You may well have come across Comtat in the last year or so; the London-based boutique brand has been around since 2009, and we tested their Telegraphe model here on road.cc in March of last year. But there's big changes afoot at Comtat towers, and for 2011 the Comtat range will be hand built in Italy.
That's not 'hand built' as in 'parts shipped in and assembled', either. Both of Comtat's 2011 frames are handmade Carbon offerings, lovingly put together by Italian craftsmen. So why the change? "Comtat are doing the opposite to the majority of the market", said Director Adam Roberts. "Even the Italian bike brands are now relying heavily on the Taiwanese to produce the bulk of their frames. All our Comtat 2011 frames are 100% made in Italy by hand. We want to ensure that each year our range gets better and stronger and the feeling was that to move manufacture to Italy was the right decision."
It's certainly a bold decision and one that's a game-changer for Comtat. Where before they were essentially competing with other Far-East-sourced mail order firms – and there's a decent stock of them – they're now in much more rarified air, and the prices of the bikes will reflect that. Last year the most expensive frameset was the Telegraphe we tested, at £850; now the cheapest frame costs twice that.
The two new frames are the Aristo and the Sartorial. The Aristo is handmade from Toray 800 Carbon and weighs in at 1kg for the large size; it's a racy sportive geometry and is designed to suit club and competitive riders. The frame, fork and headset will set you back £1,699 in a stock size, but you can also get a custom frame built for you for an extra £300. Under two grand for a hand-built, Italian custom Carbon frame doesn't sound too salty to us; you'll have to be prepared to wait 4-5 weeks for your pride and joy.
The Sartorial is a true custom offering; not only do you get to pick your geometry but the tubing is made specially for your riding characteristics. That means you're getting a bona-fide one-off matched to your dimensions and riding style, but you'll need deep pockets: the frame and fork will set you back £5,000. You get an initial measuring session and complete post-build fitting session as part of that eye-watering total.
Comtat are offering complete builds of both framesets on their website at www.comtat.co.uk. Full bike prices for the Aristo start at £2,699 and the Sartorial kicks in at £6,499; they're assuming you won't be speccing Sora.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.