Believe it or not, many Above Category clients find us from afar. And we're not talking about the other side of the US, either. From Europe to the UK, to South Africa, Singapore, Japan and South Korea, we regularly create custom bikes for riders around the world. Often these far-flung cyclists are referred to us by a friend, a search for a brand we carry, or even a local bike shop that can't help them with a specific inquiry. And it was almost all of the above that drew a charismatic and colorful rider from Toronto called Tracy to Above Category, now the proud owner of a custom and equally colorful Sarto Seta.
Tracy made her big debut over email a few months back, asking us if we could express ship some bibs to her in California to arrive in time for a pre-planned vacation ride with friends. Email isn't the best medium to convey someone's spirit, but there was something special about Tracy from the start, a cadence to her words that couldn't help make you smile - and email rarely does that! A few weeks later, Tracy walked into the shop to scope out a new Sarto, a brand she'd been drawn to for some time.
For those who don't know, Sarto is a family-run Italian bike brand known for its carbon fiber bikes. Nothing new there, right? However, unlike most brands in the composites space, Sarto stands out for its in-house production and unmatched carbon fiber knowledge. In fact, so revered is Sarto for its ability to build world-class carbon fibre frames that until the brand decided to focus solely on its own range in 2019, it supplied frames to many well-known bike brands, which in turn branded and marketed them to consumers. You may even be riding one right now.
Sarto was founded in 1959, but the brand's relationship with carbon fiber dates back to the 90s when Enrico Sarto saw the move away from metal in the pro peloton and decided to invest heavily in carbon fiber research, development, and production facilities. Fast forward to today, and Sarto stands apart as one of the world's foremost specialists in carbon fiber bike frames. At its facility in Veneto, Italy, Sarto's talented team makes everything, from the tubes to the final layer of lacquer. The brand offers stock sizes but generally prefers to create a custom frame to better cater to a rider's precise measurements.
Another great thing about Sarto is that its range of bikes is concise, understandable and distinct, all of which made honing in on the perfect frame for Tracy an easy process. After discussing a couple of options on her first visit, we quickly settled on a Sarto Seta. Back home in Toronto, Tracy rides pretty much every day, to-and-from work, evenings and on the weekend, so the more all-around Seta, as opposed to the road-first Asola, felt like the perfect blend.
Tracy already had bike fit data to hand, so all we had to do was send her details to Sarto, who set about crafting a custom Seta, perfectly sized to her geometry. A few back and forths on the bike's paint scheme followed. Tracy came to use with a few ideas in mind, but a bike we already had here at AC with a blue and orange motif sparked the final direction, which Sarto was able to render perfectly at their in-house paint shop.
With the frame back with us in record time, we were ready to build it up. Tracy chose Shimano's new electronic Dura-Ace group. It's clean, 200g lighter than the last iteration and works flawlessly. We love it. Another highlight were the bike's Lightweight wheels. Choosing the right hoops isn't easy - there are a lot of options out there. But again, Tracy's eye for the real deal guided her towards Lightweight and the German brand's Meilenstein Evo wheels.
With color-matched accessories and the cockpit in place, Tracy's Sarto Seta was ready to fly. And fly it did. Tracy arrived to collect her new bike, having flown in from Toronto that very morning, before departing that same afternoon to return home with her new Sarto by her side. But we'd be hearing from her very soon. And it was love at first ride. "This past weekend, I went out for two long rides," she said, "and it was just pure JOY!!! The fit was great. I felt like the bike and I had merged into this one piece of machine:) It is hard to describe. And the WHEELS!!! They are extremely smooth, and climbing hills with this bike is like being propelled. The sensation is hard to explain and can only be experienced."
And on the buying process, Tracy was equally effusive, telling us that finding a female-forward bike shop was a revelation. In fact, it was our co-founder Kalara who first welcomed Tracy as she came through the door, cementing a bond of friendship and understanding that for Tracy, made buying a custom bike a dream process.
To which we can only say that it was our absolute pleasure. Thank you for coming to AC and trusting us with your bike!