2012 Conquest Pro Carbon
Review: 2012 Conquest Pro CarbonBy Scott Mares | Published Sep 25, 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 Black paint job and sections of clear coated carbon that are accented with some red detail striping give the Carbon Conquest pro a very classy and elegant look.
Ease of Assembly
The bikes were already put together for us. Tim and his crew left nothing to chance!Bling Factor
So in this instance its not just one thing on the bike. Its the complete package. This bike was dressed out very nicely with a complete FSA package execpt for the brakes. The brkes were a nice choice as they were the KORE canti's and they are unusual and give it a distinct look.
Road Test Ride
We were unable to do a road test ride at the time. However, We will update this post as we will be riding this bike in and at Cross Vegas. So stayed tuned!
Dirt Test Ride
In 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
We did not get a chance to ride it on a trainer.
So there are lots of things that we liked about the new 2012 Redline Conquest Carbon Team bike. The Redline bikes don’t change radically, they have 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 Pro 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 for brake options. So Redline is planning for the future by having this frame set come with Dis mount tabs. 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 canti brake clogging up with mud and slowing you down.
Another thing that we liked about the Conquest Carbon Pro is that all of the cables are internal. 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 bottom bracket is 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 this frame set it was difficult to pick something out that we didn't like about the bike. With the Team frame set the cable routing for the disc brakes stood out on the white paint job. Not so with the Pro. The Pro is mostly black and this makes the disc cable routing blend right in.
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 available separately and the forks MSRP is $329.99 and weighs in at 495g which 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. But I guess getting the industry to agree to make a standard 1 bolt seat post would be like getting a standard bottom bracket size.
The really great thing about this bike is how upgradeable it is, And how you really don't need to upgrade it. The frame is the heart of the bike. The Frame set is this great carbon frame with a full carbon fork that is chatter free. So the platform is world class. Redline line gave the bike a good rival build and put SRAM's new Apex shifters on it. Slightly cheaper in price and only 44g heaver. So the bike has a modest but solid build that is plenty for the local series. But if you love the sport and really get into it you can totally upgrade the group and take this bike up to a world class level. With its current build the bike is 18 lbs. Put a Force or a Red group with some tubular race wheels and you have a sub 17 lb race machine.
The Final Say
So why is the Redline Conquest Carbon Pro Cross Bike of the Year? Ok the heart of any bike is the frame and fork. This bike has lots and lots of heart. Its world class actually. Redline kept the same frame for the Pro as the Team. The only difference is how they dressed it out. The Team is white and the Pro ois black. So the reason that we picked the Pro is because it comes with a really great component package for the price and if you want to up grade the bike it is totally upgradeable to something that could be raced on the world cup level. Other bikes in this price point have a good frame set and a great specs. So even though they are great bikes you can't upgrade them unless you go to a better frame set and that would be a different bike all together. Secondly, most of the competition weigh more than this bike stock. With all that said the bottom line is the Redline Conquest Carbon Pro has a world class platform with lots of features that comes with a above average spec at a good price point that has the flexibility to grow from local race series to the world stage with a few upgrades.
Redline stand up and take a bow please.
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