I've been meaning to drop you a line for some time to let you know my
first impressions of the bike (needless to say it's all been going
pretty good). Hope the following piece (and the pic) is useful ......
Before I picked my bike up from Justin I'd referred to it secretly as "project 11". Why? Because it was a 2 year project to research and
ultimately order a new bike which would come to fruition in 2011. OK,
so the project name was rubbish, however I couldn't be more happy
with the bike itself.
I guess if you're browsing Justin's web site you're probably in the
same boat as me a year or so ago - you are researching different
manufacturer's before you decide which frame to go for. For me the
decision to go Ti was made fairly early on in the process, a medium
which, I think it's fair to say, is on the up at the moment in the
UK. The UK has more than it's fair share of specialist Ti builders
but to be able to deal with a small independent who was only an
hour's drive down the road was a real deal clincher as far as I'm
concerned. As others will testify, when you meet Justin you soon
realise he couldn't be more laid back without needing a recumbent to
get around on, and that easy going nature really helped to make the
ordering process so easy. He was able to offer sound advice about
component selection and was more than happy for me to design my own
decals (see the pic). He pointed me in the direction of
competitivecyclist.com who have a great system for taking your
critical body measurements and from the resulting data Justin made
the first drawing of my frame. Another couple of emails, some
measurements from my old bike and a photo of me riding it and Justin
came up with drawing two, which I was able to approve.
Once the deposit was paid and the frame ordered from Russia
everything happened very quickly. The frame arrived in 3 weeks
instead of the 6-8 weeks Justin had estimated. It arrived so fast I
hadn't had time to order all the components to go on it! I opted to
have Justin build the bike as I'm not the world's greatest wrench, so
when I went to collect my pride and joy it was all there in one
piece. Justin didn't seem to sure about the decals I'd designed but
he did like the HED wheels I'd bought. I think he'd liked to have put
them on his "superlight" bike listed above.
Riding my new machine is a joy. I've never owned a full carbon frame
so I'm not able to make a straight comparison between the two. What I
can tell you is that there's something very different, very special
about the ride feel of a Ti frame. The ride is fantastically
comfortable but this doesn't impact on the responsiveness when you
want to throw it round a corner or put the hammer down. The track at
Lotus Cars may have been resurfaced in time for this year's crit
series, but I think my new bike had much more of an effect on my
ability to carry speed through or even accelerate around a corner.
The Columbus Minimal fork not only works brilliantly with the frame,
helping the aforementioned handling but is also (I think) the best
match aesthetically to the frame.
They say a Ti frame is for life but I enjoyed the process of
selecting a frame builder and collating the components too much not
to do it again. And when I do I would be more than happy to go back
to Justin. I'm thinking a hard tail 29'er with beltdrive, Rohloff
gears and mudguard clearance. Good job I'm already saving!