Monday, April 5, 2010

Sette Razzo 29er - The Big Wheels Arrive

As mentioned ad nauseam over the last few blog posts - Project Access and me scoring a 29er - the wait is over. The new and very shiny Sette Razzo 29er arrived last Thursday. Late Friday night Wrench-O-Thon brought it to light, as well as Ian's Access - hence the 2:00 AM finish for both projects. Yes, I said "hence". My 8th grade English teacher would be proud.

A few reasons and thoughts on why I went with the Sette....

1. Killer price. Cruise through catalogs or the Internet and price out the build kit. I challenge you to come up with the same build for less. A similar spec'd Specialized Stumpjumper Comp 29er is $1850, though I had a local shop quote me $1650. The Scott Scale 29er I also checked out lists for $1650, though REI sells it for $1500. Niner with a similar build is over $2000. The Sette delivered to my door was $1240. See what I mean? Plus I have 30 days to ride and return if I don't dig it. The frame itself also has a 5 year warranty. Great set up.

I hate to harp on dough as I have over the last few posts, but being the single paycheck family of four dictates I do so - especially for bicycle related gear. Bikes are important to me, but so is feeding the family and other normal expenses. You get the picture.

2. Curious about the Sette business model. I've kicked around the online bike company idea in my head for quite awhile - pipe dream for sure - but fun to research. When it comes down to it, for production based bikes, most are made in Asia - even the U.S. boys do this - Trek, Specialized, Kona, etc. Designed here and made off-shore. Sette does this as well, but sells direct, offering big savings. I'm completely overstating here, but in some ways, you're paying for paint and stickers. Sounds sacrilegious, but when you dig into the industry a bit, there is some truth to this - especially at this price level. So, I was curious to order one up on my own dime and check out the experience.

Official Disclaimer: Sounds contradictory, but I'm all for the local bike shop as well - especially if they support the local riding scene. I personally don't really need shop support - I do all my own work, I'm the ex-bike shop rat myself, and feel I know quite a bit about all this bike tomfoolery - but I do appreciate what a good shop provides to the local area. In the past, I've done the full on custom build from a local shop, and bought bikes off the floor as well. I also try to steer folks to shops I think are cool.

However, where bikes are manufactured and how they're sold has changed greatly over the last 10 years or so. I think really successful shops may require a blend of storefront and online sales. Speedgoat would be a good example if this. The online business model does fit some customers, not all - but some.

3. It's all about the frame - right? In a lot of ways I agree, the frame is the soul of the bike. In the past I've owned and still own bikes from Fat Chance, Ibis, Bridgestone, Cannondale, and Ellsworth. Not exactly the low end lot of bikes, nor without character or soul if you will. I've read good reviews on the Sette frame from actual owners. I'm curious to see how a lower cost frame stacks up against what I've ridden in the past.

The whole branding and marketing aspect of the bike industry also interests me greatly - so a little experiment for me to ride a "mail order" bike. Will I be allowed to sit with the cool kids at lunch?

Man, how was that for a psychotic Ramble-O-Fest of an intro? I think about and analyze this bike stuff WAY too much. I'll shut up now, call around for a shrink, and finally give a little a tour of the new wheels......

Big brown box arrived in a big brown truck. Box even say's "Sette" on the side, so it must be a real company.

Bike was impressively packaged for shipping. Double boxed, everything zip tied, bubble wrapped and correctly done. Awesome job - I'm serious. Kudos to Sette on shipping.

Easy assembly: Swing stem around and tighten, install handlebars to stem, install front wheel and pedals, grease and slide seatpost into frame (saddle already attached). Bike shifted fine right out of the box. I had to adjust the front brake to remove a little drag, set correct air pressure in Rock Shox fork. That's it - nice job again Sette. Of course, I've assembled loads of bikes in the past. Still, anyone with a bit of riding experience and minor wrenching ability should have no problem.

Rock Shox Reba SL fork, FSA Orbit headset, Deore hub laced to Mavic 719 rim (double butted spokes and alloy nipples), Avid Elixir CR brake, and Kenda Small Block 8 tire complete the front end.

SRAM X.9 derailleur handles the rear shifting duties. Shimano cassette, complete with 11 - 36 gearing - nice touch for a 29er, since you lose some low end gearing with the larger wheel. Plastic spoke protector will soon become a Frisbee.

SRAM X.7 front derailleur and Truvativ Stylo 3.3 crankset. Both budget minded, but work just fine. Bike also came with Shimano M505 clipless pedals. I installed my well worn 747 pedals instead. I'll give son Ian the new 505s when he's ready to go clipless.

Avid Elixir CR brake lever and Sette branded lock on grip. Not bad at all.

Sette branded stem and handlebar. Light, decent parts - similar to other branded stuff and probably made in the same factory as bigger brands.

Sette branded saddle and seatpost. Seatpost ain't bad, saddle will be swapped shortly.

Curved stays to allegedly soften the ride of aluminum. Kenda Small Block 8 tire for smooth rolling action.

Frame is polished 7005 aluminum, simple graphics (clear coated), 3.2 pounds with double butted main triangle. Pretty damn light for a 29er frame. I'm not big on polished aluminum, but it looks better in real life, then in photos. It looks good - polished with black parts.

Head tube detail - welds won't impress anyone at Moots - but not bad.

Interesting gusset on seat tube area. I also like the top mounted cable guides.

Detail of BB area and rear Mavic 719 rim. Looks cool to me.

Avid disk and frame brace to gawk at in the rear - along with double butted spokes and alloy nipples - same as front wheel. What a coincidence.

Underside of BB shot, complete with "Made in Taiwan" sticker. At this price, thought it would be China. I'm curious to know what frame manufacturer in Taiwan this actually comes from. I'll do some digging around. I'd bet many other brands ship from the same door. See, there I go again...

With Ian's Performance Access and my Sette Razzo completed - we are now officially "Team Mail Order". Yes indeed.

I wanted to photo the bike as it arrived - so there you have it. I plan to swap the seatpost, saddle and stem to better fit my goofy ass body. That will happen this week. I'll hit dirt this weekend to give it a roll. I'm itchy to see if the 29er hype is all true or a figment of marketing imagination. I've only buzzed the bike on the street for a few minutes and it felt pretty good.

As usual - poor photography and miscellaneous rambling to follow. Stay tuned.


  1. Yes, Virgina, there is a Santa Claus SWEET!! it is.

  2. Good post. I like the bike. I own two mail order bikes myself, a Motobecane mtn bike and a KHS Flite road bike, am happy with both. Don't get me started on Bike Shops, let me just say, I haven't found a good one yet, definitely best to help yourself. Now, go ride and have fun!

  3. Thanks for the comments. The Sette appears to be a screaming deal and a nice bike. I'm looking forward to riding it and trying out the 29er scene.

    I've done the mail order deal once before, back in '99 with my Ellsworth Truth. However, this was from an out of state bike shop, not directly from the manufacturer. That experience sucked, but I'll leave that for another post.

    I've also done the full on custom bike from a local shop. Ordered the frame and every part through them, then assembled myself. Mucho bucks, but nice. That be my Ibis Hakkalugi 'cross bike.

    I few bikes I've picked up used, the others all came from local shops - right off the floor. No complaints from me.

    Here in bike crazy Seattle, we have many shops - some good, some just okay, others are great. The great ones are hubs of local cycling culture and support - with knowledgable and cool people aboard. Those types of folks deserve support for sure.

    I've worked in a shop during the '80s for a few years. I've also seriously considered opening my own shop at times. I've visited lots of shops, local and on trips, to check 'em out and see how they look and get the vibe.

    Since then, I've thought about starting a small bike company, selling bikes direct - my own brand. This would be cool without the retail required hours. There's a few folks doing this already.

    The online deal doesn't work for everybody. Some folks require personal support, others all ready know what they want and can support themselves.

    I think there's room for both business models to succeed and/or become hybrids of both methods of sales.

  4. Thanks. I ordered a extra dose of Bitchin' when I placed the order online.

    I thought it help ward off the icy glares from local bike shop folks....

  5. Have you had a chance to weigh the bike yet ?

  6. I haven't weighed it, but from what I've ready - it's about 26 pounds. Right inline with other 29er bikes with similar parts spec. Those however cost quite a bit more then $1240.

    As with most bikes, the parts dictate the weight (and much of the price). The Razzo has a 3.2 pound frame. Without going to carbon, you'd have a hard time beating that.

  7. True enough about the weight. Nice bike and blog.

  8. I'm a USAT Triathlon Coach who races Xterra and coaches kids and a college team. I had my son ride the Sette and as hesitant as I was with the bike, the results are solid. We ride very technical rocky sections with a pounding and occasional wooded single track. The race circuit is the same. The result. The bike, components, wheelset and everything has been perfect. Not one break down and the kids love the smooth ride. They ride fast and hard and they said the Sette is a great race bike for a budget that is related to a high school and college kids budget. I give a huge high five to the bike and well worth the price that is purely value driven. Would like to test the 29er morph.

  9. @Coach. I'd agree - the Sette is a killer deal for a totally race ready 29er.

    Parts are parts, doesn't matter if the SRAM gear is a on a Specialized, Scott or Niner - all the same - as is the RockShox Reba fork. The Razzo frame appears to be well constructed and rides great. It seems to be on the same quality level as the big brand companies - and probably made in the same factory.

    It's an interesting business model and of course, cuts out the bike shop, so the price is quite a bit lower. If you need bike shop support, maybe not for you. If you support yourself and already know what you need - a great option.

  10. Yo Eddy, I am new to mtn biking and debating btw supporting a local bike shop and buying a Razzo. Not sure whether I'd take a 16" or 18" since I'm 5'10" in street shoes. Any chance I could at least stand astride your bike if I drove over from Spokane?
    Harry H

  11. @Anonymous, aka Harry. It's always a good thing supporting a local bike shop, especially if they're a good one. Plus you'd be able test ride some bikes and see what size frame you'd feel best on. With being new to mountain biking, establishing a relationship with a local shop can be a great thing for advice and other support. A much better use of your time then driving a few hours to look at my Sette, I think.

    Having said that, if you're looking to save some dough and you're comfortable assembling the bike, the Sette is a great deal. In my opinion, for what it's worth, I think the 16" frame would be too small for you. I'm almost 5' 11" and the 18" fits me well. I always seem to fall between medium and large for most mountain bike frames. So I tend to go with the smaller frame and use a longer stem. But that's me and may not be your set up. Still, I'd bet the 18" Sette frame would fit you well.

    Visit a few local shops and bring a tape measure. Ride some 29ers from Specialized, Scott, Trek, etc. When you ride something that feels good, measure the frame - seat tube, top tube, stem length, etc - as a reference. Record the measurements and size, test ride some more. If you hit a shop that sets you up correctly and you're cool with the price, go for it. Being new to mountain biking, as mentioned, well worth the relationship.

    If you don't find what you're looking for, you then have some measurements to compare against the Sette geometry. The Sette also offers a 30 day return (double check on that) if you don't like it. Pretty cool. If you do go with the Sette, I doubt you'll be disappointed. You may wind up swapping out the saddle, stem length, etc- and that happens depending on your personal preference on any bike.

    All this sounds more complicated then it is. Go test ride some bikes, find something you like, and hit the trails! It's worth the search.