It’s not about the bike, but…
The Delta 7 Ascend is the road version of Delta 7’s “IsoTruss” carbon fiber mesh frame. I got to play with it during the Sea Otter Classic 2009.
Gary Fisher and the infamous “Bikes Gone Wild” both gave me grief for it, but I just had to try this paen to space age technology. Jeffrey of Delta 7 set me up with the Ascend while Erik hit the trails with the Arantix mountain bike.
The Ascend is a real head turner. I’m a moderately homely middle aged guy with birth control glasses; I rode for a short while with Liz Hatch in her Vanderkitten kit and her Storck Absolutist bicycle. Every male roadie we passed by snapped their necks looking at me, not Liz. If you’ve seen Liz on a bike, you know that’s something.
Built up, the Delta 7 Ascend weighs a hair over 13 lbs without pedals. The light weight combined with a reasonably aggressive road geometry and super stiff rear triangle translates into rocket like acceleration and effortless hill ascents. I popped up to bunny hop over a pothole and nearly launched myself into orbit because the bike is so light. If you want to try for sub 20 minutes on Old La Honda Road, this wouldn’t be a bad bike to use.
During my test ride, I caught up with a cyclist on a nice looking Trek wearing Astana kit. He looked strong but tired pushing up a steep hill, so I whipped out my phonecam and took a photo of this guy as I rode no handed on the magic bicycle. Sorry for the lousy phonecam photo — we had to push through a crowd clanging cowbells and shouting “LEVI.” I didn’t realize the jeans company had such a big presence at Sea Otter.
I only put a few short miles on the Ascend so I can’t do a full evaluation, but the ride on this bike isn’t the least bit jarring in spite of the stiff frame.
Everybody asked me if this bike whistles in the wind. Here’s video of my riding the bike on a steep downhill — no whistling, but the shadow of this mesh bike looks pretty cool against the road surface. The video was shot using GoPro’s new Wide Angle HERO Cam strapped to my chest.
According to Delta 7, they performed wind tunnel tests on this frame expecting more wind resistance from all of the surfaces and they wanted to quantify just how bad the turbulence would be. There’s indeed more drag because of all the flow through the lattices, but the drag induced by vortices behind the tubes completely disappears, resulting in a net benefit: the IsoTruss design results in less drag than conventional tubes.
In summary, the Delta 7 Ascend road bike is fun, stiff, light, fast, comfortable and very expensive. My buddies at Road Bike Review took delivery of the Ascend so watch for a real, in depth review from them Real Soon Now. Also, “Bikes Gone Wild” promised to provide his own comments on this bike in the comments after I post this review