Strengths: Ride quality is like no other bike...fork is amazingly comfortable on a rough cross course.
Weaknesses: Weight and cost, but those two things are to be expected from steel and a handmade bike.
Classic 853 steel with a nice, tall head tube for shouldering clearance. Mine was built up with Shimano 600 sti, XT front and rear derailleurs, XTR cantilever brakes, Top Line MTB crank (38-48 rings) and an XTR 12-28 cassette. Wheels were interchangable based on the race.
So about the ride, it was nothing but the best. As can be expected from a steel bike, it was a bit heavy but the advantages far outweighed the weight penalty. The IF steel fork is a thing of beauty...straight bladed forks weren't too popular back then on road and cross bikes, and it was great. The ride of this bike overall was excellent. Too bad they're expensive, but I found mine (a HUGE 58 seat tube = 60 cm? top tube) for cheap on e-bay a long time ago.
Similar Products Used: Alcyon cyclocross bike, Trek MTB set up as a cross bike.
Bike Setup: See above.
from Eldora, CO
Date Reviewed: August 12, 2001
Strengths: This bike does it all - cross racing, road riding (or racing), singletrack riding, dirt roads. Light weight, and an absolutely sweet ride
This bike is the jack of all trades. I just got done racing it in the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race, which is a 100 mile ultra endurance race on rocky mining roads and dirt roads with more than 20,000 vertical feet of climbing. It was so much fun on this bike - kind of like the old school photos you see of the Tour de France. The bike was actually faster for the first 40 miles of the ride than a mountain bike, although the lack of suspension, high gearing and drop bar set up eventually led to fatigue which made it slower over all. Still, this is a testiment to the all around capabilities of this bike. I've done a ton of trail riding on this thing, and it's a blast. It also works great for the local training rides, races and commuting. Looking forward to a fall of cross racing on this bike. I've owned a couple cross bikes before, but they just don't compare to the IF in terms of ride quality. If there was a war tomorrow and I could only take one bike with me, the Planet X would get the call.
Bike Setup: Shimano Ultegra 6500 wheels, bar con shifters, ultegra and XT components
a Recreational Rider
from Honolulu, HI
Date Reviewed: December 8, 2000
Strengths: handcrafted, gusseted down-tube, steel is cushy, cables on top tube do not get muddy, good cantilever brakes (Deore LX), nice Salsa bars, Mavic Open Pro wheelset is light and sturdy, Selle Italia Max Trans Am seat is comfy in the right places. The sealed tubes make this steel stallion rust-resistant, perfect for cyclocross. This is the best-designed and most well-made frame on the market!!!
Weaknesses: front fork chatters on hard braking, but gives nicely on rougher terrain. Frame is sized a little large, so buy one size smaller than your typical road frame.
rides like a dream, but launches off when stomping on the pedals, perfect for the recreational rider who doesn't need the ultra-lite, ultra harsh racing frame. great for switching wheels when riding on road or trail. faster than _any_ mtbike on singletrack. This is the perfect all-around bike; which I made even perfect-er by ordering rear rack mount braze-ons for the occasional commute/daytrip/touring situation. I give up less than 5% of speed to my roadie friends. This bike is worth hunting down a good local bike shop to find a dealer, or you can order direct at www.ifbikes.com.
I got a sweet custom-ordered House of Kolor candy tangerine paint job that is to _DIE_ for. It cost a few hundred, but makes the bike one-of-a-kind. This is one of the best features of buying IF. They also have 12 stock solids and fades for the poorman. If you don't want it stolen, you can always get boring paint.
Bike Setup: Ultegra, with Deore LX brakes, Shimano XT cassette and rear derailleur, Salsa bars, ITM stem, IF threadless fork, Mavic Open Pro wheels, cheap Shimano pedals, Salsa seatpost, Selle Italia Max Trans Am seat
a Road Racer
from Paris, France
Date Reviewed: November 30, 2000
Strengths: Great handling, light, easy to carry/pick up/put down. Comfortable, looks great.
Weaknesses: VERY Hard to find UCI legal 26 inch cyclocross tires.
I bought this for cyclocross races, but have ended up riding it for everything from October through February --even my road team's 4 hour pre-season training rides. A super cyclocross bike, but also a super all-around bike. A real gem, I love everything about it. The "funnest" bike to ride of all of mine.
Similar Products Used: I ride a Litespeed Ultimate for road races, Cannondale Super V-1000 for ATB races, Cervelo P2K for time trials.
Bike Setup: Campy daytona, 26 inch mavic mtn bike wheels built with campy hubs.
a Road Racer
from Covington, LA
Date Reviewed: November 13, 2000
Strengths: Weld and paint finish, super plush ride, hands off stability, great price for the package.
Weaknesses: None to note but I don't like the maroon/burnt orange paint job I got with the bike. It looks different on the IF website (more "reddish"). I'll probably change colors in a year or so.
I bought this as a closeout bike from a Boston dealer that was advertised on IF's website. Note that I ride a 57 cm Merlin Extralight but this is a 54 cm frame. This is due to the high bottom bracket so be aware.
This is my first steel bike. I am somewhat reluctant to admit that this bike rides smoother than my Merlin but the Xtralight is advertised as Merlin's stiffer frame. I have done a 56 mile training ride with this bike on smooth to rough pavement. I am very happy with the feel, very dialed in handling, and very hands off stability. It will serve me well as a good light touring bike, around town bike, and cross bike. I'm looking forward to doing some combination pavement/fireroad/singletrack rides in the mountains. Centuries and double centuries will also be alot of fun to do on this machine.