The road bike market is more competitive than ever with virtually all the major manufacturers launching a new or completely redesigned model for 2018, and here are 10 of the most important of them. We’ll be running part 2 soon with 10 more models from the likes of Bianchi, Cannondale and Scott.
You’ll notice that loads of these are disc brake bikes, and there’s a good reason for that. Over the past couple of years the big brands have been rushing to make disc brake versions of existing rim brake bikes, and while they’re concentrating on that they’ve had less resource devoted to developing new rim brake bikes. There certainly are new rim brake bikes coming to market, but the majority of new bikes that have been released over the past few months – and that's what we're featuring here – have been disc-equipped.
One other thing: most of these bikes are expensive, but that won't come as a surprise because we all know how trickle-down technology works. New stuff tends to be pricey, and it gradually becomes cheaper over time as it is superseded by new tech.
Specialized Tarmac SL6 £3,500-£9,250
You can buy Specialized Tarmacs from £1,500 but the new-for-2018 SL6 version is more expensive. It has a frame that’s dramatically lighter than previously, Specialized claiming 733g for a 56cm. It’s also more aerodynamically efficient thanks to the use of the company’s own Win-Tunnel in the development process. Specialized claims it’s 45 seconds faster over 40km (25 miles) than its key rivals, such as the Trek Emondo and Cannondale SuperSix Evo.
Merida Reacto £1,250-£9,500
Merida has given its Reacto aero road bike a complete redesign for 2018. It’s now available in both disc brake and rim brake versions, each in two different geometries. Merida says that the new Reacto is more aerodynamically efficient than the previous version by about eight watts at 45km/h thanks to slimmed down tube shapes, a lower seatstay connection and a one piece cockpit with integrated features. Comfort has also been improved and the weight has dropped significantly too.
Trek Emonda SLR £4,000-£8,500
Trek’s has updated its Emonda lightweight race bike, the top-level SLR version now coming with a claimed frame weight of just 640g. Disc brakes have been added to the Emonda lineup for the first time too, the disc brake version of the SLR frame coming in at an incredible 665g, according to Trek.
How has Trek saved the grams? It’s simply down to a new carbon layup. The US brand says that the new 700 Series OCLV carbon frame is also stiffer than previously.
Giant Propel Disc £2,999-£8,999
Giant is offering its Propel aero road bike with disc brakes for the first time in 2018, claiming that the flagship model, the Propel Advanced SL Disc, has the highest stiffness-to-weight ratio of any bike in its class and a lower drag coefficient at a wider range of yaw angles than its rim brake predecessor.
The new range features new frame profiles and an integrated disc-brake design, and there’s also a new combined aero handlebar and stem with internal cable routing, and aero wheelsets with different rim depths front and rear.
Vitus ZX-1 Disc £2,000–£4,000
The ZX1 was a carbon fibre monocoque race bike launched way back in 1991 and the name has been revived for 2018 on this new model. Like the original, this version has aerodynamic features: the Kammtail tube profiles are designed to reduce drag, for instance, and the fork crown integrates with the frame. The new ZX1 takes disc brakes, comes with an asymmetric bottom bracket and chainstays, and the wheels are held in place by thru axles front and rear.
3T Strada £3,600 (frameset)
3T’s Strada is one of the most radical new models of recent years in that it’s an aero road bike designed around wider tyres (it has clearance for up to 30mm width), a 1x (single chainring) drivetrain and disc brakes.
Dave Arthur reviewed the Strada here on road.cc and said, “It's a truly stunning bike with breathtaking speed, impressive smoothness and fine handling balance. If this is the future, as some people have speculated, I'm sold.”
Ridley Noah SL Disc Aero+ £6,499.99
Ridley has made its Noah SL Disc aero road bike even more aero and clean-looking by hiding away all the cables. It has managed this through the use of a one-piece handlebar and stem combo that takes the cables internally, and a fork with a D-shaped steerer that allows the cables to run down the back. The twists and turns in the routing make no difference to the performance of the hydraulic disc brakes
The Noah SL Disc Aero+ boasts all the other features of existing Noahs, such as the F-Split fork with a split down the centre, and the F-Surface Plus surface texturing applied in certain areas of the frame that's designed to make the air travel smoothly instead of detaching and creating drag.
Time Alpe d’Huez £2,995-£12,000
Time’s Alpe d’Huez is designed as a climber’s bike, the 01 version coming with a frame weight (size small) of 840g and a complete bike weight of just 6.2kg (13lb 11oz) in its most luxurious £12,000 spec. The stiffness-to-weight ratio is said to have improved by 25% compared to its predecessor, the Izon. The Alpe d’Huez is made in France, like all of Time’s frames, and it incorporates Vectran that is designed to absorb vibration on the down tube and top tube.
Colnago C64 £4,100 (frameset, rim brake)
The Colnago C64 is substantially lighter than the C60 it replaces and now accepts tyres up to 28mm wide, meeting the increasing demand for wider rubber even on a race bike. The carbon tube and lug construction process remains, allowing Colnago to make many frame sizes and even offer custom sizes. It’s also a bike that is still made in Italy.
Colnago claims the frame and fork (including seatpost, seatpost clamp, headset, mech hanger and cable guides) is 205g lighter than the C60, with a 52cm frame weighing in the region of 800-850g. The C64 Disc frame is a whopping 270g lighter than the C60 Disc and is just 15g heavier than the rim brake version.
Genesis Volare Disc 931 £2,200 (frameset)
The rim brake version of the Volare steel race bike has been around for a few years but the Volare Disc 931 frameset is a new addition to the range. As the name suggests, it’s made from Reynolds 931 stainless steel while the fork that plugs in at the front is full carbon with a tapered steerer. Like the vast majority of new disc brake bikes for the road, it’s flat mount standard. Both the frame and fork take 12mm thru axles.
Mat has 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 road.cc 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 pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.