Pretorius Outeniqua frame & fork  £1950.00

8/10

Stylish titanium road bike with a high ride quality; comfortable and it should last you many years.

Weight 7200g   Contact  www.pretoriusbikes.com/

by Mat Brett   July 18, 2012  

The Pretorius Outeniqua is a new titanium race bike with stylish looks and a sweet ride. It's available as a frameset for £1,950 (with a full bike fit included) although ours came as a complete bike in a £5,999 build.

Here are six key reasons why you might want to buy it.

1 The frame is strong, lightweight titanium.

It's 3Al-2.5V titanium, to be precise, which means it's actually 3% aluminium and 2.5% vanadium. This is the alloy that's used to make most (but not all) titanium bikes.

Titanium has high strength-to-weight and stiffness-to-weight ratios and an excellent fatigue life. If you're looking for a bike that'll still be going strong several years down the line, titanium is a very good choice. It won't snap if you stack it and will cope fine with the inevitable knocks it'll pick up during regular use. It won't corrode when you forget to clean it either.

Don't get us wrong: we're not saying that everyone should be riding titanium. Carbon, when done right, can certainly be made into bikes with higher stiffness-to-weight than anything else right now. But titanium certainly has a place still.

2 It's a well made, tidy frame.

The Pretorius is well put together with classic straight lines and neat welds throughout.

Although the Outeniqua has a fairly traditional air, it boasts some distinctly modern features. The head tube, for example has an internal diameter of 44mm from top to bottom, but it comes with a Chris King 1 1/8in InSet upper bearing and a 1 1/2in external headset cup down below and the fork has a correspondingly tapered steerer to improve rigidity.

The other feature that performance bike manufacturers have increasingly turned to over the past few years for adding stiffness is an oversized bottom bracket. Pretorius have gone with a BB30 design too.

The wall thickness in both the head tube and the bottom bracket is thicker than elsewhere too. It's a meaty 2mm for extra stiffness rather than 0.9mm of the other tubes.

The tube shaping is subtle. The slightly sloping top tube, for example, tapers from 38mm at the head tube to 34mm at the seat tube and the seatstays slim down 3mm along their length. And while the head tube and the down tube (42mm in diameter) are oversized, they're not that oversized.

The details are tidily done too. The dropouts are a smart half-moon design and the cable stops are welded into place rather than riveted. And while our test bike comes with mechanical shifting, the Outeniqua is also available in Shimano Di2 options if you want to go down the electronic route. With Dura-Ace Di2 the battery can now go inside the seat post.

The Outeniqua comes with a brushed finish as standard although custom paintjobs are available from £200. You can choose from eight different decal colour options and you can pick the Chris King headset colour to match if you like.

The overall result is a frame that looks stylish rather than one that's trying too hard.

3 A proven geometry.

The Pretorius' geometry is racy and efficient without being too extreme, although if it doesn't work for you, you can get a custom version made.

Road bike geometry is rarely all that radical. People have been making road bikes for a long time now and we know what works. Our Outeniqua is a large (58cm) model which comes with a 58cm seat tube, a 57cm effective top tube, and a 17cm head tube – although you need to allow another couple of centimetres of stack height for the external headset cup.

Compared to a 58cm Specialized Tarmac SL4 full-on carbon race bike, for example, the Outeniqua has a 1.2cm shorter top tube while the head tube and seatstays are about the same. The frame angles (73.5° head angle and 73° seat angle) are the same too, so you know what you're getting here: it's a well-proven set up.

The standard Outeniqua frameset (see below) is £1,950 but if none of the seven sizes is right for you, an extra £200 gets you one built to a custom geometry.

4 Excellent frameset components.

Buy an Outeniqua frameset and you get an Enve 2.0 fork and Chris King Inset 7 headset as part of the package. Both are excellent.

The Enve 2.0 fork, which retails alone at £390, is full-carbon right down to the dropouts. It comes with a tapered 1 1/8in to 1 1/2in steerer and, despite weighing in at just 350g, it provides loads of stiffness whether you're pinning it into a fast turn or throwing the bars about on an out-of-the-saddle climb. It also damps road vibration well without leaving you feeling too isolated from the road; a great combination.

The Chris King Inset sealed bearing headset is a winner too. With this one the upper cup sits inside the head tube while the lower one is external. The high-quality bearings should last an age.

5 You can choose you own spec.

Pretorius will build up the Outeniqua however you like. We had a high-end spec comprising a Campagnolo Super Record 11-speed groupset, Reynolds Thirty Two wheels with Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyres, Enve carbon bars, stem and seatpost, and a Selle Italia SLR saddle. There's an Arundel carbon bottle cage on there too. You're looking at £5,999 for that lot.

In this build, the Outeniqua weighs 7.2kg (15.8lb). Spend six grand on a bike and you can get lighter without too much trouble – especially if you go for a carbon frame – but this is certainly a highly respectable weight.

I won't talk too much about the specific build because it's not set in stone, but you really can't go wrong with these components. If you prefer Shimano or SRAM to Campag's shifting, no problem, go with that instead.

The Reynolds Thirty Two wheels are very light and spin beautifully. We have the clincher version and they weigh in at 1,351g. Reynolds' Cryo Blue pads provide good braking on the carbon rims in the dry, although the braking is nowhere near as good as you get with aluminium rims in wet conditions. That's always the way.

Getting your saddle position right on the Enve carbon seat post is really easy and the sub-200g Enve bars come in either standard (144mm drop, 85mm reach) or compact (127mm, 79mm reach) versions.

But I wasn't going to go on about the spec too much, was I? So I won't. It's good though.

6 The high ride quality.

The Pretorius offers a quick, agile ride. Put in the power and it responds with a sharp kick forwards. It doesn't have the all-out rigidity of some top end carbon bikes when it comes to a sprint but it's still impressively efficient and it whips up to speed in no time. Of course, that's partly down to the components as well as the frame and forks. The Reynolds Thirty Two wheels in particular make a big difference here, accelerating beautifully when you ask them to.

The ride position is balanced. It's certainly low and efficient, which is exactly what you want for a bike of this kind, but it's not ridiculously aggressive. Most people with reasonable flexibility will be happy getting in the big miles on this setup.

You also get a good compromise between stability and reactive steering. The Outeniqua is manoeuvrable enough for last second line changes when a ride mate decides to swing out for no apparent reason, but it's not so nervous that you can't relax when you want to.

The ride-quality is the Outeniqua's most valuable feature. There are no wrist-shuddering jolts coming up through the Enve fork and you don't find yourself clinging on for dear life when you hit a patch of jagged road. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Outeniqua keeps everything nice 'n' smooth. As well as making life comfortable for you in the saddle, that means the wheels stay firmly in contact with the road even when the road gets rough under fully loaded tyres.

Again, the components help with the comfort; I always get on well with a Selle Italia SLR saddle, for instance. To me, it offers the best combination of lightweight and comfort of any saddle out there, although if you're not such a fan you could go for something that suits you better.

All in all, the Outeniqua offers a sweet ride. Swift, responsive, comfortable, it's a great performance option with a big helping of style thrown in.

Verdict

Stylish titanium road bike with a high ride quality; comfortable and it should last you many years.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Pretorius Outeniqua (f&f)

Size tested: Large

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

3Al-2.5V titanium frame

Enve 2.0 fork

Campagnolo Super Record groupset

Reynolds Thirty Two Wheels

Enve bar, stem and seatpost

Chris King InSet7 headset

Selle Italia SLR titanium railed saddle

Arundel Gecko bar tape

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?

It's a performance/race bike

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

We had the large size with 57cm effective top tube, 58cm seat tube, 19cm head tube (including headset). It has a 73.5° head angle, 73° seat angle and 40.5cm chainstays

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Yup, the ride quality is a definite highlight

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

Yes. If you want the ultimate in stiffness to weight you'll go for a carbon bike, but this bike offers impressive stiffness. Pretorius reckon that's down to the thick tube walls used for the head tube and the bottom bracket.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Well balanced edging towards lively. Certainly manoeuvrable.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
7/10

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:
 
9/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for value:
 
7/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
7/10

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yup, certainly

Would you consider buying the bike? Put it on the list of lovely bikes I can't afford!

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
7/10

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 41  Height: 190cm  Weight: 75kg

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,

 

6 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Ok, I give up. How do they make the bike just 'stand' there unaided? Was there a stand that has been artfully removed with Photoshop?

posted by boardmanrider [67 posts]
18th July 2012 - 10:28

0 Likes

We can't let daylight in upon the magic, boardmanrider.

posted by Mat Brett [1887 posts]
18th July 2012 - 10:41

0 Likes

Full disclosure first: I've been lucky enough to own a Pretorius Outeniqua for the past few months. To your final point, I wanted a bike that would last me for many years (if nothing else, to justify how much I was spending on it..!)

I'm absolutely delighted with the bike. Very soon after getting it I rode it with some friends from Pau to Girona, up and down some of the legendary Pyrenean climbs and it was fantastic throughout. Clearly my own physical limitations restricted performance on the way up, but what really impressed me was the bike's performance on the descents. Just awesome and it gave me huge amounts of confidence.

I'd thoroughly recommend a trip to Shoreditch to meet J-C Pretorius and chew the fat if nothing else. He's a top guy.

posted by Veloiste [3 posts]
18th July 2012 - 12:03

0 Likes

Fishing line down to the saddle?

Two pics knitted together?

It's the shadow I was looking at - can't see any evidence of it there.

As smart as the pic looks, it surely can't justify inordinate amounts of effort.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3218 posts]
18th July 2012 - 12:14

0 Likes

Weight of complete bike as built here, yes. Weight of fork, yes. But I can't find the weight of the frame anywhere - what is it please?

posted by bikeylikey [167 posts]
21st July 2012 - 7:06

0 Likes

A figure for frame weight would be much appreciated (although it might not be the most important thing for people considering a Ti frame). Why not go all the way and get some Enve wheels too?

posted by kide [20 posts]
26th July 2012 - 10:51

1 Like

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