During a race incident at Grattan Raceway in 2011 during a circuit road race, I was in need of a new cyclocross frame. Coming into a bunched group sprint an individual got squirrelly on the hoods and took out some racers.I was lucky enough to avoid the initial crash, but with everyone trying not to run into the downed cyclists, one avoider took out the guy in front of me and there was no hope of getting out of a bad situation. I had enough time to think some profanities and something about how this is going to hurt and then I caught some major hang time. Not sure where the bike ended up, I was just glad I wasn’t clipped to it. Luckily I used to wrestle so I had an idea of how to minimize the eventual touch down. I was able see where I was going and tuck my head in a pain reducing manner which allowed me to do a 25 mph somersault which help disperse the force. Saddly, still took a beating on touch down. Had to do the quick diagnostic to make sure nothing was broken and I was up and seeing what was going on around me.
As any cyclist that survived a crash, I checked out to see how the bike fared, not so well it turned. I bent the frame behind the head tube. The bike was a 2011 motobecane fantom cross pro ti, so I had just bent a titanium frame I thought would last me quite some time, as titanium frames are said to last a while. I got the bike for Christmas and crashed it in mid-summer. Only the frame and saddle were destroyed in the crash, the saddle was a serfas ghost saddle with carbon rails which sheared around the clamp. All of the other components survived including my race wheels and fork which I thought should have been massacred.
Needless to say I was in urgent need of a bike to race, once I healed for a couple weeks. Finding used cyclocross frames is no easy feat, even on ebay. By some crazy luck I ran across a Bailey frame being offered online. The price was good, I liked the idea of trying carbon fiber, especially at the $400 price. I found an article about the miniluv which showed promise for the small company. I emailed Bailey Bikes and had a good set of emails where John, the founder, emailed me pictures of the frame and described some of the things that went into designing it and what his experiences had been with the bike.
Since I had just trashed a titanium frame and had never ridden a carbon frame at that point, durability was my primary concern with ride qualities falling closely behind. John told me it was overbuilt being one of the original designs and not knowing exactly how strong to make it. I loved that idea because weighing in at 235 lbs at the time and being a strong sprinter for my category I could flex quite a bit of the frames I had ridden prior. Never realized how badly my old ti frame flexed until I got onto this frame. Night and day difference. The ti frame with all the same components, except saddle, was much less stable when I put the power down and felt almost like a suspension mountain bike in comparison. I thought I was just not as controlled while sprinting because of the racy geometry of the ti frame. I was wrong, very wrong.
Skip ahead to the miniluv fully put together, the thing is rock solid. I’ve ridden it hard, crashed on it hard in a cx race, and ridden it in on light mountain bike trails and it has handled the beating well. The bike turns sharp, it’s stable in the corners, climbs like a champ because of the stiffness and accelerates great. Full race form puts the bike fitted with sram rival groupset with FSA gossamer cranks, ritchey cockpit, and velocity major tom wheels with ultegra hubs. It was a great setup for me last season and only had troubles in one race because I ran the tire pressure way to high on the back and kept crashing, 3 times that race actually.
Nothing is perfect of course. Because the bike is over-built and stiff, it’s not ideal for extended rides, not for me at least. I found it a little unforgiving for rides that last longer than 50 miles. During the Barry-Roubaix race which I covered in an earlier post, I was pretty sore by the end of the race. That distance on gravel road will pummel cyclists on any bike but the stiffness didn’t help for comfort. It made climbs easier and less painful so I would take the loss of comfort over pedaling efficiency any day, especially race day.
I have 8 cyclocross races and 1 ultra cross race on the bike and I’m very satisfied with this bike. Not sure how many are left but if you can get your hands on one in your size it’s a great bike that should last a long time, assuming you don’t crash it into destruction.