Stelbel Part 12
Crikey, I had to hunt way back through old Posts to find my original Post to find out what update number came next. As they say, good things are worth waiting for. I did have 2 opportunities to pull out along the way and I really came close at one point but in the end I’m very happy I didn’t.
So she is finished – and actually has been from late last Summer.
The frame is Stainless Steel (Columbus XCr) Stelbel Antenore custom fit via Super Domestique in London. I put in a slight slope in the top tube to give a little more visual effect of exposed seat post as I am a tad “vertically challenged”. Also, to ensure I have enough exposed seat tube to clamp in the work stand. Cable routing is internal for the brake hose but external for the gear cables. Cable stops are on the head tube to ensure no cable rub on the head tube – plus it looks cool! Stelbel advised that external routing was better especially as the plan is for an all weather bike with gravel capability. In fact, they made it pretty clear they advised against internal routing. In the last respect re gravel, the rear triangle is about 10mm longer than ‘normal’ to give better stability on rough surfaces. It also gives me the option of fitting a rear fender in the winter and the frame has fender lugs built in.
Build out is Campag Record Disc 12sp mechanical groupset, Chris King Headset, forks are Enve and Bars/Stem Deda Zero (both being supplied and custom painted by Stelbel), Campag Bora wheels and though fitted with Vittoria Corsa 25mm tyres in the photo I’m currently running Challenge Paris Roubaix 28mm. BB is threaded British standard – I’ve had it with Press Fit creaks! Bidon cages, of course, had to be wire.
Paint is matt finish (tending to satin) and is actually a fade from front to back with the rear triangle bare SS in a brushed finish. I left it to Stelbel to pick the lighter shade to match my choice of main colour and they apologised as after the lacquer coat the two shades are almost too subtle to see. They offered to respray or let me ride for the winter and return the frame for a respray. Can’t really ask for better service but I’ll stay as it is. One thing about matt finish vs gloss is that apparently the matt can be harder to clean and can get some impregnated dirt over time, so we’ll have to see how that pans out. An excuse/reason to have to keep on top of cleaning is no bad thing!
I built it out myself. Most things were/are straightforward but I had not worked on Campag Disc Brakes before but Campag YouTube instruction videos are great and the build was trouble free. I did have to buy a few new tools for the build, but as a bit of a tool fetishist (?!) that was no bad thing. Park BBT-69.2 for fitting the Disc Brake Lock Ring, for wheels (vs BBs) you need clearance for the hub/axle and so need a domed tool. Campag Disc alignment tool (you could manage without that but it’s probably easier with it – besides it’s red and shiny!). Hydraulic hose cutter (measure the hose 15 times before cutting – if in doubt go a little long!) and Needle Driver for inserting the end insert in the hydraulic hose after cutting to length (again you could manage without a Needle Driver but it does help keep the thing aligned and gives better control as over inserting the insert is problematic).
I have Campag on all my other rigs from Super Record to Athena and the performance is everything I’d expect from Campag. The shifting is actually better than the Super Record on #1 (Pinarello Dogma K) which is down to internal vs external cable routing. 12Sp gives me that extra bale out, lower gear which at my age is welcome!
Disc brakes are nice, I’m not sure that they are any more powerful than Super Record rim brakes but having recently ‘blown’ a worn out rim on #1 it does save rim wear on pricey wheels. Most folk seem to say that Discs give a better feel but again compared to #1 on Super Record I’m not sure there is a huge difference. As yet, I have not ridden in the wet (wimp!) so have not yet made any comparison in those conditions. However, I’m sure that on wet gravel it will at least save the wince of the sound of grinding paste on expensive rims. Particularly on Carbon Bora ones. A wet Strade Bianche Sportif was probably the main culprit in my Shamal rims reaching EOL.
The ride itself is just sublime and silent – with internal routing you always seem to have some cable rattle somewhere. OK 28mm tyres are a significant difference to 25mm, but even running Vittoria Corsa 25mm on both the Stelbel and #1 the Stelbel has a subtle level of compliance to smooth out the ride vs the Dogma K, which itself was developed in 2013 for the Cobbled Classics by Pinarello and Team Sky. The general fit is only slightly different to #1 but just feels subtly ‘right’. The longer rear stays are not noticeable in road handling and cornering – though I’m a bit of a wimp in high speed cornering and tend to stay on the safe side of the adrenaline curve. The ride is everything I’d expect from steel, given my other steel rigs, but has the instant responsiveness of #1 to power input whereas the other steel rigs have some delay/loss. Having said that the Bora wheels will be more responsive than conventional spokes on the other rigs.
The Bora wheels are noticeably more wind affected in a cross wind vs lower profile Shamals on #1. So #1 will be ride of choice on windy days. Overall performance is very interesting. The Stelbel build comes out about a kilo heavier than #1 (I’ll add weights when I find my scales post house move!) and I had expected it to be slower as a result, perhaps the Bora wheels make up for the difference but I’m finding that I’m setting as many PBs on the Stelbel as on #1 (we moved house last Summer so I’m riding loads of new sectors and all at the same fitness (and age!) so it’s quite a good comparison. I’m also setting PBs on climbs on the Stelbel so even at slower speeds the performance seems to be even between the two. Given that the Dogma K, though a few years old now vs current aero frames, is no slouch – in fact I can freewheel downhill past a number of folk on supposedly more aero bikes (the rider is of course the biggest aero factor), so the round tubes on the Stelbel do not seem to be giving me much loss.
Finally, Cafe Cred is good! Not that there are huge numbers of folk out there who know much other than the major brands but a few folk have noticed that she’s far from a stock bike. Always nice to get some interest and complements in that respect!
Big grin ride time for sure.