Dan Empfield reviews a bike he invented

Quintana Roo Kilo  Credit: Courtesy: Quintana Roo
This has been Quintana Roo's flagship bike since its switch to aluminum in 1993.

It was originally called the Kilo in a sort of double entendre: The kilo is a popular cycling event (on the track) and the frame weighed about a kilo (1 kilogram = 2.2 lbs.). OK, maybe that was in its smallest size, and before paint, but it was close. At the time it was built there were precious few bikes that light.

This bike also was a breakthrough on another front — it was the first production bike built out of Easton's #7005 road tubeset. These tubes were really built for Raleigh. They had recently — at the time — purchased Nishiki from West Coast Cycles, and they were going to take the Nishiki Alltron (the bike ridden by then-duathlon stud Kenny Souza) to a new level.

But that project never got off the ground, and QR ended up using what has since become an extremely popular tube design.

The Kilo has changed quite a bit in the way — and in the place — it is made, but it remains similar in all material respects (pun not intended). It is the material, precisely, that has changed. This year, for the first time ever, QR is making 6000-series aluminum bikes.

The reason for this is twofold. First, because it can. Second, because it is in all likelihood cheaper. 6000-series bikes are made in a process that requires a heat-treating and quenching process that is too cumbersome and expensive to set up for small builders. But once you have it set up, it's a pretty efficient way to heat-treat your bikes.

QR can do this because it is building the Kilo, TeQuilo, and PR Compact in Taiwan, where this process is widely used. Some people think this is a better way to make bikes, some people think it is not as good as #7005 tubing (which requires a milder artificial aging process). We take no position on this, except to say that some very good bikes are made out of both alloys.

Like the song says, the geometry of the Kilo is the same (more or less) as it ever was. The difference is in wheelsize in larger bikes. The Kilo will be built from 47cm through 57cm in 650c (the 47cm is a new Kilo size); and from 55cm through 61cm in 700c. Yes, this means you can get either the 55cm or 57cm in either wheelsize. These bikes are built in odd sizes only. The larger-wheeled bikes will have 76.5-degree seat angles and 40cm chainstay lengths, the smaller bikes will be 78-degrees and with 39cm chainstays.

The Kilo will sell for $1,395, and that will include a more-or-less Shimano 105 road group, with Syntace bars, and 9sp bar-end shifting. It'll have an Advanced Composites fork (this is a Taiwanese company that makes carbon forks for a lot of manufacturers — including Profile Design and Look — and it occasionally provides no-name forks to bike makers like QR).

This is the right way to make a bike, the right way to price one, to assemble one, to design one. If all goes well, QR will shred with this bike at this price point.

But the devil is in the details. Both retailers and end-users found this out last year, when bikes didn't arrive anywhere close to on time, and the ones that did show up varied in quality. The entire Kilo project for 2001 will pivot on execution.


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