Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bike Review - 2007 Lynskey Tri Level 3 House Blend


Let's face it as triathletes we really want to know one thing about a bike. "Is it fast?" Now we may walk around a shop asking questions like, "What's it made out of?"

"What is the seat tube angle?"

"How much does it weigh with Dura Ace?"

"Does it come with those wheels?"

"Will it make ME fast?"

You see, we want to know when push comes to shove, or more specifically in a triathlete's case, when push comes to crank, the bike underneath us isn't going to be the thing keeping us from realizing our deeply held dreams of race domination. I think the folks at Lynskey must truly get this because they not only make fast bikes, they make bikes that people notice. They make fast bikes with souls. As my friend and coworker said upon seeing the tri bike, "Dude that bike is THE SEX !"

I got to ride two of their bikes on this test. The first was the Level 3 House Blend road bike outfitted with Dura Ace components. The second was the Level 3 House Blend tri bike that I wound up buying because of my experience on the road bike. Lynskey calls their stock frames House Blend. They come in two levels (four levels for the road frames) that differentiate things like butting, tube shape, dropouts and the titanium blend either 3Al-2.5V or 6Al-4V/3Al-2.5V which affects weight and strength of the frame meaning weight can be saved without sacrificing strength on the higher level blend.

Because the folks at Jack and Adams were so great and I really liked the road bike, I got to ride it in a few different situations. I got to ride the tri bike later because I bought it. That being said, both bikes were really fast and able bikes. Cornering was sharp and quick. The climbs were effortless. My experience of balance on both the road and the tri bike made taking fast descents and sharp turns confidently a non-issue. The bikes have a smooth but solid feel to them that is very pleasant but unexpected on frames this responsive and lively. I've had the tri bike long enough to use it on more varied terrain, including some poorly paved roads and can say the frame dampens road shock quite well. My body still felt good after putting in 50 - 60 miles (80k -95k) on it and my legs were fresh which is very good news if considering Ironman or 70.3 distances for racing.

One of the reasons for the popularity of carbon tri frames is their vibration dampening quality. I think the Lynskey bikes do an admirable job that from my experience was as good as all but the softest carbon. In terms of flex, there was none that I could feel which meant when I stepped on the pedals and wanted to go the bikes took off like a rocket. The same friend that rode with me on my test of the Guru Crono and had to hit his brakes every time we went up hill to keep from running into my rear wheel got dropped while I tested these bikes. And that's what you want to know when you are thinking of buying a new bike -- can you pass, catch, or drop everyone in sight. Personally, on these bikes I think you can. I surely felt as though I could. But this type of two-wheeled confidence doesn't come particularly cheap. Depending on the level frame and options like components and custom paint the cost of these bikes adds up. Complete custom builds cost even more. The level 3 House Blend tri frame is about $2700. The bike pictured above came with Campagnolo Centaur components, Alpha GS-20 carbon fork, bead blasted flame design on brushed titanium and costs about $5500.00. If you want a closer look at the frame, then look here.

But cost aside the Lynskey family has a long history of building great bikes starting with the first company they began then sold, Lightspeed. From my experience on these two House Blend frames, I can only imagine the care and quality that must go into their full custom bikes. They interview every customer who buys a custom frame by phone to design the frame around each rider's strengths and riding style. They also offer a virtually unlimited array of paints and frame styling that makes each bike one of a kind. My opinion is that if you want a bike that not only makes you go fast and is as unique as your personality, give the folks at Lynskey a serious look. You won't be sorry. Who knows, you may ride away on your soulmate.

4 comments:

BRFOOT said...

ACE
Have you checked out a Serotta??
This is mine. Custom steel,yet very light.
http://bp1.blogger.com/_eWIRp5UeWPE/RoQ-nfAqFGI/AAAAAAAAAAk/kS8kZcfxilc/s1600-h/IM+2007+007.jpg

ace said...

I haven't tried the Serotta yet. Your's is really cool. A while back one of the bike shops here hosted a Serotta clinic which I heard was really awesome. But unfortunately I missed it. I know the owner of the one of the shops here in Austin that carries them, maybe he'll let me test one? Hmmm... we'll see.

Lynskey Performance said...

Nice pic there. :-)

Jack said...

Ace,

What do you think it was that made the Guru so mediocre compared to the Lynskey? Carbon vs. Ti?

Also, Guru spends so much time working on the Aerodynamics you would think that they would kick the crap out of Lynskey in that department.

I’m a big (6'3" 220lbs) ex-triathlete about to try to become an ex-ex-triathlete. I'm a heavyish Clydesdale. My last triathlons were in 2001 and 2002 (back then I was 185-190lbs.) before my second son was born. I ran the NYC marathon in ’02 in a run-up to thinking about an Ironman. I am a very strong swimmer, an ok runner (my marathon was 3:30) and a horrible cyclist. At my best I was 22-23mph…today I’m more like 19-20mph although I am admittedly out of shape.

I’m the guy that used to get out of the water in the top-5 and then proceed to watch Team Cinzano blow by me on the bike.

My bike is an old carbon Kestrel SSI circa 1997. It’s a road bike that I slapped some aero-bars on and fitted with Coda cranks to stop my hefty body from making it creak while hoping they would help me to keep up in the climbs…they didn’t really but they are nice cranks. I have an old set of Zipps for racing and a set of Rolf Vectors for training. Is it serviceable? Yes. But what I am looking for is a lighter weight tri-bike (17lbs maybe?) that will withstand my heavy but hopefully getting lighter frame.

At 42 years of age I am not as flexible as I once was and as a result I don’t think it is wise for me to get down into a deep tuck on my aerobars on an aggressively sloped bike (that’s probably also why I’m not looking at Cervelo). That said, I ride mostly alone and one way is always into the wind. There aren’t a lot of hills here in SW Florida but the wind can be brutal. I’m thinking about getting back into Tri-training in hopes of doing a 70.3 next Spring and need something that will help me cut through the wind without killing my back, keep my legs fresh, be strong in climbs and agile in steering but tough enough to take a beating.

What do you think?