SCAPIN Ivor: Custom Italian Carbon Review
It’s been run through the paces and Italy’s Scapin Ivor review results are very good. Refined finish work, a clean and easy build up with tube shapes and detail that push the boundaries of what a lot of people expect in “hand-made custom carbon”, all offered with a Lifetime Warranty from a company with decades in the business.
Scapin have been around a LOT longer than most folks in the US realize. Umberto Scapin started the company back in 1957 and the reigns were taken up by his son Stefano who carried the torch to and through the company’s acquisition by the Fontana family’s Cicli Olympia in 2005.
Olympia in their own right have also been around for decades. The brand started in 1893 in Milan and passed to the Fontana Family in the 60’s. The Fontana Family is now in their 3rd Generation with Groupo Olympia which are Olympia, Frera and Scapin cycles…
In the US, the brand is handled by ScapinUSA and I was lucky enough to spec their line topping Custom Ivor…
This review was a little longer in the making than normal and there are a few updates to the very latest model Ivor offered now, but the tube set functionality (and options) along with the construction process haven’t changed much at all.
The frames are designed in-house by Scapin’s own team and they specify the tube set shapes as well as differentiated tube sizes and wall thickness for the different sized frames (and different rider weights and preference). Once the specifications have been met, Scapin don’t beat around the bush at all with going to a qualified shop to have the tubes produced…
Toray Industries is considered by many to be the top company in carbon fiber (along with quite a few other technical manufacturing and design fields). They’ve literally written the book (and the book after that, and the book after that…) on carbon fiber, and Scapin go direct to the source for the production of the multiple different tube shapes (and several variations of each tube to accommodate size and flex differences) required for the Ivor.
Once Scapin receive a customer’s order, the tubes are selected by size and wall thickness from the available options and the frame is fabricated to spec in Piove di Sacco Italy.
The process is fairly straight forward.
The tubes are selected to suit from an assortment of monocoque sections produced (again, at variable sizes and wall thicknesses) by Toray in a proprietary Fluid mould process that allows a lot of shape change but still controls fibre orientation, wall thickness and resin concentration.
There are 5 sections designed with Scapin and fabricated by Toray:
-The Head tube and Downtube are a single section to allow for a very stiff interface between the two.
-The seat tube and BB are one section to allow for max lateral stiffness AND so that there is no chance of the Press-fit BB spinning or twisting free from the frame.
-The Top tube is a stand-alone piece to allow not only for greater geometry variation as they angle the cuts, but to also allow for them to cut the tube section in either thicker or thinner location along its length.
-CFS Seat stays (with a layup designed for flex) are one piece to allow for geometry freedom and can be made at different lengths and attached easily along the seat tube.
-Asymmetric chain stays are a one piece unit again to allow for geometry freedom. They can be made at variable lengths (along with the Seat stays to vary the size of the rear triangle), capped with the drop outs and can be mounted at any angle to allow for selected BB drop.
These sections are what form Scapin’s “TT Matrix”. Looking at the individual sections and considering the stresses on each section, Scapin’s design of the tube sets makes quite a bit of sense in that it allows flexible sections to flex while stiff / strong sections are made as one piece and the open ends are located logically to allow for wide yet specific customized geometry…
Once the tube sections are selected they’re laid out and a jig is prepped to hold the tubes at the angles needed. Then the machines are dialed in to the exact angles and the sections are cut to spec.
Given the aggressive shaping of the tubes for the Ivor, a lot of hand work goes into the process to carefully shave very small amounts of material for the more detailed joints…
And all of the parts are then form fit into the jig for a pre bonding check…
The Down tube and Seat tube/ BB joint is a particularly critical section and is molded to create overlap (the tubes fit into one another rather than simply butting up against themselves) for a very strong structure.
The bonding agent is added to this and all other sections…
In between the steps, everything is checked to make sure the parts are fitting together not only for geometry accuracy but without any stress that might push or pull the frame off alignment as the epoxy cures.
Once everything is fixed in place and confirmed, all the joints of the frame get another detailed coat of epoxy to ensure that there are no air pockets, bubbles, gaps or uneven surfaces. Once this sets up, the frame gets a hand finishing ensuring all of the joints are smooth and even so that the artful step of wrapping the joints can be handled.
The more particular joints and the bulk of this process are not photo’d, nor are the ultimate curing & forming steps that allow Scapin a little freedom to change the frame character… Some things can’t be shared.
The top tube – seat tube joint is mostly a cosmetic overlay, but Scapin vary the thickness of the rest of the stressed joints to put a little more (or less) carbon where they want it to go. The last step is placing the frame in a vacuum bag and baking it under heat and pressure.
[This sounds massively easier than it actually is given that you need to “suck” everything in the right direction and pressure without loading the joints and stressing the frame despite all the shapes and angles. It’s not easy to get right and is the part that can’t be shown, along with the detailed wrapping.]
Once the frame pops out of the bag, it gets a complete refinishing by hand to remove any imperfections and it’s off to final finish.
What Goes In??
While the website is a bit less detailed on the use of “High Modulus Carbon”, I can tell you that Scapin and Toray spec a range of several products based on location and performance.
The frameset and fork will have T700 and T800 UD (unidirectional) carbon as well as 1k, 3k and 12k (the checkerboard stuff, where 1k are teeny squares and 12k are big squares).
I’m also going to guess that there is at least one other High Mod carbon fiber type involved after inspecting the frame and sliding a little wire cam around inside… Toray make more than a dozen that are classed “High” after all, and I would understand why these folks don’t want all the secrets out.
All this is to say that Toray and Scapin use different fiber types for everything from stiffness to flex to multidirectional impact resistance (not that any fairly light frame is designed to resist big impacts, but some materials are certainly suited better than others…) and it’s all high quality raw materials.
The raw materials here can’t be stressed enough… For example, if you took a simple mold and built the same frame in it, you vary the price by 2-3 times the amount just by spec’ing crap materials or very high end. Scapin are using top shelf stuff from arguably the top producer.
The Completed Package??
The very latest version of the Ivor will vary in a few ways but it’s mostly aesthetics (there is some ease of function in the changes as well) and the finish detail and execution carries over.
Probably the most striking design que after the tube shaping is the clever use of the combination matte and gloss finish…
The bike has a stealth matte overall look, but when it’s moving around, the gloss accents really catch light well.
In fact, even the matte sections within a few of the gloss sections catch light… That little V atop the seat tube is actually just matte black catching the rays. It’s not easy to create details in paint design that catch your eye but also hide in plain sight and are reserved.
In fact, the aesthetic was so reserved that I asked for a little more overt Italian flare to be added in the shape of a slight Tricolor stripe to be added around the seat tube.
Perhaps the more beautiful detail in that picture is the complex little brake bridge that hides between the split-wishbone CFS seat stays, but I guess Scapin also liked the little bit of color as there’s now a stripe on the seat tube of the house paint scheme.
You’ll also note in the picture that a big update to the new design versus the review rig is that Scapin will no longer go with ISP. The new seat post and hidden clamp design is so clean that the new system looks just as good as ISP while allowing for easy seat height adjustability (and no pucker factor cutting your frame…). That’s a smart change for new frames but I really like the ISP execution and slick clamp on the review ride…
I’m also a fan of KCNC’s funked out CB3 calipers…
Fairwheel bikes took my “what the hell should I use” call and their choice was right at home for this rig as the tube shapes really begged for something a little different than the typical… That they came with Red anodized linkage was a little icing on the cake… Performance was also a pleasant bonus as the modulation and initial take up are very good.
As for the joints and build, everything is very smooth and well finished. You really have no idea how the frame comes together or where the joints are. The tube transitions just disappear and all you’re left with is a flowing Italian design…
The Bottom end is business-beef, with the down tube flaring to swallow the PRESSFIT bb as well as well as letting a good sized logo hide in plain site…
A better look at the one piece Seat tube and BB and how dramatically it flares out to boost stiffness.
That seat tube has a reasonable aero-recess for the rear wheel and then transitions to a more aero profile as it rises up, though Scapin make no claims to this being a concentrated “aero” effort.
Getting the power down to the wheels continues from the BB through the asymmetrical Stays.
These have a stepped design and quite a bit of volume (overall size) but are not so crazy in shape that there is any sort of heel clearance issue even with a narrow-ish Q factor adjustment to shoes and cleats.
The dropouts here are a nice design. An Aluminum sandwich machined from solid and wrapping carbon that Scapin call D-Double.
The rear mech hanger is replaceable…
As is the sandwich on the non-drive side.
While I’ve not had a lot of issue with carbon dropouts, I have succeeded in compressing one beyond reason and having this bit of extra security makes me feel a little more at ease while clamping the wheel that deals with the drive force.
Rising up from the drops are what amounts to the rear-fork… The fairly curved CFS stays.
CFS is Scapin-speak for “Comfort Flex System”. In short, they’re thin and bendy to allow for more flex.
Not so easy to note is that they flare out fairly quickly after the brake bridge. It’s not overly wide. It meets standard spacing spec for hub / axle width after all. But that wider stance is there to try and help with lateral flex while also allowing for vertical compliance.
The Fork is also produced by Toray exclusively for Scapin.
Nice symmetry as the design is well matched to the rest of the frame. Something not offered by the majority of custom builders using someone else’s fork.
Topping off the cockpit is a great aesthetic and performance match with the ARX II Team stem and Ergonova Team bars in “Stealth” paint from 3T.
The Matte and Gloss combination was a great match and their updated paint theme would also go very well.
The bars are reasonably stiff and the stem details are well handled. These are not 3T’s top line “Limited” parts, but you’re hard pressed to tell that from looks or use.
Rounding things out is the Red22 drive train from SRAM.
I’m pretty shallow so of course the color accents were a plus, but its SRAM’s improved shifting that makes the choice right…
The revamp of red a couple years ago that saw VASTLY improved shifting up front and now mates with a tighter / smoother ratio out back as well as improvements to chain rings, cranks, chain…
SRAM continue to refine the function of a drivetrain that started as an exercise in ergonomics that basically forced both Shimano and Campy into major rethink several years ago and their latest edition mechanical group remains a very hand friendly affair.
Come è Il Passaggio?
Tutto l’intorno esecutore…
To be honest, I really wasn’t sure what I would have with the Ivor.
I had been on a couple of Scapin’s bikes in the past (think 6+ years ago) but because the prior brand representation wasn’t up to snuff in the US, I never really wanted to try and get a better idea about the current bikes until speaking with ScapinUSA (And Stage Race Distribution’s) owner chief bikeologist…
Scapin are very fortunate to be handled now by a crew that understands high end, high quality bikes and the TITANIC pain-in-the-ass-customers (like me) that typically buy them. The owner at Scapin/Stage Race didn’t hesitate at all to have this bike judged against relative experience on some of the best custom carbon in the world.
The Ivor is in good company with custom carbon costing 1-2-3+ thousand dollars more.
Weight spec is relatively good given the tube volumes and shapes.
Bikes with loads of curves and big tube sections tend not to be overly light. In fact, lots of custom carbon bikes tend to have actual build weights that are a couple hundred grams higher than people might expect as manufacturers give out misleading “unpainted” weights or frames built for extremely light people.
The Ivor frame is right at 1000 grams (54ish with tall head tube / custom geometry) despite the large section tubes and shapes (and paint). The fork (and it’s fairly stiff) is 350 cut to mid length.
I would have expected this bike to weigh some place near 16 pounds fully built with clinchers when I saw the frame and was pretty pleasantly presented with a full build weight right at 14.4 (W/ pedals cages etc.).
This isn’t a bike that is presented as “light” but it builds like one despite not having anyone’s super-light or super expensive parts… Only the Zipp 202’s could be considered top of the line within the parts brand. Even KCNC’s brakes are relatively low priced compared to the Typical EE set I might have used. Still, the build came in lean.
Now, I care a lot more about ride qualities than my scale does, so let’s get past grams…
Scapin and I wanted this bike to be an all-around performance oriented ride and that’s what they delivered.
The front end is all business and is direct and responsive. The fork is fairly stiff and mates well with Scapin’s decision to make the head tube and down tube as one solid piece. The combination makes for good stiffness and road feel… In more aggressive geometry this would be a razor sharp handling package but as it is, in my neutral spec, it has reasonable stability with the ability to respond to steering input even in the middle of fairly hard cornering. And it responds in corners without loading up (the front wheel coming off line) or wallowing (the front wheel coming off line in many strange directions, which happens when both the head tube and fork are too flexible).
The bottom end is solid. It’s not dead feeling as there is a bit of give, but the flex is slight and only at the absolute peak of power input at the lower-mid point of the down stroke where every bike has some flex. More to the point, there is no excess twisting at the BB nor any hint of drive loss. The rear wheel feels solid and planted under power and tracks well. This bike is absolutely at home in a sprint or in hard efforts out of the saddle hammering up a climb.
The rear end, up through the seat stays and up into the saddle, there is definitely some compliance. The CFS stays seem to function as directed because the rest of the frame is stiff enough that the damping at the saddle over bumps isn’t coming from the whole frame moving around. The handling is too solid, the road feel is sensitive enough and the drive performance is too efficient to have the bump damping coming from any place but the CFS stays and seat tube (and some compression from the top tube).
This build is focused more on turning leg power into forward motion and then harnessing that speed through the corners… It’s also very stable on the brakes (another tip of the cap to the fork). This wasn’t meant to be a bouncy silk pillow “Fondo” floater. Scapin can make things softer for sure, but that wasn’t the goal this time.
Still, the ability to also soak up mid and large bumps and keep the buzz down is a genuine surprise relative to the performance.
Match that damping with stable / neutral geometry and you’re railing corners, hammering climbs, bombing down and sprinting like a mad man and not being beaten to death at the same time… When I asked that this be an all-around performance focus, It seems like they were paying attention.
At $4795, this frame and fork is priced like (and actually below) some of the high end stock frames.
While there are definitely a few off the shelf rides that I really like, it’s pretty difficult to ignore the value here when you consider that you can dial in exactly the handling you want with custom geometry and also tweak the stiffness and choose a color, then have the whole thing hand fab’d in Italy to these custom specs by a company with a bit of history relative to a lot of custom product available.
And that history also means there’s weight behind it’s being offered with a Lifetime Warranty…
Scapin-USA have a lead time of 60 days right now (that’s until you start calling and trying to change things and rethink paint and do all the other crap that custom-ers do) which is pretty darn good as these seem to be 60 USA days rather than 60 Italian days (a period of time that falls some place between 60 seconds and 3 years). There are several custom friendly shops taking orders in North America now and you can also hit them directly for more info and order potential. They’re also expanding their dealer listing in the case your favorite higher end shop is looking.
The best first stop for information is ScapinUSA.com.
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