After a year of saving/drooling over various possible builds and color schemes at pedal mafia, I finally indulged myself and got a nice bike, something with as few budget induced compromises as possible, although I salvaged a lot of parts from my stuff back in the states and the setup has changed a bit since these pictures. The idea was to get a classic-styled, lugged, steel frame, built in China (like most frames out there, but at least this one is a local brand) for tearing ass around HZ.
OK, so color options are limited: black or white. I selected black to express my rage. Graphics-wise, it’s kind of a busy frame. Every tube on the front triangle has some sort of text all in a yellow vintage curly script. The top tube sports the text, Special light, toward the aft end of the tube. The down tube has a big W.H.M Cycle curly-script logo, although the periods after W, H, and M, bug me for a reason I’m not entirely clear on.
The seat tube has a vertical WHM written between two world-champ color bars, which is kind of cool. However, I’m not crazy about the nautical star on the back side of the seat post–it kind of contrasts in style with the more classic styling of the stripes. The head tube sports the WHM crest in yellow, but only as a decal. Actually, all of the graphics seem to be decals, but you’d be hard-pressed to remove them cleanly.
The lug work of the frame is, in a word, pretty. There is a difference between pretty and beautiful, take note. All the joints, including those between the stays, have lugs with nice curving cutaways.
The seat tube/seat stays/top tube lug is rather troublesome with the seat post bolt going right through the seat stay inserts, which to me seems like it would compromise the strength of said stays, especially if you over-tightened the bolt. Also, you have to have the exactly right size bolt and nut to fit in the hole, and of course whenever you need something very specific that is doubtlessly produced in China, it suddenly becomes impossible to find. All that being said, the lugs are nice and seem reasonably stiff.
The frame features no-name tubing, which isn’t the lightest, and I’m certain it’s not Columbus or anything, but it’s stiffer than the cheapo cranks I’m using. The paint job seems kind of soft, although I rest it against a good number of light posts.
My biggest gripe is with the integrated chain tension system, which use a small bolt through the front of the dropout to push the rear axle back and tighten the chain. In theory, it’s great, but the holes through the dropout aren’t drilled perfectly center, so the bolt doesn’t rest at the exact center of the round axle. Additionally, the WHM axles tighten with an allen wrench to the bolt, which seem to be made of soap, rather than metal, making it impossible to really tighten them down as much as they should be. All of this combines to make a system that ends up bending tension bolt after tension bolt. After replacing three of those little bolts on the drive side, I’ve given up and started using more traditional BMX style chain tension systems.
It accelerates pretty quickly off of lights, although with the weight of the Aerospoke added to the relatively heavy tubes, it isn’t the quickest bike off the line, as evidenced by my getting stomped at the AFGC sprints (of course, that had nothing to do with my cycling ability).However, that Aerospoke makes a nice flywheel, so it holds speed pretty well. Handling-wise, it holds a line like nobody’s business and I can easily ride no-handed for blocks at a time. Cornering is predictable, although the wheelbase isn’t so short that I would call it twitchy; the geometry seems to be a touch less aggressive than a true track bike.
In the current setup, this is the most comfortable bike I’ve ever owned/ridden. A large part of that is due to that saddle, which even for 30RMB is by far the most comfortable saddle I’ve ever owned. It rides pretty soft on the road and the steel soaks up a good bit of vibration. The other big comfort factor is just that the bike fits my body nicely, which is something one could say about any bike.
It’s a pretty good frame for the price, as a lugged steel steel will usually set you back about 600 US buckazoids, and at about 330 US, this isn’t too bad. The integrated chain tension system isn’t good for anything more than bending bolts, something needs to happen differently in manufacturing I believe. It’s not the lightest bike you could get (duh, it’s lugged steel) but it’s also not as light as a lugged steel frame with Columbus tubes. All that aside, it’s a comfortable ride that will not surprise you with super twitchy handling, so you could ride this all day. I know I have before.