Svelte Cycles without comproise

Friday, December 19, 2008

16,032 Words.

Lew ProVT-1/Pillar Hidden Nipples/Sapim CX-Ray/DT Swiss 190 Ceramics
Edge 1.68/Pillar Hidden Nipples/DT Swiss Competition/DT Swiss 240
Lew Pro-VT1/Pillar Hidden Nipple/DT Swiss Revolution-Competiton Mix/White Industries H2
Built by Hand - Justin Spinelli

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Continental Competition 22 Tubular Tires

Consider the Continental Competition 22s the staple of ProTour level tubulars. They are not the lightest, they are not the most supple, you may even consider their all black appearance leaves something to be desired (personally I love the full black look). Where the Continentals lack in uber-featheryness and silky plushness , they make up ten fold in durability, resistance to punctures and low rolling resistance.

By no means do 22s ride harsh, but are they as silky smooth as a Dugast? No they are not. Will you be out $150 everytime you flat? No you will not! And much unlike Dugast's these are always in stock and you don't need a buddy in Belgium smuggling them over on a boat. At 260g each the 22s are by no means heavy and fall well within the normal weight range of a high end tubular tire.

In the Competition 22s, Continental uses its Vectran Breaker Technology as well as its Black Chili Compound. To put it as simply as I can, the VBT is a layer of Vectran underneath the tires tread. The Vectran material is five times stronger than steel as well as lighter and more flexible than 2 layers of nylon... This is the only Liquid Crystal Polymer in the world. So needless to say you don't have to worry about flatting, which is a great feature because it is so hard to go fast with a flat tire! Real world technology ladies and gentlemen... there is a reason why most PROs race on the 22s when it's an option. Also included with the 22s is the ever popular Black Chili Compound. Continental shrinks individual black carbon particles to an ultra-fine level creating nano-technology for when mixed with butyl rubber. How will this affect me you ask yourself? 30% better adhesion, 26% less rolling resistance, 5% improved mileage over Continental tires without this compound. The Continental Competiton 22s are a real world performance product that you can rely on to be there when it counts. For frou-frou-shi-shi call your up your buddy in Bruges.
Clean and simple graphics. Bold yet not offensive.
This is my most favourite salient feature of the 22s. Micro file tread. In my opinion this tread offers the best water and dirt shedding capabilities and makes the coolest of noises when you put your hand down to skim-clean your tires. "zzztttt!" "zzztttt!"
Here is a side profile of the all-black 22s. Pure class in my opinion.
Love that clean, tough, fast look of the micro file tread... it makes other treads look overkill and a tad cliche.
Another pic. At this point I am just showing off the old Campagnolo Record Alloy Bits.
LinkThis too can be yours. Or at least the wheels and tires!

To order a set of Contintal Competition 22's click here.

ps: Yours truly trains on these tires and wheels everyday on craggy New England roads. Saving your carbon tubular wheels for special occasions is soooo 2007.


Friday, November 14, 2008

The New Style.

There have been some interesting things in the works since my last update (see Time VXR Proteam). When it came time to streamline things the fall, I originally set out at only doing wheels and wheel-goods seeing as how it was my primary interest point in all things bike related. This approach changed after my first ride on the Time VXR Proteam as I was absolutely smitten. Upon sealing the deal with my regional Time man in charge aka Steve Pucci, it became my mission to re-create Svelte Cycles into place where cyclists could come, hang-out and get that signature complete bike they always wanted... perhaps a nice handbuilt wheelset equiped with tires, skewers, cork brake pads and cassettes's ready-to-go right out of the box... or even something as honest and useful as a handful of Michelin tubes.

As my focus is shifting to complete bike sales and handbuilt wheels in 2009, you will notice a very select offering of goods consisting of items, which I strongly believe, are the best possible choices both performance and value wise. The carbon fiber brakes, the 90 gram seatposts, the 20 grams skewers I previously offered were all really neat stuff don't get me wrong, but when it comes down to it... that stuff is for show and are not intended to be pounded on for years on end. So if you are looking for a 12 pound, $15,000 show bike perhaps you are in the wrong spot. If you are looking for a bike that fits, is reliable, performs, is Pro-Tour level and backed by companies with legitimate warranty policies and smooth customer service you have certainly come to the right spot.

Svelte Cycles is now stocking many of it's items listed in an effort to expedite delivery time and improve customer satisfaction. Over the next month I will be bringing in many items including but not limited to Continental Competiton 22's, Fizik Microtex Bar Tape, 3T Rotundo Handlebars and ARX Stems, DT Swiss Hubs, Rims and Spokes, White Industries Hubs, Lew ProVT-1 Rims, Edge 1.68 Tubular Rims, Arundel H20 Cages and Saddle Bags, Pillar Hidden Nipples, Michelin Laytex and Butyl Tubes, Cork Brake Pads, Campagnolo Wheel Bags... Items not in stock but on short order include but are not limited to Time Frames and Bicycles, Campagnolo, SRAM and Shimano Gruppo's and of course the odd special order for a set of Lightweights.

Here are some snap shots of recently ordered product to keep your palette wet. Until next time...

Cool graphics on the new 3T Rotundo.
You will never have to worry about one lever being lower than the other again!
Here I am comparing -17 to -6 degree angled stems.
Not to frumpy aye?
Another side by side comparison. Can you pick the more streamlined stem?
Love that classic bend. Here I am comparing the 3T's to the shallow drop Oval Concepts. The angle of this pic favours in terms of vanity the Oval's but you can tell that the 3T's have a slightly deeper drop.
Lightweights come complete with a DT Swiss Lockring.
Here is a piece of tape with German Code written on it. These were a show model I sourced for a customer on the "cheap".
Aside from the bits of glue residue, these could pass as new.
Ta Da! Is there anything sexier than a set of Lightweights? Too bad they are so friggin expensive and needy. But hey... if you have the cash and the time, I say go for it!
Rain, rain go away. To bad the lighting was awful this morning. Here is a shot of the gorgeous wishbone stay on the Time Edge Pulse.
I couldn't believe how similar the tubes and lugs on the Edge were to the one's the Time VXR Proteam!
Same fork.... FYI these forks retail for around $600 alone!
Same Quick-Set technology.
This baby will be built up with all my select 2009 items and will be featured in my 2009 Collection Catalogue. Jeff Weir (photographer extrordinaire), here I come!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Time VXR. Ride Report.

Note that I did not use the Time Seatpost which the frame came supplied with. Why?... it had a scratch on it! Also note that though this demo did not come with a stem, all VXR, VXRS, VXS, RXR and Edge RS's come with a stem and seatpost-(if not a Translink).
Here you see my 9sp Shimano Chain and Cassette paired with Campy 10. This is a light, cheap(er) set-up and provides me with all the gearing I need. That and I can stay on Shimano/SRAM wheels.
I love these Handlebars! The Ritchey WCS Classic's. Look for Svelte Cycles to stock these in the near future. And by "stock" I do mean here and ready to go out the door.
Here she is in all her test-ride, mix-matched, gangly self... I wish this bike was mine, I would set it up a tad different. Nicer wheels, no pammel (see below), matching cages to name a few visually nagging issues...
I love the little bullseye. That little black dot there on the top tube marks where the virtual center of the BB. This makes measuring your setback a snap. Time really caters to the detail oriented cyclists' who give a damn.
This is a pammel ladies and gentlemen. Do not try this at home. I did however love the lack of starnut system with the Time Quickset... makes for a lighter, cleaner, more simple set up.
These Zero Gravity Ti's I thought had bit the dust, that is until I doused all the pivots with Tri-Flow. Voila! Good as new! Such a cool little brake. Too bad about the Boxer Crank though...
"All big ring, all the time."

This is a real race bike in every sense of the word. Time has been manufacturing carbon fiber racing frames and forks for longer than anyone in the industry. Save the Taiwanese Pulse frame (which does come with a french-made fork), every frame and fork is produced "in house" at the Time factory in France. Time has racing pedigree, they have history, they have wealth, they support racing at every level and are on the cutting edge of manufacturing techniques... this is a power house company like Colnago and Look and possesses it's own flair, it's own certain "je ne sais quoi". I see Time as the IWC of bicycles... slightly mainstream yet still boutique, goes well with anything, durable, classy, refined.

After only a few hundred miles logged on the VXR I have already come to my conclusion. Normally before a final review I would ride and ride and ride until noticing a change in performance, a bit of flex here, some give there, a creak, a crack perhaps, maybe a change in handling or performance. When you deal with Time this is not the case though... these are built like brick shit houses and will not flex out, will not fade away and will not wilt under the forces taken day in and day out by a Pro cyclist. This alone gives the VXR huge purchasing incentive as it will stand the test of time (pun) and when you consider the fact that you can buy two of these proven geometry'd VXR's for the price of a ? ?'d Serotta. Why would anyone bother with fit guessing games? These things just fit and ride like a performance bike should... Consider them made to measure.

Enough passive agressive remarks about custom faster-backwards bicycles and perfect imperfection. Let's talk about the VXR. When I was going 30-40kph over rough roads the bike felt as if it weighed 50lbs, it just STUCK to the road, didn't move, no chatter, no deflection. When jumping out of the saddle over the rough stuff, the rear end just "plunked" right back on the ground, no bumping about a few times to find it's place, it just went "plonk!" back on the road.. the rear end was solid as a rock, yet possessed a smoothness you would find in perhaps a nice titanium frame. Riding in the saddle at speed was damp and stiff and the module seemed to give me an overwhelming feeling of inertia, a rare sensation these days due to so many manufacturers focusing on gram scales. I am no sprinter but I can produce some big league watts for my size and at no time did i feel the front end go soft when jumping out of the saddle. There have been reports of bigger, more powerful riders finding the top-tube flexy but on my size M frame and 1,300 max-watt uphill efforts I found no noodle action to speak of. What impressed me most was this frameset on descents, normally I feel like I am way ahead of the bike... just waiting for the thing to respond so I can go ahead with setting up for my next line. The VXR was with and even ahead of me at times, the bike felt present with my body's motions... waiting, ready, responding. Sketchy situations, dicey corners and rough roads are where this bike absolutely shines and you don't need to be a racer to appreciate it's ride charactaristics, ironically enough novice to recreational riders may appreciate the VXR's qualities as much as a racer would. This bike instills confidence on the road and when paired with the proper stem length ,saddle height and bar drop will put you in a proper and balanced position (time stem and seatpost come included by the way).

Oh and how does the bike climb? It weighs nothing and is stiff as hell... how do you think it climbs?!

The VXR brings me back to the days when I was competing on Pegoretti's. You get the same unwavering, no nonsense reactions from Dario's bikes as the Time's with the exception of the comfort factor. In no way shape or form am I trying to dissuade anyone from purchasing a Pegoretti. They are amazing bikes and perhaps some of the nicest machine's I have ever competed on. The Time's however have the same stout, balanced and powerful ride except the smoothness of a Time makes the kilometers pass with more ease especially riding over cracked and pot holed roads like we have here in New England. Perhaps the smooth sensations will even inspire you to do that extra loop that is so often skipped at the tail end of those 3+ hour jaunts.

So in conclusion I am totally sold. These are well priced race bikes that will stand the test of time that can be enjoyed by all type's of cyclists. With the economy the way it is you need to take into account the value Time gives you (remember the stem, headset, fork, seatpost and bottle cage are included!) initially and over the years to come. $4,500 is not peanuts but this is like purchasing a Mercedes Benz, those fortunate with enough money to buy one can expect reliability, class and performance for many, many miles down the road.

If you would like to purchase a Time VXR or another Time module please contact me at justin@svetltecyclescom.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Time VXR Proteam Module. In Disarray.

First and foremost the Time VXR is a race bike. Along with Colnago and Look, Time is perhaps one of the only remaining carbon frame companies that is putting something in the hands of the consumer that can perform at the ProTour level without compromisation, alteration or modification. Granted Tom Boonen needed stiffer chainstays on his Time VXRS Ulteam but the fact is Tom is the exception to the aforementioned and it says a lot about Time's production that they are able to made custom modules due to their in-house, handmade carbon lug construction.
All Time frames are handmade, in-house at the Time facility in France. Resin Transfer Molding allows Time to shape the tubes and use special layups in the carbon thus creating a more functional yet lightweight tubeset. All "VX" modules have shaped tubes while the more economical Edge series uses less sophisticated yet adequate round tubes.
The VXR comes with a standard seatpost but uses the same tubeset and lugset set as the ISP'd VXRS Ulteam with the exception of 3 things:
1. The VXR uses a conventional seatpost and not an integrated systems like the VXRS (obviously)
2. The VXR does not have the extra Vibraser Polymid Fibers that any of the "S" modules have.
3. The droupouts on both the fork and frames are aluminum. Only the VXRS Ulteam uses carbon molded dropouts which helps shave some grams from the module.

The frame is all carbon with the exception of the aluminum bottom bracket and headset sleeves.

Check out the elevated "VXR" logo on the seat tube...
... and the neat chainstay protector. This is some sort of laminated polymer and much cooler and effective than a strip of electrical tape.
Another feature that struck me were the neatly riveted frame fixtures.

Check out the serial code:
The "Quickset" headset really is a snap to use and it's design is clean, simple and effective.

Simply place the bearings in the frame (top and bottom bearing are the same size FYI).
Slide the fork up and in.
Then using the included Time prong tools, thread the "Quikset" topcap onto the movable metal sleeve on the fork's steerer tube.
A nice little feature in the headset spacers are that they have rubber sleeves embedded in them... makes for a snug fit. No slop or rattling around.
So far we have discussed some of the nuances of the frame itself but this is really only half the story. The Time fork is claimed to be the best performing fork on the market and when I held it in my hands for the first time, I could just feel how this bold statement would most likely be validated after only a few rides. It felt solid and muscular yet feathery light. The blades were boldly shaped yet seemed to flow down to the droupouts with grace and elegance. The steerer tube looked meaty and organic due to it's kevlar and carbon weave... more like some sort of baton weapon then a steerer. The bearing race was smooth and molded and looked like it would cradle the bearings with rock solid precision.

Next up I will build the module with a parts kit and snap some shots with a first impressions ride report. Stay tuned...

Update: I rode this today and it absolutely kills. Felt like my Pegoretti's without the knocking your fillings out feeling.

A handful of corrections/additions:
1. The bb shell is carbon with bonded aluminum thread insert.
The vxrs does not contain extra vectran. That is reserved for the S model that is a grand fondo bike.
Note also the mark on the top tube indicating the ctr of the bb... put there to assist in bike set up.
Very convenient. I will include better pics of this feature in next week's update.
4. Karen O is super hot in a Courtney Love yet not a crack-whore, without the dyed blonde hair sort of way.