The San Remo has a decent enough frame and proves that even budget Shimano STI levers shift well, but the bars were too long and the braking was poor. With a few different component choices – better brakes, more emphasis on lower gears and a shorter bar – it would have more all-round appeal. But if you’re looking for a bike on a budget this one has too many foibles for us to wholeheartedly recommend it.
Aluminium is at the heart of the Claud Butler San Remo’s frame, accompanied by a hefty steel fork. Welding is robust and functional rather than neat, and you immediately notice its somewhat hefty weight. But weight isn’t the be all and end all. More of an issue for climbing is the choice of gears that Claud Butler has gone for. The 26-tooth sprocket is okay – though bigger for a lower bottom gear would be better – but we’d like to see this paired with a compact chainset or even a triple rather than the unusual 39/50 chainset fitted; this makes climbing that much harder than would be the case on a 34T chainring.
The shifting comes courtesy of Shimano’s 2300 STI levers. It’s quick and requires little effort, especially if you’re riding on the hoods, and is the high point of the setup. Elsewhere, most of the kit does the job, but it’s a standard diameter handlebar and a two-bolt stem. This would have been de rigueur not so long ago but seems unusual when oversize bars and four-bolt fixings are the norm; it all works, though, and there isn’t any undue flex, but the bar has an unusually long forward reach to the levers, which makes for a slightly stretched-out riding position.
There’s no obvious flex in the wheels either, but that’s not surprising with the somewhat weighty 32-spoke rims. The saddle is well chosen, decently padded and with a good shaped fuselage. The brakes are the most disappointing component, and descending a steep hill in the driving rain took much longer to bite than we’d have liked, our shoes being brought in as a supplementary stopper at one point. Braking performance will improve with time as the hard, anodised braking surface loses some of its initial smoothness, but we’d suggest fitting softer compound cartridge blocks straightaway, and our mechanic even suggested roughing up the rims’ surface with a medium emery cloth to hasten some improvement.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus