Review: KlatchBy Scot Jarchow | Published Aug 26, 2014
Right Out of the Box
Earlier this summer, Co-Motion Bicycles, one of the largest manufacturers of custom frame builders in the United States, sent us their do everything exploring/cross bike, the Klatch with Sport Kit Specification to review. If you’re anything like me, you’ve known Co-Motion for their tandem bikes; however, over the last couple of falls in Northwest their cyclocross frames like the Lucifer and recent addition the CX Rex have become more commonplace spitting out mud on the local scene. Co-Motions have been putting out quality bikes from Eugene, Oregon for over 26 years. As one of the largest custom frame manufactures in the United States, Co-Motion is one of the few fabricators that build all the frame components in-house! That is right the craftsman at Co-Motion do everything in- house from CNC machining their own drop outs and head tubes, mill and lathe butted tubing to precision, to brazing & TIG welding each frame, finishing the frame with beautifully paint job and polishing all in-house.
Our test ride was on a beautiful black gloss painted Co-Motion Klatch, made from the legendary super strong & damage resistant Reynolds 853 steel alloy tubing with Memphis Blue Decals and two toned (black gloss& Memphis blue) painted Enve CX Disc fork. Having ridden on many frames made with Reynolds 853 tubes over the past 15 years, I was fascinated by the circumference of the down tube that seemed to dwarf the seat tube. The down tube measured 12.8 centimeters; which seemed really unusual for steel tubing especially compared with the 8.25 centimeter seat tube. The next eye catching point of interest was on the head tube; my first thought was, is that really steel, and how much milling did that take to make! My next thought is Co-Motions marketing team is engaging is psychological warfare with consumers! Why do I say that, well that headset, especially in dressed in black gloss paint, looks pretty close to what many psychologists suggest are the perfect dimension of the female form… 34-26-36 Ok the Co-Motion Klatch might have slightly smaller bust and slightly larger hips, but it is still beautiful to look at.
The beautifully painted Klatch is mated with many high end components: As mentioned the Klatch frame is matched with unbelievably light (460g) and super stiff Enve CX Disc fork. Co-Motions partnered the Enve fork to its shapely head tube with Chris King Inset Tapered headset with patent GripLock system for years of trouble free use. The drive train relies on Shimano 105 5700 SIS shifters, front & medium caged rear derailleur, 11-32 cassette. Included in that drivetrain is what likely the single most universally popular part on a new cyclocross bike in North America, the FSA Gossamer crankset! Stan’s No Tube Iron Cross Comp1590 gram wheelset help make the Klatch move quickly, especially paired with the speedy 700X33C Schwalbe Racing Ralph that our Co-motion came with. Stopping the Klatch was left up to recently released TRP Spyre dual mechanical disc brakes with large 160mm rotors. The cockpit was finished with popular FSA stem & bars, Thompson seatpost and Selle Italia saddle.
Road Test Ride
In all honesty I did not spend a great deal of riding time on roads, typically I was riding a 4 to 6 miles to get nearest gravel roads, local parks, high school or Forest Park to explore! From what I can say about the time with Klatch on the road, she was quite smooth on chip & seal farm roads that I can frequently be found on. Honestly the Klatch is so smooth, I would seriously consider ditching aluminum road bike & road tires for fast rolling 700X32C or 34C cyclocross tires and steel bike! I was surprised to find myself riding at similar speeds as normal, without all the harsh oscillations, chip & seal roads can dish out! Additionally on the roads, the combination of precision Enve CX Disc fork, great bottom bracket height and longer chainstays make the Klatch a blast to carve great line in the pavement! I do not think I fully realized that until I went back to my regular ride, the first time that I took specific sharp turn that I ridden a hundred times this year, I found myself drifting about a foot wider than I was with the Klatch! Man the Klatch corners like a Mini-Cooper; which was so (insert other F word if you must) fun!
I know what you’re saying to yourself: “Yeah, yeah sure it’s steel, it should offer a smoother ride than aluminum frame, but it still steel, which makes it a boat anchor going up hills…” Well I did ride a few hills to get to those gravel roads and Forest Park. I can tell you with a straight face, ok a straight face with a crooked nose, I did not recognize a significant difference between weight between the 21.8lbs Co-Motion Klatch with Racing Ralphs and my 18.0lbs Specialized Crux with Schwalbe One tubeless set up, going uphill. In fact on my way to Forest Park, I rode up a popular local climb and ended up riding just 10 seconds slower over the eleven minutes of climbing then two weeks before, with eerily the same weather conditions. Actually I took advantage of the lower gearing, spinning a 34X28 with average cadence of 90 rpm, which generated an hr 5 beats lower than two weeks ago. I have to credit not only the Klatch, but the Stan’s No Tube wheelset and Schwalbe Racing Ralph’s for this belief. I have ridden that climb a few times with the cross set up that originally came with my Crux and I was about one and half to two minutes slower because of boat anchor back wheels that came with the Crux!
After reviewing how many exclamations points over I used in the two paragraphs I have to give the Klatch five cowbells…
Dirt Test Ride
Honestly I am not a big fan gravel, unfortunately the reason why did not get pass the editorial process. With that said I realize one of focuses for Co-Motion Klatch is that it one of those bikes does all, so I definitely needed to spend some time on the gravel to see how it handled, as well off-cambers turns and high speed turns on grass to see the Klatch really lived to moniker of explorer, gravel grinder and cross bike. Where I live in Washington County, Oregon, is just a few minutes away from the Metro Agriculture Zone and many, many miles of quiet, secluded gravel roads. With the Klatch’s forgiving steel frame, Schwalbe Racing Ralph, Stan No Tubes Iron Cross Disc wheels, and TRP Spyre 160mm rotors mechanical disc brakes, I quickly gained confidence turning on gravel, overall having fun on riding on roads sparsely traveled by motor powered four -wheeled vehicles . The Klatch is easily the best bike I have ever ridden over gravel! I could not believe how easy it was to carve turns on gravel with this machine! I felt so comfortable with how stable, comfortable the Klatch is and its laser guided turning, that I returned to the gravel downhill where I split a helmet years ago, and flew down it at 31 mph for a little redemption! That was a blast!
I also ran the Klatch through Forrest Park a couple times. I will admit that running through some of the turns between the 2 and 5 mile markers were a little rough with the Klatch. Those turns are lined with buried 6 to 10 inch slabs of rocks to prevent erosion; it did make you feel like you are riding over a washboard. Although part of that is, I am pretty big guy, and have a history of pinch flatting in that section of Forest Park with clinchers when I run them lower than 40 psi this time of the year. I REALLY HAD A BLAST riding on Leaf Erickson just north of Saltzman road/trail, that first downhill was just so much fun, that I had to do it again, and again, and again, and again! (Note although I went fast, I made sure I stayed safe, I made sure I wouldn’t encounter runners, and kept a sharp eye for fellow riders! Safety First! Damn that was fun!)
Finally over the past week I have ridden the Klatch over to the local high school and a couple neighborhood parks where I do intervals, hill repeats and work on cross skills. The last time I rode Klatch at the high school, I rode with a tubeless set up on the Racing Ralph and managed to finally successfully set a Clement PDX tubeless, running Klatch with tire pressure in the mid 30’s over the bone dry surface made the bike just float over the ground. Wondering if the Clement PDX tubeless setup was going to hold up, I did not blaze through the sharp turns, despite that feeling I could tell the Klatch still wanted to carve fast/clean turns! With Stan No Tube wheels, the neither tire burped a single time….
After reviewing how many exclamations points I used over the last three paragraphs I have to give the Klatch five cowbells… The Klatch is a lot of fun to run off-road!
Trainer Test Ride
It is July and August in Portland, Oregon, this is the best time of the year to spend time outside, so I did not ride this Co-Motion on a trainer. Sorry! I am sure this bike would be rock solid in a trainer.
As you can tell from reading the past couple of paragraphs, I really liked the Co-Motion Klatch, I liked the Reynolds 853 tubing with Enve fork and Chris King Headset. I love the versatility of Stan No Tube Iron Cross Comp Wheelset! The Schwalbe Racing Ralph are great tire for doing double duty of exploring gravel, trails while still being able to play on pavement and grass. I thought the Shimano 105 drivetrain performed admirably and appreciation the stopping power and modulation of the TRP Spyre’s. Overall I really had fun exploring Washington County with the versatile Klatch.
We Didn't Like
Ok looking at other handmade builder’s, who build cross frames in this price range and that are regulars at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show, like Co-Motion is, none of them are running cable housing for the rear disc brakes on the bottom of the top tube. For me that third rear disc cable holding braze-on was right in my sweet spot, it one took just one shouldering drill to quickly realize shouldering this bike was like receiving a Vulcan Nerve Pinch from Mr. Spock!
On lesser note: I really not a big fan of front derailleur clamps on steel frames.
Some things come to mind about upgrading, if this were my primary racing bike, and I was a serious racer; first I would bypass the Co-Motion Sports Kit and get the Elite Kit; which essentially replaces the Shimano 105 drivetrain with the new Shimano Ultegra 11 speed drivetrain and maybe negotiate pricing with Co-Motion over upgrading the crankset. Second I would order the Co-Motion custom frame/custom fitting option for additional $350. Like most of other cyclocross or new bike in general, I would switch out stem, handlebars and saddle with my own personnel preferences. Finally if I was serious racer naturally I would be running 1,300 gram tubular wheel set.
If I just raced cyclocross occasionally I would still choose the custom fitting, and use different stem and saddle. Additionally if traveled with my bike a lot, I would get the Klatch with SS couplers, so I do not get railed into additional baggage fees. Co-Motion can put SS couplers on any of their steel frames and have been doing for the past 20 years.
The Final Say
If you are cycling enthusiast who is looking for more adventure or is looking to get a little further off the beaten path, or you are a Co-Motion tandem lover looking for occasional solo ride, consider the Co-Motion Klatch, she might be what your yearning for. She is responsive ride, who will lead you where you want to go and she keeps good company with Chris King, Enve, FSA, Selle Italia, Shimano, Stan No Tubes, Thompson and TRP all having her back.
Share this Review
- First Impressions
- On the Road
- On the Dirt
Like this bike? Hate it? Cast your vote and tell us why!
- FSA Omega Compact 44CM Black
- TRP Spyre Dual Sided Mechanical Disc Brake, 160mm Rotor
- Bottom Bracket
- FSA Gossamer MegaExo
- Shimano 105 CS-5700 10 Speed 11-32
- Shimano CN-5701
- FSA Gossamer 50/34T
- Front Derailleur
- Shimano 105 5700
- Rear Derailleur
- Shimano 105 RD-5700 Medium Cage
- Chris King Inset Tapered Headset With Patient GripLock System
- Selle Italia Nekkar Flow
- Thompson Elite
- Shimano 105 ST- 5700 10 Speed STI Dual Control
- FSA Gossamer 120 CM
- Schwalbe Racing Ralphs 700 x 33C
- Stan NoTubes Iron Cross Comp Disc Wheelset