Cycling | 5 comments
By: Zdenko Kahlina
First Babici Jota-Moreno bike gets into Canada
Although I always take bike with me when traveling, on my last trip to Australia I left my Marinoni race bike at home, so that I can save some money I would normally pay for air transport (these days this can be significant amount of money!).
I was visiting my old cycling friend Ivan who now lives in Sydney. When I asked him about the bike his response was in typical Australian accent: ‘No worries, mate, I’ll have a bike for you once you get here!
When I arrived in Sydney, after a 15 hour long journey from Vancouver, Ivan introduced me to Mr. Kev Babakian founder of the ‘Babici.cc’ company. Kev have had prepared specially for me, beautiful black ‘Babici Jota-Moreno’ frame (size 51 cm) with SRAM-Red components. Jota-Moreno means ‘Black Joe’ in Portuguese and ‘Babici’ is simply the name of the company Kev Babakian runs. Babici is a grass roots cycling brand made by cyclists for cyclists.
Babici Jota-Moreno [SRAM RED Build]
I immediately fell in love with this bike. The bike really looked cool all in black, with oversized sky blue lettering across the down tube. Built with the world’s leading Carbon Fibre (T700 from Toray Japan) the Monocoque assembly technique serves to deliver a light and stiff frame for racing and social riding on the road.
The frame itself is very light (970gr), with fork and headset (additional 380gr), and this came to just 1.35 kg. Both are made with leading carbon manufacturer from Japan called Toray. Complete bike weights in respectable 7.5 kg, pretty light for such unknown frame and not particularly light components. The paint job is amazing, simply beautiful. It almost doesn’t appear painted; it looks like the frame was just made with the colors in the polymer.
Babici Jota-Moreno [SRAM RED Build] in the snow.
I asked Kevin how he got the idea to sell Babici bikes: ‘The Babici® Jota-Moreno’ or ‘Black Joe’ is by far our biggest achievement, said Kev. The bike frame became popular after having it made for our first photo shoot for the Babici apparel. People saw the bike and asked us to make them one. We took out an exclusive license for our region to brand and distribute the frame from our manufacturers in China. We were so impressed with the manufacturing facility that we did not hesitate to partner with them. We use a 3k carbon fibre and a monocoque moulding process to compete the frames. Whilst the demands are more of a boutique offering, we are able to offer custom finishing in the colours.
My Jota was pieced together with SRAM-Red groupset components. I never used this groupset before so this was all new to me. The front triangle of the frame is a Monocoque construction. This shape not only adds complexity to the layup but also stiffness to the tubes. It also is a clear indicator that while these frames may be made in Asia, they are certainly not a mass produced item. They make every frame to order. Every frame is tested for safety and cracks and is passed through a QC process. All testing is under strict guidelines endorsed by the UCI. Bike rolled on the top-notch Mavic Ksyrium SL Clincher black wheels. Other components were all 3T – LTD edition in carbon. The rider’s undercarriage was perched atop a Prologo Scratch Nack white saddle, which I really liked. I brought my own Look Keo 2 Carbon pedals and the computer was also my own Garmin 705, but without cadence sensor which I left in Canada.
Jota-Moreno Build includes:
FRAME DESCRIPTION: Toray T700 carbon fibre road frame
CASSETTE: SRAM-Red 12-25
STEM: 3T ARX LTD edition Stem
HANDLE BAR: 3T LTD edition
SEAT POST: 3T LTD edition
SADDLE: Prologo Scratch Nack Carbon (White)
WHEELS: MAVIC Ksyrium SL (Black)
TYRES: Continental Force (Black)
WEIGHT: 7.5 kg
PRICE: $6,195 AUD (as tested)
Frame only: $1,850 AUD
Short Description: High modulus Racing frame: RL-Fr015 Fork: RL-FK007 Material: Full carbon weave 3k/UD/12K Finish: Clear coating Frame weight: 970gr (51 cm) Fork weight: 380gr. Headset-down: 1-1/2” BB: ENG BSA Available sizes: 49cm, 51cm, 53cm, 58cm.
Testing of Jota-Moreno in Oatley Park. After all the rain in recent days, a sunny ride around Sydney in the NSW was just what Zdenko needed and Jota-Moreno was perfect for the job.
First test: Sydney, Oatley Park
When I’d finally set the saddle position I pumped up the tyres and took off for a ride with my friend Ivan. I took Jota for a first ride into Oatley Park in southern Sydney, where we rode on Christensen Circuit through the beautiful park.
This is the course that Ivan is using very often as he’s riding there with the local mates all the time. The course was only about 2 km from where Ivan lives (Hurstville), so there was very little time spent in traffic. Once in the park, we did two easy laps and than four fast ones. Ivan was measuring time for each (fast) lap, and according to his timing we had pretty good times.
Cables are neatly integrated and don’t rattle. The headtube shape is smoothed for aerodynamics.
Cables are neatly integrated under the seat post.
Jota-Moreno is a sprinter’s dream bike
Within a handful of kilometres through the city streets I was already seriously impressed with the bike. The bike fitted me perfectly and it made a big first impression. One of the things I noticed immediately was how short the top tube is. Because of that it gave me the filling of total control over the bike and I liked it. When out of the saddle the bike was moving under me exactly the way I wanted it. I was in full control. It was clear that Jota bike has exceptional power transfer without jeopardising the sort of smooth ride that everyone wants today. This bike must be any sprinter’s dream!
This bike fitted me perfectly
SRAM-Red groupset components worked to perfection
The first time I had to use the brakes I was surprised at how accurately the braking power can be modulated. You get a lot of feedback through the SRAM Red levers and when you start pulling more the bite in the callipers becomes incredibly strong. The more I used them during my ride in the park the more I was convinced that these brakes perform at least as well as any others on the market.
The brakes worked accurately and it’s easy to get back in control after braking manoeuvres.
Accelerating on lightweight bikes is always a pleasure, especially when I know that it is not equipped with mega-expensive tuning parts but just high-end groupsets and components which can be ordered by anyone.
The stiffness of the bottom bracket and steering is equally important for transferring your energy to the road. Thanks to the slightly heavier but incredibly strong aluminum 3T stem you can pull as hard as you like on the bars while putting down the power.
Zdenko found the bottom bracket to be very stiff
Nowadays I consider lateral stiffness in the bottom bracket and the cockpit area more important then low weight, because both are key factors when it comes to performance. Bottom bracket stiffness is vital to get up the slopes without any loss of energy, while a rigid cockpit let us maintain the momentum we’ve just earned when zooming back down the hill fast because we’re always in control.
When tackling the first hills on my ride through the park, I followed the same procedure as I do on most of my rides, even back when I was a pro (back in the 70’s). Not much has changed. With the maximum momentum I could get on this bike’s 53 x 12. I sprinted into the first 7 percent gradient ascent after a short downhill. Going flat out for 200m, producing probable around 500 watts for about half of that distance, takes a lot out of the rider and asks a lot of the bike. I was convinced that all my power went into the Continental clincher tires and onto the road. The Babici Jota would probable stand a lifetime of these sprints without complaint – but I am not a pro anymore, so for now I’d learned what I wanted to know after only one sprint. My heart bits were in the red zone and it was time to settle into a rhythm and ride steadily through the sunshine for a while.
The only manor complaint I had was about the front derailleur that was not properly adjusted and up-shifting to a big 53 chain-ring was not possible at first attempt. If the race bike isn’t shifting smoothly this can be a big problem during the race, but in my case it took little adjusting work after the ride and it was all good.
Mavic Ksyrium SL Wheel Set
The Ksyrium SL Premium is a high quality, light weight 700c road wheel made with a mix of exotic materials such as Titanium and Carbon Fiber. Front wheel revolution is managed by a Carbon Fiber body hub with alloy flanges laced with 18 spokes to a black anodised Maxtal rim while the rear features an alloy body hub (with titanium blended QR skewer) laced with 20 spokes to a black anodised Maxtal rim. Wheelset weight comes in at 1480g for the pair.
My first test was over after only one hour of riding and overall my first impression of the bike was great. Next test will be in Adelaide area, where we are planning to climb on bigger mountains than what we have here in Sydney. Besides we were going there to watch ‘Santos Tour Down Under’, world cup race for professionals.
In Adelaide, before the test ride: Zdenko, Kev and Ivan
Second test: Adelaide, climbing Mount Lefty
My ride began with a relaxed cruise through the Adelaide streets – itself a welcome change after hectic Sydney traffic few days earlier – and I enjoyed every single pedal stroke. With warm temperatures and bright blue sky, I turned off to the left from my hotel and followed street signs towards Mount Lefty. Ivan’s plan was to climb this mountain above Adelaide which meant it will be a hard day on the bike. After only few kilometers through the city the road was heading up and the climbing began.
Knowing I had a 39 x 25 bottom gear, I was quite optimistic and went through the first two kilometres of this steep climb pretty hard. Soon after, I reached my maximum threshold heart rate and had to settle into a slower rhythm as I knew this climb was about 9 km long. After about 10 minutes into the climb, I needed my lowest ratio and comfortable pedalling in the saddle, was no longer an option.
The power transfer on my Jota bike feels perfect when climbing. Even pulling hard on the brake hoods doesn’t trouble the 3T stem and bar combination. A stiff cockpit is something I really love on a race bike. Especially when sprinting or with grades steeper than 10 per cent, it becomes more and more important in order to get the maximum pedal power onto the road.
3T stem and handlebar combination
I started taking aggressive lines in the corners and really stamping on the pedals coming out. In the switchbacks I could experience the Jota’s incredible acceleration. It really does fire out of the turns. I love a bike that climbs well. My other bike is a Canadian made ‘Marinoni’ and is not even close in hill climbing performance compared to this Jota.
The SRAM-Red groupset worked as smoothly and perfectly as always, even when the momentum I gained in the corner was neutralised by gravity and I had to get back on the 25 with lots of tension on the chain.
My problem was at that time that I was already at my maximum threshold heart rate and was breathing loud and heavy. At the same time I could hear Ivan behind me pedaling easily, even pointing to me beautiful scenery surrounding us. I started to think about past years and days when I was stronger climber than him… hoping this would help me coping with this long climb and the heat… but it didn’t!
Further up the hill it got a bit smoother, and whenever I could, I stayed in the saddle. Because I didn’t tighten the seat clamp to the max there was a little creaking noise, every time I hit the bump on the road. I didn’t have any tools with me so I decided to put up with this irritating noise under my saddle, than suffer a broken seat clamp in the middle of the Australian mountains.
Three mates with Babici Jota-Moreno bike on top of Mt Lofty
Mount Lofty Summit
At the end of the climb I was happy to get off the bike and take a well deserved breather. With spectacular panoramic views of Adelaide and surrounds just 20 minutes drive from Adelaide (for us it was about 1 hour on the bike), Mount Lofty Summit is a must see for any visitor to South Australia! At 710 meters above sea level, the summit landing provides you with breathtaking views of the cities landmarks, and coastline. While my heart rate recovered I had a close look at this high end bike from far East. We also asked some tourists to take our pictures at the summit.
Descending too fast…
After the brake I threw myself into the descent. Because descent from Mt. Lofty is a dead end road, we turned around at the top and shot down the same road for some action. The road on the way down was steep, twisty and narrow, and the Joda’s fork, frame and wheels did not disappoint me one bit. All I felt was great handling, precise cornering and confidence to brake late and descend the way I like it most: fast and furious. The biggest problem for me was riding on the left side of the road (as they do in Australia!), and I had to force myself into constantly thinking about it, and stay safely on the correct side of the road.
Posing in Adelaide for the publishing of this review: Zdenko, Kev and Ivan. Notice there are two BABICI Jota-Moreno bikes.
There were no cars around so I could really explore the excellent grip of the Continental clinchers by using loads of lean angle in the switchbacks. The Jota bike was great fun even when skidding the back wheel a bit after late breaking manoeuvres it’s easy to get back in control. When the road opened out towards the bottom, entering Adelaide again, I did a speed test – full sprint and than tuck in. I must have hit at least 80 km/h as I was on the smallest gear (53 x 12). Given that I was riding this Chinese made bike, I was surprised about its smoothness and how accurately it tracks a line when ridden close to the limit. No matter how much I leant it over or how rapidly the road switched back on itself, nothing got it into trouble. If only I could’ve fix that creaking noise coming from under my saddle. If someone gets dropped on a descent riding Jota bike, they should book themselves a riding skills course…
During the ride I always felt the bike to be responsive to the demands I was sending through the bottom bracket. I really got to know how this bike performed in such hilly terrain. The answer being admirably! To prove the point, when I reached Adelaide, there were no signs of Kev and Ivan. I left them in my dust!! LOL!
With local mates: Sasa, Ivan, Zdenko and Kev
Ride thru the Royal National Park
Back in Sydney, once the rain finally stopped, we did another training ride beginning in Hurstville through the Royal National Park. I went on my new Jota with local mates, Ivan, Sasa, Greg and Kev. Road was still flooded from the recent rainfall, but we managed to do the full course around the park, which was about 60 km long. During the ride, one of the guys gave me a compliment ‘how my style reminds him on Alejandro Valverde’, who was recently participating in the ‘Tour Down Under’ world pro cycling race in the Adelaide area. I liked the compliment, but I think it was also directed to my new bike and Jota-Moreno frame, which suited me perfectly, thus my positioning on the bike looked really good.
Flooded road in Royal National Park
Croatian friends: Ivan and Zdenko
The more kilometers I rode, the happier I felt on the bike. By the end of my holidays, I liked it so much that I asked Kev to sell me the bike. He gave me a brake on the price and now the first ever Babici Jota-Moreno race bike is with me in Canada. This spring you’ll see me riding it on my usual courses around Arrdrosan and Sherwood Park in Strathcona County.
In conclusion, the Jota Moreno is a frame that makes people smile every time they hop onto it and is available in several different sizes, bottom brackets and colours. This is not flat out race machine but still capable of race-winning sprints given a decent set of legs. And now I’ll end this review with the traditional Australian slang ‘No worries, MATE!’ This can be applied to all potential buyers of this bike.
Babici kit is also available for sale
For more information about Babici Jota-Moreno frame or to place your orders, visit Babici site or send email to Kev Babakian:
The Jota-Moreno bike is a striking bike and Zdenko found it rides as good as it looks.
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Tags: Bike Review