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June 24, 2016
We’re big fans of Baum Cycles, a local Australian frame builder, and of Above Category, one of the best bike shops in the world, based in San Francisco. When they come together it’s always a thing of beauty.
So when we saw Above Category Brand Manager Nate King’s very own Baum build, we just had to showcase it. Enjoy.
Out of all the bikes out there, why did you choose this one?
Why a Baum? Frankly, it’s a tough question – and a fair one. I’m a former Continental-level pro who’s worked in the industry for premium brand/retailers for the better part of a decade, and now I’m at Above Category in California. I’ve ridden a vast array of bikes, and I’ve ridden them with little regard for their wellbeing.
There’s a lot of really good bikes out there; good bikes that all hit that 9.5/10 mark. Carbon, steel, titanium, aluminum, custom, stock, take your pick – I’ve stomped on them. But the Baum Corretto is something different, something I felt from the first time I took our founder Chad’s out.
The balance is so supreme – it’s stiff, yet comfortable. Light, but solid. Jumpy, but planted. It fits all the marketing hyperbole and then some, even beyond the carbon wunderbikes I’ve piloted.
It’s really as far as you can go with a custom bike, materially speaking – every tube is custom-butted for the rider, and it shows. No, it’s not an aero bike. No, it’s not going to clip the UCI weight limit without serious effort, but it brings a shit-eating grin to my face every time I ride it. It’s the most fun bike I’ve ever ridden, and at the end of the day, that’s exactly why I ride.
It’s the only bike I’ve jumped on and thought “Okay, what next?” I think that’s really, really special – I’m terrified of anything happening to it. For context, when I rode for a team that was sponsored by Pinarello, I didn’t much care when the Dogma showed up on my doorstep. I don’t get attached to bikes, but I wanted the exact opposite. I wanted a bike I could get attached to – and I’m definitely smitten with the Corretto.
What was the process of getting the bike built up like?
I’d ridden the hell out of our eTap launch Corretto (and Chad’s Baums), which gave me a nice frame of reference for Darren, Ryan, and the crew at Baum to go off of. Above Category is the Baum dealer for the Americas, and I took a trip to Geelong back in January to visit with them, as well as get fitted for a bike. I can’t say I’ve ever taken a 20-hour plane trip to get sized up for a frame!
Anyway, it was quite painless. I told Baum what I liked and didn’t like about bikes in the past, my riding style, and my impressions of the Baums I’d ridden. The hardest part was paint, which is normal for these bikes!
The whole process took about four months to delivery of the frame to AC, thanks to us reserving production slots in Baum’s queue ahead of time for our clients.
For paint, I ended up going with an homage to the Lotus 49 in gold leaf livery, and I put a beehive on the seattube. It’s the official emblem of where I grew up, the U.S. state of Utah.
Why did you pick the particular components it’s built up with?
Originally, I was going to build the bike with Campagnolo EPS – because at heart, Campy has always (and will always) occupy a special place in my heart. But after we built up our eTap launch bikes and put a bunch of miles on them before everyone else, I found myself in the awkward purist’s position of being utterly smitten by a SRAM group.
No wires, excellent ergonomics, supreme functionality, it ticked most every box for me. The aesthetics alone are so clean, especially for a minimalist like myself. You could say “Why not mechanical?”, but I’m also a tech nerd, and love the hassle-free aspect of electronic drivetrains because I have a habit of breaking things.
Of course, this being AC, I eschewed the Quarq powermeter for a more-accurate SRM unit with 53/38 chainrings. I also swapped the derailleur pulleys for CeramicSpeed’s coated alloy (which work swimmingly with eTap), and their bottom bracket as well. I don’t much care for the power savings they offer, I just love the feeling of riding ceramic – it’s undeniably smooth, and it makes me giggle when I can kick my pedals and the cranks spin for what seems like eons.
I vacillate between two wheelsets I’ve got — we did a custom set of Zipp 303 tubs with DT Aerolite spokes and DT240 hubs (CeramicSpeed bearings, of course), as well as a set of Campagnolo Bora Ultra 50s (not pictured). The custom hoops are 24H laced F/R, so they’re quite stiff, but I like the damped ride and braking of the Bora.
I go back and forth with which I like more. I went with eeCycleworks brakes over the SRAM Red units. They look incredible, have gobs of tire clearance, weigh nothing, and feel even better.
Frame: Baum Corretto, custom butted titanium,
Fork: ENVE 2.0
Cockpit: ENVE stem/post/compact bar, all custom painted in-house by Baum, topped by a fi’zi:k Arione 00
Groupset: SRAM Red eTap, Blips under the tape on the underside of the bar tops for climbing triggers (these are awesome, by the way), 11-28 cassette, 53/38T chainrings
Powermeter: SRM SRAM,
Wheels: DT240 / Zipp 303 tubular 24H handbuilt
Last but not least, how does it ride?
If you haven’t figured it out by now – it’s the most fun bike I’ve ever swung a leg over. It makes me want to ride excessively. We built it with very short trail and sharp handling, which makes the bike drive a lot like a car that I love dearly, the Porsche 930 (1980s 911 Turbo). If you’re not careful, it’ll bite you, but the signature Baum low bottom bracket and longer chainstays balance it nicely.
It still requires a little more babysitting than a bike with more traditional racing geometry, but for long solo/group rides I wouldn’t have it any other way than slightly frantic and crazed – which seems to fit my personality well.