Frank Miller is an artist with a place of honor in my personal and confused pantheon, crowded with characters different from each other; I move from Tolkien to Caravaggio, from Conrad to Cellini, from Steinbeck to Leonardo; with the inevitable De Andre’s soundtrack. What Miller, hastily disdained from the intelligentsia, has to do with all these big names? Yes, what a hack writer got to do with it?
Well, first of all I mistrust members of intelligentsia and those boasting of being intellectuals; those who need being labeled have already displayed that they have not used their intellect. Then I do not like classifications, an artist is an artist. Miller is now a well-known name, raised before the general public thanks to the movies as well. But before, when Los Angeles sparkling lights had not yet shone on him, he just drew. In 1986 he created “The Dark Knight Returns”; a tired, crepuscular Batman, stiff almost to breaking, demanding with others because never tamed with himself, a legacy of an undesired past and a future bursting with Superman’ s leotard (ludicrous, let’s face it!). A Superman convicted by Miller to the dullness of certainty and never on the verge of doubt, appointed by a cowardly power to get rid of a man not manipulable, of an awkward vestige.
The date is important: this story was published almost thirty years ago. Read it if you have a chance: it will seem like drawn today, with its rapid sequences on talk shows glowing emptiness, know-it-all people ready in every circumstance to blather from the small screen, in some news launched chasing an easy sensationalism, the masses stupefied by media and politicians who only care of their re-election. Like all masterworks the story is the pretext to lay bare the defects of the society, making prophecies on what will happen if they will not alter course. I won’t deny it, I cannot disdain it as simple comics, a children book. Yes, because intellectuals regard comics only as publications for infants. It is not true, but since they always talk about publications they have never read, I am not surprised. Then excuse me, even so, children are smarter than a lot of adults; who does determine a children publication is of a cheap quality only because writes about a fictitious character in an imaginary world? Yet so real you can meet him in any modern metropolis. So what, we have met Doctor Zhivago, did he live? Pasternak created him, and, in spite of this, he seems so real and Pasternak’ s writing was his way to plainly speak of totalitarianism.
However this is a little bicycles’ blog, so I bring myself to task and stop showing off as an intellectual; let’s talk about the reason of the title and the initial empty words: the bicycle is black, all black. A touch of red not requested, otherwise the shade of colour would have been an unknown concept. Rigid, without breaking. Demanding, and never at peace. Without chasing modernity at all costs, only the effectiveness. The parallel with Batman as chosen by Miller exists, at least for myself. And because the bicycle is mine, I do visualize it as I like and do name it as I want: exactly I nickname it “The Dark Knight”. Here demolished in a blink of an eye the air of a cultured thinker.
The bicycle, as you probably already have understood, is my new Rose X-lite Team, leading frame of the German company.
Without following abbreviation, as for those models present in the catalogue, where a number determines the installed transmission set. This is because the bicycle is not in the catalogue, it is an exclusive model, an assembly experiment – so to speak – I touched. Of no use asking to Sergio Ghezzi, the Italian country manager of the Teutonic brand, how to obtain another one, I don’t think it is possible. The commercial policy provides for an upgrading but not a downgrading; this means it’s not possible to assemble a set cheaper than the first model of a certain series. In our case, the set of X-lite team frames starts from Ultegra Di2, which is more expensive than Sram Force.
We have already fully met the bicycle in this blog pages, even though only in a photo exposure.
A quick revision on the mounting.
The frame is exactly the X-lite Team version, all in carbon fiber T40/60, weighing only 795 grams as declared by the company; to add up to 295 grams of full carbon fork.
It is distinguished by the handlebar differentiated series hidden in a rigid unit, more good looking at the back than on the side…
The ample movement drive equipped out press-fit…
The internal wire passage, arranged also for set electro-assisted…
The new design of the seatpost area with dedicated seatclamp…
The chainstay with subtle dangling wires.
The straight fork possesses the beauty of essentiality, any peculiar shape to impress: bare essence and I can disclose it is one of the best, or the best one I rode with.
The structure is compact, without aggravation; mine is size 53, that means 484 x 528 mm. of steering-column and horizontal line.
So chosen despite a bigger size was suggested for my inseam. But, between the calculation made by the Germans based on statistical data and my experience (and the fact I have a high inseam related to other heights), as I cycle on frames in the range of 53 x 53, I chose to my own way. Still further cutting the trim with a 90 mount instead of a 100 one, in order to have the maximum compactness uphill, where I prefer to have a “short” bicycle.
|Cavallo consigliato (cm)||73-77||78-81||82-84||85-87||88-90||91-93|
|A – Lunghezza tubo piantone||461||484||505||526||553||586|
|B – Lunghezza tubo orizzontale||516||528||543||560||577||596|
|C – angolo sterzo||72,0°||72,3°||73,0°||73,5°||73,8°||74,0°|
|D – angolo tubo sella||75,0°||74,5°||74,0°||73,5°||73,3°||73,0°|
|E – passo||976||981||985||992||1003||1016|
|F – lunghezza movimento centrale/ruota ant.||580||586||589||596||607||620|
|G – lunghezza foderi bassi||406||406||406||406||406||406|
|H – lunghezza tubo sterzo||127||138||150||165||185||200|
|K1 – misura tubo orizzontale 1 (altezza / larghezza)||36/50||36/50||36/50||36/50||36/50||36/50|
|K2 – misura tubo orizzontale 2 (altezza / larghezza)||25/37||25/37||25/37||25/37||25/37||25/37|
|L1 – misura down tube 1 (altezza/larghezza)||54/58||54/58||54/58||54/58||54/58||54/58|
|L2 – misura down tube 2 (altezza/larghezza)||45/59||45/59||45/59||45/59||45/59||45/59|
|M – stack||523||534||548||565||585||600|
|N – reach||376||380||386||393||401||412|
I found a little difficult finding in a moment the right position because of the saddle with Monolink system, which requires an adjustment different from the classic saddles with double track, and the head tube of 138 mm. But in this event, it was up to the fact the bicycle arrived when my body was quite exhausted (and this is why I published this test a little later) and I had difficulty bending.
I haven’t cut the fork yet – I demanded a longer one especially to freely decide later the height, even if I already chose the size. My duties with the micro-workshop piled up and because it is something I want to write an article about, I postponed it until I have some spare time.
To run the frame I used a carbon crook Ritchey, version Evocurve Superlogic joined to the fork by a connection of the same company but an aluminium one, the Wcs.
The saddle “Selle Italia Srl Flow” (we know “flow” means the presence of the middle opening) Monolink lays on a saddle-holder in carbon fiber too and manufactured also by Ritchey: the chosen model is Superlogic.
The transmission unit is Sram Force 22, with “compact” in the front and cassette 11-28.
The production wheels, the Dt Swiss R20 dicut, didn’t ride a centimeter because immediately replaced with a couple Spada Oxygeno, radial 24 + 24 with the back 12 + 12 left radial. I tyred them Victoria Rubino 700 x 23; I also have a couple of Schwalbe One 700 x 25. Once the little tires will be worn out, I will move to the tubless, as the rims American Classic Acrd are pre-arranged. This is a quick look on how the bicycle is set up; as we know, I already wrote an article to admire all the details.
The X-lite Team replaces my previous Rose, a Xeon Crs I have no difficulties to admit I felt really comfortable with. So, why changing it? For the same reasons without rational basis, which we always try to justify coating them with a veneer of necessity. I just wanted a new bike, as all of us. I just wanted a light bike, as all of us. I wanted a rigid bike, as few of us. Yes, because notwithstanding my idea of a racing bicycle whose its peak performance is in the push thrust, my paths and my swinging physical condition always lead me to choose some versions not too extreme. The creation of Ellesar excluded the necessity to own a sporting bicycle comfortable for recreation, so there was room for a new, extreme, bicycle. An I filled it.
Let’s leap into the saddle, this Monolink I had a lot of trouble with it at the beginning, making me doubt about my choice. On the contrary, as usual, the problem was not the saddle but the conservatism of the cyclist, who insisted on repeating an unsuitable trim. Yes, because the main feature of this saddle is not the system of the saddle-holder – which doesn’t go unnoticed and it is expected to represent the innovation – but is its shape, a lot tapered in the middle. This is thanks to the single track, which allowed to slim an area where the friction is strong on the pedaling, but requires a withdrawal different as regards double-track saddles.
I solved the problem making a clean sweep of my old habits, I moved the seat forward and made a better use of the back fulcrum zone, which I usually leave it free when I pedal, as I prefer a very loaded trim on the middle traction. If you look at me from the side, it seems I am sitting in rear position, exactly because that protuberance of the unused seat is missing. Here is my mistake: I used to look at myself in a shop windows (don’t tell me you never did it, I don’t believe it…) and I saw myself set back, I moved forward on the seat and I cycled incorrectly.
Once I found the balancing, the rest went without saying. The crook Ritchey Ecocurve Superlogic has reach and drop readings not so restrained, as I like for a sporting bicycle. In the version 44 cm. (I always use a bigger size, I am more comfortable with it) we have respectively 80 mm. reach, 130 mm drop and a declared weight 198 grams.
Because my usual conservatism, I was hesitant for quite a while about choosing full carbon for the crook. I was right to change it. Moreover this crook is characterized by a peculiar modulation of the area dedicated to the high handle; a light backwards curvature and the oval section give a remarkable speed comfort.
The handlebar join is in aluminium, but only because the carbon one was not available, not expected; otherwise I would have given up.
I linked the new Sram controls to the handlebar, less squared than the previous controls 10v. Having improved the ergonomics, the control covers are more comfortable and the brake levers work with no effort even handling the controls.
Not well as Campagnolo levers (which I consider a masterpiece), with their peculiar double curvature – perfect for my riding style – but fairly close. Accurate and comfortable the Double tap transmission system. One release and you change speed, two releases and the speed increases; the lever can be easily operated with any handling the bars.
Well, with respect to comfort, once you leap into the saddle, you can’t complain; finding the right position is easy provided that you understand the saddle and then you will feel like you always rode it.
I’s time to start, I rode almost 600 km. before deciding on scribbling a note; on various routes, including a dirt road. Don’t ask me why…
But whatever route I choose, I must load the bike into the car or must face the paved road. From 15 to 20 km., there and back, apart from the direction. The paved road was my biggest concern, because the frame and the wheels rigidity.
It was less traumatic than I thought, reminiscent of the test rides done with the Caad10, but it was quite far from the excellent qualities of Xeon Crs, also in Rose’s factory. There is nothing wrong, I couldn’t pretend a bicycle pulling down all I pedaled and – at the same time – letting me all plain sailing. It was a price I knew I had to pay and, thanks to the excellent work done by Corrado Spada as well, the bill was less expensive than I thought. But I had to pay a bill anyway. It’s useless trying to set a hard ratio and going along with the bicycle. I got very tired, maybe I was not in a good shape, and I was slow. It’s better to let it go, pay the duty, enjoy the view and wait for the asphalt road.
After all these years I developed a good riding technique on the paved road, in any case even if I can’t ride very well, I don’t get stuck; but with this bicycle I had to slow up on a climbing paved road, while keeping my friend Gianluca company in a marathon competition, letting him go and then waiting for him where the road was acceptable. But be careful!: when I talk about a paved road I don’t refer to the well spread one which paves our city centers. The one which troubles my city and its environs, which I am forced to endure before having a clear road, is in no way inferior to the passages of Northern classics; on the contrary, those are better kept and no chasms open all of a sudden. In fact, in those tracts not especially damaged I was able to load the push thrust, kept my arms soft and set the bicycle free to choose the road, keeping a stride not at all negligible.
Then the situation was tricky only where the road was really bad – so to give some cyclists some trouble – as for the rest the bicycle turned out to be a rigid one, with an extinguishing capacity inferior to those frames more devoted to the comfort; but the well-done cart with its low covers assuring such a traction and the wheels carefully assembled, as well rigid but not that rigid to break your wrists, made possible to leave the city in a reasonable time.
Searching the right gear ratio to face the paved road made me acquainted with the new transmission Sram: eleven pinions back, a level 11-28 I don’t sympathize with (but I didn’t have so many choices) and a compact served by a gear, which was the real surprise.
Let’s proceed in order. The pinions scale starts from 11 and ends at 28; all the other possibilities start from 11 and stop at 25, 26 and 32; in this last case, it is however necessary to adopt a different gear, called Wifly, with a longer cage. The problem is all start from 11, a pinion I don’t use. Practically I have a 11V group but I preferred the previous 10V, where I installed a cassette 12-27.
Speed is a personal choice, firms can only offer a wide range in order not to displease a large number of cyclists; but it’s a pity they abandoned the initial 12, which would have enabled a more fluid pedaling in the middle-high zone.
It’s better we look at the composition, so it will be easier. The Box 10v was proposed by Sram also in version 12-27, so assembled 12-13-14-15-16-17-19-21-24-27.
The 11v is so presented 11-12-13-14-15-16-17-19-22-25-28.
Excluding the initial 11, the first part is the same: what you feel in your legs is the change 22-19 of the version with an extra pinion, compared to the 21-19 of the version with a less pinion.
My ideal configuration should have been 12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-24-27. Sram, where are you?
Personal needs, I already said that, that’s the way it is. I pedal exploiting a lot the higher crown and the middle pinions, so I prefer rising the pinion rather than decreasing the crown. I will get used to it, as we all get accustomed to (almost) everything, but I’m aware that Sram could have done better.
Luckily if we need to make work the gear even more, Americans were able not to make it a burden. The old 10v gear was perfect if well adjusted, but subject to a too early wear. I never fully understood if it was the cage to suffer a light distortion, but, in any case, after few kilometers the crown’s increase became a nuisance if the cadence was not so high. The descent, strength of the gear as well the Sram units, always perfect.
With this new gear all the problems seem have disappeared. Sure, that remains to be seen in a long period, but the descent and especially the uphill are of great level. Switch from 34 to 50 is a moment, so much so that at times I look down as I am not entirely convinced that it had already done its duty. Then thanks to the Yaw technology, which named this group and its older brother Red “Number 22”, was not a joke: crossings are never a problem, you really exploit all speeds.
I climbed without any difficulty until the major pinion, even engaging the maximum crown and there was any friction. Of course, this practice is still unhealthy and altogether unnecessary (an excessive cross “eats” energy), but for me that I’m used to set the derailleurs just to let myself an extreme crossing, which I use on very short spurts to save a derailment, it was a nice surprise. Derailleur is serial, with a useful dog-tooth integrated.
And since we are talking of transmission, let’s take a look at the derailleur: excellent the previous 10s, great this new version 11v. Very fast downhill, a burst of machine-gun fire changing from a pinion to another in a quick sequence, accurate uphill too. The speed of execution granted by the double tap command, which you are immediately used to (and to which I was already accustomed), coupled with the ability to manage a multiple ascent (only the climb, the descent is single but you don’t feel the limit precisely thanks the speed of change) make descents a great fun. And as with this frame and these wheels you go down at lightning speed, the whole guarantees pure fun. But don’t anticipate the times and let’s follow the established path.
We were at the paved road, finally we drop it and we devote to the first ascent, cyclable and with a good floor. A new world opens up.
It’s an ascent I ride at least twice a week, with any bike: it means to immediately see the difference. If I was not sitting on it I couldn’t say I had a bike; and occasionally I lower my eyes to be sure of it. The difference in weight, indeed, the absence of weight, is immediately noticeable. Despite my body shape is still not at its best, I quickly climb on it but always with one pinion less, as I used to do with the Xeon Crs, always to keep the comparison with a bike produced by the same firm. Even if, at the end, is a meaningless parallel, I will realize with each passing kilometer. The Xeon Crs is a great bike, but its more user friendly setting penalizes it in a direct comparison, when you really push on the pedals. It repays you with a riding comfort hardly recognizable in a sport bike (don’t think it’s a gate, on the contrary!) but here, with this X-Lite team, the Rose technicians put on a road a race car with no compromises.
I am in heaven, the wheels follow the bike, they also totally unaware of having a mass, and I try some spurt on pedals. Unconvinced, nothing more than a taste, but I start to get an idea of what to expect in a few kilometers, where I’ll look for a real climb, though, long, because the slope quite modest doesn’t seem worth of this Dark Knight: an opponent of the same level is necessary.
I continue, descent, breathe again on a flat road but still without pushing; play only with speed, this Yaw is making me thinking a again about my riding style, using the derailleur a little. I pedal, not so strongly, the speed remains modest, or, at least, seems so until I realize how easily, on level road, I get rid of other cyclists and slower cars, which block my road view. And then I remember that when you test a motorbike, to indicate one going really fast in an effortless way, you used to say with an oxymoron “it goes so fast it seems to be slow”. Yes, because it was all easy, without the physical and mental effort to keep those racing cars on the road, with the same commitment to a weekend hike. I’m going fast, but it’s like I’m going slowly.
My legs whirl, I cannot stop pedaling, but I don’t even notice it, my mind is concentrated to decipher the signals, waiting for that section that often put me in crisis, with a wall of 400 meters on the final, able to strike down my best aspirations.
Finally I am there and decide to give up any advantage: exploiting the headway thanks to the short downhill section at the very beginning. Yes, I stop.
A waste of energy, without a real reason, if not really feeling under my leg what it means this bike moving, now, when the road is starting to demand every drop of energy.
The first meters are actually not easy, this decision to start standing still catches me off-guard; I, instead, who make maximum use of the run-up offered by the slightly downhill road that leads to the first ramp climbing firmly. Standing on the pedals, I start to pound, the pinions go down, the cadence increases with the bike swaying left and right, the road goes up but the speed raises also. I sit back, pause for breath, I know I’ll have to handle myself, but the desire of climbing at full speed is strong, because it’s the bike asking it, I feel it cannot stand who goes slowly, who reasons. The bike does comply with you but wants you commit yourself, to hell with the calculations! And yes, I get up on the pedals, start to push like mad, I feel my heart pumping strongly, my mouth wide open to catch some air and my usual references parading closer and closer. The bike climbs rapidly, the wheels – now that the slope is serious – show all their qualities, the extreme lightness and an absolute precision under stress, every once in a while a spoke make its presence felt, but it’s normal with wheels with few kilometers and straight spokes.
Every slight slowing down is immediately canceled rising promptly on the pedals; the bike darts forward in an instant, without delay from the frame or the wheels. The feeling of solidity that comes from the movement area is exciting, gives you an enormous psychological charge because you feel that everything you are putting on the pedals is not wasted. I climb fast, my fatigue canceled by the enthusiasm, the final wall is approaching, but this time I can’t wait to face it. No, wrong, the wall began, damn it! I’m so wrapped up that I didn’t notice it, or it was the bike which didn’t let me notice it. Never mind, I really don’t want to sit down, I decide to face all the final tract standing on the pedals, gripping the controls, the bike swinging, and me, feeling like a parody of Contador.
At this point, each evaluation is gone, each calculation, each strategy to get to the top without suffering a bad blow; the embolus went, I must get there or I explode, everything else doesn’t matter. The last sixty meters, a slight depression and I take this opportunity to use up to every nonsense that my repertoire can process: I pull up the 50. The chain goes up in an instant, the counterblow arrives at my legs, sticks me there, if I was not hooked, probably the bike would stay there and me, I would have flown 10 meters ahead….
What is the meaning of this maneuver? None, there is the problem between myself and this bike. Mine, because I can talk for hours about technique, instruct for days on cycling strategies, spend weeks to place by degrees the cyclists, but then get in the saddle and if I find a bike that intrigues me, I become worse than a child at the carnival without parental supervision. I wanted a bike that would intrigue me, I found it. That’s it.
This bike that asks to go faster when you are going faster. It’s not easy…
I absorb the blow, go back at 34, complete the climb and get ready for the descent. A fast descent, very technical, with a first section characterized by wide curves and a good visibility, but then gives away to some tighter curves, a couple of sharp u-bends and the roadway gets worse.
But now my neurons mutiny, and then Sram necessarily gave to me this 11 pinion, it’s better to make good use of it. Again standing on the pedals, I gain some speed with an amazing rapidity, gears fall in succession. I sit down, step back a little, my nose in the handlebars and away with this little pinion. First curve, I get up, a quick stroke to the double tap and remove three pinions to be ready in my way out, I forget to brake (forgot? Pshaw!) and I go at full speed. Perfect trajectory, the inch at the center line and I’m sorry that the road is closed to traffic because damn! If I had the whole place for me, imagine how I could go down!
Any inhibition is gone, I forget that I have a daughter and a wife at home, I peacefully ignore I am on a public road, I don’t care I am going down so fast I can easily surpass cars and scooters appearing before me; the brakes, that I finally remembered to have, respond with a readiness unknown to the previous system Sram Force 10c and I am convinced that is thanks the breaking surface and the AC rims.
Curves follow each other in a quick succession, the bike ensures an absolute precision, I feel the forecarriage working like I had my hands on the hub, the stability is perfect.
Wide curves taken at full speed or tight ones faced gleaning and the bike goes exactly where is supposed to go, never a hesitation, never a lack of precision. Thanks the fork, I’m sure. The speed keeps increasing and riding starts to become difficult. The bike feels the slightest correction or shifting, promptly reacting to every command. It’s not one of those frames you put a patch over your mistakes or if you lose a little your composure for the price of a lower speed racing. Here everything is immediate, you think about a maneuver, imagine a trajectory and it’s already performing it. Difficult to manage unless you are extremely concentrated: an absolute pleasure if you go down thinking that there won’t be a tomorrow. Here come the last sharp U-bends, I widen my inner knee loading the forecarriage by turning the inside shoulder and exerting pressure on the other side of the track: all we need is I move on the saddle and then you could see that posture. I tilt the bike, hoping in the holding of these wheels that never betrayed me, the trajectory in a single continuous line, I see the way out, I immediately bolt on the pedals in order to fling again, the bike responds without hesitations, via two pinions, the speed raises again in a second, the next sharp U-bend approaches, I increase the gear, detache and set and – out of the corner of my eye – I see a big van facing the sharp U-bend in the opposite direction and I realize he would have invaded my lane, exactly where I would be in a moment.
Maybe some god wanted to protect me, maybe some brain cells retain the memory of thousand of hours spent on a motorbike or I don’t know what: I know that we can – in a split second – make decisions as we have in front of us all the time in the world. I change trajectory, release the brakes, in order to stretch the line and I squeeze them hardly to close the curve, I manage to stand and I stop. This time I exaggerated. Yet I’m not afraid, quite the opposite. I even smile. The shock? No, I’m just like that. I remember once, I was riding my motorbike in Magione and said to a friend of mine before going back :”I pull the sixth and try to outstrip at the sign of 100 m.”. I ended up straight in the gravel, it was impossible to close the double curve, now I was too fast and I only could keep going and hoping that the gravel at the side of the track wouldn’t cause any damage. So it was, I smoothly sank in the soft ground, I stood and walked back to the pits to check that the flints were not scattered all over the place. I took off my helmet and laughed amused, and all over the 500 km. on the way back, I talked my companion’s head off with this story of the gravel: do you remember, Paolino?
Obviously I rode several times this same test circuit, plus various disgressions before writing about it; always trying to maintain a greater clarity as well as trying to keep myself and my bikes intact, otherwise what could I tell about the behavior of this thoroughbred? Which in fact is a purebred, but without tantrums.
Climbs become less ardous, descents more precipitous, each spring or release is instantenous, as the progression in speed is clean, you really accelerate in a blink of an eye. Riding precision is extremely high, but if you push hard going down you cannot be distracted. The bike enables riding speed far superior than other bikes and well beyond the limits of common sense; in excgange, when the speed rises, requires the utmost concentration and a total action neatness. You only have to lose your composure for a moment and the bike changes its trajectory, you only vary the pressure on the handlebars and the bike changes its trajectory, you only have to move the weight and the bike changes its trajectory. Always with a perfect forecarriage, of a touching sincerity. All this is so beautiful as well as challenging. Until the maneuvers are intentional, there is no problem; on the contrary, it’s really pure fun. The problem is when the maneuver is not intentional and the rapidity of the reaction wrong-foots you, misleading you.
Here, however, an in-depth analysis is necessary. Because the bike is not nervous, unpredictable, in fact quite the opposite. You know exactly what reaction to every action corresponds. The fact is that the reaction is immediate, you just have to get accustomed to it: because once you understand it, the bike rewards you with a surprising stability. Those descents were – while riding other bikes – I had to wait to set them back in neutral trim before I could raise them out of the curves, with this X-Lite I racked them as an avalanche. You set, curve and with the bike still inclined, you get up on the pedals so you can fling, with the forecarriage that is a ploughshare plowing the trajectory. You go down until this eleven that, with a bike like this, with this frame, seems still too agile and you would like more speed. Strongly pounding the cart, it sends to the asphalt all you’re giving, without that odious “pistoning” of the rear axle, so typical of less extreme bicycles. Rigidity is perfect, the transmission of the push thrust is immediate, a unique connection between your legs and the road. The important thing is you must always be perfectly coordinated in action, all in the right times.
This turns into an overall speed, on the whole descent, much higher. You can delay the entry stretching the line, having full visibility in your way out with certainty that any vehicle is proceeding in the opposite direction, you can bend, curve and raise again: in a blink of an eye. What you lose by setting the curve you gain it in security (which will not hurt…) and with interest, because you can raise long before other bikes.
Climbing then is less arduous, but it is also because you know the descent awaits for you.
After this merry-go-round, the arrival of flat ground, that I never loved, could only be welcomed with a certain regret. I take this opportunity to test better the responsiveness to the sudden changes of rate, a practice that always gave me a hard time, taking away energies and dirtying my cycling. They come easy, I play with the derailleur, get up on the pedals, fix a goal in front of me and try to reach it like I was in a sprint, I sit, slow down, I stand up again with a low gear, drop all the pinions, maltreat the bike just as well that road sign would be the goal of my life, and the bike doesn’t give in, doesn’t protest, doesn’t quit, doesn’t hesitate. It always responds instantly to every request more I ask and it seems like it wants more: stop pedaling is impossible: Even during some going out, programmed just to take some pictures and without any desire to go on in agony, I was not able to control myself. I only had to see in the distance the silhouette of a cyclist, the desire to go to take it back, just an excuse to feel the thrill of the speed and there leap into the saddle and goodbye pictures! Time trial started…
A large frame, but large wheels too. A right choice for my riding style. Light and rigid in the wright way, together with the fork they proved to be perfect downhill, ensuing an optimal directionality, nonexistent uphill, where they give their full potential, smooth-flowing on level road without ever accusing response delays or bendings.
All this until the road turns smoothly. If the road conditions require a slowdown, they begin to make you feel their imperfections, and the whole bike amplifies the ugliness if faced with an impetuous manner. The bike does absorb, for heaven’s sake!, it doesn’t break your back and arms. But you must lower the rate, there is no doubt.
The plain continues, the road is good again and I take this opportunity to have a breather. And the real big problem with this bike comes out, what I have called “the fixed bike syndrome”. Do you recall a fixed one? Those bikes with a fixed pinion where either you pedal or pedal? Well, stop pedaling on this X-Lite Team is the greatest of sins, what no deity of the sport cycling could never forgive. You pedal and it wants more. You slow down and it gets bored. You resume convinced to show who is in charge and it doesn’t matter, it demands. Every rate decrease, every slowdown, every pause to catch your breath, it’s like a waste; and you want to push trying to give it some trouble, but it’s you who has problems (because you’re tired), that’s it. The bike, which has no pity for you who welcomed it in your home, is flawless.
Tired, let it go for a few kilometers and never mind if there is no penance to expiate.
You start to enjoy the scenery, the day promising the summer, slow down again because you arrived in a coastal area, and yes, bikes are fine but also the lovely walk deserves your attention, and you hear a little voice.
- Hey, I’m talking to you, are you there?
- Oh my God! Who is talking?
- What do you mean who’s talking? It’s me, the bike …
- What? Do you talk?
- Big deal! I talk, whilst you’re silent with your mouth wide open: watch out for flies! And then wasn’t you who used to write that bikes have a soul, a character, sulk if you want to sell them…
- Yes, but what’s that got to do with it? I was joking; and then, what do you know? Can you read besides talking?
- Hey! Don’t upset me! I’m not an ignorant villain! And what do you think, you’re the only one who studied? Fancy that! Who I had to meet. Anyway, listen, we’re together since this morning and I don’t understand why you bought me; can you explain it?
- I do not understand, what do you mean, well, sorry, what are you asking, what is it, what does it mean, well, I mean …
- Here he is! And then he poses like a scribbler but I can’t squash a sentence and he tells me I cannot read…
- No, I didn’t say that you cannot read; I was just amazed, that’s all.
- Ok, climb on mirrors, but you don’t fool me ….
- Well, but you, with these clichés, a little imagination, come on ….
- Listen, dear, you cannot distract me, I asked you a question. I repeat it because I think you’re deaf: so, why did you buy me?
- Tut tutt! I wanted a racing bike very sporty, extreme, to ride very fast…
- Ah, there you are! You said it!
- Said what?
- Fast, sporty, cycling, etc., so why you don’t pedal? Why are we going for a walk?
- No, come on, I am pedaling: I’m just catching my breath.
- But what catching your breath? It’s already 6 km. we’re looking at the view!
- Well, you know, the ride is long, sometimes you slow the rate, you manage your strength …
- But what strength do you want to manage? You can’t go on, that’s it.
- No, look, now you’re offending: I can manage it.
- Yeah, sure; listen, with me you must pedal, I am not that obese thing all glittering you’re drooling over.
- What are you talking about?
- Ah, now you admit I can talk! Okay, but you understood, I’m talking about that thing you keep in front of your desk, all baubles and glitter…
- Ok, you’re talking about Ellesar. What about it? And then, it’s not obese…
- What, is not obese? It weighs twice my size!
- And what this has to do with … it’s all steel and its weigh doesn’t matter, I use it when I want to ride in a comfortable and quiet way.
- Of course, because now, instead, we’re rushing…
- Useless sarcasm, you could spare it…
- And you should pedal ….
- Okay, are we exchanging words? Are we husband and wife?
- God forbids! But explain to me why Ellesar is in the front of your desk, and me, I am in that closet…
- Ah! Ah! You’re jealous! And look, it’s not a closet, is my micro-workshop, an important place.
- I’m not jealous and that is a closet, with the compressor who flirts with me at night, that bighead.
- Yes, the room is small, but …
- But no, it’s a cubbyhole filled with corpses of dismantled bikes hanging on the walls: you’re a sadist.
- No, I am not a sadist, they’re there waiting for servicing.
- And do you dismantle a bike to service it?
- But you know, I like doing things in the right way…
- I don’t believe you, you’re a sadist.
- Look, let’s go back to serious matters… I said Ellesar is a bike made to enjoy your days on the pedals, taking your time…
- Like today, then.
- I said no sarcasm.
- Ok, sorry.
- The weigh doesn’t matter…
- But you have just weighed me in all possible combinations! With pedals, without pedals, with the band, without the band, with the band and the pedals, without the flask-holder…
- I was talking, don’t interrupt, it’s rude.
- You’re not my father.
- No, but as long as you live under my roof, you must follow my rules.
- Ok, all right, keep talking…
- Thank you; I was saying, I was looking for something else. That’s why I chose you, I wanted a bike extreme, rigid, sporty without compromises…
- To do what)
- What kind of a question? To ride fast!
- And then, why are you strolling?
- Damn, again; I told you, I’m pausing for breath.
- Yeah, you need it, you have a big belly.
- I don’t have a big belly, and then what do you know? Can you see as well?
- No, I can’t see, but you’re sitting on me, remember? And from down here I can see. You’ve got a big belly.
- No, I don’t have a big belly; I suffer from a bowel disorder that also cause these sudden…oh, listen, it’s my business what I have! And then, you just said you can’t see!
- I’m teasing you just to kill time; it’s half an hour I’m looking at the same scenery, we might as well to stop and enjoy the sun, because where I was assembled, it was always foggy and wet.
- That’s enough! Shut up, I’m your master!
- Master? What is this authoritarian vein? You talk like this because I’m black.
- No, the colour of your skin… er, your frame, has got nothing to do with it…
- Don’t lie: you pretend to be a progressive intellectual, but underneath you’re a racist…
- No, listen, I’m not a racist. The proof is I wanted you in black.
- Big deal! They make me only in black.
- You’re right; maybe I liked you more in white, you know, by tradition…
- There you are! You’re a conservative racist. And you have got a fat stomach!
- Stop it!
- Why, what do you do otherwise? Do you put me in chains? Do you whip me? Remember, I enrolled in all associations for civil rights, I don’t do peace marches only because they go too slow. Even if….
- Even if what?
- No, nothing.
- No, now you talk!
- Well, you could take me there, we go so slow we shoul have any trouble marching…
- Oh, my God! That’s enough!
Then you stand on the pedals and begin to push hard, in desperation.
And the wind brings the echo of a chuckle…
Reality or imagination, it doesn’t matter, the bike pretends but always gives you back, without never easing off.
It was just what I wanted, the character I wanted, I did found it. Then, if I’m not able to exploit its huge potential, it’s not that relevant. I’m satisfied to have it; even if it’s a childish satisfaction. You’ll never hear from me about the need to have a light bike, or some wheels, or a frame with those geometries. No logic or technical justifications: only the pure pleasure of owning a real racing machine, capable of wearing me out in an attempt to reach its limits, ready and cruel in reminding me that its limits are far higher than mine, never submissive when you could use.
I had a motorbike for tracks: every time I took it for a simple Sunday outing, even if at a brisk pace, it was so boring to drive. As soon as I crossed the gates of a circuit I felt it quivering and as soon as the wheels touched the asphalt of the track, everything changed. Those defects on the road, in a normal use, disappeared and were replaced by an efficiency close to a motorcycle race.
Riding to its limits repayed me with some feelings I still keep today in my heart. With the X-lite it’s the same thing, the same feeling, the same involvement, the same passion.
Like all very light and performing bikes it perceives the slightest slope variation, even riding on level ground. Not the climb, do you recall when the road takes that minimum tendency to raise, something you perceive only looking at the horizon? Immediately below the pedals you clearly feel the difference in the requested push. And just as it’s quick to increase speed, it’s also quick to lose it, with its wheels accomplices, which in this case are of little help, completely lacking the flywheel effect.
I tested the bike in every possible condition, I only missed the rain and not because there was the drought: it’s me that, if it’s raining, I stay at home.
An outcome? An instruction about who this bike is direct to?
Outcome, the vote can only be the maximum. I’m prejudiced and not because it’s my flagship. But because beyond all my technical considerations, once on the pedals I become a passionate cyclist. And if a bike thrills me I forgive it completely. Okay, I’m looking for a defect. Found it! The cables inside the frame make noise, much more than the Xeon. Too little? Ok, I try again. One moment, I’m thinking… Don’t hurry me, I consult my notes…
Well, I could say…no, what a nonsense…
Then maybe …. Hum! I’m not convinced, it’s a stretch…
Okay, I give up, I haven’t found anything else. Ah yes, who knows, but don’t tell the bike, if Mom Rose could make it white….
Who the bike is addressed to? To anyone having a heart, passion and legs. If your legs are modest like mine, a heart and passion are enough.
But you must be well aware that is a bike quite extreme, nothing to do with a comfortable sporty one for long untrained tours. The bike takes you for a walk anyway, but it’s a waste. At the Rose’s factory there are other models designed to provide a lot of comfort; not that the X-lite is uncomfortable, not at all. You dismount from the saddle after five hours and only your legs are aching all over. And they are because you cycled rentlessly, you always wanted to pedal, each descent was a merry-go-round and on the level ground you constantly raise looking for higher and higher speeds. You just can’t calm down, you want to reach your limit, on the opposite, I don’t know, I didn’t find it. It would be necessary to have some legs better than mine, I hope that in two months I will reach an optimum condition, which I lost during winter/spring because of my aches and pains. I’m thinking about some ascents that left me if not defeated still wounded my pride. We’ll see how I’ll climb them, why I’ll climb them, and above all at what speed I’ll climb them. And I expect that the Dark Knight will help me to plant the flags of the success.
I leave with the usual gallery of various pictures; and I remind you that the pictures in the gallery format are shown as partial thumbnails: to visualize them you need to click on one of them and the manual slide starts.
Sono Fabio Sergio, giornalista, avvocato e autore.
Vivo e lavoro a Napoli e ho dato vita a questo blog per condividere la passione per la bici e la sua meccanica, senza dogmi e pregiudizi: solo la ricerca delle felicità sui pedali.
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