With road bike season currently peaking we compiled a list – in no particular order – of what we think are perhaps the more interesting options you need to look out for.
TREK Madone SLR 7 Disc
The stuff of world champions
In its debut year, this latest iteration of the Madone SLR clinched the Men’s Road World Championship title. In the Madone SLR, not only are you getting a race-proven bike that offers the benefits of aero and comfort, but it is also a fully integrated setup that is uncomplicated to work on and just beautiful. The tubing has been reshaped, the geometry has been tweaked and it is Trek’s OCLV 700 series carbon chassis – which is their lightest and strongest. The discerning buyer might be tempted to bling it up even more through Trek’s Project One customization program. You will like the fact that you own one of the most technologically advanced race bikes that exist. IF YOU BUY IT you absolutely have to tinker around with the adjustable top tube IsoSpeed system to get the best out of your investment. It is a simple to operate, damped compliance system, which allows you to tune the comfort level. It is a remarkable piece of engineering.
GIANT TCR Advanced SL O Disc SRAM Red
The out and out thoroughbred race whip
When you are not bothered about budgeting, look to this top-of-the-line, icon of pro-level racing from the global super-brand, Giant. You are getting the most refined carbon that Giant offers, labeled the SL-Grade, it runs throughout the frame and fork – including the steerer tube. Using feedback from their ProTour teams, the TCR has received many refinements to keep its status amongst aficionados as one of the very best race bikes available. It climbs, sprints and is sharp enough inside the bunch to keep you in position to attack. There is a lot to love on this bike, including the wireless SRAM Red eTap AXS drivetrain which is a 12-speed, 10×28 and 35/48 spread. IF YOU BUY IT know that the Cadex Wheelsystem is one of the main reasons why you went for the top of the range TCR. They are an ultra-light 1327g, feature aero-shaped carbon spokes, in a lacing designed to optimize efficiency when pedaling or coasting.
TITAN RACING Valerian Pro
Frugal but fast
Titan Racing is a brand built around the promise of offering you bang for your Zars. Sold across Southern Africa, Mauritius and UAE, with European availability imminent, the product designers focused on a functional and stylish product, wrapped in fair value pricing. The Valerian Pro is no exception to this brand promise from Titan Racing, remarkably the bike is priced at least R15 000 or 30% lower than the average bike within its competitor set. The value is exceptional. Yes, it packs a few hundred grams more than some of the others in the bunch but it is hardly a behemoth. The Ultegra disc, Ultegra drivetrain, Shimano wheels and Vittoria rubber are reliable and solid. IF YOU BUY IT the five-year multi-user warranty will hold resale value and you will be surprised at just how good the ride is.
BIANCHI Oltre XR4 Disc Ultegra Di2
Aero racer. Amore!
Bianchi uses a patented carbon material that has a unique fiber architecture with viscoelastic resin which has been tested in NASA aerospace operations and is said to reduce muscular fatigue by smoothing the ride characteristics. This system, known as Counter Vail, is developed by Bianchi and is embedded within the entire frame of the Oltre and other models. The Oltre also features hidden cables, an aero Metron handlebar and an adjustable offset on the seat post. Stack height is low, the top tubes are long, it is a racy affair. The Oltre in this build iteration tips the scales at 8.2kg. IF YOU BUY IT and are not in a hurry, take a look at the paint customization program offered by Bianchi, you can make it really special.
SWIFT CARBON RaceVox Dura-Ace Di2 Disc
A do-it-all superbike
Swift’s next-generation do-it-all bike promises compliance, precise handling and aero slipperiness; wrapped in a lightweight package of 7.1kg. It is perhaps the ultimate evolution as it draws upon the responsiveness of the UltraVox, the compliance of the Attack G2 and features aerodynamic touches inspired by the HyperVox. The result? – a do-it-all superbike. Operating on the theory that you will encounter just about every condition on any given race day, Swift set out to produce a bike that delivered the goods no matter what the route. With design and manufacturing features such as dropped stays, a wide tyre clearance (slightly over 28), a recessed water bottle cage, an integrated cockpit and Thru-Axles, the RaceVox has all the goods to do the job. Courtesy of some charming design work and the use of the FSA Metron cockpit (not shown), all the brake and shift cables are hidden from view, irrespective of what build-kit you go for. With roots in South Africa, Swift is now a Portuguese based consumer-direct brand with an online sales platform. IF YOU BUY IT take confidence in knowing there is a local operator in Cape Town ready to assist you.
MERIDA Scultura 6000
After you have made the decision to stay with rim brakes put this classic lightweight race bike on your list. The Scultura offers comfort, good acceleration and Grand Tour climbing stage winning pedigree. You are getting a Shimano Ultegra 50/34t drivetrain, Ultegra brakes, Merida bar and stem, Prologo Nago Evo saddle, Fulcrum Racing wheels with Continental Grand Sport Race 25c tyres. The size curve runs from a 490mm top tube all the way to a 590mm, with a total of nine sizes available. The higher-end models of the Scultura are some of the very lightest race bikes out there. This 6000 model squeezes in just under 8kg which is very respectable for this pricepoint.
TREK Émonda SL 5 Disc
Economical, carbon, discs, in a razzle-dazzle colourway
The distinguishing aspect of the Émonda SL 5 Disc is obviously the paint finish. Whilst some of the Émonda models are fairly understated with blacks, whites and blue, the SL 5 in Emerald Iris, wins the razzle-dazzle award. It boasts all the elements of an economical climber plus those of a comfortable Fondo bike. The carbon SL frame and fork feature Trek’s H2 fit (a marginally higher stack height) to optimize handling and efficiency on the gradients. You will love the modulation and all-out stopping power of the Shimano 105 Disc brakes. As a mixed-gender offering, it is available in no less than nine sizes. If you are looking to move from an aluminum bike, a rim brake bike or just a value-orientated starter package, there is a lot to love about the SL 5, including the tubeless-ready wheelset, compact crankset, 28c tyres and the Blendr-compatible stems which keeps the cockpit clean when adding lights and GPS devices. IF YOU BUY IT get ready for the onslaught of flattery.
SPECIALIZED S-Works Tarmac Disc Sagan Collection Overexposed LTD
Employing their top of the line carbon, in layups which are customized across the frame sizes to optimize your ride, Specialized managed to trim some 200grams off of their latest Tarmac. It is not just the frame and fork which is the stuff of feathers, the Roval CLX wheels feature DT Swiss 240 internals and CeramicSpeed bearings and weigh a remarkable 1415grams. The aero elements include dropped stays, a reshaped fork to reduce frontal profiles and lower the crown height, a reshaped down tube and a D-shaped airfoil seat tube. The other blingy highlights include Turbo Cotton 26c tyres in a 320 TPI, S-Works Power cranks with a dual-sided power meter and Dura-Ace Di2 everywhere. IF YOU BUY IT hang onto this one, it is a beautiful work of art celebrating Sagan that will certainly become a collector’s piece.
CANNONDALE SuperSix EVO Carbon Disc Ultegra
The light, stiff, GC bike, with an aero makeover
The Evo is an evolution of the classic race machine. The first thing you will notice is it has a lot of aero features, in fact, just about all the tubing is shaped to optimize slip. Cannondale says this new Evo is about 30% more aerodynamically efficient than the previous generation. Without tinkering too much with the popular geometry of the SuperSix, Cannondale has raised the stack height and shortened the reach ever so slightly which maintains the sublime handling characteristics that the SuperSix is known for, but with added rider comfort. The Evo also receives dropped stays which reduce drag and increase rider comfort. You are getting an FSA 52/36t chainset, 11-32t cassette, Shimano Ultegra derailleurs, brakes and shifters. The 30mm tyre clearance is a nice touch as is the 999gram frame weight. The Hollowgram Si, 35mm deep, carbon clincher wheelset with straight-pull spokes weighs a mere 1446grams. IF YOU BUY IT you will love the speed sensor mounted to the front wheel which records distance, speed and time, saves it all onto the Cannondale app and helps you plan your service intervals.
3T Strada Due Ultegra Di2
The future is here
The Strada Due puts the comfort back into aero by optimizing the frame design around wider tyres. 3T says that tyre size plays the biggest part in road bike comfort and compliance, which makes sense. They say wider tyres are better at reducing shocks from cracks, rough surfaces and potholes and offer an advantage on long and multi-day rides by reducing the steady drain on a rider’s energy level caused by high-frequency road buzz. That makes sense too. The Strada Due is the first aero road frame optimized for wider tires so you get an aero and comfortable steed. Head-of-design Gerard Vroomen – founder of Cervélo – has included many cool design elements to clean up the airflow, like a lower fork crown which moves the front wheel closer to the downtube. Additionally, the fork legs are kinked and airfoil-shaped whilst the brake adaptor is integrated/recessed into the fork. The list is endless. The Discus C45 wheelset is part of the Strada aero system. IF YOU BUY IT, bring it around to our office so we can drool. Remember it is only compatible with 2 x electronic drivetrains.