I've had my Sette Razzo--my first carbon frame--hanging around for some time. Due to commitments in my weekend schedule, work, and the general crapiness of Oury grips, I wasn't able to take it for a good ride until this weekend. But before I get into the ride details, let's take a closer look at my build and the frame:
Coming off my Krampus, my goal for this was to make a lighter version of that: big tires, smooth riding, but light enough to be a realistic single speed. In that respect, I'm pretty happy how it turned out: the wheels are my Velocity Blunts from the Big K, the front tire is the Knard, the rear is a Mission Vee 2.4. I'm impressed that this frame has the clearance for this big tire:
I'm running it singles speed, with a very humble tensioner:
Just a generic Dimension or Performance push-down style tensioner. Single speed internet riders look down on tensioners in general, and this type in particular, but I've had good luck with it over several years. After trying most of the popular ways to single speed a frame, this tensioner is as good as most and better than some... I'm looking at you, slipping track ends and creaking sliders.
Of course, my Knard has no problem fitting up front:
The tapered head tube with a standard fork isn't the sharpest look in the world, but I want to see how I like this frame before I commit to a new fork that doesn't fit anything else in my garage.
The rear brake cable is internally routed:
I had some worries about "infernal" cable routing, but it couldn't have been easier to set up. The housing went in the top hole and pulled cleanly through until it popped out. The gear cables are also internally routed, but I obviously didn't use those for a single speed build.
I've had very limited experience with carbon frames before this. I demo'd a Gary Fisher Supercaliber four or five years ago, and really didn't like it. It did damp the trail vibrations nicely, but it was just completely dead feeling to my pedaling efforts. On the other hand, when I tested a Trek Superfly more recently, it rode pretty well... as it should, for $4,000.
I headed to P2 this morning, Sette in tow. The trail was a bit slick from Friday's rains, but not too bad.
As a side note, I had no problems with my grips this time. But that's because they were not Ourys:
Anyway, I found quite a bit to like in this frame. It feels like a pretty good steel frame, but much lighter. I say "pretty good" because it doesn't have the snappy, lively flex that I enjoy in the best steel frames, but it's still smooth and responsive, without the too-stiff, jarring feeling of riding an aluminum or poorly designed steel frame.
The Razzo handled like a pretty typical XC 29er: not too quick, but stable. It reminds me of my old Soma Juice, which had a very similar geometry. I could get the front end up, but it was a bit of a struggle. Again, typical of 29er XC geometry. Compared to the Krampus, it was lighter and easier everywhere, so I will say my carbon 29+* (*not quite) experiment was a success.
I did have one issue on today's ride: on a slow, slightly downhill right hand corner, I somehow lost the front wheel and ending up slamming my right side into the ground, hard. I hit hard enough that I had to adjust my stem alignment after I got back up (historical side note: remember back in the days of quill stems when we had to straighten out the stem after every crash?) Looking back at the crash, I would like to blame the Knard on the slick trail, but I think my front end folded under, instead of washing outwards. Maybe my head angle is too steep? (insert rolling eyes icon). Anway, an atypical crash that I'll chalk up to pilot error and rusty skills.
I think the Razzo is a very good, competent bike. That Sette was able to get a lower end carbon frame to ride so well speaks of good design and manufacturing. It looks nice, in a technical, modern sort of way. I find, though, that I'm having a bit of trouble bonding with it. When I go out into the garage in the evening to drink beer and look at bikes, I find my eyes drawn to this guy every time:
I got the urge to build a longer travel 26er, and realized I had most everything on hand to do so, even if that meant using my 29er fork. I can't really say how it rides yet, since I've been having issues with the #$&*! hydraulic brakes, but it sure looks nice.
I'm a skinny tube guy at heart, I guess.
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