It's rare a steel frame takes centre stage in a contemporary Bike Shop. But when you see this XCR Cicli Barco road bike you'll understand the special details and simplicity make it a game changer. In light of recent events, we forgive anyone who hasn't made it to view the latest Italian arrival at Chainsmith. If thats you, or you're looking for more information, we're providing a review here of the custom frame set and build.
This XCR steel frame easily holds its own amongst the carbon race frames at Chainsmith. Lets explore why its a standout for both its material difference and aesthetic appeal, as well as the choice in components.
XCR has a fascinating history. For the short version, this stainless steel material is unbelievable in ride feel as well as tactile and end strength. So much so that its argued to provide an edge over titanium. Lightweight, beautiful to look at, available in an array of textural finishes and offering that "zingy" feel, XCR is hard to beat. Its strength alongside all these qualities means that lately we've a spate of clients choosing steel over carbon.
While carbon still monopolises the market for race-ready frame sets, steel is the choice for the rider who looks forward. What do we mean by this? Steel is no longer a "traditional" material particular to vintage frames. Steel's material quality produces the right combination of stiffness, strength and lightness as well as longevity to satisfy the rider looking for long term enjoyment and solid investment.
Want another reason to chose XCR?
"Total recyclability for a frame with zero impact on the environment."
Parred with the right frame builder, the correct custom geometry and the most appropriate components, steel can well rival the performance gained on a generic carbon bike. We will hear why in a moment by the rider himself. Let's look at a few incredible details we chose to represent what the Barco family is renowned for.
A beautiful bike must offer more than a superb ride. It should also satisfy the riders aesthetic sensibility. Our rider wanted a minimal finish yet with enough chosen details to express individual input. Of course, the paintwork was deliberately chosen and, looking beneath the red gloss exterior, its obvious the steel finish was also not left to chance.
Cicli Barco has an incredible amount of options in finish. From the type of seatpost clamping system, the dropout design, the badges (in material and placement), the choices seem endless. Without guidance it is near impossible to bring parts together to make a perfect bike.
On this note, we've seen the result of a rider misguided during the process of customisation - the consequence was a disaster in terms of incorrect geometry, uncomfortable set-up and complete waste of time and money. Hence, we always strongly advise gaining professional consultation.
This example is exactly why we visit our frame builders and all our brand partners. We have met with the Cicli Barco family in Italy, and alongside weekly contact are versed in the best choices for the individual rider. We take time to understand so we can pass this to our clients.
Back to the frame...
With this XCR frame the seatpost bolted clamp was a perfect example of simple and effective engineering. From behind the bolted system is truly impeccable. Getting rid of a bulky clamp ring allows the PMP Ti seatpost to sit beautifully flush. Its really magnificent to see and the PMP seatpost is itself a remarkable feature.
The rider spends routine weekly hours in the saddle, and so the quality and feel were both high in importance. The rider had one build rule - Everything was to be Italian, except the rider himself. The Campagnolo choice was based on the rider wanting a classic feel. And so the mechanical groupset was deliberately chosen over EPS. The hierarchy of the Super Record maintained ther high standard in workmanship by Cicli Barco.
Because the rider had a history of particular injuries, we wanted to customise a bike that placed equal importance on comfort, fit, and performance. The Rider himself stipulated three important features of which contribute to the final geometry.
- Comfort (position and dampening)
For this reason we chose Deda Superlegerra Carbon. Comfort is emphasised on the drops and tops as the Carbon absorbs impact on the road. The bar ergonomics aids in both the body position and hand grip.
An SMP is the perfect fitting saddle for this rider. With one hip tending to sway (due to combined torn hamstring and broken collarbone) the rider required protective support that the SMP saddle gives.
Alpitude cages - While limiting weight was attractive, it was the minimal look in keeping with the frame that gave reason to choosing the Alpitude superleggera cages. Bonus was that they're handmade by carbon specialist Andrea Sega in a studio below the Dolomites.
Finally, lets get word from the rider...
Experience on the bike, from the Rider
"My first ride was a solo through what we call the four Gorges. Its a lot of ups and downs, and really well suited to getting a feel for the bike. I met a guy called Gordon - I overtook him on the downs and later met later at a traffic light. We've kept in contact. That moment as I passed Gordon on the descent I was thinking how good the bike was. I experienced how sure the bike held itself around tight corners at speed. As far as speed is concerned, the bike holds it really well.
Ive a fantastic carbon race frame by Wilier. Absolutely love it. But the edge from my Cicli Barco is in the precision fit. Its absolutely spot on in every way. No matter how good the Wilier geometry is or how the carbon reacts, the Barco gives huge benefits because of how it precisely fits my body, my flexibility and my type of riding"
For more on custom bikes please go to our guide to custom. You'll find steel, titanium and Carbon models available from the very best Frame Builders of Italy
Alison McGregor, C o-Founder of Chainsmith Bike Shop since 2014