BH Connect

Last issue we announced that BH USA was formed and the ‘Connect’ will be one of the flagship models for their five-bike, 2008 lineup. Designed in Spain, made in Asia and assembled at BH USA in Tempe, Arizona, the BH Connect is truly a global enterprise. Few U.S. cyclists are aware of the long history of BH (BH stands for Beistegui Hermanos-two brothers who started making bicycles in 1923) and it is doubtful if any have seen a BH on American soil. BH is here in the U.S. now and will also be seen in the Pro Tour with AG2R beginning in 2008.

Designed in conjunction with Continental Spanish team Fuerteventura and French team Auber 93 as an ultra-lightweight racing frame that would perform well in all conditions, the BH Connect’s unique look, geometry and mystery brought more comments than usual on our weekly training rides, and especially when we passed it around to RBA’s test riders.

The BH Connect surprised test riders in many areas of performance, and the relaxed geometry gave the Connect stability in cornering and descending.
THE FRAME
Made of high-modulus carbon fiber with a combination of monocoque and tube-to-tube construction ‘to optimize the bike for light weight and stiffness in the front end while striking a nice balance with the ride quality in the back.’ The Connect frame is finished with a deep clear coat to showcase the final layer of carbon woven in a dramatic ’12-K’ woven pattern. The Connect is a true road racing design with short chainstays for acceleration and climbing, oversize tubing diameters to furnish rigidity without a weight penalty, and relaxed geometry to give the Connect a stable feel while descending and cornering.

THE NUMBERS
Our preproduction medium frame featured a long, 57-centimeter top tube (the production version shipping now will feature a 56-centimeter top tube), 400-millimeter chainstays, a 267-millimeter bottom bracket height, and a 72.5-degree head angle and a 72-degree seat angle. Frame sizes are available in extra small, small, medium, and large, and our complete medium (56-centimeter) Connect weighed 16.2 pounds without pedals.

THE PARTS
Our test bike came with Shimano Dura-Ace shifting, braking and drivetrain components. Cockpit items were a comfortable Prologo Nago Ti saddle, and FSA SLK Compact carbon handlebars. We tested the Connect with Mavic Ksyrium ES wheels and Vittoria Rubino Pro Slick tires; however, custom DT/Swiss 240-S Lite wheels will also be offered in production. BH also offers the Connect with SRAM Force components, and in a more-affordable Shimano Ultegra SL build that will sell for $3650. The Connect frameset (frame, fork, headset and seatpost) sells for $2250.

THE RIDE
The BH Connect has a unique rectangular top tube design, and is the only frame in their line that features it. At first glance, the oversized front section looks heavier than it is, but such is the magic of carbon that frame designers are not encumbered with the simple tubular shapes dictated by metal processing techniques. Most if not all artistic questions were put to rest once we put some miles on the bike. Plain and simple, the bike rides really well. Fast, downhill cornering was done with complete confidence due to the Connect’s steady, stable and consistent feel. On climbs, the bike felt stiff and put the power to the road. For longer rides, the Connect soaked up its share of small bumps, and overall was a surprisingly comfortable bike for as stiff and fast as it is. Another attribute all our test riders made mention of is the smoothness of the Connect on flats and short sprints.

Oversized doesn’t necessarily mean over-built. Large diameter tubes allow BH to use less carbon while keeping the frame rigid for climbing and sprinting.
The integrated feel of the BH frame was further enhanced by its well-selected cockpit items, especially the comfortable Nago Ti Saddle and versatile-feeling FSA handlebar. We even liked the longish top tube-a feature that emulates the classic Basque riding style.

THE VERDICT
We tend to be caught up in the drama and passion of anything made in Spain, so we had to gut check ourselves when we first looked at the Connect. Expecting the grace of a Francisco Goya painting, we were a little thrown off by the top tube design at first. The fact that the bike is made in Asia (like most bikes), rather than by a group of artisans in the Basque country building five bikes a year, took away some of our initial and naive bike lust as well. When we woke up from our fantasy and rode the bike, we found the passion, the climbing prowess and the descending confidence of a bike designed by a famous Spanish bike company, and we were reminded at every turn that the BH Connect will be a bike to compete with many well-known and established U.S. bike makers.

Price: $5500
Weight: Frame-890 grams (two pounds)
Complete-16.2 pounds
Contact: www.bhbikes-us.com