KUOTA KREDO BICYCLEFull carbon fiber performance beauty

It was Billy Crystal's famous parody of smarmy talk show host Fernando Lamas, which popularized the catch phrase, "You look mahvelous!"

And nothing sums it up better for the Kuota Kredo bicycle. Standing back a few feet from the Kredo, I can't help but admire the lines, sleek curves and incredible craftsmanship on this carbon fiber beauty.

It begs the old joke question of whether it's better to look good than to feel good. And knowing the hordes of posers we see on the roads nowadays, there's no question the Kredo's going to appeal to these sorts regardless of whether they can turn a decent gear or not.

For those unfamiliar, Kuota was pretty much unknown -- and still is among most roadies -- until Norman Stadler smoked the Hawaii Ironman bicycle course on a Kuota Kalibur, Kuota's signature time trial machine. After Stadler's Ironman win, Kuota became a pretty hot commodity and, for a month or so till they could catch up with demand, scoring a new Kalibur was proving tougher than repairing the broken levees in New Orleans.

While Kuota's road models haven't gotten the same "Kalibur" buzz, I'm starting to see more of them on the road lately and it's easy to see why this small Italian company is tripling their sales volume every year and getting the attention of the more established manufacturers. For perspective, they sold only 48 frames four years ago, and have already surpassed 3,000 as of this September.

The Kuota Kredo

These gorgeous bikes, like everything carbon nowadays, are manufactured in China and the pure naked carbon look is accentuated with traces of color that are more visible in bright sunlight. Anytime I showed my Kredo to a group of fellow cyclists, it was like watching bees flock to honey. After awhile I got immune to the oohs and ahhs.

Kredo road test

Okay, enough with the chatter about how great this steed looks. I wanted to find out how the Kredo rides, handles, accelerates and climbs. I received a trick test model with full carbon Campagnolo Record group, Zipp 303 clincher wheels and a Viking integrated carbon stem/handlebar combo.

My first order of business was to switch the wheels to Mavic Ksyrium SL clinchers since that would help me best compare between two titanium bikes: an older Litespeed Vortex and a 2004 compact Ghisallo; and one carbon fiber bike, the Javelin Grigio.

While the Zipp 303s are awesome wheels, it wouldn't be fair to compare the other bikes outfitted with the Mavics since Zipp's carbon fiber construction was sure to give me a slightly harsher ride.

So here's the quick and dirty on titanium versus carbon fiber. I've taken all the bikes on several occasions over the same bumpy stretches of road and there's absolutely no question that I'll never buy a titanium bike again, even if it were lighter as is the case with the Ghisallo.

The carbon fiber Javelin Grigio, which I'm also reviewing, absorbs vibration very well and is much more comfortable than the titanium bikes but is not quite as responsive or stiff as the Kredo. In fairness, my plan is to do a very comprehensive comparison of the Javelin and Kuota next month.

Absorbs road vibration

The Kredo absorbs road vibration like nobody's business, yet is still amazingly stiff. On every out-of-the-saddle acceleration, I don't feel any power getting absorbed by the frame. Kredo is designed to be Kuota's twitchier and more responsive bike, sort of a counterpart to how Litespeed positions the Ghisallo. But the comparison ends there. The Kredo's a much more comfortable ride on a slightly longer wheelbase.

The real innovative feature, that got me most of the comments from fellow cyclists, were the special Viking bars, also manufactured by Kuota. The Viking's are one of the only fully integrated stem and handlebar combos on the market. Of course you want to make sure you have the right sized stem when you order one of these, as there's no way to change the length without buying another Viking.

Viking fully integrated stem and handlebar combo

What I've found I like most is the thicker grips next to the stem -- the classic grip area for long steady climbs. Every time I go back to another bike with normal 26 or 31 mm bars, I totally miss the nice beefy grip on the Vikings. Because the bars and stem are so thick, they do a terrific job of dampening a lot of the vibration coming up through the handlebars.

There's also a separate and optional computer mount that mounts in front of the Viking bars since the handlebar thickness wouldn't accommodate normal computers. The Viking bars also taper off to a normal grip in the drops. It's only up top where you get the extra thickness.

The Kredo is designed to be Kuota's most responsive bike and it is. Even though I'm only weighing in at 155, it's impossible for me to find any sloppiness in this frame. My thinking about carbon fiber had been skewed from when the first Look bikes came out in the '80s and I got on one and felt like there was a wet noodle underneath me. I used to own an old aluminum Vitus that was the same way.

Kuota house brand carbon cranks

I'd purposely stayed away from carbon fiber until very recently. I guess getting banged around was fine in my twenties and thirties, not to mention I didn't know any better, but nowadays I appreciate not feeling every bump and crack in the road.

As those Oldsmobile commercials used to say, "this ain't your father's" carbon fiber bicycle. If you haven't treated yourself to the latest in carbon fiber road frame technology, you're missing out.

Stiffness freaks will also be happy to note that a super-sized head tube also contributes to the Kredo's stability and stiffness. The head tube contains a special headset that's larger at the base and tapers to 1-1/4" for accommodating all kinds of stems. In addition to being an outstanding climbing machine, this headset design also gives the Kredo the rigid support you need for high-speed descents.

All Kuota

Except for the Campy components, my Kredo was all Kuota. In addition the Viking stem/bars combo the house brands included carbon fork, seatpost and crank arms. The cranks are really the same as FSA, except for the Kuota name. All Kuota frames, when purchased, come with fork, seatpost and headset.

Kredo's chain stays

The chain stays are a little funky looking but serve a useful purpose. The drive side, which has a Kevlar wrap, is a little more beefy which gives it stability and rigidity. The counter side has a "comfort-spin" label on the stay and also has a little thicker bulge in it for added stiffness. I'm not sure what the comfort spin label is all about, but suffice to say, spin or grind, the Kredo's going to treat your body to comfort regardless of style.

Kredo's high-end road bike is the Khan, which I'm told by those that have ridden it, that it's actually the Cadillac of comfort within the Kuota lineup. It's slightly heavier than the Kredo but would certainly be an outstanding choice for long distance cycling. That said, I have no issues putting in mega miles on the Kredo as I can't imagine much more dampening of road vibration and shock.

Weight freaks will want to know the Kredo frameset weighs in at 1100 grams and the fully-built medium-sized test bike I had, with Campy Record components and Zipp 303 clinchers, dialed me in at 16 pounds, 4 ounces. By replacing the Zipp clinchers with a nice carbon wheelset with tubulars, you could easily shave another pound off and be right at the legal limit. As a semi-compact frame, the Kredo only comes in five sizes: small, medium, large, extra large and double extra large.

A Kredo frame, which comes with fork, seatpost and headset goes for a very reasonable $2,499. And for those looking to get a completely built out bike, you can run a Shimano Ultegra group and standard Mavic or similar wheels for under $4,000. For those that want exotic and Campagnolo Record carbon everything, you can push that price near $8,000. For complete details, please visit www.kuota.it/international.html or call 877-619-0984.

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