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Pro bikes, December 9, 2008

Alie Kenzer’s Richard Sachs CYBC Signature

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Photo ©: James Huang

Steel conquers mud

By James Huang

Custom 'PegoRichie' tubing is made by Columbus
Photo ©: James Huang
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Richard Sachs/CYBC team bikes are also equipped with steel forks.
Photo ©: James Huang
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The tube diameters may look unusually small as compared to aluminum
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The bottom bracket lug includes a built-in chain stay bridge
Photo ©: James Huang
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Aluminum and carbon fibre machines may dominate the ‘cross racing landscape but legendary framebuilder Richard Sachs has more than held his own with steel, not only just for himself but also his long-running Richard Sachs/Connecticut Yankee Bicycle Club team.

Sachs has a regular multi-year waiting list for his machines so he doesn’t exactly need the extra exposure that comes from sponsorship. Nevertheless, he has supported teams every year since the early 1980s. ‘Cross entered into the mix by the late 1990s and the team is now exclusively dedicated to this burgeoning segment of the sport.

No doubt, Sachs’ own preferences probably has something to do with this single-minded purpose. When asked to describe his passion for cyclo-cross, he simply replied, "Sure, give me the microphone and about five months of your website's time!"

Sachs himself personally builds each and every Signature Cyclocross model from start to finish with proprietary PegoRichie tubing. The butted niobium alloy tubeset is based on Columbus’ premium Spirit line and was designed in collaboration with fellow framebuilding legend Dario Pegoretti.

Sachs’ own short-point ‘Richie-issimo’ investment cast lugs are used throughout - including the recently revamped steel fork crown - and the entire package is wrapped in his signature red, white and yellow livery by esteemed painter Joe Bell.

Those lucky enough to be on the team get not just one, but two of these ferrous masterpieces, fully made-to-measure... and they don’t even have to wait years to get them.

According to Sachs, the PegoRichie tubeset "allows a framebuilder who chooses lugged construction to make a bicycle in the 21st century which has the lightest weight, and the strength and emotional characteristics that steel is known for. The ‘cross frames are in the 3.25lb [1.47kg] range and they are not one-season-only items. There are no cons."

Just to hammer the point home that Sachs doesn’t intend for his Signature Cyclocross machine to just hang on a wall or casually meander around the block, there are no water bottle bosses whatsoever or fender mounts - though we’d imagine either would be available as an option if so desired.

In spite of the competitive frame weight, the complete race bike that we sampled of team member Alie Kenzer posts a somewhat less impressive 8.95kg (19.73lb) showing at the scale, though we suspect that had much to do with the somewhat modest build kit and matching Sachs fork.

Though steel frames can compete reasonably well with non-ferrous materials weight-wise, forks are usually a different story and indeed, Sachs admits his weigh in the neighborhood of 600g.

Kenzer’s machine is fitted with a nearly complete SRAM Rival group with the only exceptions being a Wippermann Connex stainless steel chain and a single-ring setup on her Rival OCT crankset, sandwiched between a Salsa Crossing Guard and N-Gear Jump Stop - other team bikes are set up with doubles.

Rolling duties are handled with Challenge Grifo 32 tubulars and aluminum-rimmed Cane Creek Volos wheels, and Cane Creek also supplies the Solos headset and workhorse SCX-5 cantilever brakes.

The Oval Concepts logo graces the light-yet-robust aluminum seatpost, stem and traditional-bend handlebar, and the rest of the bike is rounded out by mud-loving Crankbrothers Candy Ti pedals and a Selle San Marco Aspide saddle covered in red Lorica just for Sachs.

Sachs’ single-minded dedication to steel could be viewed as foolishly anachronistic but continuing advancements in alloys coupled with long-refined construction techniques have mostly kept it in the mix technology-wise and the marginal extra weight (Kenzer’s frameset could have been built up much lighter) doesn’t appear to have held back its users. Sachs-sponsored riders have won nine US national championships since 1997, including an especially notable one by a certain Jonathan Page in 2002.

Who said steel was dead?


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by James Huang/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Anthony Skorochod/www.cyclingcaptured.com

Full specification

Frame: Richard Sachs Signature Cyclocross, Columbus PegoRichie steel tubeset
Fork: Richard Sachs Signature Cyclocross, Columbus PegoRichie steel tubeset

Critical measurements
Rider's height: 1.68m (5' 6"); Weight: 55kg (122lb)
Seat tube length, c-c: 525mm
Seat tube length, c-t: 540mm
Saddle height, from BB (c-t): 701mm
Tip of saddle nose to C of bars (next to stem): 488mm
C of front wheel to top of bars (next to stem): 593mm
Top tube length: 535mm (actual)

Front brake: Cane Creek SCX-5 w/ trimmed Kool-Stop Thinline red compound pads
Rear brake: Cane Creek SCX-5 w/ trimmed Kool-Stop Thinline red compound pads
Brake levers: SRAM Rival DoubleTap
Front derailleur: N-Gear Jump Stop
Rear derailleur: SRAM Rival
Shift levers: SRAM Rival DoubleTap
Cassette: SRAM OG-1070, 11-26T
Chain: Wippermann Connex stainless
Crankset: SRAM Rival, 172.5mm, 39T w/ Salsa Crossing Guard
Bottom bracket: SRAM GXP

Wheelset: Cane Creek Volos tubular
Front tyre: Challenge Grifo 32 tubular
Rear tyre: Challenge Grifo 32 tubular

Bars: Oval Concepts R701 Classic, 40cm (c-c)
Stem: Oval Concepts R700 RBT, 90mm x -6°
Headset: Cane Creek Solos
Tape/grip: Off The Front Richard Sachs logo, double-wrapped

Pedals: Crankbrothers Candy Ti
Seat post: Oval Concepts R700 Ergo Post
Saddle: Selle San Marco Aspide Richard Sachs custom
Bottle cages: n/a
Other accessories: n/a

Total bike weight: 8.95kg (19.73lb)