A few years ago, I decided to replace my trusty steel Cougar time trial frame with a more up to date carbon fibre effort. The frame was cheap, light, and looked pretty aero. It's actually sourced from a generic Taiwanese frame factory, and you can see (or at least could see) very similar frames from other distributors, many of whom were a bit closer about the frame's origins than Planet X were! I kitted the bike out with the following:
Hed aerobars;Hed Stinger 90 front wheel with Corima disc (both use tubular tyres);Shimano Dura-Ace transmission (except for the Record UT chainset); Selle Italia SLR carbon saddle.
The bike rides pretty nicely, and I actually think it makes for a good TT bike - in the dry (see my criticisms below). It's always difficult to make confident assertions regarding the aero characteristics of a bike frame and seeing as how the acquisition of the frame has corresponded with a decline in the quality of my training programme (due to work), I'm not really able to criticise it or praise it on those grounds.
The frame itself seems pretty solidly built and I haven't noticed any problems except one: the fit of the aero seat pin into the seat tube, which seems less than precise. This has two effects. Firstly, water gets into the frame, most probably via the seat pin-seat tube junction, and this can be really difficult to get out. While the external appearance of the frame is pretty much flawless, with the carbon weave visible except at the black painted tube junctions, internally things are a bit less clean, and the protruding bits of carbon fibre sheet make any water in the frame pretty hard to get out.
The second seat pin issue is that it can be quite hard to persuade the seat pin to stay put in the seat tube - in the end I used a variant of the hairspray treatment: I sprayed the base of the seat pin with spraymount adhesive (which remains tacky and doesn't set) before assembling the bike. This keeps the seat pin in place quite effectively.
This model of frame has now been discontinued and replaced with the Stealth Carbon - the newer frames feature a steeper seat tube for better TT position, and some nicely sculptured frame tubes.
I'm planning to dust off this frame and ride in this week's NBRC 10 mile club time trial...more on that later.
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