I'm not going to beat around the bush. If I could choose my 'dream' bike it would be a Baum.
MIKE BOUDRIE - IMAGES SUPPLIED BY BAUM CYCLES
In fact, when I started La Velocita, Baum was the first business that I profiled. Now, almost three years later, Baum has officially announced three (yes three) new bikes, the Orbis, Code and Essence. I chatted with Darren Baum about each.
"Fit, fit, fit," is the first thing that Darren Baum says to me when I ask him what the most important thing about any bike is. Next up, it's getting the bike's handling and ride characteristic right for the rider. He's matter-of-fact about these points and without even asking him, I know it's something that he will not compromise on. The thing that Baum has managed to do that sets them aside from so many is create an product that is build to those core principles, and at the same time looks beautiful.
I think that a custom built bike takes the cycling experience to the next level. The unfortunate reality of off the shelf bikes is that it's a case of close enough is good enough. Darren tells me, "we're not trying to build a Swiss Army Knife here," Baum is engineering bikes that are specifically built and designed for each riders individual style, size, flexibility and handling preferences. During the fitting process there's a lot of discussion and questioning about how you ride, where you ride, if you race, how you like your bike to feel, what bikes have you liked and disliked, how do you like your bike to turn, stop, accelerate etc.
In my opinion, the resulting product has very few if any peers.
Now onto the cool stuff. There's three new bikes being added to the road/gravel range giving you a total of seven to choose from.
All of the new bikes are custom fitted for you, making sure you get the ride you're looking for.
The Orbis is Baum's top spec titanium fully butted disc bike and comes in two variants, the Orbis, and Orbis-R (R for race). Darren tells me that the Orbis is not simply a Corretto with disc mounts, it's a completely new design that is engineered to handle the force that a disc brake places on a frame.
Starting with the Orbis-R, it's best described as the disc version of Baum's top line Corretto and is an out and out top line road bike with the benefit of disc brakes and can handle a tyre up to 28mm. I think that it can easily deal with some gravel adventures, but road is where it's at for this one. High level specs include a 1.25" integrated headtube and Enve road disc fork, direct mount brakes mounts, formed chainstays and through axles.
Moving onto the the Orbis, it can handle a 34mm measured tyre, giving you the ability to take this bike pretty much anywhere you desire and offering the ability to get a super plush, comfortable ride on just about any surface and add next level grip. Formed chainstays give larger tyre clearance, a low bottom bracket improves handling, and there is a slight change in geometry to manage the increased wheel radius. This is the go anywhere, take on just about any adventure bike that will eat up gravel, dirt, cobbles and the rest.
Both versions of the Orbis are fully customisable and you can choose from Baum's vast array of paint options, and builds.
The Orbis and Orbis-R are priced from $11,350 (AUD) as a frameset and from $13,110 (AUD) for a complete bike.
I'm thinking the Code is a bike that you'll be seeing around the roads and on gravel trails more and more. It's another completely new disc bike offering, and just like the Orbis, comes in two variants, the Code and Code-R (again, for race). Both bikes are based on Baum's Romano titanium frameset that has been redesigned to take the power of disc brakes, and in the case of the Code, run a 34mm measured tyre.
Baum has taken some of the technology from the new Orbis and let it filter down to the Code, offering a bike that does a large proportion of what the Orbis can do at a reduced price point. On paper this is a cracking bike, titanium build, oversize 44mm head tube, Chris King headset, external hydro lines, and five seasonal paint offerings plus the option of raw metal finish. If you're after a bike for road, gravel grinding, adventure riding, touring the Code is about as good point to start your search as any other.... and did I mention it's custom fitted and built for you?
The Code and Code-R start at $7,350 (AUD) for the frameset with Enve RD Fork, 3T ARXII Team stem, 3T Zero 25 seat pillar, Chris King Inset 8 Headset, choice of cable routing options, Baum factory fit (including custom tube diameter and thickness) and domestic shipping.
A complete build starts at $8,955 (AUD) running Shimano Ultegra R8020 mechanical and hydro disc and Shimano WH-RX31 (Ultegra level) wheelset, plus finishing kit from 3T, Pro and Schwable.
Darren tells me that this bike is about getting back to basics. Steel is where everything started for Baum with its original 'Espresso' bike, and opens the door to Baum for many people that would have considered a Baum to not even be close to their budget. The Essence is Baum's steel offering, and comes in at $6,625 (AUD) complete. That includes a Baum factory fit and fully customised geometry. I'm basically already building my argument for why I 'need' one of these.
The Essence will no doubt be the 'modern classic' bike and appeal to many. Just looking at it makes me think of the first road bikes I owned. While I love the tech that is being pumped into modern bikes, this is where it all started and will always be the only way for many. The custom steel bike, with its tactile feel and beautiful ride is definitely one that you could pass on to your kids!
What do you get for your money? Well on top of a custom fit, the build includes a 3T Funda Team fork, 3T ARXII Team stem, 3T Zero25 seat pillar and Chris King 1 1/8 headset. You can specify your cable routing for mechanical, Di2, EPS or eTap and choose from five seasonal colour choices. Drive is delivered by Shimano's Ultegra R8000 mechanical groupset with rim brakes, Shimano WH-RS500 wheels, Schwalbe Pro One tyres, 3T Ergonova Pro bars, Pro saddle and Black synthetic cork tape.
If you wanted to up the build specifications, there's a list of upgrades available that allows you to spec' a dream package. For example the Essence with Campagnolo Record, some handbuilt HED Belgium wheels with Chris King hubs and some Busyman custom tape will come in at about $9,500 (AUD).
It's pretty obvious from reading this that I love these bikes. And with bikes now available under the $10k (AUS) mark, I think that the only negative is going to be how long you may have to wait in the queue!
And just in case you're suspicious, this is not a paid review. I just love these bikes... in fact I'm picking up at Baum this Friday... a tenth wedding anniversary gift from my wife. Alexandra, you are amazing.