Strengths: Titanium. Ultegra - including the crankset.
Weaknesses: Saddle (who cares). Wheels (the knock-off Ritchey Protocols that have a higher spoke count than the ones you buy at the LBS) are HEAVY. I will def replace.
I bought this bike for the frame and gruppo. Titanium + Ultegra for the money was a great deal. The ride is like steel, but lighter. It soaks up everything and I feel fresh on long rides, even over pavement in lousy condition. The bike looks good and is very low to the ground. The geometry puts the crankset really low to the earth and even on a 52, I am able to get my seat well above the handlebars for a lean, aerodynamic stance. It may be uncomfortable for other riders my age, but it is an aggressive position.
Strengths: Value. Of course no one pays the manufacturers’ price, but I don’t know where else you could find a titanium bike with this level of gear within a grand of what I paid.
The Titanium frame is simply beautify. The welding and finish is perfect. The assembly was good enough that it required no remedial adjustment out of the box.
Pedals: I already had 2 bikes with Shimano Ultegra pedals, so the 105/5600 pedals that came with the bike helped clinched the deal and saved me buying a set. I detect no difference between the 5600’s and the 6610/6620’s. They even threw in a brand new set of cleats!
The new Ultegra brakes are great wet or dry. New pads, new rims, of course they are great. I have always taken brakes for granted, but these are noticeably better than the 6600’s. I don’t know if it’s the pads, the rims, the calipers, or the handles that make the difference.
Weaknesses: The Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels may be flexible. Try as I might, I can’t detect the storied flexibility of the titanium frame. I am 210 lbs and the bike is the 59cm model, the largest frame available.
Biggest dislike: The finish on the Shimano Ultegra power train. I much prefer the natural aluminum finish of the 6600 to the “gray paint” on the 6700 bits. Aesthetics in general: I wish it also had silver wheels instead of black, and I really don’t need the yellow and orange Mavic stickers all over the rims and hubs. But I change wheels the way most people change their shoes, depending on the day and the weather, and in spite of Mavic’s reputation, I don’t expect these Equipe’s to last long. I will probably put on a set of Open Pro’s for day-to-day riding and set the Equipe’s aside as backup racing/climbing wheels. While they last, they are light and fast.
I am writing about the Le Champion SL (Ultegra 6700). There are currently three levels of this bike on the BD site: Dura-Ace, Ultegra (the model I bought), and another slightly less expensive Ultegra model. Study the specs on their site for the differences. I believe the frames are the same.
The handlebars (Ritchey WCS Butted Aluminum Ergo) have deeper drops than what I’m used to and the stem and shifters seem to stretch me out front farther when I’m not in the drops, so I probably spend less time in the drops, but there is less of a wind penalty when I’m not. This is a preference/adjustment issue to be ironed out.
An 11-28 cassette? What is that like? I was worried that the intervals would be too much or that it wouldn’t shift smoothly because of the big jumps, but not so. There isn’t much difference between the 11-28 and a 12-25 in the mid range. The 11-28 is great for group rides because with the ’28 I can grind up anything, and the ’11 gives me a cog to go to on the all-to-infrequent long descents. For racing, I’ll use a 12-25 because in my opinion if I spin out in the ’12, then I’m just pushing too much air. Save my energy for the flats. The Ultegra 6700 handles either up shifts or downshifts smoothly even under maximum load.
The saddle (Ritchey Pro Road) may be a little bit little for me, but after several hundred miles, I’ve adapted. Sure, at mile 60 or so, it starts to be noticeable. I wish there was a slightly larger model of the same saddle because I like the design and the material. I was going to by a wider saddle like I’m used to, but after a few weeks I’m thinking that may not be necessary.
The tires (Vittoria Rubino Pro) seem nice. I put tire liners in before riding the bike and haven’t had a flat yet. Got one nasty gash to the tread rubber on day one. It didn’t go through to the cords, so with the liners I’m still riding it.