Riding in Style with Scapin’s Italian-made carbon/steel road racer

When North American Scapin importers Stage Race asked if we’d like to try a bike from the Italian builder’s line, one bike immediately set itself apart.  For his Style model, Umberto Scapin pulls uniquely-shaped Columbus Spirit steel head tube, top tube, and seatstays together with Italian-made custom 3K carbon fiber down tube, chainstays, and a BB-to-saddle seatmast.  The construction is unique, but the result is a road frame that’s deigned to take advantage of carbon’s low weight and stiffness while retaining steel’s excellent ride qualities- and customization potential.

For the past several months, we’ve been racking up all sorts of rides on the Italian-made, tricolor-themed bike- and have come away impressed.  More after the break.

Built with components from Stage Race’s own lines and from their partners’, the 1,250g (claimed) frame weighed in at just shy of 15lb without pedals.  The Austrian-made XeNTiS SQUAD 4.2 carbon clinchers are the clear standout here: the sub-1,400g, wide-footprint aero wheelset deserves its own review but its light weight, control-ability, and outright speed are worth mentioning.  In terms of heat dissipation, XeNTiS’ carbon clinchers are said to perform fine with black pads- but dedicated carbon pads really are needed to keep noise levels to socially-acceptable levels.

After several years away, it was nice to find Campagnolo’s Super Record 11s group as solid and the cranks as beautiful as ever- even if the shifters’ ergonomics haven’t quite kept up with the dueling Ses’.  The balance of the build is made up of a comfortable 3T ARX Team  bar/stem combo and San Marco Concor saddle.  The Vittoria Open Pave’ CG Evo tires have joined my short list of high-performance tires that can deal with the broken glass, goathead thorns, and volcanic ‘grit’ that make are characteristic of winter riding in New Mexico.

But what of the Style itself?  Made to order taking into account a rider’s riding style and geometry preferences, no two will ride the same.  Half expecting (based on the mix of materials) a relatively relaxed Gran Fondo machine, Stage Race’s demo surprised with its stiffness and quick handling.  Unlike most metal frames, the Style truly is a racer’s bike:  stiffness from the bars rearward through the large down tube, oversized bottom bracket (BB30 is also an option), and healthy chainstays is startlingly direct.  The cowled steel dropouts (with replaceable hanger) contribute by providing a solid anchor for the stays while keeping the rear end tidy.  Yes, there are plenty of stiffer carbon frames, but there are also a good number that don’t approach the Style’s directness.

This stock bike’s handling is closer to race day than big day- but thanks to the custom option can be tweaked to your preferences.  Despite the bike’s responsiveness, descending is stable- possibly aided by the carbon insert in the head tube.  That insert is visible through logo cutouts in the head tube- a nice touch.  In addition the stock and custom geometry options, seven color combinations are shown on Scapin’s website- allowing your Style to reflect your… style.

While the large integrated seatmast contributes to the Style’s racy feel and keeps the frame/mast weight within 90g of the company’s range-topping, full-carbon Ivor model, it is topped by the bike’s only real weakness: an FSA SL-K Round Integrated Seatpost.  When built with a solid saddle, the surprisingly chunky topper’s internal expander bolt can only be accessed after removing the saddle.  This makes seat height and direction adjustments tiresome- not a great first impression.  Happily, an Ital-Tecno topper can be specified and there are plenty of lightweight, comfortable cutout saddles that would sidestep the issue.  Should the owner cut things too short or one day need to part ways with the Scapin, it’s good to note that the FSA ISP does allow for 20mm of vertical adjustment in 2.5mm increments.

More than anything else, the Style is a bike with character.  Scapin have done a good job of incorporating steel’s lively feel into a fast, solid, and modern package.  Italian craftsmanship and near-limitless options don’t come cheap, however: the Style retails for US$4,795. The Style would be an ideal bike for the rider with lots of miles in their legs who might not want or no longer need need a full-blown race bike- but who doesn’t want to be held back when it comes time to step things up.

www.stage-race.com (Canada/USA)

www.scapin.com

Comments

Will - 01/26/13 - 2:52pm

At that point why not just get a Moots? I dont get the mashup – stiff yet compliant, custom made, yet its as fragile as its weakest carbon component, and overall its no lighter or cheaper than Ti.

Marc - 01/26/13 - 4:08pm

Will,

My own bike is a Ti/Carbon Serotta Legend (second hand, FWIW) and that has a dramatically different feel. The Style is far racier overall- stiffer and quicker handling. Though the particular build probably makes more of a difference, there is a difference between the feel of the two materials.

On another level, I just don’t see a Moots and a Scapin Style appealing to the same customer. I’m not saying one is better than the other- they’re just represent different approaches and aesthetics.

marc

Sevo - 01/26/13 - 5:25pm

Will-Yep i will second Marc’s comments. My custom monstercross I designed for myself has a mix of Columbus steel and ENVE carbon (top tube/Seatutube). Result? Really one of the best riding bikes I’ve owned in 22 years. And I’ve had a few really nice carbon frames in that time.

MulletRacer - 01/26/13 - 8:40pm

Move the saddle in 2.5mm increments only? WTF

Loyd flanders - 01/27/13 - 3:21am

I have a Columbus steel framed Scapin and it is by far the best road bike I have thrown a leg over. The aesthetic is sublime with nice design features like concealed seat clamp and head tube mounted cable guides.
There is just something about italian steel I think!

Funtooley - 01/27/13 - 9:21pm

I’m strangely aroused by this.

mat - 01/28/13 - 8:27am

Once you’ve cut the seatmast, why would you want to move any more than 2.5mm at a time anyway?

Gary - 01/28/13 - 3:06pm

I am with Will on this one. Surely there is a TI frame that produces a similar ride without the weak points. I couldn’t justify paying that price. But that is why my last frame was TI.

Seitenryu - 01/28/13 - 11:46pm

The combo of materials does a great job of removing any stress risers caused by a separate carbon seatpost clamped within a frame. It’s also about 2 different kinds of hype: the novelty of custom Italian steel and the supposedly low weight of ALL carbon components. I’d like carbon if they could mold a moncoque frame to my specifications, but beyond that it’s all about stiffness or street cred. The same as titanium?! Same as a Moots?! Even though butted titanium tubing is used a lot in modern frames the tubes are never as finely tuned as steel. Don’t even compare titanium to high-end carbon–the materials behave so much differently when used properly. That’s just silly. Wow, your titanium bike won’t rust ever, but I bet it doesn’t have beautiful paint either. Moots is boring and inflexible with their level of customization. They want to build THEIR bike that just so happens to fit YOU. RE–FSA seatpost topper: FSA has terrible QC and I’d never trust one of their expanders to not harm my frame.

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