Stevens Vapor Test

Stevens Vapor model year 2014

Cyclocross racer under nine pounds for a fair price

Which cyclist gets really happy with a Stevens Vapor Cyclocross bike? Actually, all amateur athletes, to whom a road bike is too sensitive, too uncomfortable to travel and too little field roadworthy. The bike categories Fitnessbike, Reiserennrad, Randonneur, Winterrennrad, Gravelbike, Beachracer etc. have emancipated in recent years even more of the road bike. With ever finer granularity, wheels are built for top niche target groups. At the end of the year I hit 2014 and bought a Stevens Vapor Cyclocross from the same year. I did not want to use the bike to do cross-country races, but to be able to heat up on bad bike paths without regrets. In Germany they are the rule rather than the exception. At the end of November, the wheel gave 2014 at the dealer a few hundred euros cheaper than the list price of 1.800, - EUR at the time.

Why the Stevens Vapor 2014 * convinced me:

  • Good equipment with carbon fork, light wheels, disc brakes and Shimano Ultegra circuit
  • Lightweight, sturdy, faster but still comfortable aluminum frame with carbon fork - bike weight under 9 kilograms
  • For a cyclocross very balanced driving characteristics, quiet straight-line running, comfortable ergonomics, even travel qualities
  • Very wide tire assembly such as the puncture-proof "Schwalbe Kojak" possible
  • Simple design without frills, clean laid, internal trains
  • Extremely good all-round bike - maybe for around 1.500, - Euro at that time the best of the disciplines Cyclocross, Gravelbike and stable road bike also for slopes. * Link to the Stevens Vapor from 2014

Experiences with my first high-tech bike

It was my first, light bike with road handlebars. The driving characteristics did not disappoint me. As a road bike newcomer, my hands hurt at the beginning already after 30 kilometers. Especially the thumb muscles did not seem to be able to cope with the weight of my upper body at first. With padded gloves it went with weekly exercise always better. I also did not want to make friends with the one-sided clipless pedals. At the time of initial purchase, the pedals also included two feather-light LED bulbs, a hip pack filled with tools, mobile phone and nest egg, a simple computer and a few light-running Conti Grand Prix 4000 II road tires. Done was my very first road bike equipment.

The mounted studded tires hang unused in the garage until today. They look great, eat too much power on asphalt for my road use. Only a single desired special bell had to be realized by the dealer before buying: Swapping the left and right brakes on the handlebar, since I am a motorcyclist. The right lever always slows down for me. Experiments with non-reversed levers have led to serious injury in the past. With mechanical disc brakes you can simply swap the Bowden cables, new bar tape drum - done. This does not work so easily with hydraulic disc brakes.

On the first exits, I came downhill to top speeds of up to 65 km / h. Such speeds feel much more intense on the bike than on a scooter or motorcycle. It initially creates a true speed rush. The body merges with the wheel to a single machine. In spite of a hard road with a bad asphalt, I was immediately convinced by a nearly perfect straight-line stability, coupled with springy frame elements, which absorb shocks in the form of material flexibility in an astonishingly efficient manner. Nevertheless, I never had a doughy driving experience.

All components of the Vapor suspension are perfectly matched. But the handlebars and stem swallows hard bumps almost like a fork. The geometry of the 56 frame suited me with my 1,76 like a glove. Each pedal turn provides direct, unrestrained propulsion. So intense had I experienced acceleration and speed before on any bike. It was a real eye-opener, as I drove the last few years already with a "light 12 kilo wheel" with hub gear. This high-tech machine played in a completely different league ... I can only strongly recommend to every cyclist to ride a fast bike under 10 kilos, the difference is enormous.

The disc brakes of the Stevens Vapor turn out to be the Achilles' heel

For all the enthusiasm for the beautiful Vapor: Already in the bike shop during the first test drive convinced me the lashing Shimano BR-CX77 disc brakes without defined pressure point with high manual forces not at all. The dealer assured me that the brakes would have to be braked and then unfold their full effect. That shone on me. Unfortunately that was an empty promise. Afterward, I learned that Shimano had quickly removed the predecessor of this mechanical disc brake for safety reasons. The brakes with their perforation looked so temptingly professional ...

Disc brakes Shimano BR-CX77: The grip in the void ...

On a gentle downhill ride, I experienced what it feels like to pull the brake handle of an unrivaled disc brake to the handlebar stop without the slightest hint of a noticeable deceleration. A nightmare. The Shimano Resin plastic coverings had to be readjusted every 70 kilometer with two different sized Allen keys - if you had forgotten the tools on a tour: Then suddenly there was only one brake. With a miserable braking performance without exact pressure point, it was sometimes not even possible on the rear wheel to intentionally block the wheel without high force. Each DIY Cantilever Brake did more and was much better to dose. First over expensive special brake pads from Cool-Stop I changed completely on metal brake pads with appropriate brake discs, Only then was the braking performance for me satisfactory to good. This eliminates the constant Nachstellerei. Although the costs for the conversion amounted to just about 90, - Euro for the parts, but the search for Shimano compatibilities, prices and optimal pairings was very time consuming.

What has led the manufacturer 2014 to assemble this life-threatening brake combination of organic pads and 10 Euro discs to a 1.800, - Euro expensive Cyclocross, I can not explain to this day. Probably slows the professional cyclist in the field barely. Interestingly, the brakes in the trade press were praised as an innovation. CYCLOSPRINT (BE) wrote 2011 to the Vapor: "... Great disc braking performance and high quality Ultegra features." Did they really come from mass production? Other Vapor drivers also complained in forums or sold their bike again shortly.

The conversion to metal brake pads with better brake discs is sufficient. I chose Shimano metal-titanium rubbers G04TI and two brake discs Shimano SM-RT76 in 160 mm. Unfortunately, a request to Stevens revealed that one due to the carbon fork front of the Vapor no 180 Milimeter large brake disc may mount, In addition to the metal brake pads and discs, by the way, particularly high-tensile brake cables (eg from Jagwire) can be mounted, as well as better, (semi-hydraulic) calipers with good modulation. From my point of view, both are not absolutely necessary, since the installation effort is considerable: New and longer trains have to be laid through the frame ... nothing for beginners. All improvement measures ultimately lead to the lower level of hydraulic disc brakes. These are naturally mounted from the series on the newer years of construction of the Stevens Vapor. Note: When cyclocross second-hand purchase throw a special eye on mechanical disc brakes.

With road tires for universal road bike

So far, the Conti 4000 Grand Prix II road tires have clearly been the best tuning measure. The Stevens Vapor gets even faster with road tires. On asphalt, these tires are a real dream. I have been driving them on the Stevens for 3.000 kilometers and have not had a breakdown yet, even though they sometimes have deep cuts of broken pieces. The 28 mm width offers a very balanced compromise between comfort, grip and speed at approx. 5-6 bar air pressure. For off-road driving, of course, they are not done properly. There is also an 4 season version of the Grand Prix 4000 by Conti, which is also very well suited for winter drivers. By the way, the sturdy wheels also put away flat curbs with slightly wider 28 tires. Those who do not want to commit themselves between road use and terrain, resort to the Schwalbe tires G-ONE Allround or G-ONE Speed with a fine nub profile. Cyclists who are comfortable with everything, even to my knowledge one fat swallow Kojak assemble. This increases the puncture safety and suspension comfort many times over. It is one of the lightest tires for fast touring bikes.

Fast LED lighting

For me, good lighting was obligatory when buying the bike in dark November. However, I did not want to disfigure the new cyclocross with XL-LED construction site lights. So the search for small, light but powerful LED battery lights began. 2014 was not that easy as it is today. Front is a feather light Litecco Highlux the handlebars, behind a very aerodynamic Cube Pro. Both lamps persuade me until today especially for the purpose of use on light sports wheels. They can be dismantled in a few seconds. Over time, a bottle holder and a hose pocket was added. I quickly realized: Each additional attached part messes up the line of this elegant racer.

Computer, bell, spare hose, tool on the road bike

Since I am often on bike trails on the Vapor, I need a bell. Contrary to popular beliefs, I can thereby defuse many dangerous situations before they even arise. In the photo you can see the bell only hidden as overhead mounting behind the Bowden cables under the stem. Over the past four years, she has really done me a great job on the Stevens Cyclocross. In a lightweight hip bag I have the most important tool. The simple digital speedometer has now been replaced by a Sigma Rox 5.0 with centered attachment exchanged ten centimeters before the handlebars: These ten centimeters further forward are a blessing for my neck when looking at the data.

Freewheel instead of bell - that's how you feel with the Stevens Vapor

The freewheel of the Shimano Ultegra really makes noise. The Stevens Vapor Cyclocross is heard very clearly, if you do not pedal. The Ultegra circuit did not have to be readjusted until today. It works very reliable, even at freezing temperatures. Getting used to the down gear on the front sprocket: The shift paddle must be released immediately, otherwise there is grinding noises and the chain remains on the big wheel. After 300 kilometers, I had become used to it. After about 2.500 kilometers I changed the chainso that the pinions do not wear out so much. After that, the circuit felt like new again. The original chain is available in the winter months in some online stores already for good 20, - Euro instead of 50, - in the bike shop! I learned at this high-quality derailleur: Less oil is much better! But chain and pinion still have to be meticulously cleaned every few hundred kilometers even without off-road driving, so everything runs smoothly. The black smear should not stay long ...

Conclusion: I have not regretted the purchase of the Stevens Vapor until today. The bike makes me really happy and runs even after 3.000 kilometers as on the first day. I only use it for exits at the weekend on the street. For me, the Stevens is a weekend getaway. So still something special. During the week I drive cheaper wheels with straight handlebars. Most of all, I secretly always look forward to really bad bike paths over the grandiose ride comfort. Here's the Vapor in its element. After the organic resin brakes on metal brake pads were rebuilt, real, inner satisfaction. The wear parts are transparent and affordable, the resulting fun factor while driving is priceless.

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