The essence of a pure racing machine
Whenever we have the chance to do a bike-review and try new a bike we feel like Christmas is here once again. We are eager to dress in Lycra, tie our shoes, put on the helmet and start riding.
This time it is a special review. A project that is partly ours, the collaboration between Bellé Cycles and RAW Cycling Magazine. This is why, inevitably, we let our feelings write the articles by themselves.
It has been a long but special project for us. We were looking to build a bike that would represent us wherever we go, and we have affectionately taken care of every single detail. Starting from the geometry choice, the tubing and the bike components that would shape it, to the colors that would later decorate it. All that with the intention of achieving a bike with spirit and racing character, with the performance and feedback that steel gives but without sacrificing the lightness of a top-end bike.
It was not the first time we work with Kico from Bellé Cycles shoulder to shoulder. We usually collaborate in our The Raw Stories project, and we know from first hand the level and self-imposed standard of excellence he applies in each of his tasks. His professionalism and experience, his willingness to continue creating unique bikes and, of course, his welding technique, are synonyms of success.
The frame is composed of a tubing mix. Kico chose Columbus as the main triangle with its Spirit lightweight tube set, with the exception of the HSS steering tube. Columbus SL biconical seat stays and Dedacciai Zero chainstays are present in the rear part. Also a gear hanger from PMW round and a BSA bottom bracket shell. The last part of the frameset is a Columbus Futura SL 1×1/8” fork; reliability, performance and lightness.
The paintwork was a task of Kilian (@kilianboy), a real artist that has achieved to materialize all Kico’s ideas in the frame, obtaining an incredible result with an ice-gray base and red details, highlighting the racing character we were looking for.
As regards the components, we made a thoughtful decision, prioritizing the lightness and performance benefits they could bring. We were sure that the drivetrain system would be a mechanical Shimano Dura-Ace 9100, boosted with a Ceramic Speed complete kit consisting of a bottom bracket, a chain with an anti-friction treatment, and a rear mech with Ceramic’s characteristic pulley wheel system, oversized and customized for the occasion (see Raw Cycling Magazine printed in one the pulley wheels). Why not electronic shifting? Mechanical group set versions to have no rivals in terms of weight, which was one of the priorities for this project.
About the brakes, we substituted the Dura-Ace brakes for some Cane Creek eeBrake that, in addition to being a real wonder in the engineering world with its 169 of weight, they bring precision, stiffness, and braking difficult to find in other models.
A complete cockpit from Enve Components contributes with its unique touch of lightness, reliability, and elegance. The steerer tube we chose is also from the America brand Cane Creek, a 110 Series model. The FSA Power Touch bar tape was chosen because of its comfort.
We decided to let Fabric Cycling take care of our butt with the ALM Ultimate Shallow, a saddle made from carbon fiber and build as a single piece. Its is light (140gr), comfortable and has a minimalist touch that fits with what we were looking for.
As far as the wheels, we selected a limited edition from FFWD, called F3R Black Edition with DT180 hubs and Ceramic Speed bearings. The wheelset weight 1.195 grams and is covered with handmade Challenge tubulars, a Paris Roubaix 7000x27C model.
The final result is a steel bike completely handmade and customized with that weighs 7,2 kg. A genuine missile that is ready to ride long distances and very suitable for climbing.
The first time yo get the chance to try a steel road bike you will be able to feel since the first moment how stiff it is and, as a consequence, how immediate power is transmitted. It is a feeling that multiplies when sprinting or climbing, where every pedal stroke is translated into pure power in your wheels.
In terms of descending, a frame like this one also offers and exceptional performance. The bike geometry, stiffness and the twisty movements that steel allows to do, increase your confidence and encourages you to stop braking and let the bike flow. It is a must to highlight the wheelset choice and the tires, that combine perfectly, and the effectiveness of the eeBrakes (Cane Creek) brakes. All these components made us astonished.
Overall, this Bellé Cycles has perfectly behaved in all kind of terrains, showings signs of being a light machine, conceived to ride fast and with an aggressive position, without having to forgo comfortability (evidently, here it plays a role the flexibility of each rider).
The downside (if we can add any negative aspect) is that, if you face a surface in bad state, concrete, cobblestones or the commonly known as sterrato, the stiffness we have mentioned several times will turn against us and will force us to stop the strokes with our own body. To describe it with an example, it would be like driving a Formula 1 on a dirt road.
Photos by: Brazo de Hierro