Bikes of Sunflower: Hannah's Specialized Amira SL4 Expert

"You know how when you make a wish and blow out birthday candles, you’re not supposed to tell anyone what you wished for? Well, I’m about to tell you….

 

I wished for this bike. Actually, it was probably my wish for several birthdays before it became a reality just this spring, but I’m nonetheless blown away and grateful for such an incredible bike. Let me tell you about it!

 

It’s a 2015 Amira SL4—the Pro Race frame (which I’m totally smitten with) built up with Expert level components, saddle, and wheels. It’s my first full carbon road bike and it’s feather light. This bike begs to get up and go. The 52/36 standard road gearing coupled with the upgraded frame makes it a little speed machine. I’ve just got to make sure I keep the motor (aka, me) in good shape, but that’s the fun part. It’s got a Shimano Ultegra 11-speed group set and I couldn’t be happier with it. I have Ultegra components on my Specialized Crux, so I knew what I was getting: fast, smooth, and effortless shifting. Sometimes when I’m not paying attention, my fingers will still be on the levers in the shifting motion long after the derailleur has done the job—it’s that fast. It could be that my fingers and brain are still accustomed to the somewhat arduous effort involved in shifting gears on my previous bikes, but I didn’t know any different, so it worked for me. Now I couldn’t go back.

 

When this beauty arrived at the shop this spring, Collin Earhart (add “Bike Stylist” to his lengthy bike-related skill set) pretty much decided for me what tires would complete the classic, clean look of the white-on-white stallion frame and it didn’t take much to convince me: the Turbo Cotton. With a vintage look and performance specs to back them up (320 TPI cotton casing + dual compound Gripton + Blackbelt = fast, supple road feel with flat protection), I was all in.  They certainly are a great fit on the bike and on each of my rides in the last month, they've been grippy and have cornered perfectly. I can run them as low as 90 PSI, too, which helps to absorb some of the vibration from our infamous Douglas County chip-and-seal roads.

 

Since I’m only a month in with this bike and the fact that I’m still in the thick of gravel training on my Crux for the Dirty Kanza in early June, the Amira and I have been on only a handful of training rides, but each one of those has been a joy and it’s been a treat to have the perfect bike ready to go when I’m craving the smooth, fast feel of the road. But a few things I’ve noticed so far: the carbon makeup and geometry of this bike make it incredibly responsive; breakouts are so satisfying! Also, hills melt just a little when the bike under you is light and transferring your power efficiently. Lastly, it holds a line like a champ. This bike wants to go forward and fast, so being that trusty wheel in a packed pace line will be easier than ever.

 

Now, who wants to go for a ride? I’m in."

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