The Scapin Etika RC looks stunning doesn't it? Its performance on the road is equally stunning, delivering speed that will ensure you effortlessly smash all your favourite segment personal records. It handles with the sharpness of the best race-ready bikes and would be ideal for anyone looking for a fully fledged race machine, but all that speed does come at a cost and not just a financial one, but more on that later.
There are bikes that catch your eye, and there are bikes that stop you in your tracks. The Etika RC is one of the latter. The orange paint finish certainly helps, but it's the shapely carbon frame and top-drawer finishing kit that ensures this is a bike that stands out.
The build is the result of UK Scapin distributor Poshbikes wanting to show off a little, and produced an exotic build that pushes the price up to £8,500 while dropping the weight down to 6.72 kg. Fret not if that's too rich for you, as you can get a full Ultegra 11-speed build for a relatively affordable £3,725, which seems like a bit of a bargain to us.
Frame: Built for speed and acceleration
Scapin has dropped the regular Etika and is now just offering the Etika RC, which it first introduced just this year. The RC uses a more advanced carbon fibre layup to shave the weight over the regular Etika, and also offered improved aerodynamics with an aerodynamic integrated seatpost a key feature.
The frame is made from Toray T800 unidirectional carbon fibre and Scapin claim a 950g frame weight for a size medium. It's not the lightest top-end frame, but it's clear from looking at the massively oversized tube profiles that Scapin has concentrated a great deal on stiffness. That much is true from riding it, where it exhibits impressive power transfer from any speed and on any gradient of road.
The frame is massively oversized just about everywhere. There's extensive sculpting of the tubes; it's certainly a more shapely frame than we've seen in a long while. It's not clear the bulges and curves are all that functional or superfluous, but is does mean it has a unique identity. It's a frame you can gaze at for ages, just admiring all the interesting shapes and how each tube flows into another.
And it's lovingly finished too. Something Scapin is proud of is the attention to detail it lavishes on finishing the frames, and this is abundantly clear from spending some time on it. Most bicycle manufacturers these days have really high standards of paint finish, but the Scapin just seems to nudge ahead in terms of visual quality. You can choose other colours if the orange isn't to your taste by the way. It's not a colour for everyone.
The frame is packed with all the latest technological details. There's a tapered head tube with 1.5in lower bearing, a full carbon fibre fork, press-fit BB86 bottom bracket, full internal routing for mechanical or electronic gears, and the dropouts are made from carbon fibre to shave the weight. There are some other neat details too, such as the metal plate on the down tube and chainstay to protect the carbon in case of a dropped chain. The seatclamp is an internal expanding wedge, which keeps the frame looking clean in this area.
Geometry for the size large I rode is fairly racy with 73/73 degree head and seat angles, a 16.5cm head tube keeping the front low, and the 56.7cm effective top tube giving plenty of stretch in the top The wheelbase is 99.6cm. This as you can imagine gives very performance focused handling that is similar to many other high-end race bikes, but the top tube is a bit longer than the norm, which is fine if you want to be really stretched out.
Ride: Fast and furious
The performance of the Etika takes your breath away. It's simply phenomenal. It's clear from the first few pedal strokes that this is something quite special, and the more I rode it the more the bike shone.
Its stiffness is without question right up there with the best bikes road.cc has tested. The frame stiffness is apparent from the smallest inputs through the handlebars resulting in the most immediate steering response. Nudge the pedals forward and the colossal down tube and chainstays combine to thrust the Etake forcefully up the road.
The way the Etika accelerates really impresses. From any speed, on any gradient, it just picks up speed without any hesitation. That's great for racing where you want a bike that reacts immediately to any input, no matter how small or large. You want to be able to react quickly to breaks, closing gaps and sprinting for the finish line.
Also exceptional is how well it maintains a high speed on undulating roads, getting pretty close to the Factor, one of the fastest bikes that I've ridden on this type of terrain. That's a very high benchmark indeed.
If there's a blemish, it's in the ride comfort. It's not the smoothest over rough roads. There is a lot of feedback through the frame and fork. You might reasonably expect a compromise in ride smoothness for the massive level of stiffness it displays, but some bikes that have passed through the road.cc office have managed to combine similar levels of stiffness with a bit of comfort.
Unfamiliar with the Xentis wheels, I swapped them out for a pair of Campagnolo Neutron Ultra wheels fitted with Continental GrandPrix 4000S II 23mm tyres. The ride was improved, but this wheel change highlighted the fact that it is the frame that is mainly contributing to the occasionally jarring ride on rougher roads.
Keep it away from the rough and it glides along quite fine, but every so often you'll hit patch of broken tarmac and it sends a ripple of vibration through your arms and body. For short blasts and racing, it's no problem, and some may decide it's a fair compromise for the high level of stiffness. Others may decide they value a bit of comfort, and for really long rides, there are bikes in this category that offer a better balance of stiffness and comfort.
Build kit: A smattering of exotic parts
Just to remind you, this isn't a readily available Scapin Etika RC build. Rather, it's a demonstration of the sort of build that Poshbikes are capable of putting together, and most of the parts are from brands they distribute into the UK. If you wanted a regular Shimano or Campagnolo build that is entirely possible.
I'll start with the wheels, because this is the first time we've had our hands on the new Xentis Squad 4.2 full carbon clincher wheels, and because they had quite a big impact on the overall ride. Good and bad. The wheels claimed weight of just 1,350g had a very positive impact on how the Etika RC picked up speed with ease. They do come with a 110kg rider weight limit though.
The wheels comprise 42mm carbon rims laced to Xentis's own hubs with 20/24 Sapim CX-Ray spokes. The Austrian company have designed their own rim profile with what they call an 'Active Turbulator', a wavy ridge just above the braking track that is intended to act as a turbulator, designed to trip the passing air into turbulence, so the separation point is shifted further along the rim to improve aerodynamics. They certainly proved very fast in testing, but how much the rim profile contributes to that without some side-by-side comparison testing or any wind-tunnel data is impossible to say.
My impressions are that they are very fast wheels, but in this guise lack stiffness and braking performance. Heave heavily on the handlebars in a sprint and you can noticeably detect sideways flex in both wheels.
That's easier to live with than the serious lack of braking performance. With the supplied brake blocks, in dry and wet conditions, the wheels simply lacked retardation to the point that descending was a scary experience. I'm not a heavy rider so it's not like I have a lot of weight to decelerate.
Xentis have even developed their own XBP brake track, a machined surface that apparently removes up to 80% of the resin content, and thus reduces heat build up, the enemy of braking on carbon rims. One thing is abundantly clear then, more time is needed on the wheels, whether it's simply that they need bedding in, or a more suitable brake block.
The rest of the kit easily surpassed expectations. The Campagnolo Super Record 11-speed groupset is a very nice thing indeed and easily comparable to Dura-Ace or Red if you want slick shifting.
Tune's Tune Komm-Vor carbon saddle is, would you believe it, incredibly comfortable, considering there isn't much to it. The secret is just how flexible the carbon shell is, and the shape which seems to be spot on. The kicked up tail serves to hold your sit bones in just the right place, which is over the flexy section of the saddle. And it's seriously light, just a claimed 97g.
Poshbikes also fitted the Tune Smartfoot Standard road crank, which features CNC machined arms from grain-orientated 7075 T6 heat-treated aluminium, with a CNC machined spider in 7022 aluminium and a hollow 30mm integrated 7075 T6 axle. It's impressively stiff under power and fitted with Praxis Works Clover 53/39 chainrings provided very crisp and reliable shifting. It's not quite a match for a Shimano Dura-Ace chainset, but it's close.
There's more from Tune in the Geiles Teil 4.0 stem, which weighs a claimed 98g. It's a beautifully CNC machined product, flawlessly finished, and showed impressive stiffness when getting animated on the bike. The Schmolke SL Compact Oversize handlebar weighs a claimed 160g with a 138mm drop and 95mm reach, with recessed cable grooves. It, like the stem clamped it in place, is plenty stiff enough despite the lack of weight, but the very short drops didn't work for me. I like a little more to hold onto when riding in the drops.
All that produces a weight of just 6.72 kg (14.82lb).
An absolutely stunning frame and a stunning build, the Etika RC doesn't fail to impress on most fronts. It doesn't offer the smoothest or more comfortable ride, but if speed is the only thing you're interested in, this is a superbly quick bike with stunning looks that is guaranteed to turn heads.
Incredibly fast with rapid acceleration but lacks comfort & composure; braking performance of the Xentis wheels on this build is a concern
road.cc test report
Make and model: Scapin Etika RC
Size tested: n/a
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
RC version of Etika, located firmly at the top of the Scapin range. With the same structural/geometrical plus factors as its little sister but with ultralight materials and exquisite details to delight the real connoisseur. A genuine racing machine. also available with the distinctive ghost luminescent paint.
Tell us what the bike is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Scapin claim a 950g weight for the frame, made from T700 unidirectional carbon fibre. It has all the latest design details, such as a tapered head tube with 1.5in lower bearing, and a full carbon fibre fork. There's a press-fit BB86 bottom bracket, full internal routing for mechanical or electronic groupsets, and the dropouts are made from carbon fibre to shave the weight.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Superb finish, and nice range of paint finishes available. Truly unique looking frame and fork.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
T700 unidirectional carbon fibre is used in the frame and fork.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Very aggressive as befits a race bike, long and low.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
It's far from the smoothest race bike, producing quite a harsh ride on rough roads.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Oh yes, produce the power and the frame efficiently transfers it all into forward motion.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Very good handling, the stiff frame produces immediate responses that you want from a race bike.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels are something I would change for a carbon clincher with better braking performance.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The Tune cranks and stem were highlights of the build, extremely stiff and look lovely too.
Wheels and tyres
Didn't get on with the handlebar shape, but that is easily changed, this is afterall a custom build.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
This was a custom build so any of the parts could easily be changed. And I would change the handlebars.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes loved the speed and acceleration.
Would you consider buying the bike? There's a lot of choice in this price category.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? If they wanted a no-compromise race bike, probably yes. But not in this build.
About the tester
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.