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feature Superbike Shootout 2015-16

The best money-no-object bikes we've reviewed over the past year, but there can only be one winner

Over the past year, has reviewed a lot of superbikes – cutting-edge bikes with whopping price tags – and here are the very best of ’em.

How does a bike get onto our list? First, it has to have been reviewed here on over the past year. If we’ve not had it in, it doesn’t go on. We’ve not tested the new Specialized S-Works Venge ViAS Di2, for instance, so it can’t go into Superbikes Shootout. Simple. 

Second, it has to have a price tag of over £3,000. We could have made the cut off £2,500, or £3,847, or whatever, but we made it £3,000 (one of the models below is £1,999, but that’s just for the frameset). That’s an arbitrary decision.

If a bike fulfils these first two criteria it can be considered. Beyond that, it has to put in a performance that seriously impresses us. We’re also looking for technical and engineering innovation and smart design features that lead to an improved performance out on the road. Tech for tech’s sake doesn’t cut it, we’re all about the ride. 

All of the bikes here have a little something extra too, something that elevates them above being just very good and into superbike status. There are lots of impressive bikes out there that do their jobs very well, but these are the bikes that really make us want to keep coming back for more. 

One thing we don’t take into account in the Superbike of the Year is value. This is a money-no-object category. If you’re interested in looking at value, click on the link to the full review at the end of each entry on our list.

In short, this is a rundown of the high-end bikes that have impressed us most during testing over the past year, with value taken out of the equation. Let’s get cracking…


5. Enigma Evade Ti £5,000

Enigma’s new Evade is the only titanium bike to make the Superbike of the Year list – in fact, it's the only bike that isn't carbon. The Evade offers a fine combination of fast, energetic and effortless pace with smoothness and refinement to make a wonderfully fast long-distance cruising bike. 

Enigma Evade - riding 1

You will love the Evade’s handling. With the use of oversized titanium tubes and a reasonably racy but not overly aggressive geometry, it provides plenty of excitement and speed.

Oversize tube profiles boost stiffness where the Evade needs to be stiff and help you get the power down, but that's not at the cost of titanium's smooth ride. The bike is available in six stock sizes or you can go down the custom route – so tweaking the geometry to push the dial more towards out and out performance should be a possibility. That said, we'd say the balance is about right as it is.

As well as a custom build options, there's also a choice of finishes. You can decide between a stock titanium finish or go for a custom paint job. Painted titanium? Yes, you might have noticed our test bike is painted, and we'd have to say it's a looker.

The Evade offers a dynamic and engaging ride that rewards those who like to wring every bit of performance out of their legs but still want the smoothness and comfort for those days when they're not chasing speed. It's docile and supple at low speeds, stiff and responsive when you turn the power up. 

Why it’s here It’s a smooth titanium bike with an impressive turn of pace 

Read our original review here


4. Sarto Seta £3,800 (frameset only) 

The Sarto Seta was one of the first bikes we tested in 2015 and one of the best. It has already featured in our Frameset of The Year awards.

Even before we consider what it's like to turn the pedals, you'll have noticed that it has one very specific attribute common across the superbike category – a seriously impressive price tag. You could get a very good complete bike for the price of the Sarto Seta frameset. Luckily, it works hard to justify the cost.

When we reviewed the Sarto Seta road bike back in January, we said, “It offers a stunning ride, effortlessly fast both on the flats and up the climbs, buttery smooth, and the handling is wonderful.”

Sarto Seta - riding 1

This superlight carbon race-ready bike is made in Italy using a tube-to-tube construction technique, and Sarto can customise the frame to your size and requirements. 

Jump aboard and you're in no doubt you're riding something special with the Seta. It's silky smooth. It glides up ascents, strings together corners and apexs with accuracy, and the high level of damping through the frame and fork ensures it never becomes jittery at higher speeds on rougher road surfaces. Our test bike tipped the scales at 6.8kg (so you're UCI legal) but weight weenies could no doubt drop more off if they wanted to.

We reckon that it's visually very appealing, although you can have it custom painted if there's a particular look you're after.

Why it’s here A beautiful bike that performs superbly in every riding situation

Read our original review here


3. Bianchi Specialissima £7,000 

Bianchi’s new Specialissima has two major selling points. The first of those is its light weight. The frame is a claimed 780g while the complete bike we tested was just 6.35kg (14.0lb).

Bianchi Specialissima - riding 1.jpg

The second feature is the CounterVail material technology that Bianchi uses to soak up road vibration, improving comfort and reducing fatigue. It really works! 

Acceleration is phenomenal, the Specialissima surging forward when you put in the power. In fact, it's so good that reviewer Stu confessed he found changing up through the gears slightly addictive to the point where stopping was a good thing because it meant he could do it all again. Well, it takes all sorts!

As you'd expect, that light weight makes the Bianchi a climber's weapon – or, indeed, a non-climber's weapon. Once you hit the ascents it really flies. You'll be dropping down one gear where you might drop two or three on a on a bike that's a couple of pounds heavier.

The handling is sweet, too. It just goes where you point it, and it's never unsettled regardless of speed – something that's particularly noticeable on the descents.

Some very lightweight bikes can be nervous and twitchy at speed, demanding increased levels of concentration to stop, as Stu so eloquently put it, "the product of your life savings ending up in the nearest wall". There's none of that here. The Specialissima does what needs to be done with no fuss or drama thanks to the combination of the CounterVail tech, clever tube design and sorted geometry.

Speaking of the geometry, this is a bike that has stepped straight out of the pro peloton so the ride position is, as you'd expect, long, low and aggressive. Even so, the Specialissima is not a hard bike on which to ride a long way. Step off after 80 miles and you'll still be feeling fairly fresh – well, fresher than you might expect, anyway. It's amazing what technology can do; Specialissima indeed.

Why it’s here This is an awesome piece of engineering: lightweight with a neat vibration-absorbing trick

Read our original review here


2. Storck Aerfast Platinum £10,949

Two questions immediately spring to mind when you clap eyes on the Storck Aerfast. How light? 6.47kg (14.2lb), seeing as you ask. And how much? Well, you can see that for yourself. Storck Aerfast Platinum - riding 2.jpg

The Storck Aerfast Platinum is the most expensive bike on our list. In fact, it's the most expensive bike we've ever tested on, although that’s because we had ours in a super-high-end build with Lightweight Meilenstein wheels. Complete bikes actually start at £4,949, with complete Aerfast Comps (the frame is out of the same mould but using different carbon-fibre) from £2,549.

The Aerfast Platinum is a lightweight aero bike that gave our reviewer Stu the feeling of a permanent tailwind nudging him along.

High speeds are what the Aerfast does best thanks to tubes that are shaped to slip through the air as efficiently as possible. It cruises along quicker than a standard road bike, and fast descents are a blast.

It’s also very lightweight for an aero bike, and stiff through the bottom bracket, so it’s no slouch climbing the hills either. 

On top of all that, the Aerfast is comfortable too, the rear end taking the sting out of rough roads and keeping you feeling fresh for longer. 

Why it’s here Aerodynamically efficient, lightweight and comfortable, this is an awesome race bike 

Read our original review here


1. Trek Madone 9 Series From £4,500 

The winner of the Superbike of the Year title is the Trek Madone 9 Series. This bike boasts an astonishing amount of technology, including Trek’s IsoSpeed decoupler which allows the saddle to move a little more than usual to add comfort to the ride.

Most of its features, though, are aimed at aerodynamic efficiency. Trek claims that this is the fastest aero bike out there (of course it does!). 

Trek Madone 9 Series Project One - riding 1.jpg

Frame tubes, fork legs and the seatmast are made to Kammtail profiles, as is the top section of the Madone XXX integrated bar/stem. The direct-mount centre-pull front brake is integrated into the fork with the top of the calliper hidden within the head tube. There's not enough space in there for the calliper to move when the fork is turned so Trek has developed what it calls 'Vector Wings' – small flaps that flip up to allow the movement. 

There’s loads more tech on display too; go to our review to check it all out.

The Madone feels quick and responsive as soon as you climb aboard and fire your legs into action, shooting up to speed quickly and maintaining that speed beautifully. Climbing feels great on this bike, and descending is a real buzz. 

Overall, the Madone behaves superbly, the best feature being that its high level of comfort keeps you feeling fresher and up for the fight that much longer. 

Anyone familiar with the Trek Madone will know there have always been a lot of 'em; it's practically a range in its own right. So far, the new Madone is only available as a 9 Series, but there are four models: the 9.2, the 9.5, the 9.9, and the Race Shop Limited - the differences being spec and the type of carbon used in the lay-up.

The 9 Series is available in a choice of two different geometries: H1 and H2. Both are race oriented, the H1 offering a position that's being just that bit more low and stretched than the H2.

Oh, and on top of all that you can have a Project One version, which gives you the option to custom spec your fit, component choice and your paint job. You can find out more about all that here

The bike we tested was the Race Shop version with a Project One custom paint job, so the top of the tree.

This is a stunningly good bike that offers a fabulous mix of speed and comfort, and it’s the clear winner of our Superbike of the Year. 

Why it wins An incredible amount of clever technology produces a super-fast bike that’s also very comfortable

Read our original review here

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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