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sn69(8 posts)

Dec 12, 2002 9:26 AM
I read your review of the Dean Culebra. Any further thoughts on it? I've been seriously interested in one for a while.

Let me know.

Dec 12, 2002 9:54 AM
DEAN doesn't make the Culebra anymore (or any steal or aluminum frames for that matter... only titanium). Their steal line is now made under the brand Ionic.

I think it's the same stuff, just a different name... kind of like a Ford Taurus and Mercury Sable.
FWIW....Gregory Taylor
Dec 12, 2002 10:49 AM
I had a Culebra with the carbon seat stay for a very short while. Nice bike, very well made. Being a big guy (6', 195 lbs.), I went with the Columbus Zona tubeset (versus the thinner Ultrafoco). They also used thicker gauge steel in the chain stays, and built it with an 1 1/8" headset (no extra charge).

The bike was pretty light (18.8 lbs.), handled sweetly, and was plenty stiff through the bottom bracket. In short, a rocket. I didn't get a lot of miles on it because I was hit by a car on the first ride....

I've been told that the Ionic stuff that Dean is making is basically the old Culebra. Call them up and ask for John -- he'll be glad to take the time and walk you through any questions. They are great people to deal with.
My Culebrasn69
Dec 12, 2002 11:20 AM
I'm still delighted with the bike. Unfortunately, Sam and Greg are right. Dean isn't making the bikes under their name anymore...not that name-recognition means much. They are marketing them under the IONIC brand, but they are, for all intents and purposes, the same bike...just different decals.

I bought the bike late last year when Dean was still designing the bikes as a combo of Zona and 853 (they briefly offered an Ultrafoco version for a while too). By the time I got it, they had shifted to an all-Zona bike, so that's what I received. The bike was painted by Spectrum (the Boulder painter, not Tom K's company), and just like Greg's El Diente, it took a long time. ...But the paint is terrific--a deep, electrib blue with a subtle pearl affect.

As for the bike itself, it's a strait-forward box geometry. I'm 6'2", 175. The bike is a 58cm with a 58TT, 73STA and 73HTA. I couldn't tell you BB drop or chainstay length off the top of my head, and the HT length is normal for a non-integrated design. All tubes are Zona, with the downtube being one of their mega/shaped tubes with a slightly bladed camber. The other pipes are round, although the seat and chain stays are S-curved. The drop outs are Henry James Breezer style. The rest of it is fairly mundane--clamp-on front derailer, 1 inch headtube, 27.2 seatpost, external/normal cable routing.

The bike handles remarkably well. It's balanced, well-behaved and predictable. Like I said before, its comfort meets or exceeds that of my older Softride. One doesn't need a suspension unless you've got a bad back, I think. The steel does the job, and I think the bike's fit and balanced handling characteristics make it well suited for all types of riding. Some things I particularly like include the curved stays and the dropouts. They add an elegant touch to the bike.

The frame is TIG welded, and Dean did (does) a great job. Having also looked at Jamis, Cervelo and Lemond steel, I think this is the nicest looking welds of them all. I can only surmise that the quality is fine too. The beads disappear under the paint and the joints look smooth. BB stiffness is fine. I'm not a heavy-weight, but I can torque the hell out of a frame with my long legs. So far, I haven't done that with this bike (but I live in New Orleans, and our only hills are bridges over the canals).

As Ed N. and Greg will attest, Dean is sort of a well-kept secret. Their products and customer service are first rate and they represent a lot of bang for the buck. I don't know anyone who hasn't been happy with their Dean. Like Greg said, give them a call. I'm sure they can still discuss the Ionic "Culebra's" geometry, handling and design.

Incidentally, their build kits are competitively priced. I didn't go that route and I wish I had. My only criticisms are that the decals are applied over the paint/clearcoat (although they are thick, durable vinyl), and that I went with Ultegra STIs (I hate the shape and ergonomics).

Good luck,
Oh, as I mentioned, I crash tested mine...Gregory Taylor
Dec 12, 2002 12:52 PM
...and can report that Dean does a fine job of welding steel. A car pulled out in front of me and I tee-boned his front fender at 20 mph. I was amazed to see no visible damage to the frame or fork (Ouzo Pro). However, I sent the frame back to Dean to get a deal on a new one (via a crash replacement policy and the insurance money). Just didn't trust it after taking a whack like that, plus I'd have warranty issues if it ever did break.
Yeah I recall your story....eyebob
Dec 12, 2002 1:04 PM
I wonder though, what's the real advantage to the carbon seat stay on a fine steel frame? I asked John (albeit a very biased source) and he thought that it made the ride a little stiffer. I'm 150-155 lbs. I'm not going to be bending a frame with my puny quads any time soon. Why did you choose the Culebra STI vs. the straight Culebra?

I went with the carbon stays...Gregory Taylor
Dec 12, 2002 1:22 PM
...because of the stiffness issue. I'm 195 lbs. and tend to push a big gear, and I prefer a stiffer frameset. My previous "good" bike is a Cannondale CAAD3, which is probably a benchmark for stiff. After talking with John about what I liked, he steered me in that direction. Yes, he is biased, but with a custom builder you sometimes gotta trust their recommendations about their product.

I did, however, go with the carbon seat stay on the replacement frame - a ti El Diente - based on a fear that ti wouldn't be stiff enough. Although I haven't ridden it yet, the diameter of the downtube and seat stays is pretty huge -- it reminds me of my Cannondale. I suspect that it too will be plenty stiff. The carbon sure looks cool...
Another fine price point optionsn69
Dec 12, 2002 3:45 PM
Is Debernardi's Zona. They have a white/blue/siler one that I came close to buying on looks alone (I know...NOT the right reason, but it sure is puuurty).

$800 frame and matching Advanced Composites bladed carbon fork. I have, however, also seen Mizuno forks OEM spec'ed with them.