Recently we were privileged to build a bike for Tim Stringer based on a custom Lightning X-1 frame and Koppenberg XXLR50 wheelset. A few days ago we received this letter from Tim which we reproduce here in full with his kind permission.
Thanks Tim for sharing your thoughts with the world. And thanks again for being our customer. See you out on the road!
From Mr.Tim Stringer:
If this is more than just a ‘review’ it is
because it’s something of a paean to the Spin Industries Lightning X-1 which I’ve had for just over a month now! It is, perhaps, self-evident that I’d be
reluctant to be negative about something which represents a considerable
investment, both in terms of ‘research-time’ and money. I have no other ‘vested interest’ in writing
about this bike other than, maybe a vaguely ‘socialist view’ that everyone
should have one!
Maybe some personal context would be useful,
so you can see where I’m coming from! I
suppose I fall into that group of people that others typically and rather
contemptuously call a “mamil” in that I am, at best, at the top range of being
middle aged; I am a man and I do wear lycra –I’d be uncomfortably stupid to
wear anything else, really. So I am,
unashamedly, a mamil! I started cycling
‘seriously’ over thirty years ago through necessity – the necessity of
commuting to work - and that has morphed into me becoming a very keen leisure
cyclist/sportive rider/bike-part of a triathlon team - that metamorphosis began
when I could afford a car!
I’ve owned a lot of bikes – some very good
ones too – and I’ve ridden steel, aluminium, and carbon framed
bikes. But titanium? Instead of taking
government advice and spending my pension pot on a Lamborghini I’ve spent it on
a bike! I live ten miles from the
‘iconic’ Home Moss – on the Tour 2014 route – though that is just the most
famous climb near me: there are many other, harder ones! So as well as needing to get some personal
bulk off, I also wanted something strong and light – the Lightning X-1 is
I wanted a bike that would last me for the
rest of my cycling life; I’d been frustrated by spots of rust appearing on my
steel framed bike, despite my best efforts; my alloy bike is still a great, if
rather harsh ride, and I’ve seen the effects of a crash on a carbon-fibre
I spent about six months – off and on -
researching titanium frames and frame makers on the internet; visited a great
many shops and looked at a huge number of machines from the UK, the
Netherlands, the US and Italy. It would
be invidious of me to mention specific companies, but you can probably work out
which ones I researched. Eventually, improbably,
and by accident I came across a video posted on You-Tube, of all places, about
a Spin Industries Spitfire – as with most top end bikes, it looked (and this
isn’t too strong a word) beautiful. In
fact, a Frenchman has already told me “Vous avez un beau vélo!”
I did further research and as part of it,
contacted Drew at Spin Industries to see if I could meet up with him about
having a bike made. I could maybe
understand his skepticism – after all, I’d visited other places and left
‘empty-handed’. He agreed and I
travelled the 120 miles needed for a meet.
I had not intended ‘signing on the dotted line’ there and then, but I
did! I was so impressed with Drew's
good-humoured enthusiasm and knowledge, compared to some of my other
experiences, that I knew there and then that I could trust him completely to
deliver what I wanted.
Drew agreed to build me a bike precisely to my specification from the frame up, and just six weeks later, I picked it up!
It is equipped with SRAM Red 22; Rotor QXL cranks
(with power meter); ENVE forks; Deda Superleggera 35 carbon black on black bars
and stem and the Spin Industries K2 XXLR50 carbon wheels. I’ve only just wiped the smile off my face,
it looks so good!
I’ve done about 500 miles on it by now, and
have held fire about writing about it until now so I’ll have a good picture of
what it’s like.
I say above how stunning it looks – but it’s
when you get on it that you realise there is some substance backing up its
appearance. For the first few rides, I
deliberately didn’t put my computer on the bike – I’m new to power meters, and
I wanted to concentrate on what the bike was like and not on what my computer
was telling me.
The frame is ultra compact, with a low,
‘aggressive’ feel to it though it was very light and, from the first, very
comfortable compared to anything I’ve ever ridden before: a veritable Rolls
Royce of a bike.
I know there is an unconscious response to
anything new –be it shoes or helmet, whatever – to give it ‘big licks’ the
first few times and I probably did on the Lightning X-1, but it is a bike that
just begs to be ridden hard and ridden fast.
I had been warned that titanium gets a bit of getting used to and that I
should expect it to be slow on the pick up when trying to accelerate hard. Contrarily, it handles in a wonderfully
responsive way – going up steep hills it takes the power without any of the
‘sponginess’, flex or delay I’ve experienced on other bikes.
On fast descents it is wonderful too – it
goes exactly where I want it to! It is very stable and responsive as it sweeps round
corners and I immediately ‘trusted’ it, if that makes sense: it handles
brilliantly. The straight-line speed on
the flat is also superb – it just seems to glide along, making light of the
vagaries of the road surface near where I live. Perhaps the oversized down tube aids
comfort as well as helping stiffness and responsiveness.
I’ve got the K2 XXLR50 wheels – also built by Spin Industries. Never
having ridden a carbon wheel before, I was a bit apprehensive – particularly with
regards to their strength and braking as well as handling in side winds.
I shouldn’t have worried! The wheels are beautifully balanced, stiff,
stable and fast! Braking instills
confidence. And they're really strong. Well, I hit a
pot-hole at 40 mph, hard enough to make me think I’d dislocated my thumbs, and
the wheels just shrugged it off! Side
winds don’t trouble them at all somehow.
I ride 23 mm clinchers, though the rims are
25 mm – this means that they run at lower pressure – again, adding to the
I can say, unreservedly, that this it the
best bike I’ve ever ridden – it ‘ticks every box’ I can think of!
Thank you, Spin Industries, for making a
dream come true!