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group test: BeOne Blizzard £1,400

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14th June 2010 Words: Ian Cleverly  Photos: Rupert Fowler

Dutch company BeOne produces a wide range of road bikes, right up to the Dura-Ace-equipped Raw, priced at a penny under £4,000. Northern Irish mail order specialist Chain Reaction Cycles is the UK distributor for the brand, and the Blizzard lies squarely in the middle of the BeOne range.

The first thing that strikes the impartial observer about the Blizzard is the extraordinary top tube. If viewed from the side, it has a pleasing enough curve. Straddling the beast and looking down brings an altogether different experience – similar to a painter on the Forth Road Bridge staring down from the top of the tower.
The Blizzard boasts the fattest example of a flattened top tube we have ever seen. If BeOne has designed the frame to stand apart from its competitors, it has certainly succeeded. Given a really hot summer’s day, we would lay odds on being able to fry an egg on that tube without a hint of spillage over the edge.

Then the integrated seatpost has to be dealt with. There are few things in life more nerve-wracking than taking a hacksaw to a brand new frame, but it has to be done. ‘Measure twice, cut once’ is the maxim here. Get it wrong and you are stuffed. Give us an old-fashioned adjustable seatpost any day. Thankfully, BeOne has seen the light and switched to the traditional arrangement for the 2010 Blizzard.

Our test model came with a triple chainset, which was something of a surprise but turned out to be a good thing. Shimano 105 gearing shifted smoothly across the range and there were none of those pesky ratio gaps experienced with the compact arrangement of the Verenti.

The 105 set-up did not give quite the same crisp performance of SRAM Rival and that 30-tooth granny ring would see little action in this country. But anyone heading for the Etape or similarly mountainous excursions this summer would be well served with a triple. Walking up the Tourmalet in cleats is no fun whatsoever.

Other highlights of the Blizzard’s spec include the Easton wheelset — 30mm profile rims and straight pull Sapim spokes shod with a pair of hardwearing Vredestein Fiammante tyres — and bars and stem courtesy of 3T.

Ride-wise, the Blizzard provides every bit of the solid platform its beefy look suggests: firm in the sprint; swooping on the downhill. That extra kilo over the Millook is noticeable, however, and makes climbing more of a chore.

Fans of the likes of Pinarello and Eddy Merckx’s bikes may well appreciate all that extra frame material and its attendant benefits. Heavy riders would probably get on well with the Blizzard. But for us, the extra weight was the only thing holding it back.
How is this for over-engineering? Try removing the front wheel. The dropouts are so thick and the ‘lawyer’s lips’ — those annoying extrusions to stop the wheel dropping out — so pronounced (in a Mick Jagger kind of way) that the wheel skewer has to be totally unscrewed before the wheel can be removed. Bonkers.

Some will like the look of the Blizzard. Others will appreciate its solid characteristics. For us, it needed a good shave all round to bring the weight down, starting with that excessive top tube.

Rating

Comfort Value Handling Wow factor Build quality Total
18/20 18/20 19/20 17/20 18/20 89%

Click here to view the Verenti Millook bike test…