BH Cristal - 2012
Just because there is a chromosomal difference between men and women, there is no need to alter the DNA of the road racing bicycle. The BH Cristal is very much like their G5 frameset, though the geometry will better accommodate women's typically shorter torsos and arms. Where you might feel overstretched and too low on the G5, the Cristal's taller head tube brings the handlebars up where they need to be. And like the G5, the Cristal is known for three things -- long distance comfort, light weight, and sure handling.
The Cristal frame and fork are constructed as monocoques. That is to say that they're each built as one structural unit, with the composite material laid into a mold and formed in one piece. This process ensures uniformity in the lay-up, but it also allows their designers the freedom to create complex tube shapes, such as the down tube. It's one of the most striking details of the bike. What you'll notice is a channel on the underside. Aesthetically it serves to hide the cables from view, and for this clean look you won't suffer the added few grams regularly associated with internal routing. In addition, the channel adds stiffness to the down tube, and BH includes an extra set of threaded mounts for a no-fuss mounting option for your Di2 battery.
The Cristal is also notable because it uses 100% carbon construction. Even the dropouts on the frame and fork are carbon. The BH full carbon dropouts are formed along with the rest of the frame, and this process assures continuity in the material. The result is a more durable structure. This all-carbon method also eliminates the need to use alloy for the cups in the head tube and for the crown race seat on the fork. The molded-in carbon cable guides and braze-on front derailleur tab are also integral parts of the structure. The only exception is the BB30 bottom bracket shell. Here, the BB30 design requires an alloy shell insert with machined grooves to accept an internal circle clip to locate the bearings.
The top tube slopes considerably to provide plenty of standover clearance. It also morphs from a rounded shape at the head tube junction to a soft triangle near the intersection with the aero-shaped seat tube. While you will benefit from its aerodynamic properties, you won't be treated to unusual harshness over coarse road surfaces.
The careful optimization of the number and orientation of the high modulus carbon fibers adds stiffness and strength. This goes hand-in-hand with the oversized 1.5in tapered head tube and bottom bracket area. The chainstays follow a similar design path. Their oversize vertical section resists powerful efforts against the pedals.
The seatstays are a different story. Here, BH intends some deflection to ensure comfort. From the side, they are pencil thin and bear a slight curvature to act, in a limited fashion, like leaf springs. When you ride the Cristal, you'll notice that they work to absorb vibrations from broken road surfaces. Over the course of a long ride, you'll appreciate the added comfort.
The BH Cristal is available in Blue and Pink. It comes in three sizes -- 51, 53, and 55cm. The frameset includes a full-carbon fork with a 1-1/8 - 1.5in tapered carbon steerer. The integrated headset bearings are also included along with a G5 Superlight micro-adjust carbon seatpost. You'll need a braze-on front derailleur to complete the bike build.
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