After years spent repairing other manufacturers’ carbon frames, Derbyshire-based Carbon Bike Solutions has moved on to selling its own.
The brand has been christened Team Carbon and currently offers a tri/TT frame and road frame that can be dressed with a choice of components and colour schemes. It may not be the fully custom, tailor-made option, but it does put you in charge when it comes to configuring your bike.
For the most part, this depends on your preferences and budget. The FR1 frame is a monocoque made using 3K weave carbon, comes in three sizes (50, 54 and 56cm, measured along the top tube) and starts the proceedings at £2,000.
The price rise from there is based on what you select from a choice of four groupsets (Shimano 105, Ultegra, Ultegra Di2 or SRAM Red) and three types of wheel (shallow rims, 40mm-deep aluminium rims or 40mm full-carbon). All that’s left then is to decide the colours for the frame, stickers and bar tape (and wheels if you go for one of the deep-section options).
Aside from its SRAM Red gears (with R2C bar-end shifters) and carbon wheels, the ‘full-roast’-spec test bike is topped off with a Fizik Arione saddle and unbranded carbon base bars and aerobars. A simple Allen key clamp adjusts how far the aerobars extend, but the width is fixed. Brakes are Tektro units with a calliper up front and a U-brake behind the bottom bracket at the rear. The gear and rear brake cables are routed internally, while the front brake travels straight to the calliper after emerging from the bars.
‘Composed’ is the word that best describes the way the FR1 feels on the road. It provides an impressively smooth ride and is completely unflustered by climbs, corners or cracked tarmac. Even with its aero frame and full carbon wheels, there’s enough compliance to keep you in control over long distances, such is the FR1’s ability to absorb bumps.
It’s not the most responsive ride though. Rather than leaping and surging forward with every stamp on the pedals, the FR1 seems to prefer picking up the pace gradually. But once your speed has been built up, the FR1 holds onto it so well it seems reluctant to ever slow down. If you know the pace you need to maintain during your bike leg the FR1 should be an ideal partner.
It encourages controlled efforts and sustainable speed, rather than frantic dashes that can’t be maintained. You might be better off with something livelier in sprint races but this ‘cruise control’ characteristic is ideal for the discipline required when riding Ironman bike legs.
There are a few things that could be improved. The rear brake is poor, even allowing for the wheel’s carbon braking surface. A better calliper or brake pads are needed if you want the rear to have more of an involvement in bringing you to a halt. SRAM’s R2C shifters are renowned for being firm and the ones here are no exception.
Input from SRAM-sponsored athletes led to them being designed to have a ‘positive’ shift action but they’re so positive (particularly the rear) that you sometimes wonder how necessary a change of gear is.
Contact : www.teamcarbonbikes.co.uk