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Dean Bikes -- Culebra and the Ole'(6 posts)

Dean Bikes -- Culebra and the Ole'Gregory Taylor
Mar 29, 2002 7:07 AM
I need some input --

The search has begun for a replacement for my primary "fun" bike. After many years of fine service, my beloved Cannondale CAAD3 is, well, getting a little brown around the edges. Structurally, it is fine, but the paint on it never was the best...

Anyway, I've been checking out a couple of framesets from Dean -- the Culebra and the Ole'. The Ole' is a scandium/carbon mix (carbon seat stays by Columbus). The Culebra is a steel bike comes in a couple of different flavors. Either all steel (in either Ultra Foco or Zona) or with carbon seat stays.

My physical stats are

Weight: 190 lbs. (14% bodyfat -- ok, I'm not Lance, but I'm not tubby).
Height: 6.0

I get in about 8,000 miles a year, mostly commuting. I plan to use my new frameset as my "Sunday" bike -- group rides or maybe (gasp) the occasional race (no crits). Stylewise, I ride fairly agressively. Because of my size, I stay seated most of the time and depend upon a fairly decent torque output to get down the road.

Talking with the guys at Dean, they have pretty much steered me away from either the Ole' and the Ultra Foco Culebra as being stupid light for someone of my weight. They seem to think that the Zonal-tubed Culebra would fit my needs.

I'm interested in hearing from anyone who has experience on either of these framsets. What I value is (1) a solid feel with the ability to put power down (the Cannondale did that wonderfully - stiff in the bottom bracket area), (2) sharp handling, and (3) good craftsmanship.
re: Dean Bikes -- Culebra and the Ole'gtx
Mar 29, 2002 7:36 AM
I'm not sure if Tom Teesdale still builds the steel Dean road frames, but you might contact him (or any other good custom builder) about something that would have the fit and ride quality that you want.

I'd also look at the Merckx MX Leader.
re: Dean Bikes -- Culebra and the Ole'loop
Mar 29, 2002 8:05 AM

I have a fairly new Culebra (Zona). I'm 6'2", 175-185 (beer/doughnut consumption rate dependant). When I bought it, they weren't yet marketing the UF version, although I probably would have stuck with Zona anyhow.

It's a great bike so far. Mine is a 58cm w/ Ultegra and DA, and I took their stock geometry. The bb stiffness is fine (I've owned a Cannondale 2.8 by way of comparison) and the frame is responsive and well-balanced. I really enjoy it. Additionally, having recently converted from a suspended bike, I've found no problems with comfort, no doubt a function of fit. Handling is great.

The craftsmanship is great. I had a substantial delay in getting the bike (2 months past the delivery date) because Dean wasn't satisfied with Spectrum's initial paint job. They sent is back and had it stripped and repainted. The fillet brazing is clean and the bike's apparent quality is first rate.

I don't consider it a race bike per say, but it could easily be spec'ed to compete quite well. All told, with my component spec, the bike weighs about 19.3 pounds.

Hope that helps,
Thank's for the input....Gregory Taylor
Mar 29, 2002 10:00 AM
From what I've seen (mostly mountain bikes), Dean does make some nice stuff.

Out of curiosity, is the 19.3 lbs with pedals?

Did you work with the folks at Dean on sizing? Or did you pretty much know your numbers and tell them what you wanted? I currently run a 54cm frameset (which common wisdom would say is too small), and Cannondale's tend to have a shorter top tube than most bikes (for the size). My quandry is whether to trust Dean's recommendation for fit or to go with the numbers from my Cannondale. For my height, Dean would put me on a 56cm. I curious whether the sizing on your Dean varies from your other bikes.

Their website has a scandium/carbon Ole' on "special" that really is tempting, despite the warnings from the dudes that weld them up. Honest...I'll only ride it weekends!
Thank's for the input....loop
Mar 29, 2002 10:56 AM

I was only "marginally road smart" going into the purchase since my other road bikes were tri bikes with steep seat tubes/slack head tubes. I did a lot of fitting on various other bikes at LBSs (Cervelo, 'Dale, Lemond, Specialized). I had my wife measure my "dimensions" (ah-hem...) several times. After that I ran them through the various web sites with guidance (CC, Cyfac, etc...), and I used Wrenchscience's on-line fit calculator. I compared the numerical data with what the LBSs said and averaged things out. It was all pretty close.

Thus, I went from a 56 cm c-t, 55.5 cm t t tri bike to the Culebra's 58 cm c-c, 58 cm t t road bike. I'm using a no-offset seatpost and a 110 mm stem. So far it's very comfortable, although I started with a lot of spacers to even the bars with the seat. I'm about to remove half of the stack to take it down to about 2.5 cm above the headset (that's a flexibility issue more than anything else). You said your 'Dale was small. Was it comfortable?

I bought the bike on-line, so I never actually worked with Dean for the sale, although I consulted with them a couple of times. Several other people have told me that they've had great luck working directly with Dean, and they'll often do minor customization (such as an extended head tube) for free.

As far as the frames, I'd recommend going with the Culebra. I considered the Ole or the Carve but went with ordinary, reliable, durable steel in the end. This too is my "weekend" bike pending the purchase of a new tri bike for racing. And, yes, that's 19.3 with pedals. My complete spec is up in the review section. With lighter wheels and a few other goodies like a lighter saddle, carbon post and either DA or Record, a 58 cm Culebra can easily be brought down to 18 pounds or slightly less.

I know the Ole is on sale, but isn't their Culebra price about $500? That + DA or Record and some Ksyriums would make for a helluva light weight steel "weekend" rig.

Finally, talking with Dean via email, I was under the impression that they make all of their own frames now; they no longer sub-out to Teesdale (great bikes, though) or TNT for ti.

Good luck,
Again, many thanks -- I'll let you know what I do (nm)Gregory Taylor
Mar 29, 2002 11:16 AM