John Veness' Handsling Bikes RR1

 

My long anticipated new road frameset for 2015 arrived a few days ago, handily in time for the Easter break allowing a couple of days to get it together. I’ve been collecting parts for it since Christmas so am pleased the get the carpet space back from the pile of bags and boxes. Team boss Si Whiten from Handsling bikes has been hard at it for 6 months specifying and importing a wide range of full carbon frames, wheelset and bottle cages.


The framset is the superlight T800 carbon Handsling RR1 frameset consisting of frame, fork and seatpost all in UD carbon custom painted finish. Everything is a hard wearing matt finish. I opted for the minimal paint job (there are several to choose from) with the company colours of blue and orange highlighting the inside of the rear triangle and main tube accents.


The wheels use the fantastic and light weight ‘Chosen’ hubs with the latest in rim design, 40mm deep, 27mm wide with rounded profile that is much less resistant to cross wind deflections and with a basalt breaking surface giving what feels like alloy rim breaking performance. Again these are in the matt UD finish complimenting the frame perfectly. These are optimised to pair with 25mm tyres giving maximum aero-dynamic advantage.


For the build I went for SRAM components again, having used the same Red and Force kit on my previous bike for 3 years without issue. 11-speed is here so I acquired a full Red 22 groupset bit by bit from ebay, experimentally using a 10 speed chainset in the 11 speed setup, this is reported to work in the forums with no issue and are way cheaper than the current 11-speed model. BB86 bottom bracket went in without issue for creak free operation; previously BB30 I found had poor bearing reliability, prone to shell damage after repeated bearing replacement and the dreaded noise once the grease had dried or washed out.


Colour matched in orange the Aerozine integrated headset was a doddle to fit, just drops in with 1’1/4 race on the fork crown and 1’1/8th top race. Holding the forks in place a Superstar components CNC stem upgraded with black titanium bolts. Front end finished off with some Thompson carbon bars, Deda carbon bar tape.


The frame features internal cable routing and electronic groupeset wire drilling, a selection of rubber plugs are supplied to fill the holes depending on which way you choose to go. I’m still keen on cable operation and found the internal routing very easy to do. Just unscrew and remove the cable channel plate on the bottom bracket shell, feed the wires down the down tube and they fall out of the BB ready to feed up to the front mech and along the drive side stay to the rear mech.

I did weigh all the bits before fitting, the most interesting figures come from comparing the claimed frame/fork weights (though for a size 52cm) to the actual delivered item (a 56cm):
Frame: 840 +/- 20, actual = 1038g
Forks: 320 +/- 10, actual = 384g
Seatpost, 350mm long 201g.


The only issue I found with the frame was during setting the rear mech up, I couldn’t get the shifts smooth, this was tracked down to the rear hanger not sitting quite square due to some residual masking tape and paint trapped under the hanger.

Total weight for the build came in at 15.2lb’s without any really fancy components, force cassette not the super light power dome and steel wheel skewers (these will be upgraded at some point). That’s 1.5lb’s less than my previous Trigon, very impressive.

So, once the build was complete I went out for a shake down ride to Richmond park, initial impression was of a lower flatter position than my previous machine. This a good thing for me, coming from mountain biking, my road position has always been too upright. Front end was more stable and very precise in the corners, the ‘S’ bend steep descent in the park felt much safer and controlled than on my previous bike. The wheels were rolling so smoothly, no perception of wind resistance, very little effect from side winds noticed.

I really didn’t want to go back home so headed out to Kingston and on down to roads I know well in the Surrey Hills, reverse loop around box hill, up Ranmore, across to the magnificent Staple lane road and home via Ockham, Chobham, Hampton Court.


The bike was a joy on these roads, surfaces were poor and broken at times, the 25mm rubber rolled so well taking out a lot of the vibration. Swooping down the box hill zig-zags put a huge grin on my face. Climbing was immediate, stiff frame transferring what felt like all my power to the wheels. I have used the wheels in one crit so far on another bike and took to them right away, very smooth and very tight. Braking, very powerful and highly modulated.


I just wanted to ride and ride, unfortunately not being prepared for a long ride I only had half a bottle of water and no gels or bars with me so had to head for home after 2.5 hours having run low on energy levels. It was a fabulous first 100km on the bike, I cant wait to ride it again and get racing, time to remove the winter growth from my legs and get some miles in !

 


JV.