Wednesday, November 4, 2009

First Impressions

I went and rode Buttercup this afternoon. I went on a route that I am very familiar with, but not terribly technical...up and down Saltzman Road in Forest Park. It is mostly a dirt fireroad that twists and turns as it descends about 800 feet from Skyline Road until the gate near the bottom after about 3 miles. I rode that basically twice and then went down partway again so that I could re-take some turns that I am pretty familiar with when riding the Curtlo Cross bike. I probably rode about 14 miles overall.

The Buttercup was supposed to be identical to the Curtlo. However, it is not exactly the same. I am using a different headset than on the Curtlo, an FSA which has a 10mm higher stack than a King headset. So, my bar position is a bit higher than I am used to. I didn't notice it at first when I was riding around in the parking lot and around Neil's house. It was immediately evident when I started riding at speed down a loose fireroad. On the plus side, being in the drops felt really good. On the negative when on the hoods I felt a little bit too high. It didn't feel as aggressive as I am used to. It handles better overall. I may swap out for a longer stem, but that is about it. And even with that I am going to ride it for a bit with what I have and see how I do at the races before I swap anything out.

Anyway, while it felt a little different it didn't feel bad. After 45 minutes of riding I was starting to get it down. If I want to turn at speed all I have to do is lean and maybe shift my weight or hips to the side. Steering is stable, I wouldn't say it was twitchy at all. I just had to let the bike do its job instead of forcing it one way or another.

Slow speed, tight turns are slick. For a bike with a longish wheelbase, at least compared to a regular road bike, it is very agile. More so than the Curtlo. I do think that if I was go out on a real mountain bike trail I might be more comfortable on the Curtlo when a descent got really steep and technical, but that is about it. The bikes are slightly different, but both fit well.

Climbing: Perfect. There was nothing too steep, but it felt great. While it may be in my head, I really felt like all of my energy went into the rear wheel. When you compare the bikes, there should be a difference. A ultra rigid Easton EC90 crankset compared to the Campy Record on the Curtlo and beefier chainstays on Buttercup should make for a more efficient power transfer. At least that is what I tell myself when I am churning up dirt when pedaling out of the saddle. It felt great.

What a bike it is. Seriously. Too bad none of you reading this can own this bike. And if you want something similar, start schmoozing Neil now before the list grows too long.

One more thing. I ran the Vittoria XM tubular tires today for the first time. They definitely have a better feel than the Tufo tubulars or the Hutchinson Bulldog clinchers (mainly because I can run them softer than either), but the jury is out when it gets muddy. Overall, I like them better than the Fangos I think. Yeah, I think so...we'll see when it comes time to race them how they do.

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