We opened our demo bikes today. For the first time in written history, words fail me. They're awesome. And they aren't even yet as awesome as they are going to be, because 3 of them have 12k weave and glossy clearcoat and I hate 12 weave and glossy clearcoat. The one with 3k weave (to the left in the photo) looks exponentially cooler than the other two (better photos will come tomorrow - this one was taken on my phone), and it has glossy clearcoat which, well, I still hate. With matte clearcoat and the graphics under clearcoat, it's going to look as cool as anything out there. At least that you'd race Reston on.
This demo is as much about our logistics process as it is the product (we knew what to expect on product, process was sort of wait and see until we saw it), and the process is just great. Everything came extraordinarily well packed. Each item was wrapped beautifully and efficiently. I hate when things come with unnecessary gobs of plastic wrapping. The person who wrapped this knew what the hell he or she was doing. Small discs covered each side of the bb shell and the head tube ends, and quality dropout spacers were used on each frame and fork. There wasn't a scratch on anything. Anything.
I've only built one up so far, so while I've given each one a pretty serious once over, I only have the depth of observation from one build. But here is what I saw when I built this sample.
Clear coat quality is nice. Very even, very smooth and fair. Compared to my wife's Tarmac (which, granted, is used, but you can tell what's age from what's quality), it comes up at least even. REally really nice.
This was my first build with a tapered head tube, but apart from making the headset easier to deal with (it's VERY obvious what's top and bottom), nothing about that affects the build. Headset goes together easily, and the fork slides right in. The bottom bearing fit into the headtube slightly tight - not enough to distort or bind the bearing but definitely enought that there's no play. The top bearing fit just slightly less snugly. For what it's worth, headsets are pretty darn commodity lately. If the races are good, which is more frame quality than headset quality, the headset is fundamentally two sealed bearings. Good ones are hard to avoid, and if you know your way through the McMaster catalog, replacement or upgrade bearings (totally unnecessary if you ask me) are cheap and easy to get. Anyhow, moving right along...
The 56 frame weighs 1190g, which is a few grams more than I expected. Like 40 of them. That's about the weight of a poker hand. Uncut fork is 370, which doesn't compare to some forks like Edges and such weightwise, but seriously? For a fork that feels stiff as a board (I torqued it with the front wheel and bars post-build, and it's notably stiffer than any front end I've owned) and comes with a frame for $785, it's unreal.
This was my second trip through rigging internal cables, and it's a snap. The little Teflon tubes make it stupid easy. Thread the cable into the tube securely, and pull the tube through. Done. It's a really clean setup, and looks dead sexy. Don't use cable ends on any entry/exit points - cables plug into those points securely.
BB shell threads are great, the cups spun right on. In keeping with what's going on, the BB area is a freaking block. I won't be flexing that particular part of this frame.
This build was with my existing (mostly - my derailleurs are Ultegra) DA-7800 group. We're going to do some SRAM builds next, but I have this DA kit and I'm riding this piece tomorrow, so on it went. With FSA Wing Pro bars, a 3T ARX Team stem, a really heavy Deda Metal stick seatpost, a Toupe saddle, a slighly heavy Cane Creek front wheel (stuff lying around our house gets used), an RFSW rear wheel with a Vittoria Evo CX on it, our skewers, an Ultegra chain, a 105 cassette, and Speedplay Zero stainless pedals, it weighs 16.04 pounds on our Park digital scale. Swapping the front wheel for an RFSW would have brought it to 15.70 or so, and replacing the brick seatpost with the Thomson Masterpiece we'll be supplying with our build kit, and you're at 15.50. Switch my gruppo out for the Force/Rival setup we're doing as a build kit, and your bike is illegal to race in UCI events. And you've spent barely more than two grand to get there. I saw a Specialized Ruby Comp this evening that retails for $2700, has mostly 105 components (except where they skimped from there), and probably weighs more than 18 pounds.
So the bike is totally ripper sweet. A few hours at the salt mine tomorrow and then a ride on the new hooptie.
And I guess words didn't fail me there.