Bikes like the pros ride (but slightly more affordable*) from Bianchi, Merida, Focus, Lapierre, Scott and BMC

Bikes with the same DNA as those the pros ride but with more real world prices… depending on what world you live in

by David Arthur   May 15, 2013  

In the first Six Affordable Pro Race Bikes feature we gathered together six bikes that are cheaper versions of the bikes raced by the professionals, and here are another six. In most cases, the frames are based very closely on those ridden by the likes of Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, but with a few changes so they're not quite as eye-wateringly expensive. No, these bikes aren't cheap, but they're more affordable than a 100% pro-level race bike. 

So here are six bikes from Bianchi, Merida, Focus, Lapierre, Scott and BMC. The bikes share the same frame as those of the pros (though there is sometimes differences in carbon fibre layup and the type of carbon used) although they use less posh components and wheels to bring the prices down. The main point is that they share characteristics with WorldTour bikes. Prices in this roundup range from £1,495 right up to £5,500.

Bianchi Oltre XR

Italian brand Bianchi supply Vacansoleil-DCM with their top-end Oltre XR. As Mat found when he tested the bike, it’s a “lightweight speed machine that’s stiff enough to stand up to the most powerful sprinter”. You might want a Bianchi celeste version rather than the one pictured. 

The Oltre XR, an update over the previous Oltre, was only introduced at the Tour de France last year and ushered in a few changes that led to it boasting more stiffness with less weight. It’s packed with the latest tech, an ultra high modulus carbon fibre frame with reinforcing carbon strips in key areas to increase torsional stiffness.

All this means it doesn’t come cheap. Bianchi offer the frame in six builds and the cheapest is the Shimano Ultegra Di2 model, which comes in at £5,500. Still, it’s £4,450 cheaper than the Campagnolo Super Record EPS model. The former comes with FSA K-Force carbon finishing kit, Fulcrum Red Wind XLR wheels, Hutchinson tyres and a Fizik Antares saddle.

Merida Scultura Comp 904

2013 marks the arrival of Merida into the pro peloton, one of the largest bicycle manufacturers in the business. They supply the Lampre team with their brand new Scultura SL, a cutting-edge carbon frame weighing just 830g and packed with interesting tech like Double Chamber reinforcing ribs to boost stiffness.

It’s another bike that Mat has tested, and his review is worth a read, for he concluded this of the Merida: “lightweight and stiff – of course – but highly comfortable with it. Outstanding performance.” Read the review in full here.

Unfortunately, the new Team SL is only available in a £6,000 SRAM Red build, but the Scultura Comp 904, a frame sharing many of the key features but without some of the advanced carbon fibre layup, starts at a considerably more wallet friendly £1,500. The frame still has the Flex Stay tech in the carbon frame and a full carbon tapered fork, but saves the pounds with a Shimano 105 groupset and Mavic Aksium wheels.

Focus Izalco Pro 4.0

Focus have dipped in and out of the pro peloton with a chequered past with Milram and Katusha, and they’re now with AG2R-La Mondiale who are doing a cracking job of getting in the thick of the action. They’ve been doing it aboard the German bike manufacturer's top level Izalco Team SL Carbon. Focus have been refining this bike for a few years now, with a 960g frame weight and natty internal cable routing - the cables are passed in channels within the tube walls.

The entry-level Izalco Team 4.0, with SRAM Red, Fulcrum wheels and 3T finishing kit, costs £3.699. It shares all the same frame details as the one being ridden by the pros. It’s worth pointing out that the Izalco Pro, a similar looking frame but without as advanced a carbon layup, is available in four builds. The most affordable of these is the £1,899 Izalco Pro 4.0, a bike that is very similar to the pros' bike at a fraction of the cost, with a Shimano Ultegra groupset.

Scott Foil 40

It wasn’t so long ago that Mark Cavendish used to race on a Scott. This year they sponsor the Australian outfit Orica-Greenedge and the new Swiss team IAM Cycling. Scott supply the riders with the Foil, among the first of the current crop of aero road bikes when it launched back in 2011. There’s a new Addict on its way soon, as we saw it at Paris-Roubaix.

The Foil was based on their Plasma 3 time trial bike with similar (although not identical) aero-shaped tubes. These truncated tube profiles feature on the tapered head tube, down tube, seat tube and fork.

The Foil comes in a seven model range, and there a women’s version too. The Foil 40 kicks the range off, costing £2,199. This gets the same shape frame as the top-level model, but uses a different grade of carbon fibre to keep the costs down. It’s built with a Shimano 105 groupset and R501 wheels with Continental Ultra Race tyres and Syncros finishing kit.

BMC SLR01

Swiss company BMC make some striking bikes and the TeamMachine SLR01 has been doing service at the highest level for a couple of seasons now. This was the bike that Cadel Evans rode to Tour de France victory in 2011. It is a frame made from unidirectional carbon fibre with some unique tube profiles and shaping that make it standout in the peloton. The look that seems a bit Marmite: some absolutely love it while others have to shield their eyes.

Either way, it’s a class bike that has consistently proven itself in the hardest races. It’s due for an update soon though. We spotted some prototypes in the Giro first week, and it looks as though weight is driving the changes, plus a possible move to internal cable routing could be on the cards. Anyway, it’s available in three builds with a 2012 SRAM Red equipped bike costing £4,699, though distributor Evans Cycles currently have it discounted to £3,299. So, if you’re quick you might get a bit of a bargain.

Lapierre Xelius EF100

French manufacturer Lapierre don’t yet have the biggest presence in the UK but they supply French pro team Française des Jeux (FDJ) which gets them some good publicity. Their top-end Xelius EFI Ultimate is a 890g frameset that is a very good alternative to many of the more popular choices. And Lapierre will actually sell you the very same bike as the pros are riding, including the team livery and Shimano Di2 grouppo and Mavic wheels. It isn’t cheap though: £6,200.

You can get the Xelius EFI 100 considerably cheaper at £1,749. It comes with a very similar frame with the same tapered head tube and Press Fit bottom bracket and Lapierre’s own carbon fork. You get a Shimano 105 Black groupset with either a compact or standard chainset, with Mavic Aksium wheels and Ritchey finishing kit.

*They're not necessarily cheap, but they are more affordable than the bikes the pros use. 

16 user comments

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The very top end Canyon with Super Record EPS is £5,389 - cheaper than the Bianchi, lighter, most expensive group set available, better wheels and more expensive finishing components. The equivalent Bianchi is over £4,000 more than the Canyon. Clearly Bianchi and the dealers are taking the piss.

posted by Dropped [32 posts]
15th May 2013 - 19:12

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These features always draw out the pedants and the clever clogs, don't they.

posted by Nick T [752 posts]
15th May 2013 - 22:48

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Cervelo S1?

Big Grin

Sir Velo

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posted by Raleigh [1728 posts]
15th May 2013 - 22:51

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Raleigh wrote:
Cervelo S1?

Big Grin

i just had a quick look to see how many times you've mentioned the S1 in comments. It's 11.

funny, seems like more Big Grin

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7252 posts]
15th May 2013 - 22:57

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Neither Bianchi nor their dealers are 'taking the piss', they do not have a consumer direct distribution model like Canyon so it shouldn't be a surprise to you that a Canyon (or any other consumer direct product) is substantially cheaper should it?

posted by Gossa [25 posts]
16th May 2013 - 11:16

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If you're going to spend as uch as any of these, go custom. That surely has to be the right choice? Unless you're a fashion victim or want a specific high end brand like above.

posted by Tom Amos [236 posts]
16th May 2013 - 15:10

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Depends on what you want to achieve, it's normally better value to buy a complete package but agree if you are spending big bucks, you might want a more exclusive brand than the mainstream ones......

posted by Gossa [25 posts]
16th May 2013 - 16:28

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Gossa wrote:
Neither Bianchi nor their dealers are 'taking the piss', they do not have a consumer direct distribution model like Canyon so it shouldn't be a surprise to you that a Canyon (or any other consumer direct product) is substantially cheaper should it?

I detect a Bianchi/Trek/Specialized sycophant. Mugs like you have lead to price rises that are putting cycling into the luxury goods market. Bikes should not be over inflated frippery like Channel handbags, or is that what you want?

posted by Dropped [32 posts]
16th May 2013 - 20:14

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Bikes are overinflated because people pay over infalted prices.

Rather spend big money on a handmade and have something that is perfect for me, then have to make do with the closest of the 6 or so sizes they offer.

I have read some negative experiences about Canyon and after sales.

posted by Decster [246 posts]
16th May 2013 - 21:25

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Dropped wrote:
Gossa wrote:
Neither Bianchi nor their dealers are 'taking the piss', they do not have a consumer direct distribution model like Canyon so it shouldn't be a surprise to you that a Canyon (or any other consumer direct product) is substantially cheaper should it?

I detect a Bianchi/Trek/Specialized sycophant. Mugs like you have lead to price rises that are putting cycling into the luxury goods market. Bikes should not be over inflated frippery like Channel handbags, or is that what you want?

Don't bring Cocco Channel into this.

posted by Nick T [752 posts]
17th May 2013 - 6:16

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Anyway, you're right. We should be sticking it to the man and not be funding this corporate machine conspiracy with their advertising and sponsorship budgets, lets all agree to only buy from trustworthy independents like Pegoretti, Zullo, Vanilla or Crumpton. They'll keep the pricing honest for us all with their wide range of £800 complete bike packages.

posted by Nick T [752 posts]
17th May 2013 - 8:09

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Dropped wrote:
Gossa wrote:
Neither Bianchi nor their dealers are 'taking the piss', they do not have a consumer direct distribution model like Canyon so it shouldn't be a surprise to you that a Canyon (or any other consumer direct product) is substantially cheaper should it?

I detect a Bianchi/Trek/Specialized sycophant. Mugs like you have lead to price rises that are putting cycling into the luxury goods market. Bikes should not be over inflated frippery like Channel handbags, or is that what you want?

You are wrong on the sycophant assumption and I don't think calling anyone names helps anyone does it? The question was genuine, was the OP surprised that a consumer direct brand is cheaper? I can assure you 'mugs' like me have not lead to price rises in the bike industry, that's more to do with currency/general increased costs/asian labour rates etc.

posted by Gossa [25 posts]
17th May 2013 - 9:20

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Re: "I have read some negative experiences about Canyon and after sales." posted by Decster [181 posts] 16th May 2013 - 21:25

I have heard some negative experiences about Paris Hilton, nevertheless would still ride her from here to Lyon and back happily. Cool

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posted by skivandal [9 posts]
17th May 2013 - 10:52

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look at the cost of the groupset, wheels and finishing kit and see what is left - often the frame is the weakest link. Pay peanuts get monkeys!

posted by SimpleSimon [109 posts]
17th May 2013 - 22:16

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SimpleSimon wrote:
look at the cost of the groupset, wheels and finishing kit and see what is left - often the frame is the weakest link. Pay peanuts get monkeys!

Nope, you're probably looking at the bike and taking out the RRP of the parts, at OEM the % of cost that is the frame is still the most significant, remember the wheels/group at OE price are gonna be about a third of the RRP.

posted by Gossa [25 posts]
20th May 2013 - 15:08

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We have our road bikes on sale now and if you are a CTC or LCC member you will receive a message from those organisations about a partner discount as well. Capital Cycles

posted by TeamCC [146 posts]
7th July 2013 - 0:22

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