Pacenti Road: SNEAK PREVIEW!

Is steel for real (and light and stiff)?

Connecticut native Kirk Pacenti knows proper bike design. From his early days building frames in Santa Cruz, California for Keith Bontrager, to his tenure as the custom designer for Litespeed and Merlin, Pacenti has honed his skills the time-honored way, working with steel and titanium. He also saw a need for smartly engineered fittings and lugs for the boutique builder, and so introduced www.bikelugs.com in 2001, paving the way for artisans to carve their way to stardom. Builders like Vanilla's Sacha White have taken custom framebuilding to a whole new level thanks to Pacenti's components.

For 2007, Pacenti is moving his company from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Portland, Oregon, home of Vanilla, Chris King, Castelli USA, the Bike Gallery chain, and other notable bike companies. Pacenti has also introduced his own line of custom bikes, including the lightweight 650B mountain bike, first shown at the North America Handmade Bicycle Show in San Jose, California. I spoke to Pacenti before the Show, to catch up on his many projects, and to inquire about getting a Pacenti road bike frameset for review.

Curiously, Pacenti's flagship brand departs from the curlicue carved lug and steel fork found on his customer's bikes. Pacenti instead worked closely with Columbus (he's a North American distributor) to develop a custom blend road tubeset suitable for TIG welding, and specced Paragon dropouts. The result? A race-worthy and trusty steed that doesn't look all too special at first glance, but pulls you in for a closer look.

I contacted several companies to kit out the Pacenti, and here's the final build:

SRAM Force shifters, crankset, cassette, chain front and rear derailleurs; SRAM Rival brakeset; Campagnolo Record 1-1/8" threadless headset; Zipp Contour carbon drop bars; Zipp 185 carbon stem; Zipp synthetic cork bar tape; Zipp 343 carbon/alloy clincher wheelset; Zipp Tangente clinchers; WoundUp carbon seatpost; WTB Silverado saddle. I used my trusty Time RXE pedals. The Pacenti frame included a painted-to-match Reynolds Ouzo Pro carbon fork.

Total weight with pedals: 17.6 lbs. for a 57cm centre-to-centre size. Look for a complete review soon.

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