Selecting each individual tube rather than an 'off the shelf' tubeset is what gives the Resolution, Mason Cycles steel framed four season speed machine, its identity. Each tube has a specific role and delivers on that with complete precision, the real trick though is how they all unite to deliver what can only be described as a phenomenal ride. I like this bike A LOT. In fact 'like' is probably not a strong enough word.
We've got the second tier Shimano 105 Hydro model here for testing and priced at £2895 it delivers a lot of bang for your buck in terms of ride, handling build quality and sheer enjoyment.
Smiles for Miles
Whatever your passion is in life, when you find what you think is the pinnacle of whatever that is there is no better feeling in the world.
The Resolution delivers that buzz for me, it's addictive and the beautiful thing is that it's a feeling that hasn't diminished no matter how many times I've ridden it.
Mason have designed the bike from the ground up as a package, each tube, the Aperture fork, the components have all been designed or handpicked to work as a whole. The ride flows, an organic feeling to it if you like, whether in the hills or smashing down a straight bit of traffic strewn A-road.
You get that 'steel feel' from the frame, those velvety undertones which just take the edge off the road vibration but there are underlying hints of an aluminium frame, even carbon too at times. The feedback of the bike changing depending on how you are riding it at the time.
The 1010mm wheelbase gives the Resolution poise and stability, it's simple to ride. Perfect for those epic days in the saddle when fatigue is kicking in and it's easy to make mistakes followed by extreme over corrections.
This was summed up on the first ride of the Resolution, I'd ridden 200km the day before and was midway through the return journey. I'd blown, lack of glycogen was beginning to affect my eyesight and the arm muscles were starting to go. A long descent on a busy A-road topped off with a blustery crosswind stood between me and a carb load so the bars were pointed and off the Resolution shot. Every corner carved, bump and pothole absorbed with the minimal of hassle, you barely had to think about it.
This thing is built for speed though and it doesn't disappoint. The mild manners and stability remain but there's more urgency, the Mason wants to be ridden hard and the more you put in the more you get back.
The front end is tight thanks to the tapered head tube with a real directness to the steering keeping you pushing harder and harder into the bends. It never becomes twitchy or unsettled but it's still engaging and challenging too, if you are a demon descender you're not going to be left wanting. If you can get this thing out of shape in the corners you're a braver rider than I am and that's coming from someone who'll happily risk body parts for an adrenaline hit.
The Aperture fork comes into its own on the descents having the stiffness to maintain its line at high speed with the shock absorption to iron out those ripples in the tarmac. It's more than up to the job of handling those braking loads too. There is no chattering or diving even when hauling on the anchors from 50mph+ with the forward facing Securaxl dropouts keeping the wheel securely in position.
Acceleration isn't something you'd think a bike of this type would excel in but put the power down and it shifts, the bottom bracket area stiffness suddenly becomes noticeable as the bottom half off the frame tightens up without a single hint of flex regardless of how hard you are honking out of the saddle.
The low weight of the Hunt x Mason 4Season wheels means they don't lag under the effort and provide a feeling of sprightliness to the whole bike. This makes climbing fun, paired with the compact chainset and 11-28 cassette the bikes overall weight of 8.9kg is never an issue but feels even less so when you stand up to ascend, it just kicks forward.
Where the Magic Happens
Dom Mason went to Columbus in Italy to handpick each tube individually which has allowed him to fine tune the feel and response of the frame. It's a blend of stiffness and comfort that is so subtle it's barely noticeable until you really require one or the other, a sort of 'Wow, where did that come from?' kind of thing.
Steel has come along way over the last few years with all sorts of exciting alloys being created. Columbus' 'Spirit' and 'Life' tubing are perfect examples of this with wall thicknesses of just 0.4mm in places resulting in low weight while maintaining strength.
Although the material has evolved, in my eyes the use of the tubing hasn't with builders holding on to that traditional skinny tubed look and external cable bosses. Mason has shunned that and brought the steel frame bang up to date with the likes of a tapered head tube and his MultiPort system.
The top of the head tube measures a standard 1 1/8' diameter with the bottom increasing to 1.5' which allows for a much larger weld area and compatibility with an oversized down tube bringing with it added strength and lateral stability.
The head tube length on this 54cm is 155mm which is perfect for the style of comfortable yet fast riding the Resolution is designed for, couple this with the low stack integrated headset and you get the perfect position while being able to slam the stem for stiffness and just as importantly, aesthetics.
Stiffness is achieved from the ovalised top tube and large D-section down tube, both of these give the Resolution a closer look to the alloy Definition frame than a traditional steel and a more aggressive style too.
The down tube, due to its shape can have the wall thicknesses paired right down meaning lightness, stiffness and those all important weld areas at the bottom bracket and head tube junctions.
The rear end takes a considered approach to making the most of that steel quality with regards to comfort. The seat tube is a large diameter 31.8mm although Mason have stepped the seatpost size down to 27.2mm to promote some flex there between rider and bike. The use of Mason's own Penta carbon post allows a touch more comfort over an alloy option.
The seatstays have tapered wall thicknesses from top to bottom which along with the tried and tested hourglass shape for shock absorbance provides a very comfortable rear triangle. When you stand on the pedals the Resolution responds but the way the chain and seatstays deliver in both stiffness and flex the power goes straight to the rear wheel especially noticeable on rougher road surfaces.
The dropouts are shrouded to create a larger weld area and add stiffness and you also get replaceable inserts made from stainless steel, the drive side includes a gear hanger should you ever bend it in a crash.
Extra little details like a chain pip are a welcome sight (often forgotten) to keep the chain away from the stays when the wheels are out.
All of these tubes are welded together in a geometry that is sedate enough for long, comfortable miles but promotes a bit of out of the saddle action. You always find yourself giving the Resolution a little dig on short climbs or to beat the lights.
The front end has a 71.5° head angle which on its own sounds more relaxed tourer than performance machine but combining everything else together, the stack and reach numbers or details like the dropped bottom bracket height to compensate for the larger volume tyres creates the sweet handling machine I've mentioned above.
It's a very cleverly designed setup that manages to capture all riding styles with very, very little in the way of compromise. I reckon there might even be a little bit of pixie dust thrown in there.
The finish of the framesets is amongst the best I've seen especially on a small scale production model. The frames are shipped around to chosen companies for painting and decals all of which are protected by two layers of lacquer. This makes for a hardwearing finish which'll stand up to daily knocks and abuse.
The frames are treated internally and externally as well for corrosion resistance.
Bits and Pieces
The MultiPort system is used on either side of the down tube (along with one on the top tube) to run the cables/wires/hoses, whatever you are running internally and as far as Mason is aware it's the first time this has been done on a steel frame. The added option of being able to run the outer cables split or full is an added touch of customisation.
The various insert options for the cable guides give a really finished look to the frame with the snug fit keeping the elements out. The inserts are anodised aluminium too so they are going to last for plenty of years to come and they make cable replacement easier as by removing them it gives you a much larger hole to feed the outer cables internally.
All the cable routing has been designed to avoid any 'sumps' forming from riding in wet weather, these are four season bikes after all with the coolest bit I reckon is where the front mech cable comes out just before the bottom bracket shell before being run around the 3D printed SLS cable guide.
Being able to take guards and a rack is a huge bonus to this frame though if you wish to run it without you'll find all the mounting points are hidden from view to create a clean finish. Full marine grade stainless bolts should stop any rusty moments too.
The Aperture fork is designed in house and manufactured in Taiwan from Mason's own tooling. That's not a cheap way of doing things but it has allowed for a frame and fork that has been designed to work together with regards to crown height and ride quality. Internal cable/hose routing, hidden guard eyelets and the Securaxle dropouts mean it's a great looking fork as well as one that performs.
There are loads of details and pictures on www.masoncycles.cc in the Thinking section and it's well worth a read to really understand the level of detailing that has gone into the Resolution.
Although the spec levels change with each model all the parts come from the same few component manufacturers.
All the groupsets come from Shimano with all but the 105 mechanical model coming with the Japanese company's hydraulic discs. Although the purist might prefer to run Campagnolo the Shimano stuff works really well and matches the feel of the frame.
Shimano 105 is a great groupset with shifting virtually identical to Ultegra and with the 11-28 tooth options of the 11 speed cassette it gives you all the gears you need for the style of riding intended for the Resolution.
There aren't any hydraulic levers specifically at 105 level with Shimano offering their carbon levered ST-RS685 models which cover mechanical shifting up as far as Dura Ace. This adds massively to the price with the levers and calipers alone costing more than an entire 105 groupset, it's a worthwhile upgrade though as the feel and control at the levers makes for very smooth descending.
The 140mm rotors front and rear are the IceTech models and are more than man enough for the job even under prolonged heavy braking. The fork will take a 160mm with adaptors should you feel the need to go bigger.
Fabric provide the saddle with their Scoop model, a saddle that seems to suit more bums than most with its flowing shape and firm yet supportive padding. On this Resolution you get the Shallow, Elite Alloy version. They provide the tape too which is wipe clean, ideal on this white option and provides a decent amount of comfort from its rubbery feel absorbing quite a lot of road buzz for its narrow thickness.
Keeping the Italian theme going the Resolution uses a Deda cockpit with the Zero 1 stem and RHM1 handlebars. Deda's kit always provides plenty of stiffness plus the shallow drop of these bars gives loads of hand positions even for riders that don't usually move from the hoods.
The collaboration with Hunt wheels for the Mason x Hunt 4Season wheels has created a set of hoops that is exactly to Mason's specification while using the experience of Hunt to define the ride and durability.
We've seen the range of Hunt wheels here http://tinyurl.com/ka8kmux and by speccing the likes of EZO bearings and Pillar Spoke Re-enforcement (PSR) triple butted spokes you get a massively durable wheelset at a sensible weight. A quoted weight of 1585g is decent for a disc wheel that is designed to be ridden though all sorts of conditions. Things like brass nipples and stainless hardware on the quick release makes them pretty much winter proof.
This is the same pair that were used on the Definition test bike so they've covered well over a thousand miles without missing a beat.
Stiffness is high, you can really notice that when sprinting or climbing out of the saddle yet they don't feel harsh in any conditions. The wide rim allowing the running of the 28mm specced Continental tyres means you can tweak the pressure for comfort but even pumped up to 120psi the spoke layup seems to absorb any bumps.
The Complete Package
The Resolution is a beautiful package and that's the real trick here. While price is always a big concern for both manufacturer and customer just looking at the parts list doesn't tell the full story. Mason have added a lot of design detail to create a no compromise bike when it comes to the finishing. Ignore the specs, the angles, the weight, they are only part of the equation. The Mason is a complete entity, everything has a task to perform and it all works together as part of a team. Maybe you'll need to ride one to understand fully what I'm on about but pure and simply the Resolution makes you smile, uncontrollably at times.
Owning a bike like this is a real experience rather than just something materialistic, the Resolution has a soul, it's more than just a form of transport or a tool for fitness it's something special.
Phenomenal steel ride from a bike that is fabulously put together and which brings the material bang up to date
road.cc test report
Make and model: Mason Resolution 105 Hydro
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.
*Frame: Resolution Columbus Spirit/Life performance steel frame.
*Fork: Mason Aperture full carbon fork.
*Headset: DEDA Low profile, carbon top cover, integrated headset.
*Colours: Lens Blue. Shutter Black.
*Sizes: 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60.
*Shifting: Shimano 105 Mechanical. 11spd.
*Chainset: 105 5800 50-34.
*Chain: HG600 11spd.
*Cassette: 105 5800 11spd 11-28.
*Wheels: MASON x HUNT 4Season disc wheels.
*Tyres: Continental, Grand Sport Extra 28mm.
*Braking: Shimano STRS685 Hydraulic with IceTech 140mm rotors.
*Handlebar: DEDA RHM 01 black polished. 304g.
*Stem: DEDA ZER01 black on black. 145g.
*Bar Tape: Fabric GRIP tape.
*Saddle: Fabric Scoop, Shallow, Elite Alloy. 260g.
*Seatpost: MASON Penta carbon, microadjust.
*Clamp: MASON Macro alloy ultralight.
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?
The Resolution is classed as a four season bike meaning it's intended for year round use thanks to the ability to run guards and disc brakes. It's not a winter trainer though, the Resolution is a performance machine with plenty of adaptability.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
A truly amazing piece of engineering from the initial frame building right the way through to the overall finish.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame uses a hand picked selection of Columbus Spirit & Life tubes. Each was selected to provide the exact ride feedback that Mason required.
The fork is created from Mason's own mold in Taiwan from carbon fibre.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Geometry details for each frame size is here:
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Our 54cm had reach and stack figures of 565.5mm and 383.0mm respectively. It gives an excellent mix of a relaxed position that's still stretched out and a bit racy.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Truly sublime, really firm and stable but with the steel tubing taking the harsh edge off.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The Resolution is a very stiff bike and really responds to rider inputs. The ability to run large tyres means you can tweak the pressures to further dial the ride.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
The bottom bracket and surrounding area really responds to powerful efforts being rock solid.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? predominately neutral but becomes more enging if you start to push it.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The handling is the Resolution's master stroke, it's so planted, stable and easy to control yet has this performance side to it once you start to increase thee speed and tighten the line.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The Fabric saddle and bar tape is very comfortable.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The Deda cockpit provides a feeling of stiffness at the front end
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The Mason x Hunt wheels are quick of the mark and hold their speed very well indeed.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Shimnao 105 is brilliant and coupled with the hydraulic version gear levers the shifting is even tighter and crisper than normal.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
The Mason x Hunt wheels have proven to be very reliable as well offering a light weight and great performance.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
A good all round choice of components that compliment the frame. The shallow drop Deda bars offer plenty of hand options for virtually any rider.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? yes
Would you consider buying the bike? yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? yes
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
The Resolution is an amazing bike right through from the build quality, details and above all the way it rides. Riding it was fun, really fun igniting those feelings I got when my parents gave me a shiny new bike for Christmas, that hasn't happened for a while.
About the tester
Age: 36 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Kinesis T2 My best bike is: Mason Definition
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: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.