Saturday, March 30, 2013

Torelli Express - A Few Early Thoughts/Opinions

The newest addition to the bike fold is the Torelli Express mentioned here a few weeks ago. In my excitement about new-to-me bicycles, I tend to be a bit hasty in my assessment or opinions, but I also think having a more immediate reaction can be helpful over the long term. So, while I haven't had the bike very long, I have been able to take it on several longer rides, and I feel ready to at least talk a bit more about the bike.
"The bicycle that wins"
I've wrote here in the past about my want for a yellow bicycle, so it didn't hurt when I happened upon this one that it was in fact the color I've been pining over for some time. Perhaps a bit more mustard than I would prefer, it's still easy to spot, bright (but not overly so), and fun to ride. Of course, when one is used to pedaling around on a 45 pound bicycle on a regular basis, anything that's lighter tends to feel sporty and fast (not knocking the Hillborne in any way, because he is my true love - and only that meaty because I have him fairly weighed down). I haven't weighed the bicycle, but it is certainly under 20 pounds, probably closer to about 18 (or so).
Side-by-side view of both sides of the current Torelli pedals
My first ride (other than down the street to test it out) was a fairly short distance (about a 5 mile round trip). I just wanted to make sure that the saddle was in a somewhat decent position, that the handlebars would work and that the pedals weren't going to create a problem. As can be seen in the photo above, there is a "clip" side, and a platform side, making it possible to wear a variety of shoes. It's also easy to see that the pedals haven't exactly been well-cared for, particularly for a bicycle that was ridden only twice. I suspect it may have spent some time getting shuffled around a garage or shed, or perhaps even spent an evening outside due to the grime that has formed.
The inside of the Campagnolo crank isn't looking horribly fabulous either
When I returned from this first ride, my initial thought was, "Holy moly, this thing is quick!" I felt like I was sprinting everywhere and caught myself quickly out of breath, even on this short ride. I guess there is a reason it is called "the bicycle that wins." Made of what Torelli calls Columbus' "top end" tubing, it really is made to race.
Had to stop for a quick pic on my way up Nelson Road
Obviously, I wanted to take the bike out for longer than a five mile ride to truly get a feel for it, and that opportunity presented itself quickly. The first longer ride on this bike took me up one of my least favorite climbs in the area - not because of its steepness, but because of the length of the constant uphill pedaling. I wanted to see how much of a difference the weight of this bike would make on such a climb. There is definitely a difference in average climbing speed. In areas that I'd typically be going about 8mph, I was traveling about 12mph, in typical 3-4mph areas, I was around 5-6mph, and on flatter areas I'd typically be pedaling about 14-15mph, I was able to get closer to 17-18mph. The one area that this bike does not exceed my heavier bikes in is during downhill descents. While it may very well go 30+ mph downhill, I was not comfortable exceeding 25mph for very long. In part, this could be due to my inexperience on this sort of bike, or it could well be that it just doesn't have the weight of the more stout bikes in my herd.
Terry Butterfly saddle
At this point, I was (and still am) trying to get a good feel for the Terry Butterfly Ti saddle that came with the bike. I will freely admit I am not a fan of narrow saddles, and while for many this is actually considered a "wide" saddle, that is not the term I would use to describe it. It has been adequate as long as I use padded shorts/pants to ride, but I definitely feel it the following day(s). I am trying to give it the benefit of the doubt for now and see how it goes over a longer term. I've been on some truly uncomfortable saddles, and I wouldn't say this falls into that sort of category, but it's not easy finding comfort when used to a saddle that is about 55mm wider (that's a little over 2 inches difference, so I understand why it feels so strange). Although I don't want to be in discomfort while riding, it's not yet to a point that I feel the need to change the saddle out for another option.
Campagnolo Daytona shifters
The groupset from Campagnolo on this bike is a dated version. It's actually older than the frame is, I believe. It's my understanding that Daytona was no longer made after 2002(3?) - or was at minimum renamed due to copyright infringements, and I believe the frame was built in 2004 (or 2005). I'm enjoying the shifting on this bike; though I do need to adjust my thinking just a bit from the bar end shifters I've grown used to using. I had a bit of a leg breaking session on a recent ride when I couldn't seem to get it to shift into a lower gear. I believe this is user error, and not the fault of the parts, but I will continue to keep an eye on things as I get to know the Torelli.
Something rather different, or at least that seems to have been done for a brief period during the early 2000's, is the carbon seat stays. I've seen newer bikes that have carbon chain stays, but not the seat stays. From what little research I've done, it seems to have been an experimental thing that kind of died out (though feel free to correct me if this is not valid). I suppose the purpose was meant to keep the ride more comfortable (but again, feel free to add your thoughts if this isn't correct).
What do you think? This picture is slightly angled, but I'm pretty sure the top tube slants down toward the front.
I think one of the more challenging things for me to get used to is the downward (toward the handlebars) slant of the top tube. At first I thought I was crazy and that the top tube was level, but the more I look at it, I'm fairly certain it does drop forward. I couldn't figure out why my shoulders were sore after 20-30 mile rides. At first I thought it was just adjusting to a new-to-me bicycle, but as I looked at it more, I have a feeling it's simply that I'm not used to riding in this sort of position. I'm hoping that in time, and as I ride more, my body will learn to adjust to this position. it's also possible that the top tube is slightly long for me. I can just barely stand over this bike flat-footed, and although the woman who owned it was only slightly taller than me, she may have been proportioned a bit different (or, perhaps this is why she didn't ride it?).
On one of the last jaunts with the Torelli, I went on a group ride with some locals. It was interesting to be able to keep up with them (which is not usually the case), and even though I'd worked out several hours that day (including an earlier bike ride) and was absolutely exhausted, I think I did a fair job of keeping pace. True, we're not a particularly speedy bunch (by comparison to some other groups), but when looking at what and how I'd normally ride, there seemed to be a noticeable difference.

This bike has a feeling of immediate gratification when pedaling. There's no loss of power in the pedal stroke and even though I'm still not going to win any races, there are times when it feels as though the bike wants to go faster than my legs are ready to go...which gives me hope for my future cycling adventures - at least when it comes to picking up speed. It is honestly a nice feeling to realize that I am capable of more when on a lighter bike. While I'm not ready to trade in the comfort of my Rivendell's for long rides, this will definitely be the go-to bike for quicker-paced rides in the foreseeable future.  As for the present, I'm looking forward to seeing what I'm capable of achieving on this bike, and how my opinions may alter as time passes.

If you have interest in the Torelli brand itself, there's an interesting article here about the Mondonico family (makers of many of the Torelli-branded bikes). I am always interested to read or hear about the history of a particular line, so I thought it was worth the read. And, as always, if you have additional information that you'd like to share, please feel free to leave thoughts/comments.

Happy riding!


  1. I can't say enough about the quality of this bike/build. It's a really nice combination of performance and comfort. I don't think you could get much lighter without risking the comfort. I think it's a bit more of a traditional Italian style frame, where the front is a bit lower than the back, like a "crit" bike. All in all, cool bike, and you are pretty darn fast on it.

    1. To clarify, I am not "fast" on anything, but faster, yes.

      Thanks for going to nab it for me! :O)


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