CTM Caliber 1.0 Review (2013)

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My expectation level wasn’t set exactly too high given the previous encounters with CTM bikes, but I guess this also made up for the pleasant surprise that the Caliber 1.0 provided. The Slovakian manufacturer gifted the model with some truly useful advantages, although there were sections that were not quite generous in performance due to budget reasons, but the final outcome can be found in the following.

Frame/On the trail

The component that makes the best impression is the frame. Carefully crafted finishing touches and welds, alongside with an eye-catching visual aspect make this part one of the most attractive from its range. Yet looks and details without performance don’t make my day, so I had to find out what the Caliber 1.0 was really capable of on the trail.

The stiffness figure reaches 102.6 Nm/degree, while the stiffness-to-weight ratio of 57.6 Nm/degree/kg manages to place the frame in the upper half of its class. Therefore, riders weighing 90 kilograms or less should feel at home on this bike, and while stiffness isn’t paramount, the more than acceptable weight of 1.78 kg makes the model a fine competitor within its range. Of course, things can be improved in both regards, but then again, the Caliber 1.0 is rather mild on your pocket.

Regarding geometry, CTM doesn’t take any chances and goes with the agile 71 degrees of the headtube angle and the 73 degrees of the seat tube one, which provides a helping hand on ascents. The sit on the bike is more sporty than recreational, and together with the 100mm stem and 680mm wide Truvativ Stylo T20 handlebar, controlling the Caliber 1.0 is something that comes natural.

Still, aggresive riding isn’t Caliber’s sole purpose, the luggage trunk mounts giving the possibility to turn it into something more leant towards utility. Otherwise, the triangular shape of the main tubes give a feeling of strength, eventhough the aren’t any reinforcements present on the frame. Ending the spec chart of the frame are two water bottle cage mounts and the cable routing that runs under the top tube.

Specifications

In comparison to similar priced competitors, the specs of the Caliber 1.0 occasionally offer more. The best example is the Rock Shox XC 32 TK suspension fork, which comes with a lock-out lever on the handlebar and the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. An air cartridge fork for an entry-level mountain bike is more the welcome, since most of the counterparts go for a coil one, but do not expect the XC 32 to work miracles. The 100mm travel does fine on country roads, so do not push your luck on difficult trails, as it is not meant for them.

The other strong point of the Caliber 1.o’s components are the hydraulic Shimano M395 disc brakes. Performance is good, though modulation could be better, and the 160mm rotors acomplish their tasks as you would expect them to, yet 180mm ones would have improved performance. Also note that fading appeard on longer descents, so especially if you are a whole lot of rider, you should keep this in mind. All in all, the lever feel wasn’t spectacular, but performance was better than in the case of the usual Tektro brakes found on bikes coming from this range.

Some of the lackings of the Caliber 1.0 come in the form of the drivetrain. Far from being unreliable, the 3×9 configuration includes a rear Shimano SLX derailleur, a front Shimano Alivio derailleur and a Hollowtech I and Octalink-featured bottom bracket. A pair of Alivio shifters commands the mechanism, unfortunately not having a 2-way-release function. Weight is anything but competitive, still functioning of the whole system being satisfying, with the mention that room for improvement is quite generous.

The wheelset isn’t any better, the WTB Wolverine 1.95 inch-wide tires failing to secure decent comfort, but compensating in terms of rolling speed. Grip isn’t either at its best, regardless if we talk about climbing, cornering, pavement or trails, the only solace in this respect coming from the Shimano Deore hubs, that provide their usual performance.

Conclusions

Despite its weak points, the financial point of the Caliber 1.0 is very strong. For competitive use, it could get some upgrades especially regarding the shifters, tires and a lighter crankset, even more given the 1.78 kilograms of the frame. As far as recreational riding goes, there are no objections, but please do something about those tires…

CTM Caliber 1.0 data

Total weight: 13.09 kg
Frame weight: 1.782 grams
Wheelset weight: 4.560 grams (tires, sprockets and quick release included)
Fork weight: 2.241 grams
Crankset weight: 1.140 grams (BB included)
Handlebar width: 680 mm
Headtube stiffness: 102.6 Nm/grad
Stiffness to weight ratio: 57,6

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