Apr 3, 2007 - Bicycling    Comments Off on Orbea Spirit Carbon + Gran Fondo Review!

Orbea Spirit Carbon + Gran Fondo Review!

Yes, I finally got the new bike.  It’s a Orbea Spirit Carbon, and here’s my review!  The frame is a mix of steel, carbon fork and seat stays.  Pretty neat bike.  Gran Fondo of Nashville moved most of my Campy components from my Colnago to this bike to save me some money.  Hey, I don’t need two ‘fast bikes’.

Read more about my experience!

OK, it’s now spec’ed out with


  • Ambrosio wheels
  • FSA compact crank Campy
  • Centaur 12-25 cassette (I’d like to go 11-25 now that they’re available!)
  • Campy Centaur shifters and derailleurs
  • Record Carbon Seatpost
  • Campy Brake calipers
  • Selle Italia Flite TI saddle


  • Ritchey handlebars
  • Ritchey stem
  • FSA headset (included with frameset)
  • Michelin Pro Race (I like, but they seem to wear out fast)
  • Cable set
  • FSA bottom bracket (nothing fancy, English thread)

I went to Gran Fondo on a Saturday.  Lynn Greer measured me 8 different ways (what it seemed!)  After measuring my old Colnago Asso, he determined that I had been riding a bike that was too small for me for 4 years!  Wow. 

Delivery was set for Wednesday.  Wednesday came along, and I called.  Somewhere the wires got crossed, because for two more days, no one could tell me when my bike was going to be ready. I think I must have confused someone. I finally called Lynn on Friday, and my bike was in fact ready on Wednesday!

The new position has me lower on a larger frame, and it feels more stretched out across the top tube. After several rides, my muscles aren’t screaming so loud over the new position! I can actually get in the drops, and yes, my back is much straighter. I don’t think anyone is better at bike fitting in Nashville than Lynn at Gran Fondo.

After a few weeks, I had the confidence in the bike to bring it out to a club ride.  We all met to do the Friends of Warner Parks ride.  It’s 50 miles over country roads, plenty of climbing to get your attention.  Some of them can get pretty rough, so I assumed it would be a good test of the smooth ride.

The bike handled great until the last descent on the Natchez Trace heading north towards Hwy 100. I was behind the tandems, and we zipped up to 45 mph, and the bike developed a drastic shimmy. I did all the stuff you’re supposed to – grabbed the top tube with my knees, and finally slowed to 20mph where it came to rest. It felt like I had a flat tire. Since we were so close to the rest stop at Natchez Bicycles (next to Loveless.) I arrived at Natchez Bicycles, and asked Scott to do a quick safety check. Everything was nice and tight, and no apparent loose screws or flat tires. One of the tires was slightly out of true, but not enough to wack the bike out so bad. He did mention that the fork had lots of flex for a rider like me (200lbs.)

I still wasn’t sure what was wrong to cause the shimmy, so I shortcutted the ride down Hwy 100 back to Edwin Warner.  On the way back, I caught up to another rider from the club.  We turned on the little back road behind the park that people call "Bumpy Road". It’s a very bad road surface, but the frame materials of my Spirit Carbon fooled me into thinking it was smoother than it was! I couldn’t figure out why everyone wouldn’t hurry up! It’s really amazing.  After the ride on the way home, I took the bike by Gran Fondo.  They were really busy, but Lynn immediately took the time to look the bike over.  He determined that because of the longer carbon fiber steer tube to get me into proper position, it caused a little too much flex (and because I’m 200lbs.)  He found another fork with an aluminum steer tube, which I’m happier about anyways.  After returning an hour later, the bike was ready to ride again, with the new fork. Oh, and no charge for the change in forks.

The following Monday, I took the bike out for a spin. I never got it up to 45mph, but I did get it to around 35mph, and deliberately hit some bumps and jiggled the bars to see if I could make it shimmy. None so far, but I’m gonna wind it up next chance I get. I’ll report back if there’s any problem.

The whole shimmy/fork situation did make me think "what would I have done if I had mail ordered this bike?!?!?" I would have been stuck with the problem!

Long story short,

  • The frame really smooths out the bumps, but is responsive and really wants to haul ass. It’s not springy our squishy like some old CF bikes I’ve ridden. It’s also very lightweight.
  • Gran Fondo in my opinion (and many others) has to be the best bike shop in Nashville. Several others are very good, and four are extremely mediocre. Lynn, Vida and staff are focused on making things right.
  • Beware of carbon steer tubes. I just plain think they’re not worth it.
  • Adam, the Orbea rep needs to get me some Orbea shwag, since I’m his rolling billboard.
  • I think I’m really gonna fall in love with this new bike. The smooth steel/carbon ride is awesome! Go get one from Gran Fondo.
  • NEVER mail order something as important as your bicycle. BAD idea.

Give me a holler, and let’s go ride!

PS – I’ll add some pictures soon.  I’m sure the charity ride pictures for years to come, will have pictures of me on the Orbea!

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