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A HERITAGE OF QUALITY
Serotta’s new line-up combines
the best of past and present
The first reaction I had to seeing the new Serotta Heritage steel “Classique” model was, “Man, that sure is RED.” And it was. Not just red, but an electric red. The kind that reminds you of a new fire engine. A stop sign. That popular girl’s nail polish back in high school. It was about the brightest red you can imagine, even on this overcast, rainy day at Serotta’s home port in Saratoga Springs, NY.
But that wasn’t the only thing to stand out about this bike. In a day and age where new model steel bikes are as rare as balanced government budgets, Serotta’s new “Heritage” series stands out from the crowd for its very idea. Bikes that are intended to take you back to what was great about riding in days gone by, when Ben Serotta was redefining what a custom bike could be and selling the results from the back of his dad’s hardware store.
There are three bikes in the series, all available in a range of stock sizes. The Classique Road harks back to the original road models brazed by Ben in his days fresh out of the Whitcomb frame shop in England. The other two models capitalize on the newest in fads, if not in construction or materials. The GP Suisse Cross is for the cyclocross crowd that seems to be growing like a fungus. The Singolo fixed gear is intended for the fixed gear club that seems to be growing like that same fungus on steroids. All will be available in either steel or titanium. A steel frame and fork will retail at $1795 and the titanium at $2295. With fully built steel bikes starting at just under $3000, that’s a breath of pricing fresh air in a product line-up where the top drawer Meivici can go for upwards of $12,000 fully built.
The Classique steel I took on a 30 mile test ride was outfitted with a full SRAM Rival group, Ritchey bars, stem, and seatpost, Reynolds Solitude wheels shod with Michelin Lithion tires, and a Selle Italia Pro Link Gel Flow saddle. Neatly wrapped Cinelli cork bar tape and an Alpha Q carbon fork completed the package. Serotta fit lab master Paraic McGlynn told me that with these slightly upgraded Reynolds wheels, this model would go for just over $3,000. I may not be the first to test ride a Classique, but I was certainly the first to ride this particular bike, which had come into the factory the previous afternoon freshly built to be used in their demo fleet. It was pristine and beautiful.
Under the brightest red paint in the known universe, the frames welds were undetectable and the frame had the appearance of having been all molded in one piece. Totally smooth. Solid white graphics are intended to adhere to the “heritage” theme.
While they may be historically accurate, the plain graphics were the only weak point I could find. A thoughtfull update could go a long way to make the bike more visually appealing while still keeping the classic look.
The smoothness continued when I took it out on the road. The ride was as smooth as the flawless clear coat finish. The handling was just as smooth. Even the Rival shifting was smooth – no mean feat considering I’d never used SRAM before. The frame came across as slightly more stiff than that of my titanium Legend, and the bike snapped to speed when I stood up and stomped on the pedals. Road manners were impeccable – that’s the bike’s, not mine – while we cruised the backroads of Saratoga County as a wet drizzle fell and I tried to remember how to shift up with the SRAM double tap levers. As I sorted out the ride, the performance came across as totally dependable with just the right amount of stiffness to make it handle well. There was none of the jarring ride of aluminum and while it wasn’t the stiff yet cushy ride of carbon, it also doesn’t cost even a third as much as an Ottrott or Meivici.
So how will Serotta market this bike in an era when that same $3,000 will buy you a whole lot of Taiwanese of Chinese carbon with the latest in zoomy graphics? Serottas have acquired a reputation as expensive bikes favored by expensive people; doctors, lawyers, and the like. Those types may not need to buy a $3,000 Serotta themselves.
But if you’re like me you’ve answered an awful lot of questions out on the road from other riders who’ve admired the fit and finish and reputation of Serotta, but then lamented they don’t have the cash to afford one.
Now they can. Serotta has a huge reputation in the cycling world ripe for exploitation at this price point. A PR campaign aimed at aquainting current owners with a more affordable option they can recommend to their aspiring friends might be the best way to get morebeginners on these bikes and on the road to lifelong Serotta ownership.
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