The Cyfac Gothica CS is a gorgeous bike for long days in the saddle. It's light, it's fast, and we'd say that it's one of the most stylish looking bikes we've ever had on test here at Road.cc.
The Cyfac Gothica CS isn't formed as a monocoque in a mould. It's handmade in France from high-end T800H carbon tubes that are mitred together and wrapped in carbon weave and Kevlar before being baked to form the permanent structure. There are no lugs. It's a bit like the method used for the Viner bike we tested last year http://road.cc/content/feature/31878-viner-maxima-rs-we-get-our-handbuil.... Cyfac reckon it takes 30 hours to produce each frame.
According to the manufacturer, 'The inspiration behind the Cyfac Gothica is the architecture of the Loire Valley's soaring Gothic cathedrals. The pointed arch, soaring lines, and vaulted shapes resonate in the tube shaping and design attributes of this masterpiece.'
Okay. Sounds a bit highfalutin to us but you have to admit that this is one stylish bike. Different strokes for different folks, each to his/her own and all those platitudes, but if you don't like the look of the Gothica CS frame you're wrong. Sorry, but it's a beautiful frame and that's all there is to it.
One of the general trends in road bikes over the past few years has been towards oversized everything. Frame tubes, headsets, bottom brackets... it's all been moving in the same direction for extra stiffness. The Gothica CS looks a lot more classic in design. The tubes are relatively slim, the head tube isn't tapered (it's 1 1/8in top and bottom), and the bottom bracket is external rather than a press fit type.
There are loads of neat features to the frame. The profile of the top tube subtly alters along its length from diamond up front to almost teardrop by the time it joins up with the seat tube, while the walls of the centre section are fluted, as they are on the down tube and the fork legs.
Everyone who sees the bike seems to love the Double-Stay back end just because it looks so smart. The seatstays are triangular in profile, joining up at the brake bridge and running parallel up the last stretch to the seat tube. The dropouts are full carbon and that's the case with Cyfac's own Forknox fork too.
The gear cables nip inside the frame at the head of the down tube and travel internally while the rear brake cable takes the internal route too. By the way, if you think zip-tying the Shimano Di2 battery in place is a bit low rent, you're absolutely right. That's how it is on our test bike because we jumped at the opportunity to get on board the Cyfac as quickly as possible. Buy one and the battery will be mounted correctly.
The 'CS' in the name stands for 'cyclosportif'; this bike is designed for all-day comfort. Cyfac make the Gothica in a race geometry too but the CS version comes with a slightly shorter (by 0.5cm) top tube and a slightly taller (by 2cm on our 56cm/large model) head tube.
Don't go thinking that this is some kind of leisure bike set-up, though. The head tube on our test model is 18cm tall so it's still performance-orientated, it's just not quite as aggressive as a full-on race machine.
Cyfac have tried to produce a bike that's suitable for getting in the big miles quickly while keeping half an eye on comfort, and we'd say the geometry is bang on for that. Sportive rides, high-mileage weekend rides with mates, quick fitness rides... it's suitable for everything like that. I was perfectly comfortable on the Cyfac throughout long days in the saddle, no trouble at all.
That said, fit is an individual thing and if none of the five Gothica CS sizes (50-58cm) is right for your, there's always the option of going for a custom option instead. Of course, it'll jack up the price (see below).
You can buy the Gothica CS as a frameset for £3,099.99 but UK distributor Velobrands http://www.velobrands.co.uk/ will build it up for you if you like.
Their Gothica CS Premo build kit consists of a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset, Dura-Ace C50 wheels with Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyres, Deda Elementi finishing kit and a Fizik Aliante K:ium saddle. That lot will cost you £6,999.99. For an extra £1,000 you can go for that custom geometry we mentioned.
Our review bike is similar to the Premo build but it has wheels comprising Chris King R45 hubs and Reynolds Attack rims.
Can you legitimately call a bike 'crisp'? If so, I'd like to say the Gothica CS is exactly that with sharp and snappy acceleration.
Our test bike hit the road.cc Scales of Justice at 7.10kg (15.62lb) without pedals, which is pretty light. You can certainly get lighter for the money – the current Dura-Ace Di2 equipment is a little heavier than a mechanical version, for a start – but this is a bike that's only too willing to pick up speed. Increase your cadence and it'll respond by instantly springing forward.
I won't go on about the wheels too much because they're not part of the standard Premo build, but the 32mm-deep Reynolds Attack rims spin beautifully on the Chris King hubs. Braking on the carbon rims can be a bit wishy-washy in wet conditions, even with Reynolds' Cryo Blue brake pads, but that's always the case with carbon. You soon adjust to that and squeeze the levers a little earlier than normal.
Oh, and while we're at the wheels, the Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyres did a great job too. They're very lightweight (about 190g each) and quick although they're perhaps not the best choice for everyday use because, in our experience, the lack of rubber means the durability isn't that high. We didn't have any punctures at all through the six week test period so no complaints on that front although, of course, we might just have been lucky.
The Gothica CS leaps into action on the climbs. I found using the tops of the bars on the slightly taller than usual front end to be a really comfortable option when staying seated on steep inclines. When you do need to get out of the saddle, the bars are still low enough for you to control the front end easily. I don't know about you but with a super-high front end, I find it harder to get my weight forward and organize everything properly when standing on the pedals.
Can you legitimately call a bike 'crisp' and 'smooth' at the same time? If so, the Gothica CS is. It's smooth in that the frame mops up road buzz and wrings it out before it reaches you. You know how some bikes rattle about over jagged roads and give you a bit of a slapping if you take them over a slightly raised manhole cover? This bike doesn't do that. It levels things off just enough to keep you comfortable.
That's the Gothica CS's biggest strength: the ride quality is superb. There are doubtless stiffer bikes out there that'll prove a touch more solid in a sprint finish, but that's not what the Cytec is about: it feels luxurious.
The Di2 shifting adds to the smooth feel. You touch the lever and it shifts swiftly, accurately and quietly every time. You never sit there and realise that the chain is rattling on the front mech cage because the system trims its position automatically to avoid that. It's not the greatest advantage in the world but it moves the ride quality up just a touch.
The other thing I really like about the Gothica CS is that it looks cool. At least, it looks cool to me. I wouldn't buy a bike just because it looks stylish – not even close – but it does help. If you're going to spend £3,100 on a frameset to indulge your passion, I think it's perfectly legitimate that you like the look of it. With its slim tubes and neat but not over-fussy frame details, the Gothica is certainly easy on the eye, and that adds to the appeal.
Light, fast sportive bike with a luxurious feel and high quality workmanship throughout
road.cc test report
Make and model: Cyfac Gothica CS
Size tested: 56, large
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
The frame is handmade from Toray 800 carbon fibre tubes. The joints are mitred together and wrapped in carbon and Kevlar.
Frame Cyfac Gothica CS
Fork Cyfac Forknox (full carbon, 1 1/8in steerer)
Chainset Shimano Dura-Ace 53/39
Cassette Shimano Dura-Ace 12-27
Shifters Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Front mech Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Rear mech Shimano Dura-Ace Di2
Brake callipers Shimano Dura-Ace
Rims Reynolds Attack (carbon)
Hubs Chris King R45
Tyres Schwalbe Ultremo ZX
Spokes 24 rear, 20 front, bladed
Seatpost Deda Zero 100
Saddle Fizik Aliante
Stem Deda Zero 100
Handlebar Deda Zero 100
Bottom bracket Shimano Dura-Ace external
Bar tape Widget Components
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 CS stands for 'cyclosportif'. This is a bike with a slightly more relaxed riding position than you'll get on a full-on race bike but it's still very much a performance-orientated machine.
Cyfac say, "Corresponding to the needs of the enthusiast cyclist, the all-new GOTHICA CS features a taller head tube and shortened top tube for optimal all-day comfort. Precise handling and performance characteristics. Lightweight. Handcrafted, lug-less design. Multiple finish options. T800H IM carbon fibre. Full carbon rear dropouts. Pass-through derailleur and internal rear brake cable routing. 100% Full-Carbon (including the drop-outs) fork with integrated headset."
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The CS version of the Gothica gets a slightly shorter top tube than the race model and a longer head tube, but the ride position isn't all that relaxed in the overall scheme of things. The ride position isn't nearly as upright as you'll find on many sportive bikes.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The 56cm model has a 55.5cm top tube and an 18cm head tube. The top tube is 0.5cm shorter than on Cyfac's race version of this bike while the head tube is 2cm taller.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Very smooth and comfortable, yes. That's probably this bike's biggest strength: it feels beautiful to ride.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
It felt stiff. You perhaps don't get the ultimate stiffness that you get with a BB30 bottom bracket and an oversized head tube, but this bike is unlikely to be duking it out in a mass sprint finish.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
There was a small amount of overlap - not a lot. Only experienced it when turning sharply at very low speeds so not a problem.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Pretty stable, I thought.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I got on pretty well with the Fizik Aliante saddle. The Deda bars (150mm drop) have a good amount of rearward extension and the Dura-Ace lever hoods make a comfortable perch for your hands.
Wheels and tyres
Very light and quick but not the best braking in wet conditions
I don't find the Schwalbe tyres that durable
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Very much
Would you consider buying the bike? A lot of cash, but if I was in the market for something at this price, it's a winner
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes, without hesitation.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,