Within just the past few months, Franco’s bike line of one model has tripled. Going from their initial offering, the race-tailored Balcom, to adding the Triunfo Speed time-trial bike last fall, and now the latest installment in the Franco family, the Kanan. Franco’s growth is partly a result of their finding a winning strategy as a consumer-direct brand, a designation that isn’t always synonymous with customer service. Franco’s retail showroom in Westlake Village, California, has allowed Southern Californians a chance to go in, choose their desired setup and then get a complete Retul bike fit before heading off with their new dream bike. But for those who don’t have access to the showroom, Franco has aligned with Retul fitters across the country to provide every Franco owner with a professional fit on the best fitting tool on the market.
Don't confuse a comfortable ride with a sluggish feel. The Kanan delivers comfort with the stiffness necessary for good power transfer.
The Kanan fills a need in the Franco line for the rider who isn’t looking for a full-blown race bike and rather something with a smoother ride and more upright position, but without having to entirely sacrifice lateral stiffness and handling. Company owner Julian Franco feels, “The Kanan is a bike that most any cyclist can appreciate. It has the comfort of a taller headtube, tuned top tube and seat stays for better compliance while still delivering handling and stiffness similar to the Balcom.” Like the Balcom, the Kanan runs with two of Franco’s signature frame features: the box-section downtube, which transitions from a triangular to a trapezoidal shape at the bottom bracket, and their own take on an internal cable routing with derailleur cables that pierce the headtube. The cable routing isn’t done for the clean aesthetics; when testing frame strength, Franco found that most failures were due to the rivet holes from the cable stops mounted on the downtube.
Once you move up the seat stays, the Kanan takes on an identity of its own. The curved seat stays have been optimized in shape and lay-up to provide a smoother ride. The arced stays then meld into a monostay that flows into the top tube. Like the seat stays, the top tube has also been designed with compliance in mind by using a thinner lay-up. In the front, a 175mm-long headtube (size 54) is a full 35mm longer than that of the Balcom’s race geometry. This gives you the ability to run an ideal handlebar height without having to resort to using a few inches worth of spacers under the stem, which would greatly reduce front-end stiffness. To fulfill the desire to give the Kanan agile handling, it shares the Balcom’s 73-degree headtube and 73.5-degree seat tube angle with a 98.5cm wheelbase.
The deraileur cables take a clean route through the headtube, giving the Kanan a unique look.
One of the things that Franco is capable of that other bike shop brands are not is giving the customer the ability to choose a fully custom parts selection. Complete bike pricing starts at $1999 for a Shimano 105-equipped model and goes up from there, depending on what you’re craving. Our test model had a premium build; it came with Shimano Dura-Ace, 3T carbon handlebar, stem and seat post, and HED Ardennes SL alloy wheels. We hadn’t spent much on the HED wheels in the past, but definitely hope to see more of them in the future due to the ride quality of their wide, 23mm rims and sub-1500-gram weight.
The distinctly shaped downtube morphs from a triangular shape into a trapezoid at the bottom bracket.
Between the product testers here at RBA, we have a diverse group that ranges from seasoned racers to recreational riders. And when it comes to bike tests, we don’t always see eye to eye in terms of our likes and dislikes. One’s stiff and snappy dream race bike is usually another’s jarring, twitchy nightmare. But, as we logged time on the Kanan, it became clear that it’s a bike that can please the vast majority of riders out there. The hammerheads liked the fact that the geometry gave it a quick feel when cornering, in addition to the bottom bracket stiffness giving it notably efficient power transfer. This was an equally shared sentiment with the testers. But it was the taller headtube, allowing a more upright position, and the slightly better damping than a traditional race bike that satisfied the non-racing testers. One tester likened it to a BMW M5: “It provides a comfortably smooth ride, but when you want to put your foot down and go, it feels like it has a turbo due to bottom bracket stiffness and handling—which is much better than most other endurance-style bikes.”
With the Kanan, one doesn’t have to sacrifice low weight, lateral and torsional stiffness, or a sporty feel to attain a smoother ride in a more comfortable position. Franco has found a blend between the two styles that will please most riders out there, but the Kanan won’t be a replacement bike for the racers who want the 3-plus-inch saddle to handlebar drop and who also don’t mind feeling the road beneath them a little more—the Balcom still fills that place in the Franco line. Franco has branched out from their original single-color offering of black by now offering four stock color choices, with an option for a custom paint job at an additional $500. The Kanan is also available in a women’s-specific build with parts such as a handlebar and saddle that are women’s-specific.
• Retul bike fit included, no matter where you live
• Build the bike as you see fit
• Comfort with a punch when you need it
Weight: 14.9 pounds
Sizes: 45, 48, 51, 54 (tested), 57, 60cm
For more info: Franco Bikes
INTRODUCING THE "FRANCO BICYCLES EXPERIENCE CENTER"
Franco Bicycles, the California-based company with a comprehensive, tailored approach to premium bicycle retailing has partnered with Studeo DNA to create the first Franco Bicycles Experience Center.
To date, Franco’s line of bicycles has been available exclusively through francobicycles.com, via phone order, or in their retail showroom in Westlake Village, CA. The high-end bike brand is expanding their successful retail storefront experience to make it more convenient for people to see or test ride the bikes and place an order.
The first experience center is housed in Studeo DNA, a premium bicycle fit studio based in Carlsbad, CA, that specializes in road and triathlon cycling. “Studeo DNA is the leading fit studio in the San Diego cycling scene,” says Franco Bikes co-founder Julian Franco. “Their meticulous approach to bike fit and their unwavering focus on the customer is a perfect fit for us and our customer-focused philosophy.”
The complete Franco Bicycles line can now be experienced at Studeo DNA. If you’re in the San Diego area you can now touch and feel the bikes, experience the velo-concierge process in person and place your order.
Retailers or fit studios interested in possibly becoming an authorized Franco Bicycles Experience Center are encouraged to call Franco Bicycles at 818-865-8226.