Friday, May 11, 2012

Renovo R1 wooden bike project, part 7: first impressions

I have been using the Renovo for a couple of weeks now and I have done around 500 kilometres on it during that time. First impressions:

If you would have asked me what the best thing about the bike was a week ago, I would have said the wheels. However, after the Liege-Bastonge-Liege (LBL) grand fondo last Saturday, I am going to say it's the frame.

The wheels have been great in dry weather. They smooth out just about any bad road surface and braking performance is equal to that of most carbon wheels. Needles to say the DA hubs run ridiculously smooth. They do have one down side though, one that I discovered during LBL. On the day I rode LBL it rained and snowed almost the whole time. These wet circumstances, combined with sand from the road getting in my brake pads, made the rims wear extremely fast. The brake track is currently showing bare wood so I will stop using the wheels until I hear from Cerchi Ghisallo for a solution for this problem. Wooden rims in dry weather or with disc brakes = great fun and smooth sailing; wooden rims in the wet Belgium Ardennes + sand = very fast wearing rims.

The smoothing effect of the frame does not compare to that of the wooden rims. However, the ride characteristics of the frame are very similar to those of a modern steel frames. It is plenty stiff and it absorbs a lot of road vibration. The best thing however is the way it looks! On the road everybody keeps asking me if the frame is really wood and people keep taking pictures.

Giving the fact that the groupset dates back to 1998 (or 1999) I though shifting would be much less smooth than I was accustomed to with modern Shimano, SRAM en Campagnolo groupsets. Fortunately this is not the case. Shifting performance is great, aside from the fact that I only have 9 cogs to shift. Ergonomics unfortunately have improved over the years.

On good thing did come from LBL: the Brooks Swift and I finally became friends. The first 200-300 kilometres were pretty much a torture, but during LBL the saddle finally started to break in. If this is a sign of things to come I just might start to fall in love with this saddle.

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