2012 Conquest Carbon Team
Review: 2012 Conquest Carbon TeamBy Scott Mares | Published Jun 20, 2011
Right Out of the Box
Saturday morning turned out to be a cool sunny day in the pacific NW. The cyclocross gods had decided to smile favorably upon me and allow me to get in some good quality time on the new 2012 Carbon Conquest. We were picked up in the Redline van and taken to Sea Tac for the shake down. Tim Rutledge pulled the bike out of the van and I was very impressed with the way the bike looked. I thought to myself gone are the days that cross bikes having lines that make them stand out from their road cousins. Redline had put together a frame set that was beautiful. The White paint job and sections of clear coated carbon that are accented with some red detail striping give the Carbon Conquest Team a very classy and elegant look.Bling Factor
The bling factor was mostly the frame and fork on this bike. It is apparent that Redline had done their home work and put a lot of thought into producing a high quality frame set. This speaks volumes to Redline's devotion to cyclocross. However, just like a beautiful piece of art there are subtle accents that ties the entire thing together. The brakes are black with red accents and the chain ring bolts really pop against the black crank as they are red as well. Put this with the red hubs of the Easton EA 50 wheels and the bike is dressed out very nicely with out it being gaudy. Well done. But for my test ride Time brought out the Dura Ace C50 tubular wheels. Any time you see those two little words on a piece of cycling equipment the game gets taken to another level. These wheels were pretty Pimpin!
Road Test Ride
Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to take the Redline Carbon Team out on the road and ride it for a extended period of time.
Dirt Test Ride
If you have ever been to the pacific NW you know that its not flat. Even though its not at altitude there is lots of climbing to be had in Seattle and especially at Sea Tac. We were out testing this bike with Redline's local pro Ryan and I was taken to place to show how well this bike preformed by our testing template. Plenty are the power climbs in Sea Tac and I was not surprised at all with how the Carbon Conquest Team preformed. This bike has no problem in getting traction on the climbs and if you got the motor and good rubber then your will go up.Cornering & Handling
There are two areas about cornering that I am going to talk about here. The first is the known corner. This is the corner that you know is there, you see it and you have time to set up and adjust your speed and where you are going to enter and exit from it. As racers we like these corners and we can tell a lot about a bike when we are going through them. The sequence should be we see the corner, we set up our speed and plot our trajectory into and out of the corner and monitor the bike through the entire process. The Redline Carbon Conquest was open for business and business was good. There was no over steering, I didn't have to put too much input into the bike to get it to track through the corner
The second kind of corner is the one you can't see around. There is something blocking the view of the line that you should take or you have limited line of sight of the line that you need to take. You are approaching it at Mach 1 and you don't know if its a 90 degree corner or a 120 degree corner until you start to enter it. Then you have to make an adjustment of your line for any thing that might be there waiting to greet you like a big rock or a tree root. This requires that the bike be on point and respond immediately to the commands that the rider gives it. But you don't want a bike that is overly sensitive to the input that you over correct and crash. We have had a lot of rain this year in the pacific north west so there was plenty of this type of corners out at Sea Tac. The Redline carbon Team is a very well balanced bike and was a pleasure to ride there. If the bike is overly sensitive to input then I am hyper aware and nervous in these situations. Not so here with the Redline Carbon Team. I felt very comfortable on the bike and could focus on the job at hand. the cornering on the bike was almost intuitive.Ride Feel
So over all we are going to give the Redline carbon Team high marks for its ride feel. Whether it was on the single track of Sea Tac or the short pavement sections the bike felt stable and solid. But at the same time it was responsive. This is a well balanced and behaved bike that will allow its rider to focus on racing and not be worried if the bike is going to act up and throw a tantrum like some one's kid does in the middle of the mall on a busy Saturday because their mom won't let them have some ice-cream. So all you have to do in click in and power up the warp engines and say "Engage" and off the line you will go for a great ride.
Trainer Test Ride
Race Test Ride
We are hoping to get to race it at Cross Vegas!
So there are lots of things that we liked about the new 2012 Redline carbon Team bike. The Redline bikes don’t change radically they evolve into better cyclocross bikes over the years and the 2012 is no exception. Redline made the chain stays shorter this year by .5 cm to give the bike better traction and from the time I got to spend on it they got it right. Lots of traction was to be had. The chain stays are now 42.5 cm in length.
Redline then changed the bottom bracket drop. Back in the day they made cross bikes with higher than normal bottom brackets. Why did they do that? Well back then you had toe clips and straps and they would drag on the ground when you pedaled after remounting. Now that we have clipless pedals we don’t need high bottom brackets and we can have a more stable bike. Some companies will make a cross bike with a high bottom bracket and think that is what you do when you make a cross bike.
The next thing that we liked about the Redline Carbon Team was that the steerer tube flares to a massive 1.5”! This stiffens up the front end and makes the bike a better sprinting and climbing machine. Nice! With the new ruling that you can have disc brakes in UCI races that opens up the possibilities. So Redline is planning for the future. There are a lot of advantages with using disc brakes in a cyclocross race. Disc brakes are way more powerful than canti's to start with. Secondly, the mud is usually if not always at the tire and rim so mud is not an issue with them. No canto brake clogging up with mud and slowing you down.
I have been kneeling at the alter praying for the cyclocross gods to have bike manufacturers do this for years. finally, it happened and I love it. I am sure that others will follow suite. So here is the big thing with having the cables internally routed. If you rout the cables like a regular bike the cables are in the way and get gunk all over them. Every time you pick up the bike to shoulder the bike your hand grabs cable and the cable will go across your forearm. The reason you would do this is the front derailleur cable will work properly and you can shift. If you rout the cables on the top they are out of the way but then you have to put a pulley on the back of the seat tube and that will catch lots of mud and grass. So Redline just routed the cables inside and snipped that issue right in the bud.
Yet another feature that we LOVE is that the BB bearings are fully enclosed in the frame by an aluminum sleeve to protect them from moisture. The only way your going to get water in there is if you ride the bike underwater or take a professional grade pressure washer and hold it directly at the bottom bracket for more than 10 seconds. This design allows for water drainage from the tubes themselves! So this cuts down on the maintenance of the bike right there. Speaking of the bottom bracket. Redline also wanted to have a place for the mud to go other than on your bike. So what they did was to Shape the bottom bracket at the chain stay junction and give it a slope. this meant that the Sculpted BB junction would let mud slide off the frame and still keep that area stiff.
We Didn't Like
While we only got to spend a few hours on the bike it was difficult to pick something out that we didn't like about the bike. With that said we did think that the disc cable routing should be the same color of the frame that its attached to. So the black cable router really stood out like the proverbial fly in the ointment to us. The reason was that they bike was made of smooth flowing lines and then the smooth lines are disrupted with this cable tie router. Keep in mind that it is taste rather than a rule.
We also wanted to know why the bike only had disc on the back and not on the fork. Redline told us that if you want to do disc front and rear they are offering a matching fork for this bike. The word in the industry is that everyone is gearing up for disc brakes on cross bikes and its the lever that everyone is waiting for. The forks is availableseparately and the forks MSRP is $329.99 and weighs in at 495gwhich is only 15g more than the standard fork. We have included pictures of the fork in the gallery.
The final thing that we don't like is not about the frame but about the seat post. Nothing against Ritchey components but this particular type of seat post I hate. I personally hate this style because you have to loosen and tighten 2 separate bolts on the seat post to adjust the saddle. That is in itself a pain but its such a tight fit anyway that you will end up scratching up the post. So I would rather have a single bolt seat post. Again, taste rather than a rule.
Upgrades would be
I would say get a single bolt seat post. Is there anything really wrong with this seat post? No except that I personally don't like the design and hate to scratch up a seat post making adjustments. Then maybe upgrade to carbon bars if you really want to. This brings me to a point. Two words here "Want" and "Need" Does the bike "Need" any upgrades? I would say no. I "want" a single bolt seat post because of my preference. Do I need to get a different post? No I don't. What about the wheels? they are kind of on the heavy side of things. I would say "No" again. Because if you buy this bike more than likely you will have a set of race wheels and the Easton wheels are going to be great training/ race wheels.
The Final Say
Its obvious to me that the guys at redline had done their homework and have created a truly world class cross bike with the Carbon Team. Usually this level of cross bike will require a second mortgage and that exclude most except the pros. Not so here with the Carbon Conquest Team. This bike is for the seasoned cross racer that is ready to upgrade from aluminum to a all carbon fiber bike with all of the bells and whistles that you would expect from the most expensive frame manufacturers.
The Carbon Conquest Team comes right off the show room floor ready to race and bristling with features that will surely make any seasoned cross racer stand up and clap. The seasoned racer will recognize that the Easton EA50 wheels are training wheels and you will need to add your own lightweight hoops. the Carbon Team has features like large tubes, a stiff fork, cool graphics, and a low bottom bracket. However the two most noteworthy items that stand out the most to me are the integration of the cables in the down tube and secondly the aluminum sealed bottom bracket shell that has a water drainage hole are stand outs in my mind. Another nice feature that the Carbon team has is that this bike has the flexibility to add disc brakes as they become more available. Having a disc brake has several advantages in very muddy conditions as mud cakes on the tires and usually will not get in or around the disc brake. Canti brakes are another story all together in muddy conditions.
Lastly, this bike is a solid performer in the race area. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned cyclocross Jedi you will love how the Carbon Conquest Team behaves. The Carbon Conquest Team is well balanced in that is not too twitchy, lots of stability and traction. As a certain blond girl would say “ Its Just Right”. If you are planning your campaign for the upcoming cyclocross season I would put my order in for one now as I am certain that there will be a line to get one.
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