Riders looking for urban bikes around the £600 mark will often be tempted by mountain bikes or hybrids fitted with budget-stifled suspension. The Shizuoka is a faster, lighter alternative that can easily lend itself to longer road rides or, with very little adaptation, to much more expansive outings and occasional trail use.
Weighing in at just under 10.5kg/23.3lb, it's three to four kilos lighter than a typical mountain bike for the same price, but it has enough room to fit fatter more shock absorbent 700c tyres if you feel the need, as well as having rack and mudguard eyelets plus two sets of bottle cage bosses.
The most distinctive selling points of the Shizuoka 002 are the Tektro hydraulic disc brakes and SRAM's X5 based 1 x 10 drivetrain. The 1 x 10 approach (with a single chainring) obviously keeps things simple and clutter-free for urban use but, while the 38 chainring and 13-32 cassette should suit most riders, there are bound to be those who'll wish for a few bigger or smaller gears: the frame has cable guides for a front shifter and a front mech if you feel the need to upgrade. The £900 Shizuoka 004 and £750 003 both have 50/34 chainsets, or there's the £550 001, still with hydraulic disc brakes but with only eight gears.
Hoy's marketing literature describes the Shizuoka 002 as “a fast, efficient and comfortable ride, combining the speed and efficiency of a road bike with the rugged durability of a mountain bike.”
We haven't put any real mileage into it yet but that certainly rings true from first impressions. Well, nearly. 28c Kenda Kwik Tendril tyres obviously emphasise speed rather than mountain bike durability, but the frame and fork room around them suggests you could go up to about 45c for extra bump protection. The tyres, deep rims and all-alu frameset won't do your comfort or vision any favours if you venture off smooth tarmac.
The frame detail is pretty straightforward, but certainly not to be scoffed at on a £620 bike. The 6061 aluminium tubes are triple butted to extract weight and add a degree of compliance when roads get rough. Double-pass welds give a smooth appearance and the flat grey colour scheme is very subtle, almost to the point of anonymity... no bad thing on an urban bike.
The tube profiles are ovalised and shaped where useful but there's no OTT hydroforming and the 72° head angle, 74 °seat angle, 23in (58.5cm) top tube reach geometry (medium size) should be spot on for fast leisure riding. The cable routing is tidy, there's loads of bar, stem and saddle adjustment potential, and the integrated headset gives a very tidy front end look that flatters the fuss-free aesthetics of the disc brake approach on the forks and seatstays.
The minor detail hasn't been overlooked either. The gear cables have frame-rub-protection around the head tube, the seat bolt is of the swivelling no bend type, the handlebar grips are bolt on and ergonomically shaped. The saddle has tough Kevlar edges and the rims are slightly wider than average Alex XD Sport models that can comfortably take a wider set of treads if needed.
The 25in (63.5cm) wide flat bar, stem, saddle and double bolt seat post are all decent Hoy branded offerings, and there's a little chain guide included to prevent the chain dropping on bumpy terrain. Standover height is generous and the sizing goes from XXS, for riders from 4ft 11in, to XL, for those up to 6ft 4in. In case you're wondering, the Shizuoka name was inspired by Hoy's time spent at a keirin school in Japan. Here's Sir Chris's promo video for the bike...
Full test to follow as soon as we've ridden it enough. In the meantime, check out www.hoybikes.com for more details.
<p>Steve's passion for riding started around fifty years back with blatting about in the woods, closely followed by CTC rides, touring, schoolboy track league, a brief obsession with time trials then onto road racing, touring and cyclo cross... roughly in that order. Mountain biking and triathlon got a look in later. He tested and wrote about bikes for over 25 years and rode about 2000 of them. Steve also rode for the British team in three World Championships in the very early days of mountain bikes. He left us after <a href="http://road.cc/content/news/115389-cycling-journalist-steve-worland-dead... a heart attack at the Ashton Court Parkrun</a> in March 2014, and is fondly remembered and greatly missed.</p>