The Cyfac Gothica CS is a sportive/all day comfort road bike that’s handmade in France, and it realy is a stunning piece of work… and one has just landed here at road.cc towers.
If you’ve not heard of Cyfac before, it’s time to change that. Their Absolu race machine is one of the very best bikes I’ve ever ridden. It’s a gem. Lightweight, fast, comfy, pretty… If the Gothica CS is anything like as good, we’re onto a winner here.
Based in La Fuye in the Loire Valley, Cyfac has been around since 1982. They originally manufactured custom frames for professional riders, the bikes being painted up to look like those of the relevant team sponsor. Sneaky, huh? Cyfac reckon their frames have been ridden to victory in all of the three Grand Tours, the World Champs, the Olympics and a whole bunch of Classics… but with other people’s logos on the down tube.
These days Cyfac produce both custom and off-the-peg frames under their own name, and they have an extensive range covering everything from steel tourers to tandems to mountain bike to full-on race rigs.
There is a standard Gothica in the Cyfac range, and a time trial/triathlon version called the Gothica CLM – CLM standing for Contre la Montre, “against the watch”, the phrase the French use for a time trial. The Gothica CS is aimed at sportive riders and anyone else who wants to get in the big miles in comfort, the CS standing for ‘cyclo sportif’, logically enough.
The Gothica CS is made from Toray T800H intermediate modulus carbon fibre – the same material Cyfac use for the Absolu that I mentioned, but in different tube profiles. Rather than coming out of a mould as a monocoque frame, Cyfac bond the tubes together and wrap the joints by hand so there are no lugs. They say that it takes 30 hours to produce each frame. Even the rear dropouts are carbon, as are the dropouts on the sub-300g Forknox fork.
Our Gothica CS has come with a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic groupset and the gear cables head into the frame neatly at the top of the down tube. The rear brake cable runs internally too. On our test model the battery is simply held in place by a zip tie but on the retail version it'll have a proper bracket - and we wanted to test one NOW!
It’s a great looking frame all round with fairly slim tubes by today’s standards. Cyfac reckon it’s inspired by the Loire Valley’s Gothic cathedrals with their pointed arches and soaring lines. We can’t say ecclesiastical architecture particularly springs to mind when we look at the Gothica CS but it’s certainly elegant and stylish. The back end in particular looks amazing. We love the Double-Stay seatstays which meet together with a brake bridge and then run parallel up to the seat tube junction.
The Gothica CS is available in five sizes from XS (50cm) to XL (58cm), or you can go for a full custom option. We have the large version here – the 56cm model. Cyfac have tweaked the geometry a little from that of the standard Gothica for all-day comfort. The top tube is just a touch (0.5cm) shorter on the CS model while the head tube is 2cm taller, taking it up to 18cm. The result is that you sit a little more upright on the CS version. We’re not talking a massive amount – you’ve not gone from a sports bike to a leisure bike – but the idea is to take a bit of the strain off your back so you can pedal happily for longer.
As you’ll doubtless have guessed, Cyfac frames aren’t cheap. They’re individually handmade in France using a labour-intensive process rather than mass produced in the Far East: they’re never going to be a low-cost option. So what’s the damage? The Gothica CS frameset will set you back £3,099.99.
As well as the flagship Dura-Ace Di2 groupset, our test bike is built up with Chris King/Reynolds Attack wheels and Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyres, and the finishing kit comes from Deda Elementi. Extra comfort should hopefully be provided by the Fizik Aliante saddle and Widget Components Gift Wrap bar tape.
The Gothica CS in a Premo build - which is what we have except that you get Dura-Ace C50 wheels instead of Chris King/Reynolds - you’re looking at seven grand. Okay, £6,999.99. You can put your penny change towards a speedboat or something. If you want you can go for a custom geometry – and we’re talking about having the frame built to the exact dimensions you want rather than slapping on a different stem, bars and seatpost. In for a penny, in for a pound. Well, I say ‘pound’… it’s actually £1,000 extra – it’s £7,999.99 for the full-custom option in the Dura-Ace Di2 build.
We’re starting our testing right now and we’ll be back with a full review soon. In the meantime, you can check out the range on the VeloBrands website and hopefully also in a piece about them that Tony's been writing since about February (I'm an artist - ed).
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.