Monday, April 26, 2010

2008 Specialized Tarmac vs. SISU Cycles FF-1


So here it is, the long awaited review. I know Matt is probably stirring in his bed right now, unable to sleep because he wants to know how his bike sizes up with the competition. Well, Matt, rest assured because the FF-1 is blowing my socks off!

In 2008 I bought the Specialized Tarmac Expert pictured above, using part of my graduation money and a lot of hard work throughout that summer. I got it brand new, without the ZIPP wheel pictured, and won my first race just two days after getting it. Needless to say this bike has some memories, good and bad. I raced it for two seasons during my emergence into cycling. Like I said, it owned my first victory, my first superweek, first three hour day, along with countless other things. Nothing like reminiscing about something so important to your life. This bike got me through a lot.

Sadly though, after being sized for my new FF-1 I was surprised to find out that the bike was too large for me. As Matt said, "You're stretched out on this thing like a top level pro!". After a few adjustments to shorten the bike to a more comfortable, generally better riding position, I knew what he meant. Honestly the bike was huge for me. However, I've grown used to that stretched out position so we didn't want to take things too far. Matt sized me up for a 53.5 cm frame, 2.5 cm smaller than my Tarmac. What is a seemingly small number ended up making a world of difference.

I used to think my Tarmac was the stiffest thing on earth. Specialized was all I ever knew about bikes. I got my first mountain bike: a Specialized, first road bike: a specialized, and then this bike: yet another specialized. For some reason I thought they just "fit" me very well. I liked the brand and it seemed like they put a lot of effort into research with pros and just within their company. To be blunt, this bike was a noodle. The ZIPP 808 you see pictured above rubbed on the chain stays, not because of its own flex but because of the frame's. Literally, every time I pedaled, the bottom bracket swayed at least 5 mm side to side if not a whole cm. That was drastic and made me see how much power was being robbed from my legs. Like I said, Specialized was all I knew, it was what I was comfortable with. Little did I know that a SISU FF-1 would be in my future.

As I stated in my last entry, this bike is stiff! I've ridden four days on it so far, a total of 8.5 hours in the saddle on this beautiful machine. On that note, the paint job/decals are what really set this bike apart from any other. Everything else is available to any other consumer on the market, however the one-off paint job and wheel decals are so sick! If you ever get to see this bike up close and in person you will understand. It's so cool to see it all together and have my name on it. Every time I look down during a hard effort, I see "GUTS" along with my last name back by the integrated seat post. Nothing is cooler than having your name on your race machine, cheesily it makes me feel like a pro. That's motivation for the future.

In all honesty, every bit of this bike is custom. The sizing process was very personal and assessed all my riding habits including but not limited to all the measurements of body angles, bike part heights and lengths, what type of rider I considered myself to be (a surprisingly hard question to answer), as well as identifying any of my strengths. All this taken together built this awesome bike. A bike that is dialed in for me and only me, with the parts I wanted and my name on it. DOPE right? It gets better...

The bike rides like a dream. It soaks up so much road noise, the kind that only U.P. roads can offer no matter where you go. From the side roads in Marquette County to the cobbles of downtown Houghton, this bike is smooth. On top of that great comfort factor comes stiffness that I'm not sure can be beat. Wheel rub? GONE. Bottom bracket flex? Minimal at most, not even visible while riding anymore. Now for the riding disciplines: Flats - aerodynamic integrated seat post, aero zipp wheels, FAST, transfers all the power to the ground and just flies; Cornering - very light under the body, easy to point and shoot corners, it's as if the bike does the work for you throughout the corner; Climbing - very stiff and stable, comfortable seated or standing and seems to suit my climbing style very well; Sprinting - though I haven't gotten the chance to do much this bike is fast, power is transferred right to the wheels and off you go. I sprinted away from a car yesterday at a STOP sign without even thinking about it.

Needless to say, I'm blown away by everything. Yes, things have changed in the bike industry, people now have a desire for stiff frames but you can't beat the local experience of a custom build and fit dialed for YOUR body to perform at it's peak. For a truly custom experience, you can't go wrong with SISU. Below is the another image for you all, a closer if you will, of the saying that will get me through everything this season as well as next for sure. GUTS, if you ain't got 'em get a SISU and you'll know what it's all about.

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