So, I came through here asking about the SST-al and didn't get a whole lot of good feedback, and the rider experiecnes were few, far between, and didn't say much useful. So here we go.
I've been looking for a track bike. Not because I'm some hipster jerk, but becuase I live just a few miles from a velodrome. I've been using rental bikes all year, and I finally felt like I had proven that I'd use a bike of my own.
The search began. Everyone recomended the Fuji Track Pro, or Fuji Track Comp. I was able to locate one, but I was in no mood to spend $800 on a used bike. I was then able to find a new one, but fuji's supply chain was entirely out of 49cm bikes. I was the proud owner of a 52cm Fuji Track comp for roughly 48 hours. The 52 was just a little to big for me, and it had to be returned.
So I turned to bikesdirect. I have ordered from them before. And my Dawes LT1000 has served me well for most of three years. I tried to order the SST-AL, but they were out of my size. As soon as the pre-order came up for the new SST-AL's I ordered my bike. Ironically, the motobecane team track was made available two weeks later... which is a fuji track comp, but it comes with even better components.
2009 Dawes SST-AL
So what makes the bike a 2009 versus the old model? Well first of all it comes with a carbon fork. Second it comes with road brake levers. Finally it comes with a brand name crank.
If you've never ridden one, carbon forks are a godsend to road riders. They take the edges off the nasty bumps, and dampen vibration from the small ones. It really comes down to trying it. Preferably back to back against a steel fork bike.
The road brake levers provide you with another position to ride the bike from. If you're a road rider, you should be accustomed to riding frome the hoods. If you're a track rat, it may not matter to you.
It's nice to see brand name components on the bike, and the FSA crank is welcome. As are the tektro levers and brakes. Of note: the brakes that come with the bike are the replacable pad type, not the threaded stud kind that come on the cheaper bikes.
I'm quite impressed by the frame. it's not "just a cheap" frame. The rear dropouts have the stainless steel inserts to stop the axle nuts from digging in. The top tube on the bike is formed, while having an aero shape in that part of the bike doesn't do any good, it does make the brake wire invisable from one side of the bike. The seatstays are aero tubing at the top, and the chainstays are ovalized nicely.
To compare, my LT1000's frame is looks haphazardly dented where chain and crank clearances are needed, and the seatstays are round all the way from top to bottom.
Here's a shot from last night, just after riding to dinner.
I have, quite litterally, no complaints about the bike. The closest thing to a complaint I can come up with are the wheels aren't "exactly" true, and the spoke tension isn't perfect. And the bike didn't come setup exactly the right way for my body. .... and what bike does?
Riding a fixed gear bike on the street is a very strange experience for me. Until tuesday, I had never riden a fixed gear bike anywhere but on the track. My first real shock, was coming to a stop the first time. At the track, I stop when my body weight is enough to stop the bike rolling forward, and I step to the ground. Missing the step off point could leave me 6' ahead of where I intended to stop. This is ok on the track, but not so good at a stop sign. Since I've only ridden on the track, the idea of using the brakes just doesn't come up.
Bumps also sent me through a loop. Almost literally. it's built into me to post over bumps. That means stopping pedaling. Well the first time I tried that.. and my foot got yanked clear out of the pedal. whoops. I settled that habit right quick.
It was enlightening. I finally really understand the idea of spinning out. I've never had that happen at the track. However, that is where this bike will live most of it's life. Last night, I removed the stock bars and stem, the brakes, and took off the pedals. I fitted a new 31.8mm set of bars, a stem to match, and put on my road clipless pedals. Tonight the bike is coming with me to the velodrome. Hopefully someone will see fit to loan me a 15 or 16 tooth sprocket for the night. :-)
I might put the bike back on the street for the winter, as I have a few highway overpasses that might be useful for training cadence and power. (going up and back down again...) But we'll see. The brakes that came on the bike are MUCH better than those that came on the LT1000. They just might get moved over.
I think it knows it's not going to see the road again for a long long time.