BH Speedrom

THE STORY
We have opined before about the passion of Spanish cyclists, fans in all orange lining the climbs of the Tour de France and Vuelta cheering on their brethren, the long history of Spanish climbers, and the glories of Spanish Rioja and any number of delectable tapas and meals that can be found in the charming towns and villages all over Spain. When one thinks of Spain-at least when we think of it-we don’t think of entry-level race bikes, we think of historical exotica and Manchego cheese. Well, Spain-ophiles, we hate to break it to you, but there’s a new attribute to Spanish cycling you need to add to the list. Take all of the above and wrap it into an affordable entry-level race bike, and you have the 2009 BH Speedrom.

THE FRAME
The Speedrom is built using a monocoque carbon construction with a mix of Toray and Mitsubishi high- and medium-modulus carbon. The fork on the Speedrom features the same characteristics as the Tour-proven G4 fork and features full carbon legs and dropouts. The frame features a more ‘comfortable’ design with a slightly relaxed geometry and a taller head tube than a traditional Spanish race bike. At under $3000, BH focused on making sure the design and performance of the Speedrom was accessible to a wide range of riders.

THE NUMBERS
Our 57-centimeter Speedrom featured a slack 73-degree head angle and a 73-degree seat angle, a 405-millimeter chainstay length, a 57-centimeter top tube and a 520-millimeter seat tube. The oversized headtube measured in a 180 millimeters. The Speedrom is available in 53, 55, 57 and 59-centimeter sizes with complete builds running in the $2395 to $2999 range.

THE PARTS
The Speedrom is available in three different builds (Shimano 105, Ultegra SL and 105 and Ultegra SL options). We fortunately reviewed the Ultegra SL version and were once again mystified at the smooth, consistent, almost effortless shifting of Ultegra SL. That group continues to impress us and even more so now that the economy is in the doldrums. If you are a Shimano fan, Ultegra SL is about as close to Dura-Ace as it gets, so save the money and don’t look back. Our bike had the climbing-friendly 12-27 Ultegra SL cogset, an FSA OS 99 stem, FSA Wing Pro Compact handlebar (which has become an RBA favorite), a Selle San Marco Ponza Power saddle and a BH carbon post (complete with an extra collar-nice touch). Rolling duty is handled by Shimano’s workhorse R520 wheels with Vittoria Rubino Pro tires.

THE RIDE
All the passion of Spain and bottles of Rioja are thrown to the wayside once the RBA staff passes a bike around for reviewing (well, maybe not all the passion and Rioja, but most of it). The first time we got on the bike we were impressed with the ride feel, the handling characteristics, and the bike’s ability to hang in there with more expensive machines. We really liked the geometry of the bike with the taller headtube and found it not to be a hindrance when we were in race-mode on a lunch ride or Saturday group ride. The bike climbs really well; as if a whisper of Bahamontes is hidden somewhere in the frame, and descending on the Speedrom was not only secure, but fun. In one group ride out of our area, two different riders were convinced the Speedrom was actually the high-end BH that AG2r rides and were surprised when we mentioned the words ‘entry-level.’ It’s a really stable, all-around comfortable bike that isn’t afraid to unleash some speed when the situation arises. If we had our druthers and were going to make the Speedrom into our daily ride, we would probably upgrade the saddle and wheels to save some weight and take the Speedrom to another level.

THE VERDICT
We had the chance at the 2008 Tour de France to be in the AG2r team car as Switzerland’s Martin Elmiger put himself to the test in a Stage 4 individual time trial in Cholet. BH continues to sponsor AG2r, who will contest the 2009 Tour of California on BH G4’s. At the Tour, the atmosphere takes over and all the bikes, including the stable of BH AG2r machines, seem almost untouchable, or a cut above what an average enthusiast can throw a leg over. We can honestly say, having ridden and reviewed both the BH Connect and the AG2r G4 team bike, that the Speedrom feels and performs above its price range and would be on our short list for bikes under $3000.

PRICE: $2295 to $2999
WEIGHT: 17 pounds
CONTACT: www.bhbikes-us.com