The Moda Stretto's classy carbon frameset and decent quality lightweight parts add up to a wonderfully sprightly ride that's hard to fault, but some riders have mixed feelings about the wheel choice.
We've spent a couple of months with this Moda Stretto and we haven't found a lot to gripe about. Even the weather played ball most of the time, allowing a decent mileage to accumulate on frequent rolls across the Somerset Levels then up over the Mendips.
Components & construction
The Stretto's frame and fork are built using a high modulus carbon composite blend and our test bike came specced with a light American Classic Aero 3 wheelset, SRAM's Force gearset and brakes plus a house branded Barelli crankset, seat post, saddle, bar and stem.
There's a strong emphasis on low weight (the web site claims 16.4lb/7.43kg, our 56cm test bike tipped the scales at just a few grams under the 7.5kg mark, before we added pedals) and that becomes an enticing factor in the performance.
Moda is very much an enthusiast, rider-driven company. Their bike ranges are developed in the Peak District and assembled in Derby and most of the range can be built to precisely suit your requirements in terms of componentry and budget, with choices of SRAM, Shimano, Campagnolo or Microshift drivetrain parts and a wide variety of finishing parts and wheels.
Rider opinions on the SRAM Force group seem evenly split: you get used to the shifting quickly but a few racers moan about the fact that shifting quietly is impossible, not great if you're just about to launch a stealthy attack. But the less competitive inclined tend to like the clunk click every shift audio effect.
Apart from on this bike we haven't had a great deal of durability feedback on the Barelli finishing kit fitted to the Stretto. The carbon crankset certainly looks and feels the part, and most riders were happy with the 53/39 tooth 7075 heat treated aluminium ring combo. If you're not, Moda is happy to fit a compact crankset to any bike.
The seat post, stem and short drop carbon handlebar are all well finished but we had a couple of moans about saddle comfort on long rides. If there's anything you don't like your local dealer can use Moda's 'Dream Build' option to change handlebars, stems etc and suppliers Eurobike, who have during this test period been integrated into the Moore Large (B2B) group, can also offer ITM, Deda or Selle Italia finishing kit.
Our test bike was fitted with Schwalbe's Lugano 23c tyres but the standard specification is with Kaliente Pro 23s from Kenda. We're happy to see that as Lugano all-rounders aren't quite up to the performance quality of the rest of the bike.
The ride: confident & well balanced
The ride quality of the Stretto frame and fork is superb, a perfect compromise of stability under pressure and vibration absorption to a level of dulling square edges without losing its pert and squirt feel on rougher roads.
Geometry is a fairly lively 73 degrees at the head, 73.5 at the seat on the 56cm bike and the horizontal top tube length is the same as the extended seat tube. Combined with a regular 45mm fork offset this makes for a confident, well balanced ride with the sort of cornering character that makes you constantly push harder as you get to know the bike and learn the limits of the wheels and tyres.
You do become aware of those limits from time to time though. The deep aero profile rims get a little twitchy in strong cross winds and caused a couple of nervous moments on blowy downhills, and the combination of low weight and the 'two to one' rear wheel spoking pattern means you can't run your rear brake shoes too close to the rim as there's noticeable flex when standing up and climbing, or sprinting.
The plus side of the 18/24 spoked wheel design is, as well as the presumed aero' benefit, that you notice the low wheel weight in acceleration. The frame has room for 25c tyres if you feel the need for more comfort.
Attention to detail
The frame and fork aesthetics are a pleasing mix of aero and oversized, with the slightly sloping top tube producing a semi-compact look with an extended seat tube. The frame is constructed from tubes rather than the main section being moulded in one piece, with reinforcing layers added at all the crucial joins (head tube, seat tube and bottom bracket) for extra strength and stiffness.
The seat tube flares around the rear tyre, keeping the back end short and presumably offering a tiny aero boost. Skinny seat stays appear to add a little extra comfort at the back end and the tapered steerer adds obvious precision and stability in steering.
The fourteen models listed in Moda's road bike range (£749.99 to £3899.99) include some overlap from previous years and an interesting frame materials choice between aluminium, titanium and carbon. The previous Stretto model is now the cheaper (£1999.99) Molto with the new Stretto frame getting some subtle geometry tweaks; its shorter head tube, shorter top tube and shorter back end are said to sharpen up the handling.
We didn't test last year's bike so we can't make the comparisons but no one had any complaints about the handling at high or low speeds. A bottom bracket upgrade to a BB30 press-fit unit plus sheathed (easy to thread) internal cable routing through the top tube and down tube are other notable upgrades that should please most riders.
Finishing detail is mostly excellent. There are two sets of bottle bosses, there is loads of bar/stem height adjustment via the steerer washers, the handlebar tape is good quality stuff and the frame finish seems hard wearing. The raw frames are sanded and painted before the decals are applied then finished in a clear matt lacquer.
The colour scheme is described as 'Smoke, Primer and Chalk': it drew plenty admiring glances and comments at cafe stops. One little moan though: both sets of bottle cage bolts and the Barelli stem bolts were already showing signs of surface rust after a single wet ride.
A classy carbon frameset plus decent quality lightweight parts adds up to a wonderfully sprightly ride that's hard to fault, but some riders have mixed feelings about the wheel choice.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Moda Stretto
Size tested: 56
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
High modulus carbon composite frame & fork. American Classic Aero 3 Wheels. SRAM Force gears. Barelli crankset and Barelli handlebar, stem, seat post and saddle
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 marketed simply as a 'performance oriented race bike'. The low weight (and especially the light wheels) backs that up. It has a very stable ride for such a light bike, with very little 'learning time' needed to feel at ease with it.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Excellent build and finishing detail.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
High modulus carbon fibre, details of lay-up unspecified.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
73 degree head angle, 73.5 at the seat.
56cm seat tube and horizontal top tube. 45mm fork offset
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Exactly as expected on a 56cm race bike. Plenty of bar height adjustment but a short enough head tube to get a proper slammed-down-stem position if that's what you like
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Surprisingly comfy for a frame that's very stiff laterally.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes, but some wheel flex was apparent on stand-up climbs and when sprinting.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very efficient provided you leave the rear brake pads well clear of the rim on climbs.
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? Lively enough to be sprightly but never nervous
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Dead stable at all speeds apart from when cross winds buffeted the aero rims.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Everyone liked the compact drop handlebar but not everyone liked the saddle. A few racers moaned about the loud gear shifts of SRAM
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Wheels not ideal for powerful riders. Their low weight is welcome but there's some noticeable rear wheel flex when power pedalling out of the saddle.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Wheels again. The light weight is very noticeable and very welcome on climbs in in initial acceleration, but low weight always involves compromises elsewhere.
Beware of strong cross winds with aero rims.
Set rear brake pads well clear of the rim to hide wheel flex.
Some riders moaned about the not exactly stealthy shifts.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
SRAM shifting takes a couple of rides to get used to if you're habitually a Campagnolo or Shimano rider, but the shifting performance is great. Some riders love the clunk-click shifts, some don't.
Wheels and tyres
Heavy riders should get heavier duty wheels. Wrong tyres fitted to our test bike
Long term bearing durability is not great on American Classic hubs, but they're cheap and easy to replace.
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?
Heavy and very powerful riders might find these wheels too light and flexible. No moans about the tyres fitted but they were not the tyres listed on the spec sheet.
Great shapes and performance.
Stem bolts quickly developed surface rust.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Moda offers choices on bars, stems etc so rider preferences can be accommodated.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
Anything can be changed via Moda's 'Dream Build' assembly system.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, very much.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? With some minor changes, yes.
About the tester
Age: 58 Height: 181 Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Merlin Ti My best bike is: Ibis Silk SL
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb,
<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>