Kontrast clothing

Keywords: kontrast clothing
Description: To be truthful, I got mine through a non-Amazon outlet, not because the price was much cheaper but because I got 6 month, no interest financing. Shipping, as I found out, is by the way of Puerto

To be truthful, I got mine through a non-Amazon outlet, not because the price was much cheaper but because I got 6 month, no interest financing. Shipping, as I found out, is by the way of Puerto Rico and via Parcel Post (aka Turtle Express) USPS. Bless the postal service, they do try, but here’s a.

To be truthful, I got mine through a non-Amazon outlet, not because the price was much cheaper but because I got 6 month, no interest financing.

Shipping, as I found out, is by the way of Puerto Rico and via Parcel Post (aka Turtle Express) USPS. Bless the postal service, they do try, but here’s a hint -- when the box states “This Side Up” and “Do Not Lay Flat” it does mean the arrow should be pointing up and so should the whole package. I got neither in this case.

So, imagine my surprize when I get the box about 1.5 weeks after ordering (not bad considering distance). That being said, I couldn’t find much damage beyond a bent spoke due to rough handling (and a front reflector that was completely pulverized), a rarity since shippers are hardly the epitome of white glove delivery service when it comes to bikes.

Inside you’ll find the usual compact packing design involving zip ties and cushioning material so I half expected chipped paint and at least a bent fork; however, the box was sturdy so my only damage consisted of the bent spoke, damaged reflector and a slight nick in one of the decals. No paint (or anodized surface, in this case) damage.

I opted for the 54cm Ruby Tuesday model (which I’m sure thrills the restaurant chain in my area) with the raw wheels and bullhorn pursuit bars. In the box they also toss in “frog eye” head and tail lights along with pedal straps and a spoke mounted flashing light assembly (which, curiously, is illegal in my area because flashing red lights are reserved for emergency vehicles unless they are rear facing brake lights).

Worth noting is the sizing. I have a 56cm Schwinn Madison that has a standover of roughly 30 inches but this 54cm has the same standover so it will probably accommodate riders tipping the 6 foot range. This is the hazard of bike sizing -- no two companies agree on much of anything.

The color scheme is absolutely stunning and reminds me of the “candy apple” red from the 1970s Schwinns but with better highlights. It’s the decals that will illuminate -- literally. Seems the are reflective for added safety at night.

Oh, and here’s another bit of upscale whimsy -- this isn’t paint in the traditional sense, it’s anodized. In a sense, the color is bonded to the base metal, aluminum in this case. Allegedly it’s more durable than spray-on paint and lasts longer without fading.

Fit and finish is a step above good and almost to very good. The frame is straight and welds, although prominent, are professionally done. No sloppy welding like you’d find on nearly all “Mart” bikes.

In fact, my only concern here would be the weld areas, but not because of quality. While they are done well, the anodizing process left them darker than the rest of the frame, to the point them also look like they have been blackened. Another observer thought I was being critical until I tilted the bike to catch the light and then it appeared.

Also unique is the inclusion of replaceable metal inserts on the rear dropouts. Although metal inserts are not uncommon on aluminum framed bikes, replaceable metal inserts definitely are. In addition, these come with built-in, forward facing, chain tensioners. Nice touches, indeed.

Oh, and no idiot stickers. You know, the ones that state “Don’t ride in the rain”, “Wear a helmet” and “Do not exceed safe speeds”. In fact, other than “Kontrast” stickers here and there you won’t even find one stating country of manufacture. This is a custom bike and you pay for that favor.

It should be noted at this point that this bike is not only aluminum, nearly every part except for grips, brakes, saddle, tires and pedals also happen to be aluminum. Even the fork (which is often steel on most bikes) is aluminum here (of note, it’s all black in contrast to the rest of the bike).

Handlebars, stems and mounts, brakes, chainwheel and BMX style pedals all appear of no-name variety although the chain sported KMC initials; however, they all looked to be of mid-range quality and everything fit as designed. Wheels, while appearing to also be generic, were actually true, shocking given the distance this box traveled and the fact that one spoke was bent. Tires are Kenda 90 psi and I’ll give them the usual 200 miles or so before they go.

Expected double walled wheels here? Nope, these are triple wall which adds a great deal of strength for the bumps you’ll come across. Still fairly light, though. I opted for the raw aluminum version, something I’ll probably regret since they are already showing signs of use. Go for the colors if you can, they’ll look better in the future (this is not a fault of manufacture, just of the material and color I chose).

About the only disappointment involved the pedals. Obviously no-name plastic composite BMX, these came in at nearly 12 ounces -- each! Just shy of a pound for each pedal? Nope, sorry. Those went to the side for some billeted aluminums weighing 90% less.

* Attaching the front wheel. As you might expect, the rear wheel is already attached but I did appreciate that it was properly tightened using the tensioners. Most come very sloppy in this respect.

* Setting the brake pads and overall assembly. Although installed, the brakes were not tight at all and had to be dialed in accordingly. Appears to be a capable side-pull assembly but, again, a no-namer. Will probably replace these eventually, too. For those who are worried, the rear is drilled for adding brakes, if so desired.

* Align and set the handlebar/brake handle assembly. Handlebars are held in place by a steerer tube assembly with a dual bolt front bracket. I would have prefered a quill assembly since they are easier to adjust height for, but that’s a personal preference, not a criticism.

I opted for the bullhorns and, much like the rest of the bike, these were made of aluminum with rubber grips that cover about half the horn’s surface. While some may find this a cheap alternative to bar tape, I found it a welcome relief. Bar tape slips, gets ugly with use and has a nasty tendency to unravel at the most inopportune times. Rubber alleviates these problems.

Truth be told, I eventually replaced these with a set of risers I had hanging around since I prefer my hands close to the brake lever.

Once assembled, it’s a rather impressive package and my neighbor’s scale showed this puppy came in just shy of 23 pounds fully assembled. This is downright light and comparable to some lower end carbon hybrids I’ve come across and a good 10 pounds lighter than most of the aluminum bikes you’ll see in big box stores (including the so-called fixies).

Riders get a choice of freewheel or fixed on the rear wheel and I opted for the former. Due to a combination of light tubing and good gearing, this bike is nobody’s slouch and peddling over the long distance appears easy enough but count on topping out at around 30 mph on the flats with 25 being a bit closer to reality; however, that’s the price of not having gears.

Going downhill is another question. With skinny 700x25c high pressure tires and a light frame this is just a 45 mph accident waiting to happen. Not a fault of the bike, mind you, but of riders who see it for what it is -- a stripped racer.

Another deficit some may notice is the harsher ride of aluminum, especially if they are coming from steel. While aluminum is much lighter (in most cases) it has almost no flex and anything you hit on the road will be transmitted back up through the fork and handlebars. This can be fatiguing over the long haul so keep this in mind.

However, plan on replacing the saddle. I didn’t mention it earlier because it warrants special consideration here. Made of what appears to be PU, it’s a good bet the average rider will find this the most uncomfortable part of the experience. Those without hemorrhoids will soon have them and those with them in place will have to get a tube of you-know-what.

* Nearly all aluminum with no chintzy mixing and matching of plastics and other metals, excepting the pedals

* Shipping is dicey since USPS doesn’t update their delivery information as they should. Offer delivery options for those willing to pay an extra buck for quicker service.

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