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Baum Ristretto Part III, the ride.

by Anthony Little |

In yesterdays post we covered the Baum Ristretto frame set and went into a little detail on the build.  Today we’ll go into more detail on the build and since we have well over a thousand miles on the bike will talk a bit about the ride.  Enjoy!

Back from it’s first ride in the rain…

The Ristretto has been built as follows:

  • Baum Ristretto steel frame built with a mix of Dedacciai, Reynolds and Columbus tubing and based on how I wanted the bike to ride.  This is an easy step so don’t think it makes it too complicated, we’ll sort it out for you!
  • Enve 2.0 fork painted to match.
  • 3T LTD seat post, painted to match
  • Deda Zero 100 SC stem.  120mm, painted to match
  • Deda Newton Shallow drop bars, 44cm O-O
  • Deda Logo Tape
  • Fizik Antares OO
  • Chris King headset
  • Chris King bottom bracket
  • King titanium cages, bead blasted by Baum
  • Shimano Dura-Ace Group set
  • Dura-Ace SRM 170mm, 53X39
  • Speedplay titanium pedals
  • Various wheels for testing.  On the above picture we’re using hand built custom wheels with old 1988 Dura-Ace 8spd hubs laced to Mavic Reflex tubular rims.  32 hole, DT Swiss spokes, brass nipples and Continental Competition tubular tires in the 25 width.  We taped this set so I could try that out instead of gluing.  Not that I’d do that on all my wheels, but it’s worked flawlessly up to this point and is super easy to do.  The Baum with these wheels weighed 18.5 lbs fully build including the SRM head unit.  Not bad as these wheels are anchors, but I’d prefer a lighter setup most of the year.

First ride in the dirt

As seen in the photo above we have done most of our riding on this bike with Mavic’s Ksyrium SLR clincher wheels.  With all the decals peeled, these are some of the nicest looking aluminum wheels we’ve seen in a long time.  We’ll cover the wheels themselves later, but in short they’ve been superb so far.  They also took a full pound off the bike compared to the hand built wheels, so we’re now looking at 17.49lbs for the complete bike.  Again, not bad for alloy clinchers, SRM, steel frame and the heaviest top level group set!

First ever ride on the Baum Ristretto

Not the best picture but the above was taken on the very first ride on this bike.  With the Lightweight Obermayers the complete bike came in under 16 lbs.  With a few tweaks and no SRM we’re pretty confident we could get this under 15 lbs and still use it as an everyday ride.

The custom painted 3T post and Fizik Antares OO saddle

Custom painted Deda Zero 100 SC stem and Chris King headset

King titanium water bottle cages and of course the water bottles we made to match the bike!

Mechanical or electronic, Shimano has perfect shifting up front. Have not dropped the chain since we built the bike (knocking on wood).

Dura-Ace 12X27 cassette and a Chris King alloy lock ring. The big cassette is essential for keeping the cadence up on slow days in the hills while the Chris King lock ring has just a couple more threads than the stock DA part so you can get it a bit tighter though we’d rather have the titanium model on here.

The cable mounts on the head tube work great. No difference at all compared with the ones mounted on the down tube.

The Shimano Dura-Ace brakes just plain work.

The hand built tubular wheels work great for training and rough road races but are a bit heavy (built as they are) for the hillier terrain around here.

Such nice hubs! Almost 25 years old and still compatible with the latest Dura-Ace group!

Big down tube works just fine with the standard threaded bottom bracket shell. No BB30 needed and trust me, you are not going to flex this crank axle. Best thing is that you get to use the best bottom bracket made. We get hardly 10 months out of BB30 bearings much less 10 years as with the Kings…

Nice legs

Like the bottom bracket the head tube junction is plenty stiff and we have no problem tearing down the technical descents around here.

So, how does it ride?  Awesome!  But it should be awesome, it fits me to the mm, every tube selected for the desired outcome and built by some of the best craftsmen in the industry.

I know there are a lot of people out there that would dismiss this bike pretty quickly due to the fact that it’s made from steel and not carbon.  Now, I’m not really from the “Steel is real” crowd, in fact that doesn’t even make much sense.  Of course it’s real, just like titanium, aluminum, magnesium and even (gasp) carbon fiber.  It’s as simple as this, steel is just one medium for building a bike frame.  It still gets down the road in the same manner as all the other materials do, but just feels a little different doing so.  I’m not trying to get too deep into this whole quagmire of a topic but I’ll explain how the Baum Ristretto feels in a few different riding situations and then later talk about how it compares to another Baum made from a different material.

Firstly, keep in mind that even though I have over a thousand miles on this bike so far, it’s been early season miles.  No full on sprints or long sustained climbing at high tempo or threshold.  But I’ve had plenty of miles with a few different wheels and day after day riding so I feel pretty confident of getting the point across.

Descending:

The Ristretto descends as well as any bike I’ve ever been on which is a very good thing.  This is mostly due to position.  Since we built this from scratch my weight is exactly where I need it to be and I’m perfectly balanced over the bike.  It feels as good on the super tight and technical descents as it does on the wide open ass on the top tube type.  The Baum has a little longer chain stays and the longer overall wheel base helps with stability.  I’d describe descending on this bike as super stable while being quick enough.  In the end, the less adjectives you use while describing a bikes descending mannerisms the better as that means there are not any surprises!  It just does what it’s supposed to, get you down the hill as fast as possible and as safely as possible.

Climbing:

One of our shop bikes is 13.5lbs fully built while the Baum is 15.9lb in it’s lightest configuration.  I can honestly say that I don’t feel the difference while climbing.  In fact this bike might even be a little faster feeling under acceleration as one of the benefits of GOOD steel tubing is the bit of spring it has in it.  Combine that with a stiff frame and it just jumps forward under hard pedaling.  The biggest differences I felt were with the different wheels we put on it.  It of course felt the best with the Lightweight Obermayers as they take a pound and a half off of rotating mass over the Mavic’s and a whole two and a half pounds off the hand built pair!  This again shows that rotating mass is so much more important than the static weight of a frame or other component.

Sprinting:

Most modern high performance bikes are pretty stiff.  The drive train components like the cranks, axles and wheels are pretty stiff as well.  For my 170lb frame (hopefully 160lb after this month of training!) the Ristretto was plenty stiff.  There was no bottom bracket sway like the steel bikes I rode 10-20 years ago.  So I’ll put this one down to the bike sprinted as fast as my legs could push it.  The bike was definitely not holding me back here.  I will admit that there is something different about sprinting on a good steel bike.  The spring and feedback is much more direct than on other materials I’ve ridden.  You feel much more connected to the bike, not just perched on top.

Final Thoughts:

This bike is the perfect starting point for a dream bike that will last a long, long time.  It is unique, beautifully finished and rides as well as anything I’ve been on.  It has been a long time since I’ve seen this level of attention to detail in any bike.  Taking that into account these bikes are meant to be ridden hard, so don’t be afraid to get them dirty or of putting a few scratches or chips on the frame!

Baum is set to make some major noise in the handbuilt cycling world due to their incredible attention to detail, knowledge and performance of their frames  and we are extremely excited and honored to be the exclusive distributor for them in the US.  So feel free to drop us a line or give us a call or even better come visit us to find out more about the Ristretto or any of the other models Baum builds.  Lastly, take a look at our most recent wallpaper addition under the Passion section on this website for the incredible shot of the Corretto which we’ll be covering next!

Thanks for reading!

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