Thursday, 11 September 2014

Money no object? What bike do you buy?

We all know you can buy perfectly functional road bikes for less than £500. Equally, at about £1,000 you can find really decent aluminium bikes with good equipment, or carbon offerings that might require some compromises on the spec sheet. From £1,500 to about £2,500 you’re in the realms of excellent dedicated sportive or race bikes. And at more than £2,500 it becomes a question of top-end components, famous brand names or hi-tech frame designs.

That’s all very well, but what if you’re a Russian oligarch who wants to buy something really special? While the car trade has hot hatches, coupes and sports cars for relatively normal budgets, for the truly rich and ostentatious there are the six-digit supercars. But what is cycling’s answer to McLaren or Bugatti?

For personalisation and comfort, you could buy an old-school made-to-measure steel frame from one of Britain’s legendary builders, such as Mercian or Roberts. But that won’t have all the cutting-edge technology of a true ‘super-cycle’. Meanwhile, although there are custom carbon bike builders out there, none of them have the household name status of, say, Ferrari (in fact, even dedicated cyclists would be pushed to name a custom carbon frame builder). If you want to spend more than £10,000 on a bicycle, even if only to show off, it’s actually almost impossible. Should you succeed in finding something, you’ll most likely be looking at a bike with historical value, rather than something with modern cachet.

So let’s forget about symbols of exclusivity, luxury and wealth. Thankfully, if it’s pure performance and visual excitement you want, the big bike brands can supply it — albeit without hitting a five-figure price tag. Here at All Terrain Cycles we have some incredible top-end options. Let’s examine the three most expensive — one each from Trek, Giant and Cannondale — to see why they’re so good.

Trek Emonda SLR 9 H1 (ATC price: £7,795)
Trek’s Emonda frame is new for 2015 and with a claimed weight of just 690g (unpainted) it’s officially the lightest production bike in the world. Trek says it also set out to create the best riding bike it’s ever made, so the Emonda has undergone three years of research and development, including strenuous testing with riders from the Trek Factory Racing team. It even comes with a lifetime warranty; for a brand new ultra-lightweight carbon bike — not normally the most robust of products — how’s that for confidence? This top-end model is fitted with full Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic gearing, Dura-Ace brakes, Bontrager wheels, and a selection of Bontrager carbon finishing kit. Is this the most exciting road bike of 2015? Very probably.
Giant Avail Advanced SL 0 (ATC price: £7,245)
We reckon big-name cycle manufacturers can create top-end bikes with supercar-matching looks, and this Avail Advanced model from Giant does it for us. Giant might have invented the compact frame, but we’ve never seen one quite so extreme as this. In fact, that ultra-compact women-specific frame coupled with Shimano’s hydraulic disc brakes means that at first glance you’d be mistaken for thinking somebody had stuck a set of drop handlebars on a mountain bike. But this is pure road machine, with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic gearing, super-strong PowerCore bottom bracket and even an appreciable amount of comfort via the integrated D-Fuse (see what they did there?) seatpost. A truly modern bicycle, not least because it proves that female riders can have the best, too.
Cannondale Super 6 Evo Nano Black (ATC price: £6,995)
Cannondale might have been one of the great exponents of aluminium frames but until recently (in fact, until the Trek Emonda came along) it also boasted the lightest mass-produced carbon frame in the world, in the Super 6 Evo Nano. Despite being lightweight, this rides like a very stable and surprisingly comfortable bike thanks to Cannondale’s BallisTec carbon set-up, which puts the strength exactly where it’s needed. The SuperSix also has proven competition success, being used in the world’s biggest bike races by riders such as Ivan Basso and Peter Sagan in the Cannondale Pro team. This Black model comes with a full Shimano Dura-Ace 11-speed mechanical groupset, some high-end ENVE carbon bars, stem and wheel rims, and is finished off with a Fabric ALM TiCarbon Buffalo Leather saddle.