What's Cool In Road Cycling

Crumpton Corsa Team Review: Italian Treat

It’s been a long while since I’ve had the chance to run a new Crumpton. Several years have gone by since Nick Crumpton’s “Best Carbon” winning NAHBS bike landed here for review. In that time, Crumpton has changed his tube sets and also refined the build quality and detail to a high enough level that he’s one of a select few custom carbon builders that should be considered when the question is asked, “who makes the finest custom carbon bike, period?”

The funny part is that Nick probably wouldn’t be one of the builders that would raise his hand for “best” consideration, where several other builders would jump up and down after lighting themselves on fire to get the nod, but we’re not here to talk custom. We’re here because Nick wanted to make his idea of a race bike and do it at a price point reasonable enough that more actual racers could have the chance to ride one.

With that in mind, he created the Corsa Team

click the thumbnail at the top for a bigger view… Or click here for the large non-drive pic

Here’s where you’re rolling your eyes and pissing and moaning about another top brand selling out to the far east…

But there are two things to consider: first, “the far east” makes some bikes that even the truly narrow minded bigot would find awesome (in the case there is such a thing as an honest-narrow-minded-bigot). Second is that Nick’s version of “east” means landing in Milan and taking the A4 out past Monza, past Bergamo, maybe a stop at Lake Garda, zip by Verona and Vicenza and then cut North… (though my personal choice would be to roll on to Venice and then back track a little.)

The Corsa Team frames are built in a Veneto region of Italy that will never, ever be confused with other companies version of “the east”.

The frames are hand made using tube to tube construction that is very close to the same build method as Nick’s custom cycles, but because these builders have a bit more production capacity (Nick is a one man, one frame at a time custom builder) the production costs are quite a bit lower and Crumpton loses no time on his custom back log of orders.

The tube set is a combination of Deda chain stays and custom spec tubes, made in Italy for the main triangle.

These tubes are made to order using materials and layup (fiber orientation combinations) that Nick is already familiar with and has tested and used in custom production.

Nothing overly fancy here, just well executed layup in round tubes, meant to keep things stiff and stable.

The rear end does have a little shape though.

The seat stays start with a split wishbone shape that’s familiar to Crumpton’s custom owners.

A look from the side tends toward having you think things are straight and flat…

A look from the top lets you in on some of the curves to the chain stays that help with a bit of flex on larger bumps.

The chain stays have a bit of curve to allow for foot clearance, but they’re really a box section that is a lot more about keeping things stiff than flexing for the bumps.

That said, they’re the one tube that has a bit of ornamental shape detail as they taper.

The drop outs are full carbon non-drive.

Though loads of frame makers build race bikes with a lean toward marketing and weight, Nick goes for a bit more meat on the drive side carbon drop, along with a replaceable Mech hanger that should be a staple on any bike built with a lean toward racing,

And while most folks can’t help but comment in bottom bracket size and the plain out misconception that big = stiff, I’ll note for you that the stiffness at bottom end of the Crumpton is the result of the relative stiffness of the seat tube, down tube and chain stays more than the size of the BB shell…

You’ll take delivery with BB30 bearings already installed…

All said, the whole thing will look fairly traditional.

A pretty standard screw in cable guide keeps the bottom tidy.

The silver thing is a well designed cadence magnet for the Quarq

Build It Up
Generally, bikes like this get a full treatment. Custom paint would have gone on this one and another few thousand bucks worth of special bits and pieces worthy of a bike like this would have been on call, but Nick wouldn’t let me.

He wanted me to see what the performance was like when ordering things that most folks would order if they were going to run it in a crowd of pissed-off people… So the build kit was what I would run if I wanted to go beat people up (and/or be on the other end of the beating)…

Standard SRAM Red for the shifting and braking, and ZIPP’s Service Course SL Bars, Stem and Post… (Not over-the-top kit, but Top Kit… because one should maintain a certain level of dignity even in battle).

I decided to go short and shallow for the bars (they match the bike and as well as properly describing the pilot)…

And wrapped them in HandleBra as it’s become the only bar tape I’ll use on a bike I’ll own.

And loaded up one of my two favorite saddle shapes in Selle San Marco’s Crotch Canyon the Mantra.

I also went for the SRAM S975 QUARQ Power meter in order to know exactly how poorly I’m pedaling now versus my youth…

I used the house ZIPP Firecrest 404 tubulars for most rides (carb clinchers shown…) as the staple wheels.

And just about the only part on the bike that wasn’t OE spec was Jagwire’s Ripcord replacement cables.

Teflon Coated Black, because while I’ll settle for an OE Spec bike if the parts are high grade enough, I simply will not spoil a blacked out bike with silver cables.

And so, what’s the Corsa Team all about?
Very High build quality and raw materials spec’d for a performance oriented ride quality and handling. That’s it.

The build detail here is close to Nick’s custom builds in finish quality.

Every joint in the tube to tube unit looks perfectly smooth, as if it were a one shot molded part, except that with high end tube to tube builds like this, there is virtually no junk left over inside the frame at the more complex areas.

Nick traveled back to his homeland (he’s actually dual citizenship and honestly, I still think he should have used his mother’s name on the bike…) to make sure that the shop he would partner with was producing to his standards. They understood without much fuss what he wanted, and they delivered.

The fork selected is ENVE’s 2.0 and it’s a great match for the frame as well.

It’s available in rakes to maintain the handling through the size range and the rest was fairly straight forward given the partner’s ability to execute and that’s what happened.

On The Road
Nick isn’t stuck with the problem that a lot of larger manufacturers have with their top of the line race bike…

The problem that a lot of larger (especially pro peloton sponsoring) manufacturers have is that they need to sell a LOT of bikes… But the people that can afford their top of the line race machines are very frequently NOT the hard, young, strong, flexible, extremely fast people that the big manufacturers need to design their race bikes for… What you get is one compromise after another (either in marketing morals, claiming comfort where it’s not or making a race bike too soft to really please their athletes).

While Nick can make the high dollar customers happy all day long with his custom work, he made the Corsa Team with firm tilt toward racing performance (while working with the Italian production house to keep the price down to a level more suited to a racing crowd).

This isn’t touring geometry. No bullshit here about how this bike is “equally at home diving for the apex as it is on multi hour epics…” With the Corsa, you check the box next to “dive for apex” and leave the touring to a touring bike.

The tube set stiffness also adds to the handling. There is no wallowing from the front end on very aggressive direction changes and the back wheel stays in line. Push the bike as hard as you like and the tires might give up, but the frame won’t argue or hesitate to make as hard a move as you can manage.

That stiffness also plays out in that the bottom end flex is minimal and by “minimal” I mean the bottom end handles hard, out of the saddle accelerations as well as any of the top bikes in the pro peloton. There is very little off center push. More importantly, the flex that does happen is very even and returns to center without any sort of snap-back or push.

Now here’s the part where larger manufacturers would have put TONS of information out about how their bike can be this stiff and immediately responsive, yet ride like a silk pillow rolling down a memory foam road on 30+ section tires pumped to 30-ish psi…

Nick’s version of hype is “write whatever you want, but it’s not a touring bike”…

Fair enough as it’s not what I would call silky smooth / springy over bumps and the geometry is quick enough that touring is better left to something a bit longer and shallower.

You’ll have a lot of feel and feedback and know what the tires are doing as you work harder, but the Corsa Team does a fair job of muting high frequency buzz that is the largest issue for roads around Phoenix. Hit a bigger bump and you’ll feel it, but with great chassis stiffness and a well matched fork, the wheels tend to still point where you’re steering, where more flexible frames will leave you with that bit of lag as the chassis lets the round things go a little askew.

The Corsa Team gets better and better the harder and faster you’re going. Toss in some fast curves and you’ll find yourself more and more at home. I have a few exceptional bikes that are loaded with super high spec, ultra light weight parts, but when I’m absolutely hammering, blowing into corners at the edge of grip and then standing up and sprinting out, the confidence I have in this bike is its stand out feature.

Yes the other bikes are nice and a few are roughly double the price and maybe a pound lighter (this one sits at 14.5). But I just plain like the added stiffness of not just the frame but the solid component choice going for the Service Course pieces. And the fact that I’m going hard on something that’s 2-3-5 thousand dollars less than my normal project bikes makes the nerves a lot more calm.

Strictly speaking about the frame, Crumpton’s standard bikes are quite a bit more sturdy than a few others in their weight class and the Corsa Team fallows that theme too. Give a tube a squeeze on this bike and you don’t get anything near the flex that comes with the super-thin tube walls of loads of production bikes that are focused more on using frame weight as a sales tool than producing practical racing tool.

In fact, that’s what the Corsa Team is… A practical racing tool.

Of course you have to be “into” bikes to call a price point of several thousand dollars “practical” almost regardless of what you’re getting. But then if you’re reading this review, you’re into bikes. With that being the case, the retail price of $3900 for the frame, fork, headset and press fit BB30 bearings should be less than what you would expect for hand made Italian craftsmanship (In fact, the toughest part of this might be in remembering which Italian brands are still paying for Italian craftsmanship…).

“Less than expected” is also the case with Nick’s Custom frames starting at $5300 as the going rate for other custom bikes of this caliber is closer to $8k.

If you’re looking for a frameset that has a build quality and detail of custom Italian (or Italian American) carbon and wanted the tube set specified firmly toward firm, You want to give this one some thought. Take the 2-3 thousand dollars you would have spent on most frame sets crafted like this and put it toward a kick ass build kit. Nick can build this bike up for you for less than $6000, or in the case that you can’t be seen on a bike worth less than $10,000, he’ll be happy to find you a bespoke build up that will clear that price with room to spare.

You can order these in any of 6 graphics colors, and or you can work to put a custom skin on the Corsa Team as well.

Lead time will be some place around 2 weeks for in stock sizes.

Find these and many other slobber worthy choices at Crumpton Cycles Home Page.

Have Fun,
Charles Manantan

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