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Finally building a dream bike - sugestions?(30 posts)

Finally building a dream bike - sugestions?dex234
Feb 21, 2002 1:53 PM
I am finally able to spec out the one bike you always dream of. Componentry I have selected includes full 10sp record, zipp wheels (races), stella azzurra stem/seatpost/bar, and flite tt saddle. But I am having some trouble with the frame. Money is not an issue.

I weigh 140lb, 6', and live in hilly, wet vanouver. I am looking for an all mountain frame, one that climbs well, is raceable, and good for longer rides. I prefer stablity over twitchiness, and want something comfortable rather than overly stiff, as well as light (bike ~ 15 lb).

Here are some of the bikes/brands I am considering.
Seven - alta, odonata, axiom
Serotta - legend, ottrott
Litespeed - vortex, ghisallo, ultimate
Calfee - drangonfly, tetra pro
Kestrel - 300 EMS
Colgano - C40
Various alum/carbon mixes: Eddy Merckx, carrera, cramerotti (local brand), Tomassini carbo-light, torelli stilleto, moser m50

As you can see, I really don't have any idea which material would give me the best ride, or which company makes the best bike of that material. I do intend to ride as many of these as i can, but some may not be possible in this area. Any suggestions?
re: Finally building a dream bike - sugestions?MCCL
Feb 21, 2002 2:07 PM
I think you meet the weight requirements for a DeRosa UD but I would probably move over to the Merek. The UD is one of the lightest bikes available but the ride will be to stiff for your requirements. The Merek is a fine specimen but getting to the 15lbs you may need to concede on your ride quality. MCCL
re: Finally building a dream bike - sugestions?Kotashaan
Feb 21, 2002 2:21 PM
Well if you are 140lbs and looking for comfy over stiffness I think it's safe to say that you can scratch the Litespeed ultimate off your wish list. That is one stiff bike and is pretty much designed for high speed sprinting and climbing and is much better suited to larger riders , ie 200 lbs or more. The Vortex, now that's another story, that would be very nice for what you are looking for.

If you prefer stability over twitchiness i think you can eliminate the Calfees I sure don't get visions of stability when i thin of their frames.

Have you considered the IF Crwon Jewel ti frame. It's pretty darn light for ti, sub 3 lbs in a 57 cm frame and could be custom fit to your needs.

Of all the carbon bikes, the C40 would come to mind best for what you have described you are loking for. As far as aluminum/carbon mixes I'm surprised you did not mention the Pinarello Prince - it has to be one of the best handling and most comfortable alum carbon bikes going.

No material will give you the best ride, it will ultimately come doen to fit and the expertise of your builder.

I have never been a huge fan of Sevens or Serottas, for sure they make a nice bike, I just happen to think they are overated and overhyped and others such as IF do it even better just MO.
Merlin? (rode one; very comfortable; pricey) nmmorrison
Feb 21, 2002 2:33 PM
re: Finally building a dream bike - sugestions?Santa Cruz
Feb 21, 2002 3:06 PM
Couldn't disagree more with the statement about a Calfee lacking stability. I ride a Tetra and frequently run 45 -50mph on some descents without any instability. Nice thing about Calfee is you can get many mods on a Tetra at no extra charge. I have read from other another Calfee owner that they changed the head tube angle to 73 (from standard 74 degrees) thereby giving him a bit more stability.

With money not a primary concern and the fact that this is a "dream bike", I'd strongly consider custom frame geometry. Many companies will do it in Ti or steel, Calfee will do it if you end up favoring CF.

Definately ride all the carbon bikes if comfort is a priority, Kestrel 500 is mighty nice, but with limited frame sizes and only 650 wheels.
don't forget motobecane!!!!!duh!
Feb 21, 2002 3:11 PM
re: Finally building a dream bike - sugestions?franchise
Feb 21, 2002 3:19 PM
I would have to go with either the Seven's or the Serotta's. These bikes both offer customs and I would go that route. I have a C-40 and love it. It's a great ride, but I would also like to have a custom. That is next on my list!

With all of the frames that you listed, you really can't go wrong. With the seven and the serotta, though, you will get a lifer!
C-40 or Calfee (nm)TB Hallaran
Feb 21, 2002 3:32 PM
If it's your dream bike, why go with someone elses dream frame?DrD
Feb 21, 2002 3:54 PM
Well - if money is no object, and we aren't worried about what the bikes feel like to you, I say go for the Serotta Ottrott IT - it looks pretty interesting - and hey, how many chances do you get to drop $4300 on the frame only! :-o

Personally, for a lifetime bike, I'd steer clear of carbon (that's just me - you may be different) - of the frames you mention, I would be torn between the Seven Axiom and the LS Vortex. I would have added the LS Ultimate as well, but I don't like the carbon seat stays (no good reason - I just don't like 'em! not too crazy 'bout the bladed seat tube, either... really like the bent tube on the 99, though!) I also am not a big fan of the sloping top tube/compact frames, either, which eliminates things like the Ghisallo and Alta.

Keep in mind that ride quality is extremely subjective, as is which frame is the "best" frame (all of the above are great frames - different, but all make a great bike in their own way) - if you are really going to drop $2k or so on a frameset, I would definitely make sure you can test ride one before throwing down the cash.
Has Serotta ever explained exactly what the carbonCurious
Feb 21, 2002 11:01 PM
In the toptube and downtube supposedly do for the Ottrot??????
re: Finally building a dream bike - sugestions?Bikewithadam
Feb 21, 2002 5:10 PM
You should talk to Tom Kellogg at Spectrum Cycles.

With your stipulations you should be looking for a high end custom. I'll stay out of the materials debate--suffice to say, I think high quality Ti is the way to go. Good luck.
Independent Fabrication bikes are very nice alsoBarnyard
Feb 21, 2002 5:14 PM
If you're interested in either steel or ti.
doesn't mattergtx
Feb 21, 2002 5:50 PM
like you said, just ride and and decide. If it fits, you won't go wrong. To me, the Serotta Legend ti seems like the no brainer pick from your list--solid all-rounder geometry with great quality and a custom fit. If you want Euro racer flair, the Merckx Team SC or C-40 would be nice if the fit/geometry worked for you.
Feb 21, 2002 6:17 PM
How can it be your dream bike if you don't know what it is?

Why aren't you considering a Huffy? It could be your *bad* dream bike..... ;-)
re: Questiondex234
Feb 21, 2002 11:00 PM
But jeez man would anyone want their nightmares coming to haunt them while they were awake? =)

Course... it'd be the only record equiped huffy in existance...
re: Finally building a dream bike - sugestions?fuzzybunnies
Feb 21, 2002 6:23 PM
If you like moser check out the mb1 which is a steel/carbon frame, very stiff and just under 3lbs. Rides great. Russ
re: Finally building a dream bike - sugestions?Brealer
Feb 21, 2002 11:20 PM
There are lots of super custom builders out there. Don't fall into the trap that only the 3 or 4 most mentioned are the way to go. Companies like Sachs, Strong Frames, Anvil, Sycip, Mikkelsen and others build custom just as well as Serotta, Seven and IF. As far as carbon goes don't overlook Trek OCLV's. The primadonas in here will try to convince you Trek is inferior to Calfee or a C40 because there are more of them on the road. The reason there are lots of them on the road is because they are a super bike -light, fast, comfortable, durable and good handlers and much more bang for your buck than some ridiculously overpriced $2500 for frame and fork Calfee Tetra. That bike rides no better than a Trek OCLV. Talk to 5 Calfee owners and they'll say the tetra rides better, talk to 5 OCLV owners and they'll say the OCLV rides better.
Thanks for the ideas...dex234
Feb 22, 2002 12:00 AM
thank you all for the great replies - keep them coming.

some comments on the posts:

-The lightspeed ultimate wouldn't be the one. I heard before it had a rep. as a very stiff crit bike, and reading Kotashaan's post just confirmed it.

-Carbon is kinda the wildcard. I would for sure have to ride all of them to make a choice, because just as Breatler points out people are pretty biased about their carbon =)

-I'm kind of torn on the seven. I like the comprehensive customization, and the fact that there is a dealer in the city so i would be able to test ride one, but still don't really like the brushed ti look... hey it does matter. A serotta half polish half paint justs look better to me. I have heard that the Odanata is a very comfortable, light and speedy frame though. and way cheaper than serotta's ottrott.

-checked out tom kellog's site. wow is all i can say. but iregardless, if it comes down to a shootout between plain ti frames, i would probably go for the one that offers the most choices and concessions. finish, price, fitting, that sort of thing.

-What I really need here is a frame that weighs 2 lb, rides like a sachs, the polish of a serotta, the paint off an IF, the smooth lines of a trek, and the customization of a seven, the price of an airborne and a dealer within riding distance... riiight
Thanks for the ideas...R-I-D-E
Feb 22, 2002 12:32 AM
You must consider either a Principia RS6e Pro, or a Principia REXe Pro.

I went through a similar situation as you, and spent months researching frames. I thought that I was set on a Seven Alta, but changed my mind. Light frame indeed, but probably not as stiff or performance oriented as I would like. While Seven could have built it stiffer, that would have added weight and defeated the purpose.

Principia is renowned by those who are familiar with them, as being one of the best engineered bikes in the world. Definitely the best aluminum offering out there. The difference between the RS6 and the REX is the sloping TT (RS6 is sloping and a bit lighter). You just HAVE to give them a look. You won't be sorry.

I considered Derosa, and while the UD is one of the lightest bikes going, I know that they don't do aluminum as well as Principia. It is not the material they are renowned for using. Derosas are known for their ride quality and great geometry however. Now compare a Principia to a Derosa and you will find very similar numbers.

Titanium is very cool, and can be quite light. But those bikes will be less responsive and more flexy than a comparible aluminum rig. Some will tell you that an aluminum bike is not going to last. Don't listen to that. If you choose a well engineered bike from a builder with a solid reputation, you should be just fine.

Good luck!

Thanks for the ideas...Bikewithadam
Feb 22, 2002 6:04 AM
I just finished doing the same search for a ride that you are starting, and like I said earlier, Spectrum Cycles is what I came up with. In reality all of the above bikes that have been mentioned are quite nice and amateur riders realistically, while I'm sure can tell differences between the frames, would likely be happy with many of them.

That being said, if you truly are looking for something amazing I would again urge you to look at custom. After wracking my brains for months about my new ride the basic, most fundamental fact that my research always came back to is that there is nothing more important than customization, especially where geometry and tube design is concerned. I don't mean to detract at all from the fancy factory frames, which really are very nice. It's just that it really is darn near impossible to get the specific geometry, tube measurements and other customizations that make life nice from a company such as Colnago or Pinarello. (Now before everyone pounces on that comment, yes, I am aware that these companies do go custom. However, everyone I know who's done it has gone to Italy for the service, although that is not absolutely necessary. Furthermore, they are actually only altering a few geometric/length dimensions, not actually doing the whole thing totally "custom". They are still very nice bikes. I don't have a standard body geometry. Thus, they'd be useless as far as I'm concerned.)

Right now I am getting close to my delivery date for the new Spectrum frame, and without even having ridden it yet I can say that working with Tom has been an unbelievably pleasurable and educational experience. I have seen other spectrum's up close in person and a) they are amazing b) contrary to what might have been implied earlier, the sky's the limit with custom paint on these bikes. As far as custom Ti goes I haven't found anything else out there that comes close.

You might also take a hard look at Sachs, Eisenstraut and DellaSanta. I have a friend who has a sachs (steel, obviously) and it rides like a dream. It's a plain looking bike, but people who know what they're talking about tend to hyperventilate when they see it. :) If you want carbon, I would recommend a close look at Calfee. I don't know much about it at all, but in my uneducated opinion Calfee offers the greatest degree of customization from a mainstream carbon producer, at least in the US. (If it were my money I'd take the Calfee over the C40 for that reason, but it's just me.)

Good luck with your decision--and I would highly recommend calling Tom Kellogg on the phone, and find out what kind of customization the carbon makers really offer, and go with the one that maximizes it.
Thanks for the ideas...MikeC
Feb 22, 2002 6:25 AM
You can get a painted ti Odonata. They'll do full paint, partials, fades, whatever...
Feb 22, 2002 5:17 AM
If money is no object its the only frame to own.

Custom Ti or custom SteelVal Hampsten
Feb 22, 2002 8:09 AM
If money were no object which would you guys prefer and why? Other than the durability upkeep issues, what ride qualities would you get from custom ti that you do not get from custom steel?
Custom Ti or custom SteelBikewithadam
Feb 22, 2002 11:44 AM
The Ti vs. Steel question is a complex one. In theory titanium has many benefits over steel, but the specific construction of the titanium does matter, as with any frame. Titanium can also be difficult to work with (welding needs to be done under an inert atmosphere such as argon) so you need to make sure whoever is building it really knows what they're doing. These factors combine to give titanium its biggest downside--cost.

Refer to:

It's an interesting mettalurgical discussion.
Feb 22, 2002 2:34 PM
I just went through much of this process, and my ride needs are a lot like yours, as is my weight. I ruled out the C40 fairly early. It was stiffer and more aggressive than I sought; I wanted stable downhills and a century bike, and for me the C40 did not fit the bill. Ditto the Ultimate, and ditto ALL aluminum.

I toyed with steel, in part because I had these retro impulses, and it probably would have been a fine choice.

But ultimately it boiled down to bombproof, compliant titanium. I considered the usual suspects, esp. Merlin, Seven, and Serotta. I have already owned a Litespeed and wanted something more off the beaten path (for no other reason than just a funny emotional impulse).

Catering to my retro impulses I just ordered a ti Crown Jewel from Independent Fabrications. Do I believe that it is quantifiably different/better that the other options? No way. I like the slightly retro looks, the solid reputation of their paintshop, and the minor novelty of the name. All stupid factors, ultimately, done just for the "feel good" part of what I wanted.

But for what you desribed as your riding needs, I'd definitely look at titanium options first, and have a little flexibility on that desire for a 15 lb bike. Weight definitely isn't everything, especially since you want comfort and no twitchiness.

Just one gal's view.
Probly shouldn't have mentioned 15 lbdex234
Feb 22, 2002 3:06 PM
I kind of added the 15lb part as an afterthought, so I probably shouldn't have. With any frame up to about 3 lb, I calculated that with a very careful parts selection it is possible - part of my choice of stella azzurra. 100 gram magnesium stem, carbon bars around Easton's weight, and a carbon seatpost comparable to USE's carbon. Pick a fork like an AME or Look or Reynolds and i should be set. Luckily for me my weight allows some leeway in light parts.

Plus the Campy carbon crank takes 140 grams off standard record... sweeeet =).
Probly shouldn't have mentioned 15 lbR-I-D-E
Feb 22, 2002 9:01 PM
Don't set your heart on the Record carbon cranks just yet. Ib recently spoke directly to one of the reps who distributes Campy. He said that the cranks are very, very slow to come in. In fact, he said that of the 50+ orders they have, only 5 have been able to be filled of late.

One other note, I heard somewhere (perhaps ) that there have been problems with the cranks, and that they have stopped production. They expect to resume, but not until summer.

Probly shouldn't have mentioned 15 lbNot to me their not
Feb 22, 2002 9:15 PM
Carbon as a crank just doesn't seem like a good idea. Another stupid light pursuit in my view. Look for a healthy amount of failures with this latest lightest is the best craze item.
Probly shouldn't have mentioned 15 lbR-I-D-E
Feb 22, 2002 11:22 PM
Well I doubt it. Carbon cranks are here to stay. Just like with any new idea, a lot of people are going to balk at it. "Won't hold up....won't last..." blah, blah, blah.

Using carbon in such an application as a crank is actually a good idea. They should hold up just fine, as long as they are manufactured well. That would hold true also, for a crank of any other material.

I'm pretty open about new technologydex234
Feb 23, 2002 1:29 AM
I know a lot of people don't trust the new carbon stuff (i.e. the guy above who didn't like carbon seatstays) but I really don't see a problem. The number of actual failure stories you hear is very small. Many manufacturers of carbon bars offer lifetime warranties. I mean, Easton makes them. Easton knows what they're doing (they have a carbon DOWNHILL bar now). To be honest, I have heard of lots of failures of regular campy cranks, most often it seems at the pedal threads. Everything fatigues to some extent. I'm not sure of the specific properties of carbon vs. aluminum, so I personally have no way of knowing if they are stronger. But think of this. Carbon has been used successfully in forks for a long time now. All-Carbon forks have proven themselves, and the crank seems like a good parallel to a fork. A cantilever structure that has to remain very stiff under heavy torque. I will of course wait a bit to see if the cranks are reliable. In my mind if FSA can make carbon cranks work but one of the most reputable road companies can't, something's wrong.

I fully expect carbon cranks to grow in popularity. I'm just waiting for shimano to introduce their own carbon products. Integrated carbon stems/bars are a possibility. More use of carbon for rims, with greater accessibility of these rims. Carbon hubs maybe? And in the mountain bike world, carbon has already started to appear on forks - crowns, lowers, etc... It's already so much a part of many areas of biking that I feel pretty comfortable with it myself.