In The Press
Curtlo Epic Mountaineer
Out of the box
Taken from April 2000 issue of BIKE Magazine, pages 73.
When it comes to the wide, wide world of mountain bikes, Curtlo, has been turning metal tubes into bikes for the better part of 12 years; surely qualifying as an "old" company. Perhaps best known for fillet-brazing fine steel frames, they're branching out to aluminum frames and steel soft-tails as well. Our test bike is manufactured from a mix of True Temper OX Gold and Ritchey Logic cromoly tubing. The down tube is radically ovalized at the bottom bracket to reduce power-robbing lateral flex while still maintaining ride quality, and the wishbone seatstay to shock juncture is, like the remainder of the frame, diligently fillet-brazed to perfection. The shock, in the Curtlo's case is an elastomer spring model by Power Tools.
While the formula may by no means be unique, Curtlo adds what has earned them a formidable reputation in the frame building business. The Epic Mountaineer gives more than expected for a soft-tail frame costing $825.00. From the artfully sculpted seatstay/shock mount/wishbone juncture to the beautifully radiused joints of the main triangle's fillet-brazed connections, you can easily see what your hard earned cash buys - quality through and through. Using True Temper OX Gold tubing for the front triangle, and Ritchey Logic chainstay tubing (butted specifically for soft tails) for the rear triangle, Curtlo claims the Mountaineer's design is more than durable enough to withstand the flex inherent in the soft-tail design - a claim supported by their lifetime warranty.
ON THE TRAIL
Ride quality offers just what you'd expect - and more. The OX Gold front triangle provides not only a rigid chassis, but also enough vertical compliance to retain rider confidence. Obviously, those seeking an ultra-plush, long travel, adventure seeking suspension bike should look elsewhere. But for those with brains permanently scarred by oxygen debt, the Curtlo is worth a look. The one inch of rear suspension travel steals little, if any, rider power output, and offers just enough to level small hits, enhance traction on technical climbs - minimizing ass-beatings over the course of a long ride. The benefits of custom geometry, rider fit and handling were spot on in the Curtlo. It shines mostly on twisty singletrack. While agile and quick-steering, the Curtlo still has stability and predictability at speed.
As much performance as the Curtlo delivers, a steel soft-tail is still a steel soft-tail. Pivotless full-suspension designs place significant stress on the chainstay and bottom bracket area. Can even the best steel tubeset sustain the stress cycles of a pivotless suspension design? Curtlo states that the Ritchey tubing used for the chainstays has a butting profile designed to distribute stress over a wider portion of the tube. Curtlo also notes that fillet-brazing is more forgiving than the more common TIG-welding found on steel soft-tails. The Epic Mountaineer's lifetime warranty and precise fit (all Curtlo's are custom fit to the consumer) eliminate a lot of doubts.