I’m a self-admitted Gear Geek who is guilty of overanalyzing his cycling equipment. I’m also cheap and independent, never too concerned with what the trends are today. I do like contemporary cycling technology and understand that today’s gear offers a lot of performance.
I’ll visit a retail cycling showroom and find almost nothing for me. I’m not super-tall at 6’, but due to a lanky build and a preference for a more stretched-out “French-fit,” I never seem find a bike that meets my requirements in stock.
Most of my riding is longer distance fitness riding. I ride solo about 50% of the time. My fitness level has progressed to the point that I can ride in the faster groups with younger riders, some of whom race. I don’t dominate the pull, but I can hang-on. I have a need for speed and want to improve my hill climbing skills. So I’ve been looking at sourcing the items needed for a complete road-bike that would fit this kind of riding better than my do-it-all CX bike.
The availability of an advanced, second generation, road bike frame from Pedal Force caught my interest. The CG2 frame is available with a virtual top-tube size of 590mm with a head-tube length of 210mm. I also wanted a very stiff head-tube, down-tube and chain-stay design. The asymmetrical head-tube with a 1 1/8 upper headset bearing and a 1 ¼ lower headset bearing would improve stiffness compared to a symmetrical 1 1/8 headset head-tube. The fork was all carbon fiber, including the steering tube. The frame featured internal cabling for the derailleurs and rear brake. A BB30 bottom bracket shell is included.
Test results: Fit, Ride, handling and acceleration.
I’ve had the bike out for multiple rides but only have about 100 miles on it so far. Today’s ride was cut short by rain, it will be a while before this bike gets dirty from damp roads. I have a CX bike for rain duty anyway.
Even though it is a little difficult to remain perfectly objective during the honeymoon period with a new bike, some impressions are forming.
First impression is that this bike is different from other bikes I have owned. It fits more like a sports bike than my prior road bikes. The taller head-tube and the size 60cm seat-tube keeps the handlebar and saddle a moderate distance from the top tube. My prior road bikes had that short-wheelbase feel and always needed a well extended seat-post and an angled stem with a few spacers to fit well. I always felt that distance between me and the frame and never got adjusted to that kind of fit. I feel perfectly balanced on the new bike and I like the sports bike fit far more than the road-race fit. The second impression is that the bike feels a little unexciting at lower speeds but becomes much more veracious as speed and effort increases. My prior bikes felt very good at moderate speeds and were good partners on century rides, but were a little unsupportive of faster, high-effort cycling. The CG2 is going to be my fast fitness bike for group rides and will be asked to help me stay below 6 hours while completing century rides. I continue to think that it will do very well in that role.
Like the fit, the handling is more sports bike than road-race bike. There is nothing on the geometry sheet to indicate relaxed handling, but that is my impression at this point. It might be the longer wheelbase that comes with a size 60cm frame, or the geometry of the fork, but the bike has on-rails stability at all speeds. At speeds below 15 mph it doesn’t feel very lively. It doesn’t do anything bad at lower speeds or in tight spaces. However this is not a criterium racer or an agile city streets bike. It will make any turn at any reasonable speed, but it would rather go straight and fast and is less responsive feeling in tighter spaces and lower speeds than my CX bike or prior road bikes.
The ride quality is what I expected, firm but never jarring. One of the advantages of a bike that fits well and has comfortable contact points (seat, handlebar and shoes) is that a firmer ride can be comfortable. It also helps to have large enough tires at moderate air pressure. Finally, the wheel-set can improve the ride, my 32 spoke Velocity A23 wheel-set is comfort oriented and the ride benefits from a 23mm wide rim. I’m using 700x23 front and 700x25 rear tires at 100 and 110 psi. The tires are Continental Gatorskins which are stiffer than some tires in this size.
The frame has a firmer ride quality than my steel and prior titanium bikes. Steel bikes do feel supple and springy, in a way that can be good, but is also unwanted at times. The Titanium bike feels very supple and extra plush, but a bigger rider on a large frame will feel some unwanted flex too. The CG2 feels firmer than steel or titanium, with no unwanted flex. There is filtered road feel that is busier than steel or titanium, but this does not cause me any discomfort. The bike felt supple enough on the badly cratered and insufficiently repaired streets that are everywhere in my area. Sharper surface features, like frost heaves or broken concrete are felt, but the worst of it is filtered. Stiff riding, but filtered, is the best way for me to summarize the ride quality.
I will add that the sounds coming off the frame are more prominent than with my prior bikes. The sounds are all normal, including gear shifts and some rattling from the chain & cables. No groaning or creaking. The BB30 shell and adapter are silent, this was a worry.
Acceleration has been thrilling. Part of this is without-a-doubt a placebo effect, new bikes are great for motivation. However, part of my improved ability to accelerate and hold speed is the frame. Yesterday I rode with my speed oriented riding friend. He is a 25 year old Ironman participant on a Look TT bike. He never drops below 19 mph on our pancake flat route and can hold 23 mph for hours without drafting. I normally stay on his wheel and hang on for dear life. He was very complimentary of the improvements. He said my cadence looked smoother, faster and that my power output was more efficient. At one point he said “Now we are side by side holding a conversation at 20 mph, normally we you would be behind me…”
The bike does provide a better response to my effort. I used to hold a narrow cadence range from 90 to 100 rpm, shift often and lose and gain speed with any change in slope. Now I find myself holding speed, shifting less and feeling better power output at higher or lower cadence.
I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever go back to steel or titanium.
Edited by WILDCAT - 9/22/11 at 5:04am