Baron Outsider – Reviewed

Outsider I admit it – my brakes squealed today, but then I’m a committed disc-brake for winter riding kind of guy.

Byron’s always had a hard time with the value of it – mostly because of the dislike of brake squeak, but I can guaran-f’ing-tee it makes a huge difference on those dangerous, wet descents. Today I took my Baron Outsider for a nice 3.5hr ride in the cold, wet mess of a New Years day we had here in Seattle. I snapped some pics after I got home to capture the bike in its element (covered in road grit). If you want fancy shots – hit the website.

Outsider

Outsider

Why did I upgrade from the Trek Portland? It had disc brakes, decent geometry, and was relatively light, but it wasn’t quite right. The Baron had a leg up in a few key areas:

  1. STEEL. Steel rides so nicely. For long, slogging rides over roads and trails that aren’t all that pristine – I want the comfort of steel. I could have gone for a cheaper, China-container-ship-steel frame made with 4130, but the Baron is high-end Tru-Temper Platinum. Nice. Comfortable. Excellent handling.
  2. Geometry. The Baron is a pure road bike. Even the Portland had a high Bottom Bracket and raised head tube. It road ok, but the Baron carves like my race bike. More importantly I can match the geometry of my race bike and avoid the 2 weeks of knee pain as I make the transition for race season.
  3. 135mm OLD. Trek and most other road-disc bikes are spaced to 130mm. 130mm rear hubs suck. I now have buttery smooth White Industries hubs that will stand up to years of abuse built into solid 32 hole wheels. I LOVE my wheels.
  4. Local. Baron bikes are cut, mitered, and welded in Yakima, WA, and painted in Ballard (Seattle). That’s worth something to me and I’m willing to pay for that.

There’s some other stuff that makes it a stand out (aesthetic, clean cable routing, brake adjustability, stout fork, etc), but these are the main points.

What’s wrong with it? Well yes, under certain conditions I can get the brakes the squeal. I don’t so much care – on the descent into the Carnation valley (steep and winding) the two of us on discs made it down safely with far more comfort than the two on rim-brakes. For fender-mounting, there’s no mount at the chain stay. I understand the logic that the builder went with there, but I think there may be some clever options there that haven’t been considered. The only other thing that sort of bugs me is the paint. I got a first-generation Baron that didn’t have a clear coat. I was impatient and asked for the bike asap and said I’d go without. After seeing the clear-coat bike – I should have waited.

That’s it. Baron’s are going to be popping up in shops in the Seattle area soon. There are ~20 on the roads so far with more to come.