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Ride report, Seven, Serotta ,Colnago and Spectrum(15 posts)

Ride report, Seven, Serotta ,Colnago and SpectrumMGS
Oct 12, 2003 8:15 PM
I had an interesting opportunity to test four different high end bikes in the last three day. I rode a Serotta Legend Ti, a Seven Axiom Ti, Colnago C-40 and SpectrumTi Superlight. Each day I rode a bike that was about 57cm C-C with a top tube that was between 56-57.5 cm.

Two bikes were from a shop that had them for trial, one from an acquaintance, and one of my own. The wheels were standard Mavic clinchers on the Serotta Legend Ti and Seven with Campy Eurus on the Spectrum and Zipp 404's on the Colnago.

All bikes had 700x23cm clincher tires and the seat and stem height were adjusted to my preference.

The amazing thing about all these bikes was that despite the fact that they all had fabulous rides, I was looking for those traits that people often use when describing there new ride. I recall hearing about rides that "float" over harsh roads, have "buttery" feel, and "instant power" transfer to the wheels.

Well, I did my standard 30 mile ride on each bike. This includes 1200 vertical feet of climbing, and two fast descents of up to 42 mph.

And what I found was that although the set ups were a little different, and my knees could tell which bike needed to be adjusted, if I closed my eyes I would be hard pressed to tell which one was "buttery, floating and faster." I have ridden great bikes for over 20 years, and these were all great bikes, but the elusive magic that differentiated one as clearly superior was missing.

The Spectrum and Serotta both had a similar great and comfortable feel; the Seven was the tightest and most rigid, with the Colnago having a carbon feel that was less fatiguing, but not necessarily faster or tighter.

So, the point of all this is that when I hear about the magic of a certain bike, or someone espousing the wonder of one frame over another, I believe, as others have pointed out, that it's not the name on the frame, it is how it fits you.

The one that fit the best felt the best. That was the Colnago, but I felt the Serotta had great stability and handling, with the Spectrum not far behind and the Seven a little too tight. As one pursues the elusive WunderBike, make sure it fits, and buy the frame based on measurements, not the name on the frame.

Just my two cents, I may be wrong.
re: Ride report, Seven, Serotta ,Colnago and Spectrumkoala
Oct 13, 2003 3:37 AM
Just an observation, the order of preference you chose has a decresing amount of trail, given the Serotta has stock geometry. Colnagos have slack head angles, Serotta stock geo is 73 degree head angle, Tom at Spectrum strives for what he says is neutral trail(5.6), which is slightly more than the stock Serottas, and Sevens stock bikes come with parallel 73.5 angles. Slacker angles give a smoother ride and this too could have contributed to your preference. Just a thought.
FYI on Seveninnergel
Oct 13, 2003 7:05 AM
The Seven was probably their stock geometry and ride characteristics. Since they are a custom manufacturer, the custom frames they build are tuned to rider preferences, which will remove some of the stiffness you felt.

Great post. Just like any other high-end product, once you get past a certain price point, they are all very good. It just becomes a question of personal preference for one feature set over another.
Great Post!rdbike
Oct 13, 2003 4:26 AM
I am not an expert and I may be wrong but,....I have felt that way to much emphasis is put on a degree here or the great unbelivable attributes of one frame over another. Personally, I feel that about 96% of the entire biking experience is the rider. Once you get past the fitting basics, of bike wieght, frame size, post hieght etc. it comes down to how in shape your are and how used you are to sitting on a very narrow hard seat. The adjustments are very important to comfort and feel.
Oct 13, 2003 4:46 AM
As you've found out there really is no magic out there. Having owned a number of high end bikes, I've reached the same conclusion. Although there are subtle differences, they are all pretty good at the high end.

As a real lightweight (135 or less) I have to watch out for frames that are too stiff. A Litespeed Ultimate that I owned was much too stiff for comfort, as was an old C'dale 2.8.

I currently own a C-40 which has a lot of trail and a Fondriest MDC with a much shorter front center dimension and less trail (but Fondriest doesn't publish the head tube angle for an accurate trail calculation). They definitely corner differently on winding mountain descents. Right now I'm tend to favor the quicker steering on the Fondriest. The Colnago's large trail holds it in a straight line, but it takes more effort to carve a sharp mountain curve on it.
Agree on C40 handlingVW
Oct 13, 2003 8:45 AM
I owned an OCLV (I know it is not an exotic bike) that I rode the last three year on numerous centuries and hilly club rides. I remembered I used to bomb down twisty technical decents in the Santa Cruz mountain area within 3 to 5 feet behind guys at our club ride. I remember alternating between following them behind on their left and on their right, and I never seem to need a "line". The bike seems to response to small handlebar inputs and instantly changes direction.

Now, I ride a C40 HP and I no longer feel as confident on those extremely technical decent. The bike doesn't seem to take handlebar inputs as-much. I now need to position my body in anticipation of each turn, and a "line" seemed important. Having said that, the C40 really steers effortlessly on the flat and high speed downhill straights!

Funny...its whatever you get used to!MXL02
Oct 13, 2003 9:47 AM
I have a friend who does not like Colnagos because of the slack head tube...not responsive enough...and prefers Giants. I am just the opposite. I find the Colnago much more stable and responsive enought when I need it, but the Giant is just too twitchy.
what size C-40?ColnagoFE
Oct 13, 2003 10:26 AM
I used to ride a 61CM Merlin felt pretty twitchy at high speed. would corner with hardly any input. my 62cm Master X is much more stable at speed. i prefer the feel of cornering on the MXL much to the Merlin though for twisty crits the Merlin would probably be the better bike geometry.
54cm (nm)VW
Oct 13, 2003 2:15 PM
I ride a 60cm C40 ....fasteddie
Oct 13, 2003 2:50 PM
and I feel it is pretty twitchy when taking tight corners at speed (anything around 25mph and up). This is my only complaint about the C40. I really can't let it rip down tight Colo mtn roads.
Steering vs. FitFez
Oct 13, 2003 5:04 AM
Interesting observations you made. The steering you cannot change.

As you mentioned, the fit of the frame is the most important. Assuming you get the correct frame size from each manufacturer, you probably could have made each bike fit you well. Fine tuning your saddle and bar adjustments make a big difference - sometimes enough to prefer one bike over the other simply over better positioning, rather than the bike itself. A brief test ride sometimes won't do a bike justice.
Steering vs. Fitrdbike
Oct 13, 2003 5:16 AM
Handle bar size ie 42,44 or 46cm can possibly affect steering or steering perception. But frame material?
Oct 13, 2003 6:22 AM
I have a steel Lemond and a Look carbon which I alternate with each ride. Cornering is the only noticeable difference, the Look being better. However, in the straights where 99% of my riding is done, if blindfolded, I'd be hard pressed to say which of the two I was riding.
The test I'd like to see...OffTheBack
Oct 13, 2003 7:06 AM
... is to take a bunch of high end frames like those, plus some mid-range frames, plus some budget frames, give them all identical paint jobs and components, and have both pro & novice riders test them and rate them. Of course, tubing shape and dropout type would give some of them away. Still, it would be interesting to see how much 'placebo effect' there is in the ride quality of a high end frame.
no magic! come on now!ColnagoFE
Oct 13, 2003 7:38 AM
everyone knows that the best bike is the most expensive bike! just kidding. i think when people spend that kind of coin on a bike they have to justify it. that lower price points you can tell a big difference between bikes but as the price goes up the return on investment diminishes.