Must Read Road Bicycles Reviews
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Most of us have dreams of riding like the pros on TV—effortlessly spinning up our own versions of the Alps or furiously sprinting to a win on our own personal Champs-Elysées. But for some of us, the tools used by those larger-than-life athletes are at least a touch out of reach. These race-inspired enthusiast bikes are not.
Specialized Allez Comp 105 – $1,750
Getting to my favorite 8-mile climb on a route that includes plenty of broken roads is almost as tough as the climb itself, but the Allez Comp proved worthy. When the dirt became smoother than the remaining pavement, the relatively stiff-riding aluminum frame offered an acceptable level of comfort, keeping me from being jarred too harshly.
The Allez rides lighter than its 20-plus pounds (size 56cm) would suggest, thanks mostly to the stiff, responsive frame. The front end’s rigidity rivals that of a Tour-worthy racer and looks as if it came off a top-end Specialized Tarmac.—Ron Koch
Buy It If: You want a go-fast bike with Tour-proven geometry and upgrade potential
Forget It If: You insist that carbon is king
Felt F5 – $2,299
Out of the box, the F5 reads like a race bike. It has performance-oriented features such as a drivetrain-stiffening BB30 bottom bracket and a stiff fork for competent handling. On the road, though, it shows that it has more nuance than speed.
The F5 is built around Felt’s FC race frame—the same one the Exergy pro cycling team will race in 2012—and includes an appropriately short head tube (160mm on our 58cm test bike), letting you get out of the wind. But the bike’s compliant ride, compact double crank, and stout Mavic CXP-22 rims make it best suited to solo explorations, spirited group rides, and turbocharged commutes.
Felt sees the bike as a do-it-all road platform. While the 34/25 low gear will let you crawl over any hill, the 50/11 top end is fast enough to sprint for a finish line. The handling and geometry skew to the racer’s preference for fast, nimble reactions, but the UHC Performance carbon 3K weave doesn’t. Instead it gives you a more comfortable ride, which was preferred by some of our testers: “I’d rather have a bike that’s a touch too compliant than one that’s too stiff,” read one ride log.—Andrew J. Bernstein
Buy It If: You might race occasionally, but mostly just want to ride
Forget It If: You’ll be tempted to clean the white tires after every ride
Raleigh Carbon Revenio 1.0 – $2,000
The Colorado Department of Transportation’s beloved chip-and-seal surface is hateful when you’re riding a stiff race bike, but the Revenio, despite speed-inspired aesthetics, is no race bike. Instead, it’s a bike that’s comfortable for any recreational rider. Employing flattened seatstays, it handles rough surfaces with ease, effectively muting larger jolts. The steering is neutral, without sluggish turn-in.
Raleigh may have been too devoted to aesthetics, though, especially for a bike in this price range. While the Revenio definitely looks cool, it’s a persnickety bike from a home mechanic’s perspective: Internal cable routing looks clean, but it’s a pain to work with. Similarly, we worried that the red aluminum bottle-cage bolts would be prone to stripping, although we didn’t have any problems.—Joe Lindsey
Buy It If: You want a bike to comfortably cruise on
Forget It If: You like a stretched-out or rear-biased position
Blue Axino EX – $2,900
A new bike for 2012, the EX is the lowest-cost carbon model in Blue’s growing Axino family, and it shares some features and frame shaping with the top-of-the-line Axino. To reduce costs, Blue used less-expensive composites, resulting in a heavier frame (1,150g vs 950g).
As expected from a company with the phrase “competition cycles” in its name, the Axino EX feels like it’s ready to race. With average geometry, you get straightforward handling that’s neither frighteningly fast nor so sluggish as to hold you back in a crit. The EX’s frame stiffness impressed us. Some bikes, including many high-end models, ride as though engineers built differing stiffnesses into disparate parts of the frame. Taken individually, these zones might receive top marks, but in totality, the frames lack unity. That’s where the EX shines: It may not have the stiffest drivetrain or head tube we’ve ever experienced, but it’s balanced in a way that makes the frame feel like a single, harmonized entity. It’s an admirable trait, especially at this price point.—Matt Phillips
Buy It If: You want a performance bike with a damped ride
Forget It If: You’re looking for a lively ride feel
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