Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Curtlo S3 Cross bike

Above are pics of my sweet cyclocross ride. The frame is made by Curtlo Cycles out of the State of Washington. The Tubing is True Temper S3 with a little OX Platinum. The frame weighed in at 3.5 lbs. Pretty sweet for a steel frame. There are some aluminum and carbon frames (Kona Jake and Argon carbon are specific examples) out there that weigh as much or more and they probably don't ride as sweet as my baby here. Well actually I am sure they don't ride as well. This frame was custom built for me by Doug at Curtlo.

The complete bike as it sits right now with most everything you see on the pic (taken a year ago when the bike was new) is 18.2 lbs. It is set up as a 1x9 using a Kelly Take Off to mount a Bar End shifter. I will try and take a pic of this set up soon and I will post it. I can reach the shifter in the drops, on the hoods or if I am back on top near the in-line secondary brakes. I think it is the perfect set up for cross. But what do I know, I ain't a pro, just a C class guy here in Portland. But I have had A and B guys jealous of the set up. The Kelly Take Offs are pretty hard to find since Kelly went belly up about a year or more ago.

I just can't say enough about the frame. The only thing I would change on reflection is the top tube. I came across a Salsa Chili Con Crosso not long ago. It has a top tube that has been flatten a bit where one would be shouldering the bike during a race. The flatten tube rests much better on the shoulder than any round tube, no matter how light the bike is. If I were to have the bike built know I would see if Doug could do something similar.

The bike handles really well. I have ridden it in all sorts of terrain. Mountain trails, cross races, and as a commuter recently It flys. I will probably review some of the parts here in this blog in the future, but the only issue I have had is the Paul Neo Retro Brakes. I have to regularly adjust the toe-in so that the fork, an Alpha Q CX wont stutter on hard braking.

There is something about steel, it just feels different than than aluminum. The frame is stiff enough that I ran it during the spring and summer as a singlespeed and the frame didn't feel flexy in the bottom bracket. I could probably run up to a 40-45mm wide tire if I wanted, but I haven't tried. I run 30's usually. Doug has built several other frames for me, mountain and road. This was my first one with S3 tubes though. I am currently awaiting a singlespeed 29er also made with S3 tubes to replace the Gary Fisher Rig that is reviewed below. [There is nothing wrong with the Rig, but it was always a temporary frame.]

S3 Tubing is a real winner. I know that Salsa is making a road frame with the tubing and that would be a great pick for someone looking for a bike that they could pick up off the shelf. Doug's wait times are 4 to 6 months.

Curtlo Cycles Website

Grade: A Cost is cheap for what you get, and a brazed frame is always cool.

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