If you’ve been following the progress of my Stoemper Taylör (http://girodilento.com/stoemper-taylor-update-its-on-its-way) you’ll know that it had arrived and just needed to be built up. Friday was the day that I drove the frame, fork and complete build kit over to Rohan Dubash at DoctorD (http://doctord.co.uk/) to watch Rohan work his magic and turn my pile of components into a brand new custom steel race bike. I’ve never had a bike built up from scratch before so I was both nervous and excited to see it all come together
I’ve known Rohan for a year or two now and his reputation as a perfectionist who treats each customers bike like it’s his own made him the perfect choice for my build. This combined with his love and expertise in all things Campagnolo was another big plus for my first ever foray into world of Campagnolo with this build.
From placing my order to the completed frame and fork arriving with me took around 12 weeks which I think isn’t a great deal of time to wait for a completely hand-built custom frame. However waiting for something you’re excited about is never easy. Whilst I was obviously most interested in seeing how the bike went together, Rohan also seemed genuinely curious to see how the first Stoemper to land in the UK went together.
Not only was this my first steel bike, it was my first bike that I could specify every aspect of the build – from the colour scheme to every single component. The bespoke nature of the build and the delightful surprise of Stoemper getting a silver fern painted on the frame for me (as a Kiwi) helped make buying and building this bike a much more personal and considered process.
As Rohan built the bike and it started to come together I took a few photos and then some of the completed bike and I have to say I love the look. Rohan also complemented me on how the components have gone together – except for the inner tubes, which he rightly said the valves are too long. These will be changed.
In my opinion (and in fairness, Rohan too and the friends I’ve shown the bike to so far), Stoemper have managed a really nice combination of a traditional/retro steel race bike look with a modern flavour as well. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder of course but I love the Stoemper branding and everytime I look at the fantastic headtube badge I can’t help but smile.
Now in case you didn’t know – the Taylör is made from True Temper S3 steel and comes with an custom painted and colour matched ENVE 1.0 fork to match complete with a nice ENVE carbon top cap. The Taylör’s are built with a Standard British bottom bracket, external headset (I choose a Chris King), 27.2 seatpost and a braze-on front mech. My bike is a standard geometry size 56cm frame.
The build kit I chose was a full Campagnolo Chorus compact groupset, Neutron Ultra wheels and full Deda finishing kit – Deda Newton short/shallow bars, Deda Zero 100 Service Course stem and Deda Super Zero carbon seatpost. Finishing off the build is a pair of Continental GP4000s 23mm tyres and a pair of Elite Ciussi Inox bottle cages. All of the bike was brand new except for a lightly used Selle Italia SLR XP saddle and some well used Look Keo 2 Max pedals.
We decided to keep the fork a bit higher until I get a proper bike fit on the bike, so the fork will be further trimmed down at some point soon.
I managed to get a few photos during the build process as Rohan worked and quite a few photos in my garden once it was home.
On Saturday the 22nd I did just over 100km to “christen” the bike with two friends, Warren and Damien. It was a beautiful autumnal day over some rolling countryside mainly in East Sussex. Right from the off, the Taylör felt smooth. It’s much smoother than my carbon bike. The Taylör is a race bike though so the tubes are a bit on the chunkier side and the bike definitely felt stiff and responsive but also perhaps a touch less springy than I was expecting as a result. A surprising difference was the quietness of a steel bike. On my carbon bike, noises echo through the frame as you ride over different road surfaces but you get none of this on the Taylör – in fact on smooth bits of road it’s absolutely silent, which is lovely. In fairness it is a bit heavier than my carbon bike but I don’t think you choose a steel bike for the weight and any weight difference didn’t hold the bike back at all on the road. The Taylör accelerates and climbs really well. I certainly had no more trouble than usual keeping up with my riding buddies.
On the components, I have to say I was terrifically impressed with Campagnolo Chorus and the Neutron Ultra wheels. Chorus was a joy to ride and as recommended by the guys at Stoemper, Campagnolo worked perfectly with the bike. I loved the feel of the Chorus brakes and although it took me 50kms or so to figure out where to put my thumbs as I rode, the gear changing worked beautifully. Chorus looks fantastic as well.
Would I have gone for Super Record if I’d had the funds (which I didn’t) – no I’m not sure I would have. Chorus works so well, I don’t think I’d have spent the extra. Warren’s C59 has Super Record and Damien’s Diablo has Ultegra and riding both of these bikes whilst they tried out the Stoemper reinforced that Chorus was a terrific choice for the Taylör. The Neutron Ultra wheels rode really nicely too and the fact that the Campagnolo freehub was effectively silent worked extremely well with the bike.
The Deda finishing kit looks great and rode well as did the Bike Ribbon Eleganza bar tape.
Would I change anything at all on the build after the first ride? Well I’ve never been totally sold on the Selle Italia SLR saddle, but I haven’t found one yet that’s more comfortable for the same weight. I have been pondering a tyre change this morning from 23mm to 25mm as there’s plenty of room and I just have a feeling they’d make an already excellent ride a touch better again.
So in summary after a first 100km – my Stoemper Taylör is responsive, smooth, fast, stiff – but comfortable. In fact, I felt really comfortable and at home on the bike right away and it genuinely feels like a bike you could ride fast all day on. This was just a first ride and these are only my first impressions. Overall I felt that the description of the Taylor from the website was a good description of the character of the Taylör:
“This is our steel race bike. Our wrecking ball. Our torpedo. Anyone who’s ridden steel will tell you. And those who haven’t, get in line. Steel feels unbelievable, resilient and somehow springy, stiff and yet forgiving. That’s why it’s been used in bicycles for forever. And we use special steel, True Temper S3, hand-bent stays, custom-machined head tubes on our lathe. We dote after each Taylör like our own baby, knowing too well that it will be crashing the car and going to jail before too long. Throw away your fluffy lugs and ride some handbulit, tig-welded steel. It doesn’t get any more metal than the Taylör.”
I can’t wait to get some more miles in on it over the next few weeks and see how my first impressions change/evolve.
You can find more information on the Taylör here: http://stoemper.com/the-bikes/taylor/
On the build process, I have to say that I can’t recommend Rohan/Doctor D enough. Rohan was absolutely meticulous with the build, carefully considering and preparing every nut and bolt and component. It was an absolute delight to see someone take so much care and attention to the build of my new pride and joy. Everything was carefully checked at every point of the build and this showed on the first ride, on which the bike and drivetrain worked perfectly. If you’re looking for high quality work on your own bike(s) – it’s definitely worth speaking to Rohan if you’re not too far away from Sutton in London: http://doctord.co.uk/
And my disclaimer is that although I chose, bought and paid for this bike with my own funds as a customer – I am the UK agent for Stoemper and want to be open about this for transparency