How many times have you heard it? Race bikes are stiff! That bone chattering, teeth shaking ride feel…that’s normal. Well, we are here to tell you, it doesn’t have to be that way.
If your goal is a stiff ride feel for the sake of a stiff ride feel, we can recommend some training programs to help you recover from the 00’s. But if your goal is a bike that is efficient, transfers power well, doesn’t beat the snot out of you, and makes all day rides fun - then we’d recommend an Esprit.
Carbon has come a long way since it became the de facto material around two decades ago, and it doesn’t have to be rough. In fact, it’s better when it’s not! Metal bikes receive all the praise when it comes to ride quality, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With the Esprit, we sought out a number of qualities - but ultimately, we really enjoy riding our bikes and the more enjoyable they are to ride the more often we can do it!
So we set about taking all of the power transfer and immediacy that our carbon frames are renowned for and putting that into a package that’s more graceful and comfortable than ever. No small task, as controlling the stiffness and directionality of it within the confines of a bicycle frame is complex. It necessitates hundreds of individual pieces of unidirectional carbon fiber sheeting. Every piece has to be cut, laid up, and bonded just so in order to work together.
But not just any carbon fiber will do - we’re using a mixture of different types of pre-preg carbon fiber sheeting. Using different types of carbon allows us to go a step further in controlling the stiffness. Different areas of the frame receive different stiffnesses and cuts of sheeting so that the frame can move with you. Don’t let the marketing about ever growing modulus numbers fool you - most carbon fiber frames that claim these super high numbers are only using those fibers in a very small area. Our frame is made of a majority of Toray intermediate modulus carbon sourced from Japan and the US. We mix in some higher modulus (IE: stiffer) layers where it counts - around the bottom bracket, chainstays, and elsewhere - to aid with power transfer.
Then, we take this layup a step further - it’s refined per frame size. Each frame size gets a specific package of carbon fiber sheeting pieces and placement so that it rides its best. Then, the same way we consider geometry per size, we develop tube shapes that are distinctive per size. That way we can use the diameter to its full potential in dialing in the ride feel without needing to add excess weight for larger frames or reduce material to the detriment of durability on smaller ones. Every size nails the ride quality we’re after - and the look.
This intricate labyrinth of carbon fiber is something we’re very excited about, and as such, we’ve chosen to release one of our Esprit frames in a raw black. Beneath a light, satin clear coat the outermost layers of carbon fiber can be seen in clear view. Their intersections and cross sections, the smaller sheets overlaying larger ones, every detail exposed.
You might be surprised to find that the smoothest ride you’ve been on in ages is also among the fastest. But the PRs don’t lie and we’ve been enjoying quite a few as testing has wrapped up here!