Peter Teschner is considered one of Australia’s finest frame builders, and in the past his bikes have been seen under the likes of Michael Rogers, Cadel Evans, Sara Carrigan and Oenone Wood. He's offering a consolidated core range of just four machines for 2011, which are now available in the UK for the first time.
There's a carbon track bike, a time trial rig and two carbon fibre road bikes, as well as the option of a custom built Italian carbon frame. The SL9 on test here is the top-tier model of the standard range. If you’re looking for a new steed that's top quality, slightly exotic and will give you a bit of an edge, it could well fit the bill.
Ride & handling: Swift and responsive, but a bit of a handful on the descents
Out on the road, it soon becomes clear that this bike is a weapon. The combination of the large bottom bracket and Mavic wheels make accelerating ridiculously easy. It’s the kind of bike that would suit an uphill sprint finish, being light and responsive. If you’re not a racer, your major goal is probably to blow your riding buddies out of the water each week. If that’s the case, this bike could well help you do it. It's fast, responsive and corners like quicksilver. Seriously, it’s that good.
The 56cm model we had on test weighed in at 6.82kg (15.03lb). This meant that climbing was similarly pleasant. On long grinding ascents there was no trouble maintaining speed, and the bike's overall stiffness meant that powering up the shorter steep bits was a breeze. There’s a certain crispness to the frame that makes you want to push harder and harder while climbing. This is a top class machine.
Descending, however, was a slightly different matter. While the SL9 rails the corners perfectly, the stopping power of the SRAM Red brakes in combination with the Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLR wheels leaves a little to be desired. It’s not terrible, but you do have to ride with a little bit of anticipation when it comes to braking; even more so in the wet. This isn't helped by Mavic’s Exalith anodised braking surface.
We spoke to our local Mavic office, who checked that we were using the proprietary brake pads supplied with the wheels. They recommended that we toe in the pads, using a credit card as a width gauge. They said this would increase the brakes' stopping power, but would also increase pad wear in the initial kilometres. We tried this and yes, the stopping power was increased, though still not quite at the top market level.
The other concern we had while descending was the lightness of the bike. Sub-7kg bikes can be a bit 'floaty', especially in gusty conditions, and that was certainly the case with the Teschner. It comes down to personal preference, but it’s fair to say this bike will repay a steady and experienced hand in these sorts of conditions.
Frame & equipment: Top quality carbon chassis plus high standard of kit
Peter Teschner has worked in aluminium, titanium and scandium in the past, but has now moved over to carbon fibre. On the SL9 a hot and cold process is used during the carbon manufacture and the bike is then finished off with a delicate 1K weave. The bottom bracket and top tube/seat tube junctions have been sprayed with a matt black finish, but the rest of the frame sports a satin coat which shows off the weave nicely.
The seatstays aren’t super-thin, but are svelte nonetheless. They have only the faintest of curves, which means you get a fair amount of road information coming from the rear end. The ride isn’t what you’d call harsh, but it isn’t super-plush either.
The chainstay and bottom bracket area is very impressive. This unit is a single piece comprising beefy chainstays, a reinforced bottom bracket, seat tube junction and oversized down tube extension. As you’d expect, with the stays being 55.8mm wide, it’s super-stiff. The head tube is similarly oversized and stiff, using a zero-stack headset. In a similar fashion to the bottom bracket, the head tube is a single moulded piece combining with the top and down tubes.
The SL9 is available as a frameset – including carbon seatpost, headset, front derailleur clamp, spare rear hanger, chainstay protector and cable protectors – or as a complete bike. Expect to pay around US$3,299 for the frame or A$2,999 in Australia. It comes with a three-year, 50 percent crash replacement policy and a lifetime warranty.
The build tested here will set you back approximately A$7,999. The parts mix is well up to the high standard of the frame, with Shimano’s PRO Vibe components looking after the cockpit and SRAM Red handling shifting and braking duties. We have to say that the bar tape is probably the ugliest we've ever seen.
For our testing we used Mavic’s Cosmic Carbone SLR clincher wheels, which suit the SL9 down to a tee. At 1,595g they’re not as light as their brothers, the Carbone Ultimates, but still share many of their attributes, including Mavic’s Exalith braking surface, R2R spoke system and Griplink tyres. Their stealth black finish adds even more class to the Teschner frame. The standard SL9 build kit will most likely come with Mavic Ksyrium Equipes and the Cosmics will be an optional upgrade.