Friday, May 7, 2010

Fascenario 0.7

Marcus Storck, now in his early 40s, has been designing bicycles for more than 30 years. His design philosophy is to make things once, make them well, and not upgrade them every one or two years. You can’t do any better than that, he says.
Storck makes me think of a book of a few years ago that I am re-reading only now, with a renewed sense of interest and much pleasure. The book is The Craftsman, by the sociologist Richard Sennett. The idea of craftsmanship, Sennett writes, is not applicable only to wood carving or macramé, but to virtually every aspect of our world, from dentistry to writing or computer 3D rendering. Even lawyers or bond traders have the potential of being craftsmen. At some point or another in our daily lives, we translate ideas into things, and if we have any salt in our brains, we want to do it well. It is this innate reward of making things to the best of one’s ability that craftsmen treasure, far beyond material rewards or public praise.
Marcus Storck is a craftsman in the best sense of the word. Storck knows that, in terms of market share and level of public exposure, his bikes will never compete with the giants in the business. That is not his goal. His objective is to make the best bikes he can.
The Fascenario 0.7 (no further information is available about the origin of this name) was introduced in 2007 and is still in production. At that time, his was the lightest production racing machine available, one complete bike for 12.7 pounds.

There are many remarkable qualities about this bike, such as the level of craftsmanship in all of its parts, for example, the smoothness of the carbon layering, that make it possible to see the weave through a thin layer of clear coating without any aesthetic loss, or the organic, sensuous forms of the tubes. Many more components than are usually provided by bicycle manufacturers are produced directly by Storck, such as the cranckset, for example.
The Fascenario 0.7 has been a regular fixture at BikeNüt. It is placed on a prominent display in our showroom, implying that is reserved for the most discriminating customers, those looking for a bike at the sight of which only collectors or cognoscenti will emit an appreciative “Wow!” Its frame looks remarkably straightforward, even simple. Even its simplicity communicates quality: if things are good, there is no need to hide them behind useless decoration.
Yet, as good as Storck bikes are, we believe that there is still room for improvement. As usual, this Fascenario 0.7 is not the bike that is shown in Storck’s online catalogue but one that we put together with the best components. Marcus Storck has his own ideas about quality; we have ours.

The wheels consist of a set of Mavic Cosmic Carbone Ultimate. These wheels introduce a new technology, where the spokes do not penetrate the surface of the carbon-fiber rims, thus compromising their structural integrity, but are molded to them. They are tubular rims and are very, very light.

The brakes are REVL Carbon, and, as the name implies, are made of carbon fiber except for the spindle, of course, made of titanium, and the brake pads. As brakes go, they are deceptively simple in their design, reducing the number of moving parts to a minimum. 
As I mentioned earlier, the fork is also manufactured according to Storck's specification. It has its own brand, Stiletto Light USM. It is considered to be extremely stiff and reliable for its weight, a meager 260 g. Why should Storck go to the trouble of designing, engineering, and manufacturing these things? Easy: no other fork, in this instance, would do, as it would clash with the design quality and appearance of the other components. All parts of this bike merge into a seamless whole.

The same goes for the crankset, also produced by Storck. The PowerArms SL crank is very light (440 g. without chain rings) and stiff and, like almost everything else on this bike, is made of carbon fiber. It is suitable for BB 30 bottom brackets. The outer chaining is also made of carbon fiber and produced by Fibre-Lyte, a British company. The inner chain ring is a Stronglight, made of 7075 aluminum and coated in Teflon for smoothness.

The saddle alone could be the subject of a series of posts. We all know how important saddles are for cyclists, amateurs and pros alike; their importance becomes painfully obvious after spending several hours on them. This, an Arione K:1 by the Italian manufacturer fi’zi:k, is a technological marvel, entirely made of carbon fiber from the seat to the rails, supporting the whole surface of the saddle: 140 g, total. The manufacturer claims the this surface consists of a combination of carbon fiber and soft gel. Mmmmh.

Not everything is black or charcoal grey in this bike. We introduced a touch of color: the KCNC cassette is made of a combination of titanium, light weight aluminum alloy, and scandium, all in the name of lightness, for an approximate weight of 103 g. The chain, also gold in color, is by KMC, model X10SL with a titanium nitrate coating: it is light! Perhaps more importantly, these components work exceedingly smoothly with the Shimano DuraAce group.

Finally, a touch of levity, in the gold colored, Y-Cut TK 233 titanium and alloy skewers by Token: about 40 g for the set.

We've barely scratched the surface, and there is a lot that could be added about this machine. Let's not forget that this bike is made for riding not just for admiring. I know, I'm asking a lot.
One last thing: many thanks to Ryan at BikeNüt for last-minute research on some of the components.

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