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Those expecting a biased report should prepare to eat their words. The Responsorium is more expensive, higher spec'd and yet I prefer the Duende!
The Duende feels like a modern take on a very, very good old school steel bike. Stiff through the bottom bracket, tracks beautifully, but really comfortable and forgiving. The Responsorium rides like a modern carbon bike. Stiff everywhere, no loss of power, sharp response (could be quite aptly named!).
If you are after that 'steel' feel, the Responsorium is not the bike for you. It is a real criterium weapon, and a very competitive race bike. I live in central London and have to get out of London over some pretty awful roads to get anywhere near smooth tarmac. I arrived absolutely beaten up after what was meant to be quite a leisurely ride.
There are 3 main differences between the 2 bikes, and I can't yet tell to what extent each are responsible for the ride characteristics differences:
1) Stainless Steel frame with oversized chainstays (Responsorium) vs Nivacrom with standard chainstays (Duende)
2) Carbon forks (Responsorium) vs Steel forks (Duende)
3) Deep section carbon wheels (Responsorium) vs Shallow section aluminium rims (Duende)
I had Zipp 404s on the Duende previously and it still rode smoothly, so I can confidently rule out the wheels, although I have a set of Hyperons to try on the Responsorium to see how this changes the ride.
I had carbon forks on the Duende before and the steel forks are definitely more comfortable, but are perhaps only 30% of the difference. They were the same Mizuno carbon forks that are on the Responsorium, so the comparison is apples-for-apples.
So, that only leaves the frame itself. The tubing, diameters and build make all the difference. Dario has built a beautiful race bike, and and one that deserves to be raced. It would definitely hold its own with any oversized modern carbon bike that I have ridden. The rear end is built for stiffness, responsiveness (that word again!) and large chainstays and seatstays and huge dropouts make a massive impact.
Ultimately, it is horses for courses. On a relaxing Sunday morning ride, or just a recovery or gentle ride, the Duende wins hands down. More forgiving, more 'steel', heavier but an all round pleasurable experience. The Responsorium will only come out of the bike shed when I want something purposeful, sharp and aggressive for those eyeballs out rides.
I had a similar experience a few years back with my Sevens. I had a double butted Axiom. Best bike I have ever ridden and very similar to the Duende. I then bought a triple butted, super light Aerios which was stiff, unforgiving and not as pleasurable to ride. Seems that history has repeated itself.
Light weight, it would appear is nothing without comfort. Possibly not a popular view on here, but the slightly heavier, slightly more forgiving Duende just feel more planted and tracks the road better without bouncing over every slight undulation.
i used to run 7 bar on my conti tubs which is probably the minimum, but any higher and i found comfort and poise reduced accordingly.
I have some fairly constant base points for comparison (wheels, forks and components), so I am fairly convinced this is just a super stiff, super fast built frame.
Having read the previous post it does sound like I am not happy, but actually I am. The bike does exactly what it is meant to, but I guess I am surprised at how 'modern' a steel bike can feel. It can really hold it's own against any over-sized carbon frame.
I believe the Hyperon will smooth things out, try them with 100psi max. As for the carbon fork I think it contributes quite a bit to front end stiffness.
In some ways it is good that the two bikes behave differently but I hear you on the Duende.
If you have to keep only one which one would it be?
Or give it a try with the Nemesis, they are one of the most comfortable rim out there.
Two of my main steel bikes are a XCr Carl Strong (TIG) and a Sachs (lugged). The Strong has an Edge 2.0 carbon fork and the Sachs, well of course a Sachs steel fork. So I think I understand what you mean.... I also have a set of Nemesis wheels and a bunch of carbon ones. If I had to keep only one bike (out of all my bikes not just the steel ones) it would be without a doubt the Sachs. But hey, I am going to get a Marcelo so it may change that, who knows...
I like your honesty
It's sometimes quite hard to look objectively when you've just paid a lot of $$ for something.....
The more I ride, the less I spend
The Resposnorium is a beautiful bike and in that respect I can't say that I am disappointed, but maybe the Duende just suits my rapidly ageing body better!
The Hyperons arrived and first layer of glue applied last night. Should be able to report on Saturday how they alter things. They look fantastic, but let's see how they ride.
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