By Justin Hill
My first impressions of the R-055 built up with Di2 and using the new True-U wheelset were very very good. It is my favorite frame yet! After coming off of the R-016 built with SRAM Force, the new frame and wheelset were a refreshing change. That is not to say the R-016 isn't a great frame, I just noticed some differences which complement each one.
The R-055 is very stable on climbing, descending, and sprinting. Overall, I felt it was a smoother ride than the R-016. I do feel that the R-016 accelerated faster compared to the R-055, but once you get the 055 to speed it just wants to go.
So, when I read some of the big brands spreading stories of catastrophic frame failures… well, I giggle a bit. The brands use the same three tired photos without mentioning how or why the damage happened. One easy YouTube search will show many videos of frame failures from major brands under race conditions.
Durability you ask?
I am 6’ tall and sadly weigh between 195 to 215lbs depending on the time of year and the availability of pasta and Prosecco in correlation to my pocket book. The R-021 gets a massive workout each time I ride no matter the conditions.
1000k+ later and I can still say I am very impressed with the R-016 Super Light. The R-016 has made it really easy to forget my old FM066SL.
The R-016 has continued to be really smooth and handles the road noise and debris very well. I tested this frame built up with SRAM Force and the VeloBuild 50mm clinchers wrapped with Michelin Pro 4s.
Smooth & Fast
I've ridden the R-016 hard in preparation for this race season over all kinds of terrain which included smooth and rough roubiax style roads. There were also many climbs with both steep and long flowing descents and I can say it handled them both superbly. I dared to take it up to around 45mph and never noticed any speed wobble or anything unexpected. It felt solid and smooth wanting to gain more speed. When taking my FM066 up the that speed I definitely felt more uneasy due to the fragility of the frame, on this one I had confidence because of the stable feeling.
I had high hopes of feathery effortless climbs when I first had the opportunity to ride a super light road bike from China. Instead the FM066SL turned out to have harsh ride quality and just did not feel very forgiving on rough choppy road surfaces. It was a leap forward from the FM001 and the Chinos that first came out of China, but it didn’t meet my “expectations” inflated as they may be. That frame is ready to climb at a moment’s notice and is best when on completely smooth roads.
So, when I received the R-016, I felt my expectations rising again in hope of finding a super light all-a-rounder. At first glance the design itself is a vast improvement over the now aging FM066SL. For one, it has its own design and look and in my book that is always an improvement. The seat tube accommodates a larger seat post (31.6) and there is a carbon reinforced wedge and ridge to prevent damage to the seat tube that is sometimes (and more increasingly) found in the FM066SL. As well the front derailleur bracket has been reinforced from inside the tube and is screwed on and not riveted. They managed to do this while keeping the weight down to 830 to 850 grams in sized 50CM.
The New Kid
This frame may look familiar for some. A few well-known global brands sell this frame and it is considerd this to be an open mold. It is not a replica frame but the craftsmanship the Chinese factories learned manufacturing thousands of Chinarello replicas has been put to good use on this frame.
This frame has flavors of Pinarello, Specialized, Cervelo, and Chinese ingenuity. The protruding nose on the headset, the curved and fluted top tube and the flattened and shaped down tube remind one of Pinarello. The massive chain stays have a touch of style with a nice rib down the center. The pencil thin seat stays made popular on Cervelo are taken a step further to the smooth side by flattening them.
It's good to get away. For those landlocked folks like me, a trip to the beach for and flat road riding is always a refreshing change of pace. This trip, however, saw stoners on our second day but we pressed on anyway and hoped we would be back in the shower before the big storms began...we were close.
As you can see in this photo from the shore the winds were whipping flags sideways and it was even to windy for the crane to fly or fish.
Our route took us up the Gulf of Mexico coastline and then straight back the same route so we we pummeled by winds on both sides.
I was riding the VB-RW-50-25 50mm Carbon Fiber TRUE-U Aero Wheelset that is 25mm Wide and I was simply stunned at how the bike stayed solid underneath me in the crosswinds that seemed to send smaller riders all over the road.
As some of you know we have been selling 25mm wide wheels that have been designed as "aero" before and they perform well.
The newest generation of 25mm wide Aero wheels however have taken aero to a new level. While our old wheel were somewhat "U Shaped" the new generation is a TRUE-U Shape and combined with aero piller spokes the 25mm wide wheel is as slippery in the wind as current technology allows. These babies are state of the art.
Oh yeah... the look freaking cool too! Many questions came from other riders at the loop back cafe mid ride.
The particular configuration for this wheelset includes the R-36 carbon hub upgrade with straight pull spokes. The hub lighten the wheels by about 100 grams. (Again I must admit the carbon hubs look way cool also) The piller straight pull aero spokes add some stability to the handling of the wheels. This comes at a slight cost to comfort but the "road feel" adds confidence to the ride.
If you often ride in windy conditions and love 40mm - 50mm or 60mm deep rims these are the wheels to get. Beginning at $375 the value is through the roof. Walk into any local bike shop and ALLOY wheels of any race quality are going to cost you more...carbon choices there will start around $1800+ USD
First Impression Review:
AERO? Yeah, I've heard that before
When the factory told us that the new VB-RW-50-25 would be as much as 30% more Aero