(There doesn't seem to be a spot strictly for frame reviews. Perhaps that would be a nice addition to the VeloBuild site.)
I've been riding my FM066 for about a week now and have been able to put it through all the paces. So, I figured I've give some feedback on this frame and how it performs as a complete bike. I've ridden the bike for about 350 km including long climbs (20 km @ ~7% average, 15 km @ ~5% average), short, steep climbs (15-20%), fast, curvy downhills, windy flats, and bumpy roads. First, some specs on my order:
frame: Dengfu FM066 SL, 54 cm, glossy clear coat finish, BB30
frame weight (w/o hanger): 858 g
cut fork weight: 327 g
handlebar HB003 42 cm: 262 g
cage FD003: 24 g
Neco headset: 78 g
The rest of the build includes a SRAM Force groupset with a 34/50 compact crank, Thompson alloy stem, some old Selle San Marco saddle, and a fairly lightweight (1,354 g) clincher wheelset from parts I bought from bikehubstore.com (I highly recommend this site for great products, great prices, and a very helpful and dedicated owner). The tires are Hutchinson Fusion tubeless. I've become a big fan of the tubeless concept. Not only is the ride better, but in areas like New Mexico where there are so many plants with thorns and spines, these tires seal much better than the tubed ones. The only down side is there currently aren't too many tubeless tire options. With my old Look Keo pedals, the complete bike comes in at 6,876 g (15.16 lbs) which, by my standards, is crazy lightweight (especially considering it doesn't really have any weight weenie parts on it).
The frame and parts came very well wrapped and packed and the box arrived without a scratch on it. There weren't any noticeable flaws or weird spots in the fiber weave. My wheels dropped straight in and were dead centered in the frame and fork - a very good sign. Assembly was straight forward. Ritchey carbon fiber assembly paste was used as needed. The large access holes left by the removable cable stops made easy work of threading the cables through the frame. I put Locktite (#609) on the BB bearing sleeve. By the way, I pressed the bearings in with a big bolt and a couple of large washers. There is absolutely no need for an expensive press as has been mentioned elsewhere on this site. I chose BB30 strictly for its simplicity and weight savings. The negative things some people have been saying about it sound just like what folks said when that Phil Wood sealed BB first showed up in the early '70s: "Sealed bearings! Special tools! Something different! That'll never work! That'll never catch on!".
The only problem I had was with the top saddle rail clamps on the seatpost. The front upper clamp bar was too wide for my saddle and actually stuck out several mm on either side of it. I would have torn my inner thighs to shreds riding it like that. Turns out I was able to use the clamp assembly from my old Thompson post to solve this problem. I probably could have ground off the ends of the Dengfu piece, but this way was easier. Still, the design of the stock saddle clamp should be reconsidered.
This bike is over 1 kg lighter than my previous ride (Ridley Excalibur) and of course that was immediately noticeable. The other thing I noticed is that the front end seems quite responsive. I wouldn't call it squirrely, but definitely more so than any of my other road bikes. At first I thought it was because the new bars were a bit wider than my old ones. It's most noticeable on those gradual sort-of-steep climbs where you're sitting but pulling on the bars just a bit. On the plus side, it isn't over-responsive on the fast technical downhills.
The frame is quite stiff laterally and deflection on the steep, out-of-the-saddle climbs isn't at all noticeable. The frame is VERY comfortable over the bumps and doesn't bounce around at speed. It handles sharp, fast corners smoothly and without much thought. It accelerates instantly, no doubt owing to the light weight and lateral stiffness. I've had it close to 80 km/h on one particularly steep bit and I felt completely in control (physically, mentally I was starting to freak out a bit!). This bike is fast!
I really like the bars, especially the indent for the base of your palm and the large flat surfaces on top (I often like to climb on the tops). The drops are comfy and fit my hands nicely. The cages, while simple, hold my large bottles perfectly tight.
Over the years, I have had many steel frames and two carbon fiber ones. I can honestly say that this is the best road frame I've ever had. It's very light, stiff, responsive, and comfortable. It's exactly what I was hoping for and couldn't be happier with it (well, except for that seatpost thing). If you're an old guy like me, this is one fine way of reversing the aging process. The weight savings alone allow you to match your best efforts on timed climbs from years ago. Well done Dengfu!
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