While the original meaning of the term Skunkworks used by Lockheed Martin during WW2 to develop fighter aircraft is still around, the term has become more generic, like ‘Tissue’ (despite being a registered trade mark), and in todays world it can mean anything from a group creating a project together, or an unknown entity producing a product. I first heard the term used back when I was involved in racing cars referring to a certain 'skunkworks' engine builder. This mentality fits with this bike build. While I am no engineer, and everything was bought (I even had a LBS put it together!), I decided to drop the glamour of a name brand frame, and set out to build a top-level bicycle with a budget. I introduce you, to Skunkworks. (There may be a ghost sticker on the bike at some point…).
I pieced together the bike over a few months because of my budget minded shopping. Only a hand full of parts were bought at full price, while most were discounted via sites like Chain Love, Ebay or here. Because of that I easily saved a few grand in the overall cost. While this is
WW, there were only two weights that I was really concerned about; the frame, and the completed bike. Therefore I do not have a weight list, however all the parts are name brand and weights are posted around the net…
Let’s get to the bike.
The frame is a FM-069 from Hong-Fu. Overall, the look and feel of the frame is quite good. At a size 50 it scaled in at 880 grams, a tad heavier then I thought, but still decent. It took about a month to get to me, but that was due to the fact that it was sent to the US, and then forwarded to me in Italy. So far, great experience with Hong-Fu. Below is the complete build list: Complete bike weight as pictured (6.68kg/14.7lbs)
Frame – Hong Fu FM-069 (880g)
Wheels – Mavic Cosmic 40c (I meant to scale these, but installed the cassette before I could)
Stem – 3T ARXII 90mm
Bars - 3T Ergonova Team
Shifters – Campy Record 11
Cranks – Campy Record 11 Compact 172.5
Pedals – Look Keo
Front D – Campy Super Record (Found cheapest on Ebay)
Rear D – Campy Super Record (Again was the cheaper option)
Cassette – Campy Super Record 12-27
Brakes – Planet X CNC (More on these later)
Pads - SwissStop Black Prince (Not pictured)
Bottle cages – Hong-Fu carbon (I did scale these, they were 25g each)
Seatpost – Fizik Cyrano Carbon
Saddle – Fizik Arione CX Carbon
Tires – Vittoria Open Corsa CX
First impressions are superb! Compared to my older Wilier (last picture) the difference is that of a new age Ferrari and an early 90's Ferrari. First off there is almost a 4lbs weight difference, which is huge. Second the frame is much stiffer, this makes it noticeably more vibrant and 'twitchy' (In a good way). . Along with the switch to 172.5 crank arms from 170, it really comes alive out of the saddle and you can really tell which bike you are on. I don't think I really need to comment on the group set, Campy is well… Campy. Biggest thing is the brakes. I went with the Planet X calipers mainly based off the cost, and second because of the weight. I had heard mixed reviews, but decided to give them a shot anyways. First off, they look fantastic which is a plus. However their performance hasn't won me over yet. After the first ride (an 11km climb up Monte Serre and back down) I was ready to swap them out right when I got home. I had absolutely no confidence in them. Braking modulation was non existent and stopping power wasn't satisfying. The more I thought about it though, I realized that I was coming from Campy calipers and aluminum braking tracks to a full carbon wheel and WW calipers. I gave it another chance on a second ride and am starting to learn the brakes and realize their potential. While modulation still isn't very good, Im finding out that they actually do provide quite a bit of stopping power (I'm 158lbs). The cable stop mechanism is also iffy. I am having trouble clamping down on the cable enough and I feel under a really hard stop, the cable will pull right through. With that said, they will likely stay on my bike for the immediate future until I attempt to rig up some DuraAce calipers (yup…).
Unfortunately the weather here in Italy isn't being nice, so I was unable to get some nice scenic shots. Those will come in the future, but for now, here are some garage shots. Enjoy! *Full size photos available upon request.
The older Wilier (Has different wheels now…)