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Serotta Tested: Ottrott Only? Nove Jose!
Yeah, so it’s about time we got back to testing kit, rather than shooting picks of stuff you can’t buy yet from a show that you can’t go to… With that in mind you’ll get a run up to Christmas with a few things that we’ve been sweating the last days of summer on…

It’s been a little while since we’ve had an uber bike up on the site, so we thought we would roll out another, just in time to make you reconsider what you might want from Santa (Der Weihnachtsmann / de Kerstmen / Salute de Menorah…) this year. And as winter is set to roll in we thought we would put a bit more thought in to testing this year and get the Manufacturers that live in Northern environments handled early. Serotta have us seeing Red, sending us a full custom Nove (say “Nohvai”), built to go a bit differently than the last bike they made for us…

Click the little thumbnail above for the big picture

You pretty much got the whole low-down on Serotta just about a year ago in our review of the Ottrott ST. This time we didn’t get to pick a funky, one-off paint scheme but we did get to spec the color to match the Pez Wind testing cycle…

Guess which bike costs more…

Serotta’s new Oval Paint scheme turned out beautiful and had a touch of old school leaving the chain stays untouched. The new coating comes in any of their in house colors and it’s no extra charge. You can also choose single color paint, or simply clear the carbon. As Serotta are upgrading the tube set, it will look a bit different than this…

… but still be a very sexy wound tube that will both look good and perform slightly better that the tube set on our test bike (yeah we would have rather had the new one, but Hell No we weren’t about to pass on the one we got). The new tube set will be slightly more resistant to bending and resist twist even more. That’s pretty sweet given that the tubing they already get from Reynolds was pretty damn good.

The new tubes will also grow a bit more at the Bottom end and actually be cone shaped just like the Ottrott as Serotta implement the Colorado Concept tubing, allowing for just that little bit of bottom end twist resistance while tapering as it heads north, shaving size and weight. For our bike we “only” get a custom spec’d round tube.

On this rig we went for more stiffness than the last bike, so the down tube that they chose was a bit beefier than they would have spec’d for my weight. Interesting though in that they chose not to give me the oversized chain stays in order to complete a stiff bottom. Instead, Serotta left well enough alone with the standard size sticks down low (note the sweet “Ti-stealth” Serotta graphics).

At first glance, the rear end of the Nove and Ottrott look identical, and they are very close to actually being the same. Both Nove and Ottrott feature Reynolds Wishbone Booty, standard sized seat stays and 3d dropouts. But the Nove lacks the little bearing featured on the Ottrott, instead going with fixed aluminum bosses.

Moving up the curvy legs to the bottom bracket, we find that Serotta decided that there were a few grams to be had by opening things up a bit. They machine away a fairly large amount of BB material, and go clean through in one section, knowing that titanium isn’t at much risk for corrosion…

But as our first set of cranks for this bike were FSA’s Mega Exo’s we had a good news / bad news deal where the bearings are sealed outboard jobbies, but the axle is chromoly steel. That will mean we’ll need to occasionally squirt stuff in our eh, “bunghole” so that we remain regular… (frame saver comes to mind)

Speaking of FSA, we also swapped the chain rings on the Mega Exo cranks out for these one off 6-4 Ti jobbies from .

Zipp sent us a few things, like their new bottle cages…

And a set of “not yet available” ZSL handlebars (we’ve had em for a few months, but they were just recently shown at Interbike). 165 grams and stiffer than [Edited for content]!

They also threw us some upgraded graphics to help us shamelessly plug the fact that we had their top of the bottom of the gram count wheels on hand…

Selle San Marco rolled us out one of their new Rever Saddles and it stood on top of U.S.E.’s new (and a bajillion times easier to adjust than their old) seat post.

Groupe De Tete also did us a one off, all Ti cassette that happened to have bike matching red spacers… (note the bike matching red Pulleys from Tiso)

And TISO (headset) paired with the guys from Zero Gravity to get us a set of brakes that would look at home accenting the Ti finish on the Serotta…

Even the Jagwire guys stepped up to help out in the little places that most folks tend to look past, tossing in some cable condoms to keep our baby protected against STD’S (Scuff Type Deterioration).

So yeah, this bike wasn’t exactly heavy…
With the Zipp 202’s, Look KeO pedals, bottle cages and anything else most manufacturers leave off when weighing a bike, this still came in almost a full pound under the UCI limit… Add American Classic’s magnesium clinchers and we were still a UCI race no-no.

So after we rounded up the parts in the shop (drop a box loaded with this stuff in a group of bike junkies and stuff will scatter pretty fast…) wiped the saliva (I hope it was saliva…) off, got everything mounted and on the road, we definitely found we had a different bike than Serotta’s Ottrott ST. All built, this bike is a half pound lighter than it’s 2k more expensive big brother. But then the Ottrott ST wasn’t exactly a porker, meaning the weight is pretty much a non issue (as it is with most bikes today, regardless of the bullshit some companies spew…).

Build quality was also standard Serotta. We would love to comment on the weld quality but, with the finish, we couldn’t really find any welds…

The most noticeable change from the last Serotta came as they delivered on the request for a bit more stiffness and a slightly more aggressive geometry.

Half degree or so steeper in the front end isn’t noticeable until you get to the edge of things as relates to control. The problem with trying to find a difference is that both bikes are custom fit and really well done, so my weight is centered and the control is damn good on the laid back Ottrott. Making things a bit quicker doesn’t really show until you’re riding like a maniac, taking corners that are stressing everything (especially the rider)…

What the Nove has is a bit more “front end” stiffness. Pairing that with off the charts stiffness in Zipp’s new bars and Serotta’s F3 fork …

… and you have a bike that might feel just a bit more nervous to some folks than its big brother. What the Nove is really doing is soaking up a bit less vibration and giving you a tiny bit more feedback. That feel, coupled with slightly quicker application of steering force (available with the steeper geometry) makes for just a touch more ability to make little mid corner adjustments at high speed, but also have a bit more understanding of how close you are to losing grip.

I initially thought Serotta did me wrong when they refused to make this bike with oversized chain stays. I thought that since the Ottrott ST had such equal compliance at the front and rear wheels, and since we were going with a stiffer front triangle, we should use oversized chain stays (I also thought this because the Seven Elium Race we tested has OS chain stays and also has literally perfect balance).

Turns out that Serotta just have a very good understanding of the different character of their bikes and material choice and how it applies to what you might ask for in character.

The Ottrott ST and Nove are different bikes in geometry and in tube spec. With that, I simply get a change in feel, more than in performance.

I went out tossed both bikes into the car with one wheel set and drove to my favorite set of corners. A tight right-left, followed by a down hill section that allows for a sweeping high speed right. I can get up a bit of speed and have the tires complaining audibly in the low speed (but high compression) tight turns then hit the down hill and work through a nice fast (but also high compression) sweeper that always makes me wonder if the beads on clinchers (or glue on tubies) have the proper balls…

What I found is that both bikes do well, but riders might like one more than the other…

First of all, I had to climb back up the damn hill every time I went down. In doing so, back to back with same wheels, I can say that the stiffness and acceleration was extremely close with the Ottrot and Nove and that both are very good (as good as anything on the road). I know the Nove’s down tube is spec’d for a heavier rider than we spec’d the Ottrot ST, but remember that the Ottrott’s tube set is more advanced. The bottom bracket flex was basically “apples to (more expensive) apples”. But also not that the new Nove gets the cone shaped wound tube similar to last year’s Ottrot, meaning the bike you order should be a bit stiffer down low than this bike (should you chose that).

Now to the place where the two bikes separate…
The Ottrott ST takes the right to left transition very well and rolls through the higher speed sweeper and you just feel like nothing could upset you. It’s just the slightest bit slower to transition from right to left than the Nove is. But smooth enough that some folks will stay calmer at speed.

What the Nove does well is let you take these same corners at the same speed, no more, no less, but the Nove changes direction a hair quicker and lets you feel what your tires are doing a little more.

The down side is that the feedback makes for a slight bit more road buzz (that’s only a down side compared to the Ottrott and very few other bikes mind you). But the slightly more aggressive head angle makes for an easier job in corner transitions (right to left). The stiffer front triangle mated with this geometry gives you more feel in mid corner adjustments as well (think of your last crit where the town Jackass takes a crap line through a corner and you have to either lean it over a bit further or, worse yet, stand it up a bit only to have to lean it on your ear to correct).

The Nove is simply set up to suite a rider that likes slightly quicker steering and more feel of the tires, so that you understand exactly how close they are to go from carving a corner to making genuine “ass-phalt”. That’s not better or worse, it just is…

What I would hate is for someone to go order a custom bike and spec it the wrong way. “More feedback” doesn’t mean a “better” ride to lots of folks. Personally I like the slight bit less buzz of the Ottrot as a day to day bike. But I would prefer the Nove come number sticking / buddy butt kicking day.

The point to be made here is that the Nove is a hell of a bike. It’s 2k cheaper than its big brother, and Serotta don’t have a problem making you a bike with one type of character or another (the Nove can be a relaxed comfort type too). What they really want (and we stress time and again) is your complete honesty before you buy… I know 10 guys that would appreciate smooth performance for every one guy that would benefit the most from having more feedback, yet 8 of these 10 guys will start out the buying process asking how much a frame weighs and if it’s “stiff enough to race” despite the fact that they’re less likely to actually pin on a number than to have the Olsen twins hand em a hotel room key and a handful of Viagra…

For those that can control a bike on the edge, find themselves there frequently and like a bit more feel to let them know how close they are to it, a spec like this Nove is a good recipe. As was the case with the Ottrott, comfort is still top notch (saying a bike has a bit more vibration than the Ottrott is like saying something is a bit less soft than 3 pounds of goose feathers on a Swedish foam mattress). Balance is spot on and craftsmanship is way beyond good. The bike gives you a feel that is at once light and high strung, things you can find in several bikes today, but those characteristics rarely come with the bullet proof feel of this Nove.

Thanks to all the folks that helped us better afford this bike! Zipp, Zero Gravity, FSA, Groupe De Tete, Tiso, Veltec Sports, Kuota Bicycles (for the shifters and rear mech) and Bicycle Ranch for another flawless Build. The Nove without the whacked out build kit rings in for $3395 and that comes with a selection of finishes as well as the whole custom fit and build that is the real value.

As it’s just at the edge of the Holiday season, you might want to tell your Santa that Serotta’s lead time is @ 4 weeks. You might also note that if you want a funked out paint scheme or you’re 9 feet tall with three legs, Serotta might need a bit more time… Either way, you can learn more about the company, bikes and available designs by hitting Serotta’s Web site…

You can also look forward to seeing this bike get a few parts “upgrades” as we go forward. Not that we could find much in the way of better parts, but we did find some new things…

Have Fun.
Charles Manantan

Note: if you have other experiences with gear, or something to add, drop us a line. We don’t claim to know everything (we just imply it at times). Give us a pat on the back if you like the reviews or a slap in the head if you feel the need!

PezCycling News and the author ask that you contact the manufacturers before using any products we test here. Only the manufacturer can provide accurate and complete information on proper use and or installation of products as well as any conditional information or product limits that may limit their use.

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