I was going write up the R002 – SBK review in one post, but due to the lengthy aspect of explaining about certain conditions and prerequisites, I decided to break the review into two posts. The first post will deal with assumptions, conditions, criterion and caveats of what the review will be predicted on.
Let’s face it, a review is just an opinion and you know what is said about opinions…they are like assholes, everybody’s got one and they usually stink. (yes, even the ones written here, though at least I will give you a background on the what and the why’s)
The Bad, the Ugly and the Good:
Let’s begin by pointing out the marginal issues and problems with the R-002/R-022 frame. The fit and finish is somewhat spotty on certain batches and as so happened, the TWO models I received (after sending the first one back with gross aesthetic issues) had fit and finish issues. One of the more glaring problems with the R-002/R-022’s seat tube Claimed size of 34.6mm is that it is slightly larger than the standard size for most road bikes. Two different 31.6mm seat posts would not fit properly on my R002. Subsequently, I had to shim the post to keep it from slipping.
Second issue, is the headset. The R-002 comes with a relatively cheap, suspect headset. Though not mechanically unsafe, it does result in a sub-standard fit and finished look.
Third issue is the bottom bracket cable guide. The cheap plastic piece that came on my R-002, had to be filed in order for the cables to actually move through the guide.
Fourth issue is the rear derailleur hanger. The hanger that came on the bike was bent. Which meant the derailleur would not line up properly. Good thing that a spare bracket comes with the frame. But, the bracket should NOT be bent in the first place.
Granted, none of these issues severely compromise the safety aspect of the bike, but, they are significant in their own way. It points out the lack of uniform quality control and Standard Operating Procedures withing the Zhongwei-UIS factory. Now I’m not saying that all the R-002/R-022 frames have these same issues, but I have read that some buyers have had some similar issues. I am also not saying that the R-002/R-022 should be avoided, in fact I would purchase another frame from Zhongwei, but in a different manner. What I am saying is, that in my specific case, I am sure that my issues were not necessarily a production oversight…which is a shame.
Rather, I suspect that these consequences were a result of sending back my first frame, that turned into a sort of ‘punishment’. Which is why it probably took over 3 months for the second frame to be shipped, (after being told in numerous emails by a certain person that it was -“going out next week”) and then have a frame riddled with these 4 problems. I’m sure it’s a cultural thing, you know, insulting, denying, saving face etc. (and all that is just plain old ugly!) Let me not forget about the shipping cost I incurred sending back the fist frame (which I was promised a refund of half of the cost, which of course never happened) Lesson learned, I think 🙂
As for the good, there is plenty. Obviously, the price of the frame/fork is a bargain at around $360 USD. Then there is the very sleek and aero look of the frame and fork itself. The moderately light weight of the R-002/R-022 is also a plus when you consider the cost. My raw 52cm frame weighs in at a respectable 1088g and the fork at 453g.
As with any review/opinion, the perspective and qualifications of the reviewer matters greatly, in lending credence to the review. (at least that is my opinion! ) All too often reviews are expressed by those with limited experiences or out of context point of views regarding the reviewed item(s). All too often, reviews seem to be nothing more than a scripted play titled; “Blowing Sunshine up your Ass”. Well rest assured, that the forthcoming review will NOT be of any such folly. What the review will be, is a balanced, truthful and thorough detail of ascertained experiences, albeit an opinion of the R-002 chassis.
I am in my 11th year of road cycling and my 8th year of mtb’ing. Previous to 2004, when I had started cycling, I road raced motorbikes from 1991 to 2003. ( I feel this is relevant experience to understanding two-wheeled dynamics and having developed a ‘knack’ for machine feel and feedback.
During my years of road biking, I have owned and ridden (in order) a 1980’s Schwinn le tour 12 speed steel bike, a 2004 Mercier aluminum Tiagra/105, 27 speed equipped bike, a 2006 Pro-Lite carbon fiber Ultegra 6600, 20 speed bike and now the carbon R-002. And, I have owned only one mountain bike, an aluminum Iron Horse Warrior hardtail.
So, I can state without question, that I have ridden various frame materials and types of bikes during the 11 years. While not as ‘seasoned’ as some other long-time riders who have ridden fleets of bikes, I’m not a neophyte either. Therefore, these known quantities and facts need to be taken into account when reading and analyzing the upcoming R-002 review. Stay Tuned…