There are a number of good reasons why you might want a strong, dependable alloy frame to thrash around on. You might be on the heavy side, and looking for something that you can depend on: you don’t want to be troubling the weight limit of a superlight bike. Or you might be doing the kind of riding where you could reasonably expect to end up on the deck at some point, such as crit racing. If you’re paying for your own bike, you’ll not want to be forking out for a new one if you do go over.
Enter Obsydian. They’re a new bike brand and their first frame is the Invictus, which is designed for just the above. It’s a race-oriented 7005-T6 alloy frame and full carbon fork, and the emphasis is on stiffness and coping with the stresses of a larger rider. It’s unusual for me, at 102kg, to be on the light side of the target demographic for a bike. But Obsydian have designed the Invictus to be good for riders of 110kg and above. There’s no upper weight limit.
You might expect, the Invictus, then, to be a bit heavy for racing: it’s not. The frame weight is less than 1,500g according to Obsydian; that’s clearly a lot more than some superlight platforms but it’s only a couple of hundred grams more than WorldTour-proven frames such as the Ridley Fenix, and less than the Reynolds 953 Volare frames that Madison-Genesis ride. The key to designing for greater stresses is making sure that you put the extra material in the right places, and Obsydian have been working with their framebuilder in Taiwan to do exactly that.
Even in the XL size that we have it’s a fairly beefy looking bit of kit. The downtube is drawn almost to a point at the head tube to maximise the vertical weld area, and at the bottom bracket it’s squashed a long way across the PressFit bottom bracket shell. The chainstays are also pretty meaty; the straight, round seatstays also say stiffness rather than comfort. The frame is double-pass welded for extra strength, and after welding it’s shot-peened to relieve stresses and improve the fatigue resistance of the alloy. Up front the 360g monocoque fork is tapered, using a 1.5” bottom race, for extra stiffness there.
Obsydian are confident that their frames will take some punishment, and they offer a lifetime warranty on the Invictus. That warranty is void if you do manage to stack it when you’re racing, but if that happens and you do bend your bike, Obsydian offer a crash replacement policy (valid for five years) which allows you to get a replacement frame at 40% off the retail price.
The frame and fork will cost you £700. We’ve received ours built up by Obsydian, a service that they will be offering if you don’t fancy doing the job yourself. Ours is based around a full SRAM Force22 groupset, with a standard 53/39 chainset (for those nice high racing gears) coupled with a WiFLi 11-32 cassette (for the punishing hills round here). In terms of range you get the same bottom gear as a compact 50/34 with an 11-28 cassette, but a few more high gears to play with. The payback is slightly large jumps in the big gears.
The wheels are handbuilt units from August Wheelworks with H PLUS SON rims and Bitex hubs, 24 Sapim Race spokes at the front and 28 at the rear. They’re designed to be stiff and strong without adding too much weight; at around 1,600g they’re a similar weight to plenty of off-the-shelf wheels that get raced on.
Finishing kit is mainly 3T, and mainly alloy, with a Fizik Aliante saddle. It’s all solid kit and if you wanted to go lighter than the 8kg the bike wighs in this build then there are plenty of fairly easy savings to be made. A sub-7.5kg build would be pretty straightforward. Obsydian priced this build up at around the £2,000 mark. As it’s a custom service you can spec pretty much what you want, although obviously they don’t have the economies of scale that other, larger, manufacturers enjoy.
What will I be doing with the Invictus? Well, I’ll be crit racing my heavy arse on it, trying to cover all use cases in one perfect storm. I’ll also be heading out on some chaingangs and doing more general riding. Once I know how it performs, so will you.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.