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A bike with lower gearing will be easier to ride up steep hills, while a higher top end means it will pedal faster down hills.
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Trek vs Orbea
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Tembo said: Sorry but it's again gonna be one of those ''I dunno which one to choose'' threads.. So here it is: I've got the choice between an Orbea T105 (2011model) and a Trek Madone 4.5 (also 2011 model). They are both equiped with Shimano 105 groupo (the Trek has no name brakes though..) I'm only 18 and I do mostly triathlons even if i do a pure bike races after my tri season therefore i want something stiff and racey rather than comfy since I only do 20/40 kms. Has anyone rode them ? Which brand is better ? Which one climbs better ? Which one is best on long flat rides ? Gimme any detail you know My LBS offers my discounts so i'll get the Trek for about 1800 and the orbea for a little over 1600. I'm gonna do a test ride soon but I'd appreciate any advices cause it's not on a 2km ride that i'll trully notice the major differences.. Here are links to both bikes : Trek: http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/road/madone/madone45/ Orbea: http://www.orbea.com/us-us/bicis/modelos/onix_t105/ Thx for your input. Click to expand...
BernyMac said: Orbea, hands down...if both bikes fit properly. Everyone and their uncles have Trek. Click to expand...
It must be a reason why "Everyone and their uncles have Trek." Click to expand...
testpilot said: Madone hands down. My experience it that Orbea is over rated. On fast downhills it is very twitchy and feels like any sudden road input could send it into speed wobble. I've heard this from others too. Click to expand...
bds3 said: You're only 18 so I'll cut you some slack and not call you an idiot , but go with the Orbea, hands down. Both great bikes I'm sure although I don't have personal experience with either, but if the Orbea fits it's WAY cooler. Like not even close. And cheaper if you get those discounts. Go with that one. Click to expand...
Blue CheeseHead said: Given the depth of answers such as "hands down the Orbea is cooler", let me add my $.02, get the red one. Red is always faster. If neither is red, go for the best fit. If both fit similarly, go for the one that "speaks to you". Click to expand...
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Orbea Orca Aero vs Trek Madone (2023)
In this comparison, I’ll dissect two popular bike models; the Orbea Orca Aero vs Trek Madone .
I’ll compare their lineups, bike specifications, and suggested retail prices in USD, then discuss the carbon fiber technology ( Orbea Monocoque (TorayCa) Carbon and Trek OCLV ) and frameset technologies.
The goal is to give you a better understanding of Orbea Orca Aero and Trek Madone to help in your decision-making.
Orbea Orca Aero
The Orbea Orca Aero combines the design principles of the Orca Orca road and the Ordu time trial bike. It uses Toray’s T1100 monocoque carbon, which Orbea refers to as OMX carbon.
The most obvious and standout feature of the Orca Aero is the aero water bottle and storage box beneath the down tube. They are optional and can be removed, depending on your preferences.
The Orbea Orca Aero offers you a lot of customization options from frame color, groupset, wheelset, tires, and saddle using the MyO configurator. There are 6 models available with either Shimano or SRAM electronic shifting groupsets.
Orbea Orca Aero vs others
BMC Timemachine Road vs Orbea Orca Aero (2023)
Cannondale System Six vs Orbea Orca Aero (2023)
Canyon Aeroad vs Orbea Orca Aero (2023)
Cervelo S5 vs Orbea Orca Aero vs (2023)
Giant Propel Advanced vs Orbea Orca Aero (2023)
Orbea Orca Aero vs Scott Foil RC (2023)
Orbea Orca Aero vs Specialized Venge (2023)
Dubbed the ultimate superbike, the Trek Madone is all about maximizing aerodynamics and speed .
Trek refreshed the Madone in June 2022, just before the Tour de France started. The new Trek Madone features a radical-looking seat tube with a big hole. The previous IsoSpeed system, which allows the seatpost to flex for extra comfort, is replaced by the IsoFlow Technology. According to Trek, the IsoFlow technology adds an aerodynamic advantage, reduces weight, and smooths the road ahead.
The range-topping Madone SLR is built on the Trek’s lightest OCLV 800 carbon, with a one-piece carbon handlebar. The Madone SL models are still based on the previous Madone frame design and use the OCLV 500 carbon.
The Madone SLR frameset is also available separately.
Trek Madone vs others
BMC Timemachine Road vs Trek Madone (2023)
Canyon Aeroad vs Trek Madone (2023)
Cervelo S5 vs Trek Madone (2023)
Giant Propel Advanced vs Trek Madone (2023)
Pinarello Dogma F vs Trek Madone (2023)
Scott Foil RC vs Trek Madone (2023)
Orbea vs Trek carbon fiber
Orbea monocoque (torayca) carbon.
Orbea uses carbon fiber from TorayCa in their bikes. It’s one of the handful of bike manufacturers that uses a monocoque carbon fiber construction, resulting in a lighter and stiffer frameset. The two most prominent types of carbon used in Orbea’s bike frames are OMX (T1100K) and OMR (T800) carbon.
- OMX ( Orbea Monocoque X ) carbon is Orbea’s top-grade carbon fiber, with the ultimate blend of stiffness, lightness, and strength. Monocoque refers to a type of construction technique where the external skin supports the structural load, which, when applied to bike frames, results in a balance of strength and weight. Due to its high manufacturing cost, OMX carbon is typically reserved for Orbea’s top-tier models.
- OMR ( Orbea Monocoque Race ) is the standard carbon composite used by Orbea. While OMR doesn’t match the absolute performance capabilities of OMX, it offers a fantastic performance-to-value ratio. This makes it a great choice for riders looking for top-notch performance without the premium price tag of the top-grade OMX carbon.
Trek OCLV carbon
The OCLV (Optimum Compaction, Low Void) carbon is a proprietary carbon fiber manufacturing technology developed by Trek.
- Optimum Compaction refers to the heat and pressure applied during the curing process to squeeze out excess resin and ensure that the carbon layers are compacted to the optimal density.
- Low Void refers to the goal of reducing microscopic air pockets or voids that can occur in the carbon fiber and create weaknesses.
One of the key advantages of OCLV carbon is its ability to achieve an optimal balance between stiffness, strength, and weight. Trek engineers carefully tune the carbon layup and utilize varying modulus carbon fibers to create stiff frames in certain areas to maximize power transfer while maintaining compliance in other areas to enhance comfort and ride quality.
The OCLV carbon is available in 800 and 500 series.
- OCLV 800 is the highest-grade carbon fiber used by Trek. The carbon modulus is higher in OCLV 800, making it stiffer and lighter. The manufacturing process is more refined, using more advanced carbon and resins, leading to a bike frame that provides top performance levels for stiffness, weight, and strength. OCLV 800 is used in all models with SLR .
- OCLV 500 is a lower-grade carbon but still offers a high level of performance. It has a slightly lower carbon modulus, meaning it’s a bit less stiff and heavier than OCLV 800. OCLV 800 is used in all models with SL .
It’s worth noting that the different OCLV grades don’t only refer to the material itself, but also to the manufacturing techniques used to form the carbon fiber into bike frames. Higher-grade carbon requires more precise manufacturing techniques to take full advantage of its superior material properties.
Frameset technologies and innovations
Orbea Orca Aero and Trek Madone framesets incorporate advanced technologies to enhance their bikes’ performance and ride characteristics.
Here’s an overview of the technologies used in each bike model.
Where to buy
- Orbea retailers . Use this tool to find your nearest Orbea dealers.
- Trek online shops . Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States
- Trek retailers . Use this tool to find your nearest Trek retailers.
Alex Lee is the founder and editor-at-large of Mr. Mamil. Coming from a professional engineering background, he breaks down technical cycling nuances into an easy-to-understand and digestible format here.
He has been riding road bikes actively for the past 12 years and started racing competitively in the senior category during the summer recently.
Mr. Mamil's content is for educational and entertainment purposes only. The content is not a substitute for official or professional advice. Please do your own due diligence.
Mr. Mamil participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. We also participate in various other affiliate programs, and at times we earn a commission through purchases made through links on this website.
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Orbea and Trek road bikes
- Thread starter livpoksoc
- Start date 1 Aug 2014
I'm still going through the process of looking for a new road bike as a step up from my Spesh Secteur elite. I had seen some nice Cannondales at Evans , but my nearest shop is 20 miles away, my lbs hasn't awed me in terms of service and either way only seem to sell Spesh & Bianchi. My Dad has recommended an lbs in Portsmouth but they seem to only stock Orbea or Trek for their road bike range. I know of Trek & my brother had an mtb of theirs when we were teens, which he was fond of, but I got the impression they were mid-low budget, so not sure what to expect. I only know of one person who has an Orbea, my former manager had one as his commuting bike but he said it was several years old but he loved it. Does ahhone have any light to shed on these two manyfacturers? I have seen their carbons on their own websites at a price of around £1,200 which is where my budget is. http://www.orbea.com/gb-en/bicycles/avant-m30s/ http://www.trekbikes.com/uk/en/bikes/road/performance_race/emonda/emonda_s_4/# I don't the full spec of my current drivetrain, but it has 3 rings on the front, 10 at the back & is shimano (i think 105).
Perhaps This One.....
Both my hybrid and road are Trek. The hybrid top end and really very nice, the road an entry level 1.2 but has the same solid feel. I'm very pleased with them both and have had no QC issues. Trek do 3 frames geometries, H1, H2, H3 with 1 being the most aggressive, 2 being your supportive ish fit and 3 being endurance.
livpoksoc said: I'm still going through the process of looking for a new road bike as a step up from my Spesh Secteur elite. I had seen some nice Cannondales at Evans , but my nearest shop is 20 miles away.... Click to expand...
I've got an orbea onix and it's been faultless, very comfy and although I've been caught in some crappy weather it still looks like new. ( I've had it about 3 years ) I don't see many knocking about which was another reason to get one.
In carbon, the Domane is the more relaxed of the Trek lines, although looks like they may be over budget at RRP (so look for a reduced model)
My lbs stocks Orbea and part of me wishes I'd got one even though I really like my Ridley.In reality they are both good makes it'll just depend on what you like the look of and fits you and if you're bothered about riding something,ie the Trek,that you will see a lot of;for instance on the club ride a couple of weeks ago of the 10 bods there 4 were Treks(if I remember properly the others were my Ridley,, an Orbea, a Bianchi,two Cannondales and a Planet X).
If you lived in Spain, on that basis it would be Orbea
Silencing his legs regularly
livpoksoc said: I'm still going through the process of looking for a new road bike as a step up from my Spesh Secteur elite. I had seen some nice Cannondales at Evans , but my nearest shop is 20 miles away, my lbs hasn't awed me in terms of service and either way only seem to sell Spesh & Bianchi. My Dad has recommended an lbs in Portsmouth but they seem to only stock Orbea or Trek for their road bike range. Click to expand...
StuAff said: That would be Velocity Bikes, my LBS of choice. They also stock Lapierre and Genesis. Lovely people who'll give you nothing but good advice. They also have a sale on at the moment Click to expand...
livpoksoc said: That's the very one. Heading down first thing tomorrow to try out what they have in stock. Hopefully be able to try a couple of bikes & get a nice fit. Click to expand...
StuAff said: Not sure if it's all done yet but they were getting a Trek Fit setup put in recently. Click to expand...
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Specialized, Trek or Orbea, which one?
- Thread starter Firnatine
- Start date Mar 3, 2021
- Mar 3, 2021
I'm new to the forum and looking for advice. I'm planning on buying an eBike in a month or two and have narrowed it down to Specialized Turbo Creo Evo, Trek Domane HP+, or Orbea Gain M20i. I'm 72 and just started cycling last may. I ride a Santa Cruz Carbon Stigmata and love it and plan to keep it. My reason for an eBike is I will be riding cross country this August with a group of firefighters for the 20th anniversary of 9/11. I will be the oldest in the group by 10 years with the least amount of cycling experience. The plan is to stay together and no one gets dropped. I don't want to be the guy that slows the group down so I hope the eBike will allow me to keep up. On the flats my Santa Cruz should be fine but there will be some major climbs to deal with that will be extremely challenging especially for a guy my age. I really like the Turbo Creo Evo and leaning heavily in that direction. I like the fact its a gravel bike, doesn't look like an ebike, is under 30 lbs. and class 3. All the reviews I've read have been positive. The battery range is one of the best and the optional battery they claim would give 40 more miles. I see they just raised the price by $500 and stock is low. The Domane HP+ has a more powerful motor that I would assume be better for the big climbs and it too is class 3. I don't like the weight at 39 lbs. which makes it 20 lbs. heavier then my Santa Cruz. Out of the 3 bikes, it is the most expensive. For me the Orbea by far is the best looking of the 3 and does not look at all like an eBike. It is also the lightest at 26 lbs. It comes with Shimano Di2 and is more then a thousand dollars less then the others. I don't like the fact it is not class 3 with the assist only to 20mph. I also have concerns about the hub motor compared to the mid drive motor. The reviews I've read have been mixed. I've read the drag is noticeable once the assist quits. I'm not looking for a free ride just some assist that will get me over the big bumps, has good range and comfortable to ride for 8 hours. I pretty much made up my mine but would love to hear others opinions to help assure me I'm making the right decision. Thanks in advance.
The Pros Closet has each of what you are looking for, well, maybe not the right size at the moment, but these types of bikes have a regular appearance at this web site and offered in many cases at substantial savings.
My money would be on the Creo. It’s a really versatile bike. The Orbea is beautiful and lightweight but the Ebikemotion system they use employs a speed + cadence sensor. PAS is not going to feel as natural as the torque sensor bikes from Specialized and Trek.
I ride a 94 lb bike with all racks, panniers, tools & water. Once a week I carry 60-80 lb supplies out to my summer camp. My heart+lungs+legs don't get tired, my hips do from the hard seat. I don't understand the passion about weight. Are you climbing the Matterhorn? Iowa doesn't have hills enough to overheat a geared hub motor. Even with 80 lb ag supplies my bike weighs about what I do. Worried about weight, lose some. My biking habit wore me down from 213 to 160 in 8 years. the wind is my worry, global warming has kicked up strong winds in May & September. 25 mph headwind can make my 30 mile commute take 6 hours without electricity. Which is why I added motor & battery. As far as I can tell both Orbea gain m20i and Specialized creo carbon both have mid drives with an 11 speed chain. As neither is a brose, shimano steps, or yamaha, they should both drag noticably when the power runs out. By contrast, my $221 ebikeling geared hub motor didn't drag at all unpowered even when the gear wore out @ 4500 miles. Low battery capacity of the models I looked at, 340 wh and 248 wh, strike me as toys. Biweekly I cross 77 to 80 hills and only use the battery on the last 25 or so. I have 840 wh and used to red light and cut out on the last hill or two on the ebikeling motor. Replacement Mac12t hub motor is more efficient and I arrive 30 miles out at about 45 v on a 48 v battery (start @ 52.5). Notice orbea gain M20i limits the assist to 20 mph. Your road bike buddies going to go that slow? My bootleg home converted Mac12 will assist to 23. The ebikeling motor would assist to about 25. Only extremely smooth pavement is safe at that speed, IMHO, without a suspension. I peak at 35 downhill but only do that with great pavement on valleys I know there is no gravel. I'm happy for you at 72 you are so flexible to ride with your head turned back at 90 deg and can lift your leg over a high bar. I refuse to flex my neck that much, always have, and it has held up better than my Mother's that ruptured a disk age 48 from sitting typing in the wrong chair+table with the neck flexed. I started having trouble getting the foot over the bar age 64, and it is not getting any better at 70. You see my drop frame left. Have a great ride. Enjoy those mud stripes on your hips. Enjoy changing your chain mid ride, too. Guys on roadbikereview.com are reporting 1000 miles life on 11 speed chain, and that is with feet only. some high speed electric commuters report ~500 miles per 11 speed chain. I got 5000 miles out of my first 8 speed chain, 2 1/2 years. Changed it at home first of spring with the tires.
Wow Firnatine, what a fabulous adventure! You said cross country, as in across the entire U.S,? My earlier cross country rides were 400 miles max over several days. And well supported with great rest stops and sag wagons. Fabulous memories. My first thought for your situation is for sure a class 3, especially if the group holds an aggressive speed. And how long is the wait for the bike to arrive? Based on comments here I’m hearing it can be lengthy. What are the daily miles? Can you charge along the way or have extra batteries? Keep posting!
BillH said: The Pros Closet has each of what you are looking for, well, maybe not the right size at the moment, but these types of bikes have a regular appearance at this web site and offered in many cases at substantial savings. Click to expand...
WattsUpDude said: My money would be on the Creo. It’s a really versatile bike. The Orbea is beautiful and lightweight but the Ebikemotion system they use employs a speed + cadence sensor. PAS is not going to feel as natural as the torque sensor bikes from Specialized and Trek. Click to expand...
indianajo said: I ride a 94 lb bike with all racks, panniers, tools & water. Once a week I carry 60-80 lb supplies out to my summer camp. My heart+lungs+legs don't get tired, my hips do from the hard seat. I don't understand the passion about weight. Are you climbing the Matterhorn? Iowa doesn't have hills enough to overheat a geared hub motor. Even with 80 lb ag supplies my bike weighs about what I do. Worried about weight, lose some. My biking habit wore me down from 213 to 160 in 8 years. the wind is my worry, global warming has kicked up strong winds in May & September. 25 mph headwind can make my 30 mile commute take 6 hours without electricity. Which is why I added motor & battery. As far as I can tell both Orbea gain m20i and Specialized creo carbon both have mid drives with an 11 speed chain. As neither is a brose, shimano steps, or yamaha, they should both drag noticably when the power runs out. By contrast, my $221 ebikeling geared hub motor didn't drag at all unpowered even when the gear wore out @ 4500 miles. Low battery capacity of the models I looked at, 340 wh and 248 wh, strike me as toys. Biweekly I cross 77 to 80 hills and only use the battery on the last 25 or so. I have 840 wh and used to red light and cut out on the last hill or two on the ebikeling motor. Replacement Mac12t hub motor is more efficient and I arrive 30 miles out at about 45 v on a 48 v battery (start @ 52.5). Notice orbea gain M20i limits the assist to 20 mph. Your road bike buddies going to go that slow? My bootleg home converted Mac12 will assist to 23. The ebikeling motor would assist to about 25. Only extremely smooth pavement is safe at that speed, IMHO, without a suspension. I peak at 35 downhill but only do that with great pavement on valleys I know there is no gravel. I'm happy for you at 72 you are so flexible to ride with your head turned back at 90 deg and can lift your leg over a high bar. I refuse to flex my neck that much, always have, and it has held up better than my Mother's that ruptured a disk age 48 from sitting typing in the wrong chair+table with the neck flexed. I started having trouble getting the foot over the bar age 64, and it is not getting any better at 70. You see my drop frame left. Have a great ride. Enjoy those mud stripes on your hips. Enjoy changing your chain mid ride, too. Guys on roadbikereview.com are reporting 1000 miles life on 11 speed chain, and that is with feet only. some high speed electric commuters report ~500 miles per 11 speed chain. I got 5000 miles out of my first 8 speed chain, 2 1/2 years. Changed it at home first of spring with the tires. Click to expand...
Marci jo said: Wow Firnatine, what a fabulous adventure! You said cross country, as in across the entire U.S,? My earlier cross country rides were 400 miles max over several days. And well supported with great rest stops and sag wagons. Fabulous memories. My first thought for your situation is for sure a class 3, especially if the group holds an aggressive speed. And how long is the wait for the bike to arrive? Based on comments here I’m hearing it can be lengthy. What are the daily miles? Can you charge along the way or have extra batteries? Keep posting Click to expand...
Are you riding across the US or Iowa? I sort of assume the US, and I get that you’re going to ride your Santa Cruz where possible now. That said, I might change my original idea of the Creo and go with the Domane, if in fact you are going to be needing something to get across the Ozarks and the mountains of Virginia... which would be the Trans Am route. For that specific purpose, I’d want my ebike to be the most rootin tootin one I could find. If you’re doing an easier route, the Creo would be a blast, I’m sure. If you’re confident enough of your strength, and it sounds like you might be, then the Creo could be a great choice for the whole thing. I guess it would keep you more in line with the rest of the outfit than to be zooming over Hayter’s Gap on a Domane while everyone else is dying. Shared suffering, right? Either way, sounds like a hell of an adventure!
indianajo said: As far as I can tell both Orbea gain m20i and Specialized creo carbon both have mid drives with an 11 speed chain. As neither is a brose, shimano steps, or yamaha, they should both drag noticably when the power runs out. Click to expand...
- Mar 4, 2021
Another thought, have you checked with the organizers to see if ebikes are allowed? More than likely they are allowed since they are getting more common. Just my slightly paranoid opinion.
Marci jo said: Another thought, have you checked with the organizers to see if ebikes are allowed? More than likely they are allowed since they are getting more common. Just my slightly paranoid opinion. Click to expand...
Art Deco said: @indianajo Quick note Specialized uses Brose motors, so no noticeable drag with the boost off. Click to expand...
Saratoga Dave said: Are you riding across the US or Iowa? I sort of assume the US, and I get that you’re going to ride your Santa Cruz where possible now. That said, I might change my original idea of the Creo and go with the Domane, if in fact you are going to be needing something to get across the Ozarks and the mountains of Virginia... which would be the Trans Am route. For that specific purpose, I’d want my ebike to be the most rootin tootin one I could find. If you’re doing an easier route, the Creo would be a blast, I’m sure. If you’re confident enough of your strength, and it sounds like you might be, then the Creo could be a great choice for the whole thing. I guess it would keep you more in line with the rest of the outfit than to be zooming over Hayter’s Gap on a Domane while everyone else is dying. Shared suffering, right? Either way, sounds like a hell of an adventure! Click to expand...
Stefan Mikes said: A slightly off topic but corresponding to your post Marci Jo: I'm more and more attracted to group rides. In each case I'm asking the organiser whether e-bike would be allowed. I'm positively shocked: so far, ride organisers were answering "Come. Our goal is to have a good time together". So I'm joining an MTB ride for the coming Sunday. Only competing is not allowed. In any case, I would have asked the organiser because roadies might have different idea. Click to expand...
Firnatine said: We're a friends and I'm one of the organizers so I don't think I'll have any objections.LOL There will be no more then 15 us including chase/support drivers. The group is made up a first responders and military vets. Click to expand...
gtpharr said: with a tail wind all the way! Click to expand...
Glad to hear orbea included a 100 g one way clutch. That allows no drag pedaling when feet are faster than motor. I got my information from orbea website: www.orbea.com/us-en/ebikes/road/gain/cat/gain-m20i-20mph/ which says the motor is a Ebikemotion X35 Plus 20mph I don't see any hub drives in the picture. Maybe firnatine has access to some old stock in a bike shop near him. With the kind of support vehicles Firnatine is reporting, wearing out chains in his 8000 mile trip should not be a problem. In the group rides around here, I was sometimes the guy changing tubes for the road bikers, while the sag wagon was way to the rear helping the newbies on kiddy bikes that weren't prepared for any distance. Supposed to be 65 Tuesday Wed, and more important 55 Tue night. Will ride out my first 30 miles of the year to see what was stolen or fell down this winter.
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How to choose the right road bike for a beginner.
Choosing the right road bike can be overwhelming, especially if you're a beginner. With so many options on the market, it's hard to know where to start. Do you need an entry-level bike or something more advanced? What kind of features do you need? And how much should you budget? We'll help you figure out what the right road bike for a beginner is. By the end, you should have a good idea of what to look for when shopping for your first road bike.
What Is a Road Bike?
As the name suggests road bikes are designed for use on the road. More specifically they are designed for road racing. Road bikes typically have narrow tyres and drop-handlebars, which makes them aerodynamic and fast. They're also lightweight and have gears and wheels designed to let you reach and maintain high speeds.
While road bikes have traditionally been designed for racing loads of people never go near a start line. There is a big culture of social club rides in the UK where coffee, cake and a chat is the main focus. Road bikes are also popular for doing long distance challenges and fast commuting. Bikes designed for this kind of use are normally referred to as endurance road bikes. When looking for a road bike for a beginner endurance bikes are often a good choice. They are more usually stable and comfortable to ride.
How much do you want to spend?
Road bikes start at around £700 and go up to over £10,000. As a rough guide you will get:
- £700 to £800 – a basic road bike with rim brakes built around an aluminium frame
- £800 to £1600 – a decent quality road bike with mechanical disc brakes built around an aluminium frame
- £1500 to £2250 – A top end aluminium road bike with hydraulic brakes
- £2250 to £4000 – A carbon frame bike with good quality parts and hydraulic brakes
- £4000 to £6000 – a carbon frame bike with electronic gearing
- £6000+ - professional level race bikes with higher quality carbon and all the latest tech
Most beginners will start with an aluminium bike as they are cheaper and tend to be built with new riders in mind. That means a more relaxed riding position and more forgiving endurance handling.
Rim, Mechanical or Hydraulic Disc Brakes
One of the biggest choices on entry level road bikes is the type of brakes. Rim brakes are normally found on the cheapest bikes. They are simple to maintain and some professional racers still prefer them, but they are not as powerful as disc brakes, especially in the wet. Hydraulic disc brakes are the new standard. They need very little maintenance, the pads last for ages and they are extremely powerful. Mechanical disc brakes are cheaper but they generally need more adjustment and tuning and don’t have as much power.
Do you need a carbon frame?
Most bikes over about £2000 will come with a carbon fibre frame, but do you need one on a road bike for a beginner? The simple answer is no.
Carbon fibre frames are great. They can be made lighter than aluminium and also offer a slightly smoother ride as the carbon soaks up bumps better than aluminium does. However, a good aluminium frame can be as light, and just as fast, as a cheaper carbon frame. So if you can afford it, or you are going to be doing a lot of really big distances, then sure go for carbon. But don’t feel that you have to.
How many gears?
Nearly all road bikes come with 2 chainrings on the front and then anywhere between 7 and 12 on the back. Entry level bikes will normally be 8 or 9 speed (2 chainrings on the front then 8 or 9 at the back). As you go up through the price range you get more gears at the back and the general quality of the gears gets better so they will shift more smoothly and last longer.
If you are looking for a bike you can easily upgrade then you want to try and go for a 10 or 11 speed bike. This is because the better quality replacement parts are now only available in 10 speed or above. If you buy a 7 or 8 speed bike you will be limited to cheaper parts.
Find out more about road bike gears.
Some of our favourite road bikes for a beginner
Trek domane al 2 - from £689.
This is Trek’s entry level road bike. It uses endurance geometry for a table bike that’s easy to ride. It comes with simple rim brakes and 8 speed Shimano Claris gearing. It’s a good, low cost, option.
Specialized Allez - from £799
The Allez has long been the standard for a beginners road bike. It comes with the same 8 speed Shimano Claris gearing as the Trek Domane AL 2 and also comes with rim brakes. Although Specialized market the Allez as an endurance bike it is still a little more race orientated than the Trek.
Trek Domane AL 2 Disc - from £975
As well as getting mechanical disc brakes the Domane AL 2 Disc has much wider tyres than the rim brake version (32c instead of 28c). Trek say you can use this bike for ‘light gravel’ riding as well as on the road. So this is a very versatile option.
Ca nnondale Synapse 1 - from £1650
The Synapse 1 not only gives you a step up to 10 speed Shimano Tiagra gearing but also gives you more powerful hydraulic disc brakes. It comes with fairly wide 30c tyres and is an endurance focussed bike with stable handling and the ability to handle rough roads and a bit of light gravel.
Tr ek Emonda ALR 5 - from £1870
This is a top end aluminium bike. It is a lot more race orientated than the Domane or Synapse with a focus on being as light and fast as possible. If you are going to be riding with fast groups, or doing a triathlon, this is a really good option. It comes with 11 speed Shimano 105 gearing which is the choice of many experienced cyclists for it’s bomb-proof reliability.
Orbea Orca M30 - from £2499
For not much more money than the Trek Emonda you can get an Orbea Orca. It comes with the same Shimano 105 gears but swaps out the aluminium frame for carbon fibre. Like the Emonda it is a race focussed bike so if you want to go fast this is the bike for you. It’s also a great option for a bike you can upgrade as Orbea use the same frame on bikes which cost £5000. The more expensive bikes just come with fancier gears and wheels.
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Trek vs Orbea... please help !!
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Juancts said: I was decided on a brand new 2019 Trek Roscoe 8, but doing some research recently discovered the Orbea Laufey (previously called Loki). The price on both bikes is comparable. Please help me choose. Click to expand...
Juancts said: I was decided on a brand new 2019 Trek Roscoe 8, but doing some research recently discovered the Orbea Laufey (previously called Loki). The price on both bikes is comparable. Please help me choose. Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk Click to expand...
Juancts said: https://www.orbea.com/int-en/bicycles/mountain/laufey/cat/laufey-27--h30-19 https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/...trail-mountain-bikes/roscoe/roscoe-8/p/23608/ Click to expand...
*OneSpeed* said: Thanks for doing the bare minimum. No worries, We'll all just do the research for you and spoon feed you the results. Click to expand...
Slowtalker said: I've ridden and liked both bikes. Very similar geometry. Trek Roscoe has slightly steeper seat tube and slacker headtube angle with an imperceptibly longer chainstay. Between these two it really comes down to personal preference or even, dare I say it, color. I think you'll love either of these bikes. Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Click to expand...
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Best climbing bikes 2023 | Lightweight bikes for when the road points upwards
The top lightweight and aero rigs for climbing
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This competition is now closed
By Simon von Bromley
Published: June 24, 2023 at 10:00 am
The best climbing bikes, of course, boast low weights. But a modern lightweight bike has to prove itself not solely through a lack of grams on the scales, but also by having the aerodynamics to up your ride speed.
In fact, for most riding conditions, aerodynamics is more important than weight , although there’s a definite buzz in riding a fast, flyweight machine.
Even if a lack of grams helps you get to the top of a hill quicker, you’ve still usually got to get down the other side, where those watts saved will come into their own. Aerodynamics will help you on the flat too.
Keep reading to see our pick of the best climbing bikes and to find out more about these lightweight bikes, check out our buyer’s guide at the end of this article .
Best climbing bikes 2023, as rated by our expert testers
Giant tcr advanced sl 0 disc.
- Light, stiff and responsive race bike
- Top spec with SRAM Red AXS and Cadex carbon wheels
- Price: £9,699 / $11,000 / AU$13,499 (as tested)
The Giant TCR has long been a benchmark for race bikes and the ninth generation of the bike remains a top performer.
While the TCR comes in many variants to suit different budgets, the Advanced SL 0 model is unapologetically high-end and its frameset sports an integrated seatpost with a topper rather than a conventional one.
With a full SRAM Red eTap AXS wireless groupset and carbon wheels from Giant’s in-house brand Cadex, it’s ready to race out of the box and is properly light.
- Weight: 6.7kg (L)
- Gearing: 48/35, 10-28
- Read our full Giant TCR Advanced SL 0 Disc review
- Great mix of speed, handling, control and smoothness
- Top spec, but the wheels are a bit of a disappointment
- Price: £11,206 / $11,626 / €11,449 (as tested)
The Bianchi Specialissima is a bike that’s gone from round tubes to aero profiles in its latest iteration, also gaining disc brakes and hiding the hoses, while still ticking the lightweight boxes with a 750g frame and 370g fork. You could lose another 80g by opting for black paint instead of celeste.
Bianchi incorporates Countervail anti-vibration tech into the frame and the bike comes with Shimano Dura-Ace 12-speed shifting and other top-notch kit. The Vision SC 40 carbon tubeless wheels feel a little low-value compared to the rest of the spec though (even at £11,000).
The ride is a mix of responsiveness with great handling, while also composed, smooth and more comfortable than some bikes with tyres wider than the Specialissima’s 26mm Pirellis.
- Weight: 7.2kg (59cm)
- Gearing: 50/34, 11-30
- Read our full Bianchi Specialissima review
Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod 2
- Excellent handling combined with compliance and stiffness
- The Vision Trimax handlebar may not suit those with smaller hands and the bike comes with 25mm tyres
- Price: £8,250 / $8,300 / €8,999 / AU$11,999 (as tested)
Now in its fourth generation, the SuperSix Evo continues to cement itself as one of the best climbing bikes. The new bike takes much of what made the previous versions so well regarded, but removes the often-maligned PF30a press-fit bottom bracket and replaces it with a 68mm BSA threaded model. The front-end design and down tube have also been refined and there’s a new proprietary seatpost, too.
Out on the road, the SuperSix Evo balances its inspired handling with compliance and stiffness. It’s a particularly adept climber, feeling assured and firm when under the rider and when you want to put the power down, it rockets forward. The new aero seatpost isn’t as stiff as you might expect, offering a good amount of buzz-reducing compliance.
The Shimano Ultegra R8100 groupset on this build is BikeRadar’s pick of the Japanese brand’s latest groupsets and we were impressed by the newly updated flagship HollowGram R-SL 50 wheels, too. Although Cannondale specs Continental Grand Prix 5000 tyres, they’re in a 25mm width and we’d be keen to run wider rubber. We also suspect the Vision Trimax won’t suit those with smaller hands because the tops are very deep.
- Weight: 7.57kg (56cm)
- Gearing: 52/36, 11-30
- Read our full Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod 2 review
ENVE Melee (Ultegra Di2 build)
- Outstanding handling balanced with great comfort and geometry
- Expensive and you can’t buy a full build off the peg
- Price: £5,500 / $5,500 / €5,500 for frame ‘chassis’ / £10,400 / $12,834 / AU$19,220 (as tested)
The ENVE Melee took our 2023 Performance Bike of the Year crown, thanks to its outstanding handling and balanced comfort. The brand’s second bike after the Custom Road has been aerodynamically optimised, albeit with a slightly taller ride position than you’ll find on longer and lower bikes. The Melee also fully integrates its cables and hoses and uses a D-shaped seatpost.
We found the Melee to be one of the easiest-handling race bikes on the market and we were struck by how stable and composed it is in every scenario. It deals with everything with real calmness.
A stable and composed ride can sometimes be a little boring, but there’s none of that here. The Melee’s reaction to inputs is quick and it’s unperturbed by crosswinds.
Unlike the other bikes on this list, the Melee is sold as a ‘chassis’ – a frame, fork, stem, handlebar, seatpost and thru-axles. You then build the bike up with your preferred electronic groupset , wheels and tyres. Even in a modest build, that means the Melee is far from a cheap proposition, but the ability to mould it into your own makes it a real winner.
Our example build came with a Shimano Ultegra R8100 groupset, and ENVE’s Foundation 45 carbon wheels and SES tyres in a 29mm width.
- Weight: 7.8kg (58cm in this example build)
- Read our full ENVE Melee review
Focus Izalco Max 9.7 AXS
- Racy-handling and fast-feeling road bike
- Decent value compared to the competition
- Price: £5,699 / €6,199 / AU$8,999 (as tested)
Similar to many other bikes in this category, Focus has evolved its Izalco platform to be more well-rounded.
The latest version takes both weight and aerodynamics into account, but doesn’t go so far as to ignore practicality completely – the aero cockpit, for example, uses a standard stem and handlebar setup to make fit adjustment and maintenance a little easier.
At 7.9kg (size large), it’s not the lightest bike we’ve ever tested, but this does include 50mm-deep aero wheels and, with a frame weight of just 890g (claimed), it could certainly be lightened up considerably with a few weight-weenie optimisations.
There’s also a slightly cheaper version, the Izalco Max Disc 8.8 , that has Ultegra R8000 mechanical gears, but performed similarly well in our testing.
- Weight: 7.9kg (large)
- Gearing: 48/36, 10-28
- Read our full Focus Izalco Max 9.7 AXS review
Lapierre Xelius SL 9.0
- Good-value spec
- Racy geometry leads to sharp handling
- Price: £7,399 / €7,799 (as tested)
Another lightweight bike with aero features, the Xelius nevertheless stands out thanks to the design of its seatstays. The navy blue fade glitter paintjob looks stunning and the racy geometry leads to sharp handling.
If you’re at either extreme of the size range, the five sizes available may not work for you though.
The spec is really good for the price, with 12-speed Dura-Ace Di2, a carbon bar and stem and Lapierre’s own-brand carbon wheels with 25mm Continental GP5000 tyres that measure 27mm on the 47mm-deep, 21mm internal-width rims.
- Weight: 7.5kg (large)
- Read our full Lapierre Xelius SL 9.0 review
Merida Scultura Team
- Great value for a pro-level spec
- Lively, exciting ride
- Price: £8,000 / €9,999 (as tested)
The Merida Scultura Team took our 2022 Performance Bike of the Year crown, thanks to its superb, exciting ride and racy handling. It’s also great value, with a Shimano Dura-Ace 12-speed groupset, complete with power meter.
Merida has shaved 4.2 per cent from the previous Scultura’s drag numbers, while also lowering weight slightly to a claimed 822g for a size M frame. It’s well kitted out; we particularly liked the Vision Metron 45 SL wheels, their 1,372g weight leading to low inertia on climbs. They’re shod with 28mm Continental GP5000 tyres for a comfortable ride.
The one downside is the lack of narrower options for the integrated bar/stem.
- Weight: 7.1kg (medium)
- Read our full Merida Scultura Team review
Orbea Orca OMX M10i LTD D
- Excellent all-round ride and generous tyre clearance
- Clean build with smart component integration
- Price: £7,899 / $9,299 / €8,999 / AU$12,999 (as tested)
The Orca OMX has a wonderful blend of low weight, firm pedalling stiffness, decent aero credentials and confident handling that make it an absolute joy to ride.
We also really appreciated the care with which Orbea has integrated the cables. It makes for a beautifully clean front end, without any compromises in fit, and it’s not overly complicated to put together either.
Our test bike weighed 7.5kg (size large), complete with aero wheels. This doesn’t trouble the UCI weight limit , but with an 833g frame and 370g fork (claimed weights), it could certainly be built lighter, if you felt the need.
Orbea also offers the slightly cheaper Orca M25 Team-D .
- Read our full Orbea Orca OMX M10i LTD D review
Basso Diamante Ultegra Di2
- Sharp but stable race geometry
- Long and low cockpit won’t work for everyone
- Price: £7,199 / €8,299 (as tested)
The eighth-generation Diamante is a thoroughbred race bike, while remaining classic in its appearance. The tube shapes are rounded, which Basso says is designed to improve stiffness and efficiency, while minimising weight.
The geometry is in pure race bike territory – long and low, so you’ll want to have a long think about whether it will work for you and carefully study the geometry chart. That said, in testing we found the Diamante to balance its tactile handling with satisfying stiffness. It’s surprisingly comfortable, too, thanks to the slim seatstays and carbon seatpost.
There’s little to criticise with the Ultegra Di2 specced. The second-tier groupset delivers identical shifting and braking performance to Dura-Ace with a compelling cost saving. We also rated the Microtech RE38 wheels – many own-brand efforts can vary in design modernity, but these are on the money with a 23mm internal rim width.
- Weight: 7.58kg (58cm, without pedals)
- Read our full Basso Diamante Ultegra Di2 review
BMC Teammachine SLR 01 Two
- Lightweight and faster than ever before
- Very little to fault, but it comes at a high price
- Price: £9,800 / $10,999 / €10,499 (as tested)
The latest iteration of BMC’s excellent Teammachine learns lessons from the Timemachine (BMC’s aero road bike) to improve its aerodynamic efficiency, without adding too much weight.
In fact, its 7.09kg weight makes the BMC Teammachine SLR 01 Two one of the lightest bikes on this list, and that’s seriously impressive considering it has aero wheels, disc brakes and plenty of other aero features.
The omission of a Dura-Ace crankset in favour of Rotor is perhaps the only minor criticism we could make of a bike that’s otherwise extremely hard to find fault with. There’s no denying it comes at a very high price though.
- Weight: 7.09kg (56cm, including two bottle cages)
- Read our full BMC Teammachine SLR 01 Two review
Canyon Ultimate CF SL Disc 8.0 Di2 Aero
- Lightweight and aero-optimised, but the sharp handling may not be for everyone
- Excellent-value build
- Price: £3,749 / €3,999 / AU$5,299 (as tested)
As always, Canyon provides an excellent-value, race-ready package, right out of the box.
Despite the lack of dropped seatstays, the back-end is still comfortable. So much so, in fact, that the sharp front-end handling initially feels a little out of step with the rear, but this is a race bike after all.
At a shade over 7.5kg, it’s lightweight for a bike of its size, which has disc brakes and aero wheels, and there are women’s-specific builds available too .
- Weight: 7.54kg (large)
- Read our full Canyon Ultimate CF SL Disc 8.0 Di2 Aero review
Canyon Ultimate CFR Di2
- More versatile than ever
- Inconsistent spec
- Price : £10,399 as tested
The Canyon Ultimate CFR Di2 is tremendously expensive and light at a mere 6.3kg in size large.
The top-dog Ultimate retains its race-winning stiffness, agility and climbing ability, while becoming ever more aerodynamic.
However, the shallow-section DT Swiss wheels undermine the Ultimate’s versatility, while the Schwalbe Pro One TT tyres are a puncture risk on all but the smoothest roads.
- Weight : 6.3kg (size large)
- Gearing : 52/36, 11-30
- Read our full Canyon Ultimate CFR Di2 review
Cervélo R5 Disc Force eTap AXS
- Stiff, but not too stiff frameset
- Spec includes a power meter
- Price: £8,599 / €8,799 / $8,400 (as tested)
Cervélo claims a 703g frame weight for the latest R5 and, like all Cervélos, there’s an aero edge, with Squoval tube profiles and smooth frame edges, while internal hose routing saves a claimed 3W at 48km/h.
The SRAM Force AXS chainset comes with a power meter and the bike is equipped with Reserve 34/37mm carbon wheels, although they’re planned to be swapped out for Zipp ZR1 wheels from 2023. The 25mm Vittoria Corsa tyres measure around 29mm on the wide rims.
Cervélo has a reputation for stiff frames, but the latest R5 is slightly less stiff than its predecessor. The geometry is racy, leading to an agile, predictable ride, and the light weight and good power transfer make for sprightly climbing.
- Weight: 7.4kg (56cm)
- Gearing: 48/35, 10-33
- Read our full Cervélo R5 Disc Force eTap AXS review
- Beautifully built with comfortable one-piece cockpit
- Superb, taut handling
- Top-spec Dura-Ace groupset and wheels
- Price: £11,753 / €14,065 / $15,772 (as tested)
Colnago uses its lugged construction on the C68, but the tube shapes are more reminiscent of the monocoque V3R . Colnago fits its own comfortable one-piece cockpit with hidden cable routing.
The ride position is long and low, although not too aggressive for less flexible riders and leads to great handling from the taut frame.
There’s a full Dura-Ace R9200 build, including C50 wheels with 28mm Pirelli tyres, although the Prologo saddle isn’t the range-topping carbon-railed version. It’s a great bike that merits its superbike rating.
- Weight: 7.3kg (58cm equivalent)
- Read our full Colnago C68 review
- Pinpoint handling and pro-level reactions to acceleration
- A rather racey geometry and seriously expensive
- Price: £5,000 / €12,630 (UK price is for frameset only)
Ridden by UAE Team Emirates (and perhaps most importantly) Tadej Pogačar, the V4RS is Colnago’s monocoque carbon race bike, where a balance of lightness, stiffness and speed is the name of the game.
Colnago claims the V4RS is 3 per cent more aerodynamic than the outgoing V3RS and the new CC01 cockpit alone is said to be 16 per cent more aerodynamic. There are some new tube shapes too, with a reprofiled head tube, although many will be glad to hear the brand has reverted back to a round steerer tube.
Out on the road, the V4RS is unerringly poised, with direct handling and sharpness. It felt particularly confident on descents, driving hard into an apex and the bottom bracket laps up power when climbing, the bike keen to accelerate when you get out of the saddle.
- Weight: 7.23kg (570mm)
- Read our full Colnago V4RS review
Giant TCR Advanced Pro 2 Disc
- Solid all-round spec with lively ride quality
- Lots of tyre clearance
- Price: £2,999 / €3,100 / $5,199 (as tested)
The legendary TCR has finally gone aero, but that doesn’t mean a huge increase in weight, fortunately.
At 7.87kg, it’s not the lightest bike on this list, but it’s very competitive in its price range and could likely be lightened considerably with some component upgrades.
It also offers a noticeably smooth ride, with confident handling and clearance for up to 32mm tyres, which is very welcome.
Giant’s sister company Liv offers a women’s version called the Langma Advanced Pro Disc, which is one of the best women’s road bikes .
- Weight: 7.87kg (medium/large)
- Read our full Giant TCR Advanced Pro 2 Disc review
Scott Addict RC 10
- Quality ride with sharp handling and compliance
- Middling wheels and mediocre tyres
- Price: £5,949 / $8,000 / €6,599 (as tested)
The Scott Addict marries sharp handling with a predictable and compliant ride quality that’s similar to the Cervélo R5. There’s integrated cabling that works for mechanical and wired electronic, as well as wireless shifting, and it’s reasonably easy to work on.
Scott includes a power meter with the SRAM Force AXS electronic groupset and you get decent, if not outstanding, Syncros Capital 1.0 35 Disc wheels with a claimed weight of 1,574g a pair.
We were disappointed with the fitted Schwalbe One TLE tyres though, with their higher rolling resistance than many of the best road bike tyres . Tyre clearance is a little narrow at 28mm too.
Although this mid-spec Addict weighs just under 8kg, you can spend a lot more and get the bike’s claimed weight down to 6.7kg.
- Weight: 7.9kg (56cm)
- Read our full Scott Addict RC 10 review
Specialized Aethos Comp
- Little brother of the S-Works Aethos is still light and climbs well
- Rapid handling, but stable ride quality
- Price: £4,500 / $5,000 / €5,400 / AU$6,900 (as tested)
Although the Comp spec of the Specialized Aethos weighs over 8kg, the top spec S-Works Aethos brings that down to a claimed sub-6kg, definitely earning a place on our lightweight bikes list. The classic frame profile with round tubes goes against the aero-is-everything modern trend.
The Comp uses a lower-spec carbon than the S-Works, but still has a 700g frame weight and comes with a SRAM Rival AXS groupset and lower-priced, heavier wheels. These make it feel less skittish than the S-Works bike, while it retains its rapid handling and shares its geometry with the Tarmac SL7. It still feels light when climbing too.
- Weight: 8.2kg (58cm)
- Gearing: 48/35, 10-36
- Read our full Specialized Aethos Comp review
Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7
- Flagship race bike as ridden by Peter Sagan
- Stiff, fast and beautifully finished
- Price: £10,500 / $12,000 / €11,499 / AU$18,000 (as tested)
Few bikes generate as much hype as the new Tarmac did when it launched in 2020 .
This new flagship merged Specialized’s aero and lightweight platforms into one, claiming real aero gains over its predecessor and sporting a frameset weighing a claimed 800g for a 56cm.
The Tarmac SL7 is disc-only and has clearance for 32mm tyres. It’s a fast and uncompromising race bike that will delight riders who can kick out big power numbers.
In its halo S-Works spec, this is a seriously expensive bike, but more affordable models are available, with the second-tier frame claimed to weigh a respectable 920g.
- Weight: 6.7kg (54cm)
- Read our full Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL7 review
Trek Emonda SL 6 Pro
- Stiff and exciting ride quality
- Great-quality components
- Price: £3,350 / $3,799 / €3,799 / AU$5,499 (as tested)
In line with market trends, Trek has amended the Emonda’s design parameters to encompass a broader, all-round riding style, with the obligatory disc brakes and aero optimisation.
This does mean builds won’t quite be able to match the positively feathery lows of previous models , but Trek is, unsurprisingly, adamant they are faster most of the time. Our tester broadly agrees with this sentiment too, heaping praise on the Emonda’s speed and stiffness.
It’s also worth considering Trek’s beautiful Emonda ALR . Not only are there rim and disc brake versions of that frame (as things stand), but it’s also substantially cheaper. We think it’s an absolute peach of a bike.
Trek says the Emonda is now a unisex bike, and offers a broad range of sizes (from 47cm to 65cm) with the intention of fitting all different kinds of cyclists.
- Weight: 8.13kg (56cm)
- Read our full Trek Emonda SL 6 Pro review
Vitus Vitesse EVO CRS Di2
- Very competitive spec
- Racy personality and low weight
- Price: £3,699.99 / $4,499.99 / €4,199.99 / AU$6,399.99 (as tested)
The Vitesse has received a major update and is now a disc-only racer, one that’s ridden by pro cyclists. The frame weighs a claimed 910g and sports very up-to-date styling, with all cabling routed into the non-driveside.
More affordable builds than this are available, but even with Shimano Ultegra Di2 and low-profile Reynolds carbon clinchers as we tested it, it’s keenly priced.
The Vitesse is a firm and focused ride that will appeal to racers, but may be a little uncompromising for more casual riders.
- Weight: 7.6kg (M)
- Gearing: 52/36, 11-32
- Read our full Vitus Vitesse EVO CRS Di2 review
What we’ve included (and what we haven’t)
This buyer’s guide features lightweight bikes at a range of prices, reviewed by BikeRadar and having scored at least four stars in our testing.
While lighter bikes may be available (including custom builds and different models within a given manufacturer’s range), these are bikes we have tried and tested, and can confidently vouch for as a result.
Buyer’s guide to climbing bikes
It perhaps goes without saying, but when you’re riding uphill, gravity is always trying to pull you back down.
Reducing the total rider plus bike system weight means less energy (or power , in cycling parlance) is required to maintain a given speed while climbing.
Therefore, if you want to ride uphill faster, or simply make the hills a little easier, a lightweight bike helps a lot.
It’s for this reason we see hill-climb obsessives chopping and changing practically every component to bring their overall bike weight down to its lowest possible limit.
The only issues are that high-end, lightweight bikes and parts can be eye-wateringly expensive, and the weight-weenie bug can be hard to shake once you get started. However, some of the best road bikes under £3,000 are good for climbing.
Cheaper still is improving your power-to-weight ratio . You can do this by becoming more powerful at the same weight or losing weight through cycling and maintaining power.
Top-quality carbon fibre is prized for its incredible stiffness-to-weight ratio, and rightly so – this is the reason it’s used in Formula One. If you can afford it, the lightest bikes and parts will almost always be made out of high-end carbon fibre.
At the lower end though, good aluminium is competitive with, or even better than, cheap carbon fibre. That applies not just to weight and stiffness, but also ride quality and strength.
The very last of those characteristics is also a general worry for ultra-lightweight carbon fibre frames and parts. You have to be very careful about sticking to recommended weight, torque and clamping specs, or else it’s very easy to break these feathery items.
Aero vs. weight for climbing
Until fairly recently, climbing bikes made no concessions to aerodynamics, leaving drag-reduction to the best aero road bikes . But with the rise of computer modelling, on-bike aero sensors and other advanced testing techniques, this has all changed.
Even dedicated climbing bikes are now launching, with brands touting their aerodynamic efficiency.
Take the Trek Emonda , for example. Trek says it has been designed specifically for the rigours of iconic Tour de France climbs such as Alpe d’Huez (a 13.85km monster in the French Alps), yet still features extensive aero treatment.
True hill climb aficionados will no doubt be tearing their hair out at this point, exclaiming ‘anything under 10 per cent isn’t even a proper hill anyway!’, but if you want to go fast, aero always matters, regardless of the gradient.
It’s true that aerodynamic drag becomes a smaller part of the equation as gradients increase in severity, but the absolute amount of air resistance you experience remains the same for any given speed.
On top of that, the power to overcome any increase in air resistance is proportional to the cube of speed. So, if you want to ride your bicycle twice as fast, you’ll need eight times more power to overcome the extra drag force, unless you can reduce your aerodynamic drag.
In an ideal world, then, you want a bike that’s both lightweight and aero for smashing hills.
“Weight weenies should be Crr weenies”
So said Robert Chung, Professor and Theoretical Mathematical Demographer at the University of California-Berkeley. Chung is perhaps most famous for devising the ‘Chung Method’ of calculating aerodynamic drag, but he also reminds us of the importance of not ignoring rolling resistance.
Using a power equation for wheeled vehicles (such as the one found at www.kreuzotter.de ), he showed that even a relatively small difference in rolling resistance (Crr stands for ‘coefficient of rolling resistance’) can be worth as much as large changes in weight, even on steep gradients.
Weight weenies should be Crr weenies. We can convert differences in Crr to "equivalent" differences in mass. Even small differences in Crr are equivalent to 100's of grams of mass difference on steep hills. pic.twitter.com/YSASEisid0 — @[email protected] (@therealrchung) April 28, 2019
Chung’s graph plots the difference in Crr between Continental’s GP4000S II and GP5000 tyres in terms of the equivalent efficiency found through weight loss on different gradients.
On a flat road, it’s clear that even a relatively small decrease in rolling resistance is worth more than practically any increase in weight. What’s really interesting to note though, is that changing from a GP4000 to a GP5000 is still worth more than 500g of extra mass even on a 10 per cent slope.
Yes, that’s right; the small difference in rolling resistance between two of the best road bikes tyres can have a greater effect on your efficiency than 500g of extra weight even on a 10 per cent slope, and that equivalent mass penalty only increases as the gradient gets shallower. On a 6 per cent slope, the difference is equivalent to a kilogram of extra mass.
The key takeaway is that you shouldn’t just look at weight figures when shopping for tyres. The differences in rolling resistance between tyres will be worth far more to your climbing speed than any minor weight variations.
Gearing and cadence when climbing
Some riders apparently enjoy using singlespeed or even fixed-gear bikes for climbing hills . But most people are going to want bike gears .
For a long time though, back in the days when riders only had five or so cogs on their cassette to choose from, gears such as 42×21 were considered adequate for climbing mountains.
Thankfully, though, things have moved on and we now have access to compact/sub-compact chainsets , long-cage rear derailleurs and much larger bike cassettes .
Used together, these can allow practically anyone to spin up steep climbs at a comfortable cycling cadence , rather than turning them into a series of leg presses.
Muscling up a steep hill in a massive gear might feel heroic, but it’s probably slower and it’s costing you more energy too, as anyone with a power meter will be able to attest to. These days, even the pros know you need to gear down when the road goes up .
Rim or disc brakes
Another thorny issue. In our opinion, there are two answers to the bike brakes debates – a simple one and a nuanced one.
The simple answer is that rim brakes are, generally, lighter, and therefore are better for climbing bikes .
There’s a more nuanced answer, however. While disc-brake equipped bikes generally come with a weight penalty (though this is becoming harder to measure because, despite what we wrote in 2017 , new high-end rim brake road bikes are uncommon), the advantage of better braking will be keenly felt on the way down the hills.
If the only thing you care about is going uphill as fast as possible, then rim brakes could still be the right choice. Otherwise, the advantages of road disc brakes might tip the balance.
Simon von Bromley
Senior technical writer
Simon von Bromley is a senior technical writer for BikeRadar.com. Simon joined BikeRadar in 2020, but has been riding bikes all his life, and racing road and time trial bikes for over a decade. As a person of little physical talent, he has a keen interest in any tech which can help him ride faster and is obsessed with the tiniest details. Simon writes reviews and features on power meters, smart trainers, aerodynamic bikes and kit, and nerdy topics like chain lubricants, tyres and pro bike tech. Simon also makes regular appearances on the BikeRadar Podcast and BikeRadar’s YouTube channel. Before joining BikeRadar, Simon was a freelance writer and photographer, with work published on BikeRadar.com, Cyclingnews.com and in CyclingPlus magazine. You can follow Simon on Twitter or Instagram.
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