forgot to write anything about them when I originally posted this review! The R45 is a much loved hub, as are most variations of the numerous Chris King hubs on the market. If I were to pigeon-hole them I’d put them alongside the likes of White Industries, Paul Components, Phil Wood and Royce in a ‘must own one day’ slot. Bombproof, a reasonable weight, that incredible free hub noise, classic looks and unsurpassed manufacturing quality means many will – rightly so – choose them over lighter, cheaper alternatives. They roll impeccably, and are nigh on impossible to fault.

When I first received these wheels I was busily drooling over the hubs whilst wondering if I’d made a mistake getting them built into a set of box section aluminium tubular rims. Now I’m busily wondering when my deep section carbon clinchers will see the light of day again, or indeed if they will.

I’ve been singing the praises of the hand built wheel lately – wheels like these prove exactly why.

Awesome wheels. Thanks Strada.


Wheels: ‘Aero Vs Light’ – Does It *Really* Matter?

I was strolling along with Wendy, boring her to tears with stories about how I get blown about on my bike when it’s windy and wondering what it must be like for lighter guys on deep section wheels and how super light wheels feel for bigger riders. It got me thinking about the whole ‘aero Vs light’ wheel thing, and about wheels in general – time for a Brain Fart…

So, aero wheels. Zipp’s Firecrest and Enve’s ‘SES’ (Smart-Enve-System, I think) are the current hot topics on the aero front, each claiming their wheel is better for particular reasons. Zipp claim their same profile, same depth wheels to be better, yet Enve counter this with their different profile (the rear wheel is slightly narrower in design), different depth (each front wheel in their system range is 10mm shallower than the rear) concept. Then there’s MadFiber who claim the performance of their wheel continues to improve regardless of yaw angle when others are dramatically reducing. Then of course you have Lightweight, Mavic, Reynolds and countless others with their own take on the whole thing.

The thing is, there’s no single standard for testing wheels. This means each manufacturer can tart up the numbers to show what they want them to show – to make us consumers believe that their wheel is the greatest and anything else is just not worth touching. What this means is that everything that can be proven by one manufacturer can probably be disproven, or ‘improved on’, by another.

But it’s not just aero wheels. Manufacturers (and even the ones who make aero wheels and claim they’re the best thing since sliced bread) claim the ‘climbing wheel’ is the one to have – your best option as a rider being to pick their lightest, most shallow wheel option to help you climb faster. And we’re sucked into this theory by the pros riding ultra skinny, super low profile über light wheels on the mountain stages of the pro tours.

And yet there’s evidence* that an aero wheel will serve you better over a long ride such as the Etape, regardless of the amount of climbing involved, based on the benefits you get on the downhill and flat sections of that ride**.

*’evidence’ being a loose term
**and yes, I know there’s an argument that aero wheels aren’t used on mountainous stages due to descending control in case it’s windy

So who and what are we really to believe and why? And what if we buy ‘the latest and greatest’ only to be let down because we don’t like the ride of the wheels or they end up not being stiff enough?

My opinion? A set of wheels to the average Joe is not going to be the difference in winning or losing a race, doing your best time up a climb, the difference between a gold or silver time on the Etape, or suddenly make you faster than your riding buddies – there are too many other variables, and there are many other average Joes out there winning races and getting gold times on old bikes with heavy aluminium wheels to prove the point. Besides which, if you believe it is the wheels that are going to make the difference, your focus is on the wrong thing.

Sure, it’s nice to have the latest kit, the flashiest carbon wheels, the bling looking deep sections or the lightest wheels you can lay your hands on (I’m hardly one to talk any of that down!), and new or different wheels can (and usually do) transform a bike – for better or worse – but the last thing you want is to splash out on a shiny new set of hoops only to discover you don’t like the way they roll.

For me the priority should be feel. Yes feel.

Me? I like the brutal stiffness of my Lightweights – I’m still yet to find a set of wheels that light up a bike quite so well, although even I’ll confess they can be too harsh at times. My MadFibers are actually lighter than my Lightweights, but because they feel ‘softer’ they don’t seem to give the bike that same instant snap on acceleration, but with the offset of greater comfort. The MadFibers are an effortless ride too, and the quality of the hubs used on them (they use White Industries internals) help them roll beautifully. Then there’s my (1720g without tubs, cassette or skewers) Ambrosio Nemesis, which are an absolute delight to ride despite their heft. Do I notice a difference in my climbing? Not really. In fact I’m arguably stronger on them Vs my Lightweights over longer distances as they beat me up less. Finally I have a set of Mavic R-SYS for something less harsh than the Lightweights and without the depth of the MadFibers (although these usually live on Wendy’s bike now). All of these, as it happens, are also the only wheels I’ve ridden to date that I struggle to get brake rub with – a sure sign of the lateral stiffness of a wheel (and you’d be amazed at the supposed calibre of wheels that score badly on this front).

As if to prove a point, only today in I was out on my bike and clocked the fastest average speed of any ride since I’ve been here. Was it a flatter ride? No. Far from it in fact – the ratio of meters travelled to meters climbed was higher than many of the longer rides I’ve done. The wheels? My Ambrosios. The heaviest wheels I own, and only my R-SYS are less aero.

Can’t test a set of wheels? Not sure what ‘feel’ you like? I fully, heartily recommend you ignore all of the factory options and consider a decent set of hand built wheels. I don’t just mean wheels like my Ambrosios though – wheelbuilders such as Strada Wheels (or any wheelbuilder for that matter) can build you wheels using any number of deep or shallow, carbon or aluminium rims, numerous hubs from a range of companies in various colours, and all types and colours of spokes – the beauty being you can choose the exact hub, spoke and rim YOU want, rather than just getting what you’re given. Like the look of Zipp 404s but aren’t keen on the Zipp hub? Approach your local wheelbuilder, tell them what hubs and spokes you want and get them built, YOUR way, tuned to YOUR weight with YOUR choice of hub brand, hub colour and spoke type, but still with the rim you’re after. You can be damn sure they’ll feel better than a standard set of 404s too.

Still not sure? Then just pick the wheels you most like the look of, the ones that best suit your bike and the ones you can afford. Feel aside, none of the rest of it really matters.

Baum B&W

Advent Calendar – 22nd Dec.

On this day last year I was at the Baum workshop.  What a year it’s been, and what a bike it turned out to be.

Since it arrived with me in March it’s been one of the best things that’s happened to me all year and is probably the only object I’m emotionally attached to – I couldn’t not post it.

F?&k I love this bike.

John's C59

Bike Crit-ique: John’s C59

Sorry for a quiet week last week – holiday and new job keeping me otherwise occupied!

Right, back to it, and John has sent me his C59 to get the party re-started.

Here’s the spec:

  • Colnago C59 (size 52s)
  • Lightweight Standard II 16/20 wheels
  • Continental Lightweight tubular tyres
  • Deda bars
  • Deda Zero 100 stem
  • Campagnolo Super Record 11 Speed groupset
  • Speedplay Zero pedals
  • Arundel Mandible cages
  • Fizik Arione CX saddle
  • Fizik Team bar tape
  • Weight = 6.97 kg

Kind of ‘typical Colnago’ build really, not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that.  Colango, Campag and Lightweights seem to go together like, well, stuff that goes together really well.  Anyway…

The saddle and bar tape colours match and carbon tubs means black brake track kicking things off to a good start.  Likewise that Fizik saddle is sporting carbon rails.  You can’t fault Arundel Mandible bottle cages either, even if they somehow don’t suit a Colnago to my mind (I’d readily use them myself despite that).  Unfortunately though that Colnago own brand seatpost has snuck in again meaning the collar & cuffs is a problem (I’ve never quite understood why Colnago send frames out with seatposts in – it’s not like they’re an odd size or shape!).

I have to say it’s struggling to get me excited (unlike one of John’s other bikes, the Pegoretti which has featured on a Friday Bike Lust a couple of weeks back), probably due to that typical ‘nago build approach.  I also prefer Colnagos in traditional geometry.  Most of my usual criteria are ticked off though so it can’t score too badly.

A solid 7/10, which would be much higher if it were sporting matching collars & cuffs and was a traditional geometry build that pushed the boundaries a little more.

The next one on the list is a first for this site – a Kuota.  Send me your bike and it’ll join the queue!


Lugs To Lightweights – Episode 24: I Think It’s Actually…

…finished.  Really, properly finished.  Honestly, I mean it.

As I pulled up in Richmond Park yesterday morning there was a beautiful patch of morning sunshine where I leant the bike – I hadn’t taken a picture of it in ages and decided it was time to be a sad case and proudly take a snap.

Arriving home shot to pieces 140km later I decided to take a proper look at that picture.  I can honestly say, hand on heart – and ignoring the saddle for a moment – for the first time there was not one little thing that made me think “I must just sort…” or “I really need to change…”.  Nothing.

I genuinely think it’s finally properly finished.

Aside from the saddle that is – I’m still experimenting on that, and the new Tune Komm-Vor+ being launched at Eurobike will be available with a patch of purple leather on it…!


Lightweights Vs Cosmic Carbone SLRs

The legendary ‘weight weenie’ stalwart Vs it’s slightly overweight, significantly cheaper but no less good-looking counterpart.  A fair comparison?  No.

But it’s not so much a ‘comparison’ as an understanding of what each wheel offers.  First up, the Mavic ‘heavyweights’…

Dear god these things make a great noise when you wind them up!  Once you do get them rolling they’re nice and smooth too, and despite being 52mm you don’t seem to get blown about too much in the wind – I’m comparing to 46mm DT Swiss and Lightweights at 40mm, both of which I felt crosswinds on more.

One thing I did note was a touch of brake rub, although all this really indicates is that they’re not quite as stiff as the Lightweights are.  Of course the offset here is that they do seem to over a better level of comfort, feeling less jarring than the Lightweights.

I didn’t notice any hesitation to the way the SLRs spin-up.  If anything, if they were a bit slower to get going the extra heft of their claimed 1595g felt like it offered the counter-benefit of enhanced momentum and speed-holding.

Possibly the biggest selling point for these wheels – looks aside – is the Exalith brake surface (I also have the R-SYS SLRs with the same brake surface) which not only offers incredible braking power and control, but also makes a brilliant noise as you slow.  Well, once the squealing has subsided, but I’ve covered that before.

And so to the feathery ones…

At a claimed 1195g the Lightweights certainly feel sprightly, spinning up effortlessly – although it does feel like you need a bit more effort to keep them moving.  Don’t get me wrong, they roll beautifully.  It’s just that it feels easier to maintain speed on the CC SLRs.

They’re flippin’ stiff too.  I’ve previously run DT Swiss 46mm clinchers, and both those and the CC SLRs make the bike feel more comfortable.  By comparison, the Lightweights seem to transfer a lot more road feel into the bike – their stiffness and rigidity being the only thing I can attest this to.

Visually the special order black logos make the wheels for me – the standard white logo offerings not being my cup of tea.  At one point I was considering the lairy white special editions and I’m now really glad I didn’t, although they can look good on the right bike.

I’ve been off of the Lightweights for a while as some delamination appeared on one of them (the story is a long one that I won’t go into here). I put them back on the bike when the wheel was returned to check they were ok after the repair – they just felt amazing.

I almost wish I hadn’t put the Lightweights back on the bike because I was planning to sell them, so reminding myself how good they are was a bit stupid.  The whole issue with the delamination has taken the edge off of the wheels for me, although the repair takes a while to find because it’s so clean.  I’m starting to love them again now, but it’s taken a good couple of weeks…

The repair issue aside, the Lightweights are truly fantastic, special wheels.  In fact both sets of wheels are very, very good.  Are the Lightweights £1.5k better?  No, especially not at only 400g lighter. That’s £375 per 100g!  But they definitely do have a certain ‘something’ about them, there’s absolutely no denying that.

If you can afford Lightweights, get them – you will not be disappointed. If you can’t, the SLRs are the only clincher wheels on the market that look as good (in fact, de-sticker the CC SLRs and from even five meters away it’s difficult to tell them apart), and they brake better too.  Until you get right up close the SLRs look very much like the Lightweights with their thick bladed carbon spokes, and I’d even say I prefer the look of the bigger carbon weave on the SLRs over the finer weave of the Lightweights.  Well, some days I do…

I’ve recently been told the Lightweights are “too much wheel” for me by someone who is perhaps harbouring a touch of jealousy.  The fact of the matter is no wheel (or single bike component for that matter) is too much for anyone – if you can afford to run Lightweights you will be very happy doing so, regardless of whether your capability on the bike suggests you’ve earnt them or not.  And if it’s just ‘the look’ you’re after and the weight doesn’t bother you the CC SLRs are a genuine cheaper alternative, albeit very marginally less stiff.

One thing to note – if the CC SLRs had been available when I first built the bike I wouldn’t have even bothered with the Lightweights…

I am now selling my CC SLRs – I need to shift a set of wheels and I just can’t bear to lose a big chunk of money on selling the Lightweights.  Drop me a line if you’re interested.


The Placebo Effect

I was chatting to a fellow bike nut on Saturday about a few things – something came up which has been on my mind for a while…

Ever marvelled at how good that shiny new {insert shiny new component of choice} of yours is?  Wondered how you ever lived without it?  Claimed how you’ll “never go back” to the old one?  Yes?  How about positional changes on the bike?  You made a switch to your position on the bike that unequivocally made you faster, right?  I’ve done both too.  But there’s a good chance that the benefit you’re feeling is a mental ‘new product / position elation’ rather than an actual benefit.

No, wait – just hear me out on this one!

When I first built my Baum it was categorically, without doubt, the best thing ever.  In fact it still is (placebo effect or not, the damn things rocks!).  But one particular component that made it that way was the Lightweight wheels – I was blown away at how good they felt, how quick they span up, how good the braking was on them.  In short, they were faultless.  Then they broke (the jury is still out on exactly how they broke, but I’m not going into that).

Whilst the rear one was away being repaired I had the opportunity to run two different sets of wheels on the bike.  Two cheaper, heavier sets of wheels.  Guess what?  The bike still worked, my climbing was no slower, braking was improved significantly on one of the wheelsets, both felt like they rolled faster and both made the bike seem more comfortable.


Given that one of those wheelsets was nigh-on two thousand pounds cheaper, and that you’d struggle to tell the difference in their appearance until you’re pretty close to the bike, I felt a bit stupid.  My feeling is that the weight of these cheaper wheels (at around 200g and 400g heavier in each case) resulted in a little more momentum once rolling, and that they probably had a bit more flex in their construction (there is more brake rub, which would confirm as much) which is what was making the bike feel more comfortable with them on.

The Lightweights come back this week – it’ll be interesting to see what I think of the bike with them back on it.

Positionally I’ve had a bike fitting where I was advised that I “definitely need more layback”.  More layback applied I was categorically (to my mind) more powerful, faster, better on the bike – what a difference!  Then I tried another fitting to help resolve a problem that had developed.  This time I was told I “definitely had too much layback”.  Layback removed and once again I was categorically (to my mind) more powerful, faster… you get the idea.

Switching the focus to a pro rider, when Cadel Evans was riding the TT at the tour a couple of weekends back a number of people were tweeting how they could put Cadel in a more powerful TT position.  He’s known for having a position on his TT bike which looks awkward and uncomfortable, but if you moved him on it would he actually go faster?  I’m not so sure.  He’s worked on that position for long enough now to know that it works for him – and it clearly does work as he nearly won the stage that day.  Why would he want to change anything?

How about frame materials?  I know of two people recently who have ridden the very same bike yet come to totally different conclusions about it – one saying it was not as stiff as a carbon or aluminium machine, the other saying it was one of the stiffest bikes he’s ever ridden.  The material?  Titanium.  I can’t help but wonder if the reviewer suggesting it was not as stiff was taking the view that “it’s Titanium therefore it’s soft” as is often the case.  Sure, Ti can and often does make for a softer ride, but I’m damned if that’s always the case.

And then of course there’s the ‘aero Vs light’ argument for wheels.  Light wheels will make you quicker uphill, won’t they?  But will they – there’s evidence to suggest (and I’ll find it when I get a chance) an aero wheel will be more beneficial, even with a weight penalty.  Regardless, most of the pros ride shallow ‘mountain’ wheels when the going gets categorised, and all irrespective of the fact that their bikes will always have to weigh 6.8kg or more.

Finally, crank stiffness.  Total noodles aside, can you really tell when one crank is more or less stiff than another?  I struggle to believe there’s a genuine tangible difference – for most of us at least.  Even the machine test results are pretty damn close between what’s considered ‘stiff’ and ‘flexy’.  Besides, when you’ve spent so much of your hard-earned readies on a shiny new chainset that’s so light it carries a rider weight limit you’re hardly likely to confess that it wobbles when you stomp the power down, are you?…

Sucked into the marketing hype, talking ourselves into it or just plain ignorance?  Difficult to tell.  I’ve been guilty though, that much I know for sure.


Rebirth of The Look?

So having got rid of the power meter and making the decision that white bar tape is just too much of a pain in the arse to keep clean, a few changes to the Look had me compelled to ride it.  At long last the Look got a Look in.  No pun intended, but kind of unavoidable, sorry.

How did it go?  Well, I finally got to give my SRAM Red black kit a spin.  I finally got to try a longer stem to see how it made the bike feel and handle.  And I finally reminded myself of the the braking quality of those Mavic SLR rims after a while off of them whilst the front one was being repaired (thanks BA).

But above all of that, I finally reminded myself how damn good my Baum is.

Don’t get me wrong, the Look is good.  Very good.  And I’ve got a lot to thank it for – after all if I’d never found a bike with such *ahem* ‘special’ geometry I’d probably still be looking for a bike that fits me properly, and I’d probably have ended up with some kind of nasty ‘sportive special’… oh wait, that’s the very same pigeon hole that road.cc neatly slotted the Look into wasn’t it?  Except it’s better than that. Sort of at least.

You see, for a while this evening I couldn’t pinpoint what it was.  The gears were as slick as they’ve ever been, the bike felt stiff, comfortable, direct and was tracking nicely with the longer stem just taking the edge off of it’s slightly twitchy handling… and then it struck me – it’s boring.  No character, no interest, no sparkle.  Dull.  It’s ‘just a bike’.

But it serves a purpose, and the fact remains that as a second bike it’s pretty damn good.  It’s just that the Baum is so much better.

The Baum is actually based reasonably closely on the Look (something else I should thank the Look for), but the subtleties that made the Baum ‘my bike’ are also what make it feel so right.  Out of the saddle the Look feels top-heavy, unstable.  The Baum had the bottom bracket lowered and the chainstays lengthened – only a little in each case – to iron things like that out.  The Look didn’t feel as sprightly either, which is odd given that it’s carbon and handles a bit more rapidly.  It just lacks the spring and ‘zip’ of the Baum.  That longer stem I tried on the Look was also just a little bit too long, and so reverting back will speed up the handling again, whereas I know the Baum is right as it is so I don’t need to try things like that.

I’m sure you’re now all expecting me to say something along the lines of: “and so I’m replacing it with…” – but no.  What’s the point?  The Baum is getting 95% of the use at the moment and there’s no reason for that to change.  The Look *is* a great bike, it’s just suffering from the fact that it has to compare to the Baum.  Last winter proved that it’s fine running ‘guards, even if they aren’t full, permanent metal ones, and if I were to race the only bike I’d be ‘comfortable’ crashing (if you catch my drift) is the Look.  It has it’s place in my armoury, and it’s here to stay.  It just might need a bit of dusting off when it does come down off the wall.

So was this the Look’s rebirth?  No, clearly not.  At least I know it still works though…


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.