Veloforma Strada iR

IMG_9069
Enroute to Mount Saint Helens on the V to V Cogal

A death is a painful thing to experience. Particularly, I imagine, for the one doing the dying. For those left behind, it takes time to mourn and come to grips with the change; it is an unpleasant process, but such is the way of things.

The crack in the chainstay of my beloved Cervelo R3 had been weighing on my mind ever since I discovered its existence while cleaning my bike in Hawaii. Assuming the crack was superficial, I continued to ride the machine and took it with me to Belgium to rattle along over the cobblestones during Keepers Tour. It was during this trip that Andrew, a carbon fiber engineer for B’Twin, pointed out that the crack was not superficial and in fact quite serious.

I continued to ride it, and slowly made peace with the fact that my favorite-ever road bike was destined for retirement. Denial turned into anger, anger turned into grief, grief into acceptance, and acceptance into glorious Rule #12 obsession, deliberation, and contemplation. Still, my final ride on my trusted friend was bittersweet; I was on great form that day, and together we turned mountains into hills and carved the many curves as we rode along the seaside in the somber knowledge that this would be our last day out together.

I contacted the shop where I bought it and had them reach out to Cervelo for a warranty replacement, but even if they warrantied the frame, I wouldn’t want one on account of the tall head tube they’ve adopted on their large frames. I’m very picky about my position, and loved the ride and fit of my R3, so I was left with a conundrum as to what bike to get as my new #1. Then Mark, the owner of Veloforma, pointed out that he’d designed his Strada iR based on the R5ca, along with several improvements to the design. And he could do it in a custom Velominati paint scheme. Sold to the obsessive-compulsive Dutchman in the back! (That makes two Veloformas bought in the span of a few months, the VMH pointed out when I delivered the news.)

As much as I loved my R3 for its ride quality and fit, I have never been crazy about the 73 degree head tube angle. You wouldn’t think a half degree would have much effect, but the Strada’s head tube is relaxed just a hair to 72.5 degrees, and it really smooths out the handling compared to the the Cervelo. Aside from that, the dimensions are similar enough to my Cervelo that the first ride on the new steed felt like a reunion with my lost friend.

This thing is embarrassingly light at 6.3 kilos. For a 61cm. The head tube is nice and short at 19.5cm so I can get as low as I need to but tall enough that I still get to slam my stem. I also got a new carbon Pro Vibe stem whose paint job accidentally matches the markings on the frame’s custom Velominati paint job. It is almost too glorious for my tiny little brain to handle. Also, the front derailleur hanger is mounted at a slight angle which brings the derailleur cage in perfect alignment with the chain rings, which results in lightning-quick front shifting. Its little things like that which really impress me about Mark’s attention to detail when designing the bikes. Now that I think of it, both my Veloformas have the best front shifting performance of any bikes I’ve owned. Finally, the internally routed cables makes it astoundingly quiet; the lack of rattling cables makes this machine the high water mark in my quest for the Principle of Silence. And that paint job, oh that paint job.

I haven’t ridden the Strada a whole lot, but I did the V to V Cogal on it which consisted of two long days in the saddle and featured a lengthy session with my old friend, the Man with the Hammer. I’m happy to report that she climbs and descends like a monster. The bike has the road feel of my R3, but is more responsive with a stiffer BB and steering column. But the relaxed head tube makes it handle like a Merckx; the descent off Mount Saint Helens had some seriously sketchy tarmac in places and her handling probably gave me too much confidence in light of my Schleckian descending skills.

What started as heartbreak ended in a love affair. Funny how that works out some times.

[dmalbum path=”/velominati.com/content/Photo Galleries/[email protected]/Strada iR/”/]

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187 Replies to “Veloforma Strada iR”

  1. @minion

    @Ron

    In my spare time I really enjoy writing strongly worded letters to companies/manufacturers when their products aren’t up to snuff. Gotten lots of broken or failed stuff replace that way.

    I sense a new thread coming on…

    @eightzero

    Eat a fucking pie you skinny bastard. Nice bike! I always forget how normal your bikes look when you’re standing next to them, as opposed to when they’re posed for photos with2 kilometers of seatpost and the stem Marcus keeps in hs pocket in case of x-rays.

    No shit. I’ve cooked up this horrible idea, and think I’ve convinced The Monkey to come along (so I have something to chase). Here’s his quote during some texting the other night “Yeah. It has to be done. And I’m a big fat fuck but if its 6%ish avg there is no way you’re taking me on that shit!!” This is top secret stuff right here, but let’s just say it’s a ride that’ll top anything anyone has written about here, ever. (as far as climbing goes),

    And ya, that’s a fucking bea-uti-ful rig. Can’t wait to see it built up in person. NICE!!

  2. @scaler911

    @minion

    @Ron

    In my spare time I really enjoy writing strongly worded letters to companies/manufacturers when their products aren’t up to snuff. Gotten lots of broken or failed stuff replace that way.

    I sense a new thread coming on…

    @eightzero

    Eat a fucking pie you skinny bastard. Nice bike! I always forget how normal your bikes look when you’re standing next to them, as opposed to when they’re posed for photos with2 kilometers of seatpost and the stem Marcus keeps in hs pocket in case of x-rays.

    No shit. I’ve cooked up this horrible idea, and think I’ve convinced The Monkey to come along (so I have something to chase). Here’s his quote during some texting the other night “Yeah. It has to be done. And I’m a big fat fuck but if its 6%ish avg there is no way you’re taking me on that shit!!” This is top secret stuff right here, but let’s just say it’s a ride that’ll top anything anyone has written about here, ever. (as far as climbing goes),

    And ya, that’s a fucking bea-uti-ful rig. Can’t wait to see it built up in person. NICE!!

    I’ve got some big climbing coming up, but I don’t think you can beat Haleakala?

    But yeah, fantastic bike.

  3. @DerHoggz

     

    I’ve got some big climbing coming up, but I don’t think you can beat Haleakala?

    But yeah, fantastic bike.

    That’s what I thought.

  4. @frank

    Thanks all for the kind words. She rides even better than she looks!

    @girl

    That’s one pretty bike.

    Great to see you again.

    @Spun Up

    Finally! That is a gorgeous ride. Well done, sir. I think it’s crying out for orange tape, though, if you can find a good match.

    The paint on this one as well as the CCX is matched to the fi’zi:k orange microtex on their bar tape and saddles. Which is also exactly the same orange as The V-Kit.

    So…yes, i can find some tape to match! I even have a package sitting on the workbench…but I’m lovin’ the white for now. Maybe I’ll grow a pair and try it.

    Glad you went with the mandibles – I think they look much better on that frame than the zipps.

  5. @Buck Rogers

    I am betting that the wait time for a Veloforma just went up by a few months after this article!

    Mm hm. It’ll be a frame I’ll look hard at if/when business picks up. Especially because I just found that the company is in fucking Banks, Oregon. I continues to amaze me how much awesome shit is manufactured in the Portland area. Bicycles, optics, fine blades by several makers. Portland rocks, and that frame fucking rocks.

    (Oh, and by about the third episode of “Portlandia,” the joke was so over.)

  6. @frank That is one of the nices bikes I’ve ever seen.  At first I thought you choked with an all black saddle (in conjunction with the white bar tape) until I saw the white stripe on it.  Perfect.  I really like that it has Campag hangin’ on it too.

  7. @Ron

    How quickly did you tape the bars and cut the fork? I’m guessing you have a serious plan for getting these just like you like them. I tend to do a ride or two without tape to make sure I have the shifters in the right position and forks. I have serious fear of going too short and making a big mistake. I think I need counseling.

    I hedged my bet on the steerer and left it long for one ride before chopping it down to a 5mm spacer above the stem and slammed. I wasn’t 100% sure I’d like being 5mm lower than on the R3, but its perfect and I cut that bastard off.

    As for brake levers and getting them in the right position, here’s a pro tip: mount them on the bars when the bars are not connected to the bike; set them on the workbench and mount the brake levers so they are guaranteed to be level. Using this technique, you can get them perfectly level and even with the bottom of the bars like I mount them, or put them up just a cm or two while keeping them level. This is how Roger de Vlaemincks’s mechanic did it. Its the tits.

    Can you book a date with the Man with the Hammer or do you just have to go out and run into him via V?

    I often invite him over for tea prior to a long ride, just to catch up. But he rarely keeps his appointments; his visits are normally unscheduled. The best way to ensure a meeting is to head out for a day-long ride with no food in the pockets. Fignon style.

  8. @minion

    Eat a fucking pie you skinny bastard.

    How about I keep skipping the pies but make up for it in recover ale consumption after rides that warrant nowhere near the 6-12 pints I normally put down?

    I always forget how normal your bikes look when you’re standing next to them, as opposed to when they’re posed for photos with2 kilometers of seatpost and the stem Marcus keeps in hs pocket in case of x-rays.

    That just earned you the +1 badge, matey. Strong work.

    @minion

    PS that bike is a timely reminder that Record is the top of the food chain, no matter what Shimano does.

    I’m really still partial to the 10-Speed Campa; the levers look the most like the traditional levers which made my heart race. I have a set of them on my steel and they are by far the sexiest levers ever made.

    The new 11spd stuff is supposed to be more comfy, but fuck that. I just love the old look. And, this way I can keep changing out all the wheels between bikes without having to swap cassettes.

  9. @frank Agree is spades. The only benefit I’ve thought 11sp really gives you (in my twisted world view) is getting a 16 tooth sprocket onto a reasonably spread cassette, instead of having a big jump from a 15 to a 17 tooth in the middle of the cassette. I like to unhelpfully point out that you can do that with a 11-23 or 12-23 cassette. Being right doesn’t always win you friends.

  10. @frank

    @minion

    Eat a fucking pie you skinny bastard.

    How about I keep skipping the pies but make up for it in recover ale consumption after rides that warrant nowhere near the 6-12 pints I normally put down?

    I always forget how normal your bikes look when you’re standing next to them, as opposed to when they’re posed for photos with2 kilometers of seatpost and the stem Marcus keeps in hs pocket in case of x-rays.

    That just earned you the +1 badge, matey. Strong work.

    I initially kept quiet on Marcus’ xray, and the frisson has been lacking lately, but

  11. @minion

    @frank Agree is spades. The only benefit I’ve thought 11sp really gives you (in my twisted world view) is getting a 16 tooth sprocket onto a reasonably spread cassette, instead of having a big jump from a 15 to a 17 tooth in the middle of the cassette. I like to unhelpfully point out that you can do that with a 11-23 or 12-23 cassette. Being right doesn’t always win you friends.

    and if 18 is needed beyond 11-23 then 11-21

  12. Greg you’re a tough customer. ChiVelo sent you a carbon frame from China. Genuine.

  13. @greg

    Not to be a drag, but …http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://images.chivelo.com/2012/06/FM066-Geo.jpg&imgrefurl=http://chivelo.com/frames/fm066-frame/&h=590&w=629&sz=58&tbnid=tO-qBfnun0p5TM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=96&zoom=1&usg=__TAW2BzesWiIjt2Kl9_ngeWITETc=&docid=6YCxBT013hK6oM&sa=X&ei=Eaf9UfGeN9Sy4AOjy4DoBA&ved=0CC8Q9QEwAA&dur=500

    Looks substantially identical, weight is identical, I have one and it rides wonderfully-at 700 bucks. Need to call bs on Veloforma’s pricing.

    Awesome looking bike. It’d be more comfy with a seat, but each to their own I guess.

  14. @frank the only part that peeves me about older campagnolo is that the brake levers are so far away from bars.  my short fingers cry if there’s a need to slow down.

  15. @gregorio

    After crashing two weeks ago my mechanic called me with bad news. The derailleur hanger did not break away and spare the drive-side dropout from the force of impact. In the picture below you can see the bent [and cracked] dropout with a new hanger for the sake of contrast. I called Trek and the frame was declared terminal. I can’t say with any degree of expertise whether my steed was exceptional compared to…whatever. I can say it was my faithful companion for three seasons and I bonded with her. That’s the bitter.

    The sweet is that Trek overnighted a new frame that I had built up with my Group san parts. She’s more precise and more confident on descents – and a fair bit smoother on questionable pavement. Another happy ending.

    It’s good to hear some solid news about Trek. I personally had the same issue on my Speed Concept…and have been at the shop close to 10 times when people came in with similar issues…that Trek WOULDN’T stand behind.

  16. BTW, Frank. Seriously a very handsome bike and very nicely written. Glad you can make something great out of this.

  17. I notice the reference to BTwin in this article.  I didn’t know they were moving into the carbon fibre market now I have looked at their budget and midrange bikes which are very well spec’d and amazing value for money but has anyone here actually ridden one?  There are people in my club (me included) who are happy to wear BTwin clothing, (although we would prefer not to draw anyone’s attention to the fact), but I don’t think any of us could bring themselves to actually ride one of their bikes in public which I suspect is pure snobbery.

    Not such a problem in France where they appear to be a respected brand a bit like the supermarket Aldi which in Germany is the equivalent of Sainsbury’s which is of course one reason to avoid Decathlon like the plague lest they do for your local bike shop what Sainsbury’s and Tesco have done for the local butcher, baker and candlestick maker.  But what are their bikes actually like, has anyone ridden one?

  18. @Fausto

    @Frank

    Just a thought but is it not worth getting your Cervelo repaired? There are plenty of skilled carbon repairers out there these days, a couple of friends have had seamless repairs made to top dollar bikes. Even if it just becomes an upgrade to #2 I think it’d be worthwhile.

    That’s the current plan; I’ll check into that and if it isn’t too expensive and seems worth it, I’ll move the R3 into the rain bike position in the stable. Which seems insanely luxurious. I’ll keep you guys posted on who I go with; Calfee is the biggest name in carbon repair, but there are other choices, of course.

  19. @Dr C

    Oh, I’ll retract that now if I may, now I see my Grey Sea Urchin has been revived – muchos!

    Hey mate, this is fully in your control! You stop posting and entertaining us with your Northern Irish Lucky Charms jokes and your level goes down.

    Minnie Phinnie was fucking rad. It was discussed here somewhere, I seem to recall, but I can’t recall where…That was some fantastic riding, a Rule V moment for sure!

  20. @Eli Curt

    Mark is also experimenting with carbon hangers that snap off more predictably than Alu. I’m excited to get my hands on a prototype and try it out.

    Not to mention it will shave literally hundredths of a gram from the bike. Literally.

    @greg@xced

    Wow, without knowing much more about it, it looks like another example of the Chinese taking designs and undercutting the foreign markets (the US, in this case). Its been done to the big names, I’m not surprised its also being done to the small ones.

    If you get one of your $700 frames, base sure the carbon layups are done right, and that the quality of the carbon and resins being used is high enough that the frame doesn’t come apart at an inconvenient time.

    There’s a lot more to building a good frame than taking someone else’s design or even using the same mold.

  21. @E

    I notice the reference to BTwin in this article. I didn’t know they were moving into the carbon fibre market now I have looked at their budget and midrange bikes which are very well spec’d and amazing value for money but has anyone here actually ridden one? There are people in my club (me included) who are happy to wear BTwin clothing, (although we would prefer not to draw anyone’s attention to the fact), but I don’t think any of us could bring themselves to actually ride one of their bikes in public which I suspect is pure snobbery.

    Not such a problem in France where they appear to be a respected brand a bit like the supermarket Aldi which in Germany is the equivalent of Sainsbury’s which is of course one reason to avoid Decathlon like the plague lest they do for your local bike shop what Sainsbury’s and Tesco have done for the local butcher, baker and candlestick maker. But what are their bikes actually like, has anyone ridden one?

    The Andrew mentioned in this article was on the top-range B’Twin (which he designed). He was certainly able to make it go fast enough. The Pavé boys’ day jobs are working for B’Twin – if you are interested I can get you in touch with them to get your questions answered.

  22. @meursault@Mikael Liddy

    The official config is over here. I still ride ’em, but I’ve been really loving my Radar Locks with transitions lenses. I really lean on the Jawbones in winter and in cooler weather, but like the Radars in hot weather because they feel a bit more open.

  23. @frank

    @Eli Curt

    Mark is also experimenting with carbon hangers that snap off more predictably than Alu. I’m excited to get my hands on a prototype and try it out.

    Not to mention it will shave literally hundredths of a gram from the bike. Literally.

    @greg, @xced

    Wow, without knowing much more about it, it looks like another example of the Chinese taking designs and undercutting the foreign markets (the US, in this case). Its been done to the big names, I’m not surprised its also being done to the small ones.

    If you get one of your $700 frames, base sure the carbon layups are done right, and that the quality of the carbon and resins being used is high enough that the frame doesn’t come apart at an inconvenient time.

    There’s a lot more to building a good frame than taking someone else’s design or even using the same mold.

    I dunno  – using the same mold worked well for AlexanderFFleming

  24. @frank It would be intersting to hear from them.  I have read only one review for Decathlon which was for one of their “town bikes” the review was largely positive (well built, comfortable to ride and good value for money) but it would be interesting to hear how their road bikes stack up against the competition.

    As I say no one in my club would be seen dead on one but I suspect that is pure snobbery which curiously does not seem to be an issue in France where they are even more fashion conscious than we are here in the UK.  Still Decathlon are a French company.

    I suspect it is a bit like when the Koreans started making cars everyone laughed at their rather clunky re-badged  GM’s and Fords.  Now who is laughing.

  25. @frank

    @Fausto

    @Frank

    Just a thought but is it not worth getting your Cervelo repaired? There are plenty of skilled carbon repairers out there these days, a couple of friends have had seamless repairs made to top dollar bikes. Even if it just becomes an upgrade to #2 I think it’d be worthwhile.

    That’s the current plan; I’ll check into that and if it isn’t too expensive and seems worth it, I’ll move the R3 into the rain bike position in the stable. Which seems insanely luxurious. I’ll keep you guys posted on who I go with; Calfee is the biggest name in carbon repair, but there are other choices, of course.

    Fair wheel bikes down here also does carbon repairs. Just as another Option. Let me know if you need any leg work done.

  26. @frank i think what greg was probably implying is that  veloforma frames could be the chinese ones with just a different paint!

  27. I like Jawbones and they are possible the worst looking shades without a helmet I’ve ever worn. They even look pretty bad with just a cap on. But, damn, great coverage which is nice for a contact wearer.

    Radars. Incredible cycling glasses, even better than the M-Frame, a bit more wind-blocking and a bit more comfortable. Of course, this all is likely personal and down to face/forehead/nose shape.

    Hot shot, Frank! That’s what I’m talking about – unless the entire package from bike to tape to saddle to kit is class, I just get an empty feeling. Maybe that’s why I’ve been avoiding group rides lately, they’re too depressing to see the ways in which people manage to bugger up a decent frameset.

  28. Ah, right, mounting the shifters with the bars off the bike. I had forgotten about this trick. It’s a good one.

    Yeah, the Man with the Hammer does have a nasty habit of only showing up when he’s good and ready. Bastard.

  29. @xced;@frank

    The Chinese frames (hongfu FM066)have been around for about a year and a half in this particular config, but have a pretty long history in other configurations. This particular frame is mostly Toray 700, and mine (a 50) weighed in at 835g for the frame and 370ish for the fork-very similar if not identical to the Veloforma weight. The general experience with them, if one is to believe the internet, has been very positive-ie no widespread reports of failure. Any carbon frame can fail, see the Cervelo and Trek reports above, but I’ve not seen a single post of a fm066 failure or build issue.

    I’m not saying or implying who copied who, if one is a copy or Veloforma is painting open source Chinese frames or anything-anything is possible, I just found the photos and geometry remarkably similar given the $2500 price difference.

    An

  30. really like the bike but nothing like an Italian frame my friends..

  31. @Greg

    Thats interesting; I know Mark shares the cost of building the mold, which is incredibly expensive, with another company in Italy who sells the same geo with a different layup in Europe. They basically have a partnership in place to make the considerable cost of producing frames more manageable and agree not to sell in each others markets. So the idea that its an open-source frame doesn’t seem to line up, and I also *believe* I remember him saying they’re made in Tiawan, not China…but who knows.

    That detail aside, I think the Chinese have a well-established track record of being very good at making carbon frames from molds and also of laying up frames in other people’s molds and selling them on the gray market.

    I also think a Chinese company would have different economical challenges (especially if they’re not on the hook for a $1M mold) than a US or EU company would have.

    The bottom line is this, thankfully enough, that if you don’t think the Veloforma is worth the price they’re asking, then don’t buy one. I think it is, and as such I bought one, and I’m very happy with it. Childishly simple.

  32. @frank

    As for brake levers and getting them in the right position, here’s a pro tip: mount them on the bars when the bars are not connected to the bike; set them on the workbench and mount the brake levers so they are guaranteed to be level. Using this technique, you can get them perfectly level and even with the bottom of the bars like I mount them, or put them up just a cm or two while keeping them level. This is how Roger de Vlaemincks’s mechanic did it. Its the tits.

    +1

    Brilliant technique!

  33. @minion

    @frank Agree is spades. The only benefit I’ve thought 11sp really gives you (in my twisted world view) is getting a 16 tooth sprocket onto a reasonably spread cassette, instead of having a big jump from a 15 to a 17 tooth in the middle of the cassette. I like to unhelpfully point out that you can do that with a 11-23 or 12-23 cassette. Being right doesn’t always win you friends.

    +1

    Kind of the same benefit of going from 9spd to 10spd. With 11spd you can also sneak in an 18t for a 12-25t set up.

  34. @Greg

    @xced;@frank

    The Chinese frames (hongfu FM066)have been around for about a year and a half in this particular config, but have a pretty long history in other configurations. This particular frame is mostly Toray 700, and mine (a 50) weighed in at 835g for the frame and 370ish for the fork-very similar if not identical to the Veloforma weight. The general experience with them, if one is to believe the internet, has been very positive-ie no widespread reports of failure. Any carbon frame can fail, see the Cervelo and Trek reports above, but I’ve not seen a single post of a fm066 failure or build issue.

    I’m not saying or implying who copied who, if one is a copy or Veloforma is painting open source Chinese frames or anything-anything is possible, I just found the photos and geometry remarkably similar given the $2500 price difference.

    An

    True you can find similar (same?) frame for thousands less purchasing direct from China with, despite as advertised, little/no warranty service or recourse if anything goes wrong. No reported failures is probably related to grossly fewer sales of the frames than ones from the major brands who have a sense of responsibility to their customers and have accountability for their product. 

    For a budget minded ride, sure they are worth a look. However in the sense of being a cycling traditionalist they are horrific hi-jacked models of other frames often with mis-matched forks designed for other geometries (e.g. the Orbea-like frames with Onda forks and Dogma-like frames with straight blade forks). In looking at small custom frame builders you do pay a premium which pays for itself in time. 3 custom frames (2 steel, 1 lugged carbon) from a builder (and subsequently a friend) and I have lifelong service and warranty.

  35. @the Engine

    @frank

    @Eli Curt

    Mark is also experimenting with carbon hangers that snap off more predictably than Alu. I’m excited to get my hands on a prototype and try it out.

    Not to mention it will shave literally hundredths of a gram from the bike. Literally.

    @greg, @xced

    Wow, without knowing much more about it, it looks like another example of the Chinese taking designs and undercutting the foreign markets (the US, in this case). Its been done to the big names, I’m not surprised its also being done to the small ones.

    If you get one of your $700 frames, base sure the carbon layups are done right, and that the quality of the carbon and resins being used is high enough that the frame doesn’t come apart at an inconvenient time.

    There’s a lot more to building a good frame than taking someone else’s design or even using the same mold.

    I dunno – using the same mold worked well for AlexanderFFleming

    Another fucking British misconception – it didnt “work well” for Fleming at all. He just discovered a new mould by accident and was never able to use it or recognize it for what it could do – he gave up on the stuff. Howard Florey  (yes, an Australian) was the true father of penicillin – the one who (along with his team) worked out its potential and developed it into the single greatest life saving discovery in history.

    Its a pretty cool story in the middle of WWII scientists scraped bacteria onto the inside of their jackets so they could retain the strain but destroy their lab if the Nazis overran England…

  36. Unexpected bike death is terrible:

    (Hit by a car). It was such a great bike.

    I’m not too sure what to get to replace it.

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