First Impression: 2010 Redline Conquest Sport – same two wheels but a different ride!

For sometime now, I’ve been considering trying cyclo-cross (CX) racing. Without having a CX bike in my stable, planning was a little difficult. Sure enough, we at received a CX bike to test. It’s the 2010 Redline Conquest Sport which RL featured on June of this year.

What’s a cyclo-cross bike? It’s a bicycle specifically designed for the rigors of a cyclo-cross race. General appearance of a cyclo-cross bike is of a road bike. The major differences between the two are the frame geometry, gearing and the wider clearances for the tires (during a cyclo-cross race, mud and debris can accumulate).

Since taking possession of the Conquest CX, I’ve had several rides on it – both dirt and road! With my plans on racing CX, I want to be as familiar with the Conquest Sport as much as possible.

Frame Redline Conquest 6061 DB Alloy W Disc Tabs 130mm R spacing
Fork R6 Alloy w Disc Tabs & Alloy Steerer
Headset Steel Threadless 28.6mm
Frt Der Shimano 2300 31.8mm
Rear Der Shimano 2300
Shifter Shimano 2300 8sp
Crank FSA Vero Compact 28x38x48T
BB Set FSA Square Taper 68 x 116mm
Cogs Shimano HG 50 13-26 8sp
Pedal Alloy Quill w Clips & Straps
Rims Alex DH 19 32H
Hubs Formula LB QR
Spokes 14 G Stainless
Tires Kenda K-197 black
Bar Redline 6061 Alloy Drop 26.0mm
Stem Redline Alloy 6061,17 Degree, 26.0mm
Saddle Redline
Seat Post Redline 6061 Forged, 27.2 x 350mm
Brakes Tektro 990 Canti
Aux Levers Promax Alloy

The Bike: After riding on a mountain bike for the last ten years, then suddenly throwing a leg over a CX bike, the difference of the discipline was immediately noticed. A CX bike is set-up differently from a mountain bike. Not only the geometry but all of the major components are different. For me the most difficult to get used to were the drop bars and the braking. By gripping the drop bars I felt positioned way too much on the front end and not in control. Fortunately the Redline Conquest CX has dual brakes which are located on the flat part of the drop bars.

Redline Conquest Sport

By using this, I felt more at home with the bike.

On the Dirt: First ride on the Redline Conquest was on the dirt at the good ‘ol Fullerton Loop. Being on super skinny tires (1.25”) versus the minimum of 1.90” that I would typically roll on, I had some concerns. For the most part Fullerton Loop is a fairly easy trail and I handled most of the trail with ease. Through the flats I managed to roll through with out any issues. However on the descents, I was a lot more cautious. Falling into a small rut could be disaster for me. As I mentioned above, the biggest difference for me was the way I was sitting which was leaning too forward… much more than I would if I was sitting on my mountain bike. This gave me an uneasy feeling riding on dirt. In addition, the bars are much narrower than what I have been used to. My mountain bikes are from 26 to 28.25” vs. the CX’s 17.5”. Erring on the side of caution, I rode on easier dirt trails until I have acclimated to the bike. I do want to prep for the upcoming CX Race season which starts at the end of September 2010.

                                                                                    Riding at Fullerton Loop.

On the Road: Riding on the road, the bike felt natural. As a matter of fact, I would say I enjoyed it more on the road vs. dirt. For one, this was new to me. The concept of road riding has never interested me until now. I’ve literally logged several hundred miles in less than two week’s time. One of my regular routines for the last three weeks is going on two road rides – 30 and 20 mile ride. For me that’s a lot considering the dirt trails I usually ride are from 7-15 miles. On the road I feel more comfortable with the bike’s ergonomics. Perhaps the risk factor isn’t so great compared to mountain biking but I’m having a blast! Despite the frequent headwind that I faced, I tucked into an aerodynamic position and pedaled on.  The amount of distance gained is unnoticeable.  The bike flies!

The Ride:
Due to a light build (24 lbs), climbing and sprinting on this bike has been fairly easy. Both on dirt and road, I’m able to accelerate with ease. The bike handles nicely and it feels very stable and responsive. On most road climbs I’ve been able to stay on the big ring. The routes have been moderate and I’ve managed to stay on the big ring and pedal through. On dirt, the trails have a much steeper climb where I found myself dropping to the middle chainring. With its light build I can quickly pop out of the saddle and grind up to the top.

On dirt, because of a cautious style of riding, I haven’t had a chance to feel a heavy “off-road” braking. I’ve ridden predictably where I’ve allowed ample time to slow down with the assistance of the AUX brakes (rather than the traditional brake levers). Having used disc brakes for the last seven years, the difference is noticed immediately pulling the levers for the center-pull cantilever brakes. Although I felt drag, it provided plenty of stopping power.

Riding on the road, I quickly acclimated to using the standard brakes. Through various turns whether it was quick, sharp or sweeping, I was able to use the standard brakes and control the bike much easier. This can be attributed to my confidence being on the road and not a reflection on the Conquest Sport.

                                                              One of my regular rides on Santiago Cyn Rd. 10 miles out and back.

Over all:
Thus far I have enjoyed the Redline Conquest Sport. I have to admit I have spent significant time with it on the road versus the dirt. It’s apparent that the concept of road riding has intrigued me. Although I cannot compare to any other road bike, I am quite pleased with its performance. I love the fact that I can quickly accelerate and gain a great amount of distance. I am eager to give cyclocross racing a shot. I can’t wait for the season to start this coming fall. Stay tuned as I post an update on my progress and race results.

                      Overlooking the local trails that I usually ride on my mountain bike.

Special thanks to Master Mechanic RL Policar for putting this bike together. For more information goto 2010 Redline Conquest Sport (cyclocross bike).