Strengths: Well-known for bikes that fit and meet the customer's needs.
This is more about Carl Strong's product support rather than the bike. One reviewer is not happy with him, but here is my experience: I bought a 1999-2000ish aluminum Strong time trial frameset secondhand off a sponsored rider. The frame had been used hard and I abused it for another 5 seasons. The frame had a nice ride and stiff bottom bracket, and was aerodynamic for the time (actual merit, not just fast-looking). It fit the original rider (6' woman with special requirements) like a glove. Finish work and paint quality sucked, but as a sponsorship bike, I don't think that was a priority. Slightly too big for me, but it had soul and was fun to ride. The main reason I'm writing is the oddball, outdated derailleur hanger had been bent and fatigued by previous rider, then I managed to strip the threads. Carl himself replied to my email promptly and asked for a photo. I was brutally honest with the history,2nd owner, etc. etc., but he mailed me the appropriate parts 2 states away at zero mark-up, and had them in the mail before my check went the other way. He knew he hadn't made a dime off me but still provided outstanding support. I have also been in his shop a couple times. It's spotless, even when work is being done.
Strengths: Design and build quality, personalization (geometry, braze-ons, material selection, desired ride characteristics, etc.). The thing that I appreciate most about my frame is the fit. The custom geometry is really noticeable. Everything is right where it is needed. Additionally, working with Carl was a confidence inspiring process. He's a good guy and if you've got a problem with him, like one of the reviewers, you really do need to check yourself. He is a good businessman and has a very accommodating and neutral business personality. There was nothing about the measuring, ordering, or building process to discourage a reasonable person.
I recently set up a custom frame designed and built by Carl Strong. My frame is made of a blend of metal tubes that consist of an OX Platinum down tube and top tube, a Versus seat tube, and a Life head tube. Since all of Strong's frames are custom, and built to have different characteristics, it seems somewhat pointless to get too deep into ride characteristics. What is most important to note is that Strong frames are high quality products and you get what you seek. I was seeking a durable, stiff bike that could serve as the workhorse of my bike collection, and that is what I got.
My bike tracks straight, is very stable at speed or just cruising along, has no discernable flex, and has a solid feel. Yet, it is not very heavy (as steel frames go, about 18 lbs without focusing on building for weight). It is a natural climber, and a nimble handler. It really shines when out of the saddle doing short bursts, or when speeding through a series of turns that require you to quickly lean the bike from side to side. It leans and recovers very well. It is also very comfortable.
When I ordered my frame I explained the type of handling and level of stiffness that I wanted to Carl. What I requested is exactly what I got.
In terms of geometry, this is the first frame that I ever owned (and I've had many) that really-really fits me perfectly. Carl measured me, we talked about what he thought, he accepted my input, and offered suggestions and options that resulted in a great frame for me. Moreover, during the building process he contacted me to share new thoughts for improvements.
At first, I was afraid of the powder coating paint that comes standard on the frames, but trust me when I say, there is no real difference between the powder coating (when finished with a clear coat) vs. liquid painting. In fact, had I not known that the paint was powder coat, I never would have noticed the difference.
For the record, I'm not the type to give good reviews just to make myself feel better about the money that I've spent. I've plopped down money on plenty of less than optimal products, and I review accordingly. My experience with Strong has been good, and I would recommend his process and products.
Similar Products Used: Trek 400, Trek 2300, Cannondale R 600, Pinarello Stelvio, Eddy Merckx Premium, Olmo Gara Pista, Casati Gold Line, Pegoretti Marcelo
Bike Setup: Campy Chorus 11, Fulcrum Racing 3 wheels, Deda Newton Bar & Stem, Thomson post, selle an atomica Saddle, Alpha Q Z pro fork.
a Recreational Rider
Date Reviewed: November 27, 2007
Strengths: FIT is outstanding. I can't ride off the shelf geometry. He literally builds you what he say's he will. No- nonsense bikes that are understatedly elegant. My last one has no decals,(I'm trying to darken the ti a bit more) and people have looked at it and say how well made it appears. No fluff. Pure stealth performance. Matte Grey Beadblasted dirty ti for that fighter jet look w/ carbon forks, seatposts, bars and light weight quality wheels on all the bikes. What else do you need?!
Weaknesses: None with Carl's bikes.
I am on my 4th Carl Strong in 4 years and enjoy them all for their intended purposes. My first ti Strong is as comfortable as can be on centuries which led me to get a steel Strong(my favorite) built with identical geometry to replace a ti Seven I rode for a season and disliked.I then tried an aluminum Strong he was blowing out and gave me a great deal on. He told me it would be stiff because it was designed for a crit racer & he was not joking! Amazing climber though. He now made me a stiff ti road frame that I use like the aluminum one I sold. It is considerably stiffer than my first ti frame just as I wanted it. A stiff frame that is more comfortable than aluminum. So now I have long distance bike and a fast flatland/ big ring bike! They handle on the fast side (74/73) as I requested with a lowish bottom bracket to rail around downhill corners with ease.
Bike Setup: All with full Dura Ace 10, FSA cockpits on two, Easton cockpit and fork on the steel Strong, ceramic bb's and Ksyriums with ceramic bearings
a Road Racer
Date Reviewed: November 18, 2007
Strengths: Truly custom fit, stiffness and service
This is the second Strong Frame I have owned and have loved both of them. The first frame I bought was made from Columbus Max tubing and was great. Unfortunately, the seat tube developed a hairline crack at the junction with the top tube. I sent it to Carl to see if it could be fixed and the answer was no - but a whole new frame was covered under warranty. I had a couple of changes made to the original frame, but overall it is identical. The new frame is made from Columbus Spirit and True Temper OX Platinum tubing and is lighter and feels quicker than the old frame. I cannot say enough about how this bike handles.
Similar Products Used: Serotta, Medici,Cannondale, Paramount
Bike Setup: Campagnolo Chorus 10 speed group, Ksyrium Wheels,
a Road Racer
Date Reviewed: August 26, 2007
Strengths: My bikes fit perfectly the first time, awesome welds and finishes
Weaknesses: Can't think of any
Each of my Strong Frames Custom Bicycles excell at their intended purpose. My Scandium Road Bike with Record 10 and FSA cranks weighs in at 15.8 Lbs, pedals and water bottle holders included. It is quick and fast. My aluminum TT bike is the perfect fit for my position with amazing seat tube to rear wheel minimum clearance, very aero, check out the picture on Carl's website in the gallery. My Foco tubing MTB is a climbing machine, great balance, was immediately comfortable in difficult terrain and conditions.