PRICE: $1,000 (frame); $2840 (as tested)
THE STORY: Owner Carl Strong started Strong Frames in 1993 and the company has grown steadily ever since; Strong now builds about 200 steel, titanium and aluminum frames year, and while most are road frames, the company also makes mountain and cyclocross frames. Most Strong frames are custom builds (the Hyalite is the only model to come in stock sizes; a custom Hyalite is an extra $200), and Strong offers plenty of build -kit options, including four kits from Shimano and six from Campagnolo. If you’re in the neighborhood, you can visit Carl Strong and his two employees in the Bozeman, Montana, factory for a tour or a fitting, HEAR THIS: Careful craftsmanship, durable powdercoat finish HEED THIS: Some frame flex under heavy load (felt only when really mashing) WEIGHT 19.3 lb. (56cm, w/o pedals) SIZES 51, 52, 53. 54, 56, 56 (tested), 57, 58, 59, 60cm; custom FRAME; Columbus Foco, EL and Zona steel FORK: (as tested) Wound Up w/carbon-fiber legs, aluminum crown and dropouts COMPONENT HIGHLIGHTS: (as tested) Campagnolo Centaur 20-speed drivetrain; Cane Creek headset; 3T Forgie stem, Eva handlebar; Thomson Elite seatpost; Mavic Open wheels; Michelin Pro Race tires; Selle Italia Oktavia Genuine Gel saddle CONTACT. 800/586-1105; strongframes.com
My first ride on the Hyalite was a rain-filled three-hour cruise, and the frame provided a solid ride; I felt as comfortable on the stock Hyalite frame as on my custom Serotta Legend Ti. Carl Strong says the Hyalite’s typical buyer is a cyclist who knows what fits and wants an all-day ride, and to that end, he balances the steel with a comfort-oriented geometry. Strong describes the bike as a “jack-of-all-trades, master of none,” and that seams an apt description of our experience with the TIG-welded steal chassis. Though it gives a stiff ride, the frame doesn’t transmit road chatter to the rider, and the geometry is roomy enough to let you sit up and gab or hunker down for a friendly sprint. The flex we felt on climbs and hard sprints is a demerit if you want to race, but if you’re more interested in longer rides, the slight give contributes to the all-day comfort. The straight-legged Wound Up fork on our 56cm test bike felt slightly twitchy, but contributed lots of road feel at the handlebar. If you want to tip the frame more toward the comfort side, you’d want to choose a different fork option (Strong offers 14 choices). The Campagnolo Centaur test group suited the frame well, providing solid shifting and Old World cachet without breaking the bank.