As you'd expect at an event dedicated to showing off the latest in high end cycling stuff the Core Show featured a lot of verrrry lovely high end road bikes to look at. So here's our pick of the bunch including a stainless steel beaut from Cinelli, an all new De Rosa Idol, the new carbon Litespeed and assorted loveliness from Argon 18 (including the TT bike with the UCI compliant sticker), and Time.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: Cinelli make good looking bikes right at the moment. You can talk all you like about the vertical compliance and lateral stiffness, but we've talked to plenty of bike brands who've had a shocking year just because they picked the wrong colour.
That's not to say there isn't good technology on show too, though. Cinelli are also famous for some esoteric work on the translation front (see the fixed bikes feature for more on that) so it's not a surprise to learn that the beautiful XCR frameset is made from 'bi-phaisic seamless stainless steel tubing, so close to perfection'. We're not scientists, so we googled 'bi-phaisic' and it seems to mean two things that don't mix, like oil and water. or Cinelli product descriptions and sense.
Anyway the XCR is an achingly beautiful frameset with an eye-popping £3,000 price tag. You can have it built up with Super Record for twice that, though we'd swap out the Bora Ultra wheels for something with a bit more of a classic look. As it's stainless steel the finish is the bare metal, with the decals seemingly sandblasted on.
Not massively cheaper is the Strata (main pic) at £2,600 for the frame and fork. Bristling with the new technologies – BB30 bottom bracket, asymetric head tube – that most top-end bikes are adopting these days, it's very much aimed at the pro racer: 'the ultimate Olympics bike', read the label. In terms of frame design the Columbus High Modulus monocoque had a few interesting touches. The down tube is almost hexagonal in profile, giving a flat top section to fit your bottle cage to without disrupting the airflow too much. Cables are mostly internal, with Cinelli opting to go traditional on the tricky chainstay bit, a wise choice in our opinion.
Time were showing off the RXR Ulteam which is the latest semi-aero incarnation of their top-dollar technology. If you ever feel like you're not getting enough acronyms and icons with your frame, you could do worse than head over to the Time website and check out the acres of terminology under this beast. How much difference 'Liquid crystal polyamide fibers incorporated longitudinally for a smoother ride' make is anyone's guess. It's got Nanostrength, a Vibraser, Stiff+ (missus), a Quickset, a Translink and CMT too. And RTM. beat that.
All those technologies rack up the cost to a stratospheric £3,300 for the frame and fork. Time do throw in a bottle cage though, so it's not all bad news. Or you can have it built up with Super Record for £6,300. It's certainly a purposeful-looking frame, a bit heavier and slightly softer than its predecessor but Time's boffins have presumably calculated that the dual benefits of extra comfort and aero-ness more than make up for a little bit more material in the frame.
Probably of more interest to everyone except sponsored roadies is the NXR Instinct, which is Time's top end sportive frame. It's borrowing plenty of the clever stuff from the top bike, including asymetric chainstays – in fact the whole of the back end seems to be lifted from the RXR. Up front however that's plugged into a new monocoque design that's a touch more upright (just a touch, this is a French bike after all) and designed to be forgiving over long distances. If you want one then be prepared to wave goodbye to £2,600 of your hard-earned.
When we were at Eurobike we arrived at the Argon 18 stand just as the UCI quantity surveyors were leaving, having deemed the E-114 illegal under the current guidelines. The problem was the junction of the seat tube and the seatstays, the shape of which constituted a fairing in the gimlet eye of the technical folk from the governing body. This would seem to be a rather big problem, but fortunately there's a very cheap and simple solution: "we just put a sticker over it for those races", the Argon 18 chaps told us, which speaks volumes for both the ingenuity of the Canadian manufacturer and the cockeyed nature of the current regulations.
Anyway, we never tire of looking at the E-114, it's got just the right mix of the angular and the curved and that fork setup is functional and clever. Given that the frameset includes the fork, brakes, seatpost and 'bars it isn't that expensive – in terms of the competition, anyway – at £2,499. You just need to chuck some wheels and half a groupset at it, and it's ready to go.
Argon 18 also had their E-80 at the show, which is a triple butted Aluminium frameset mated with a Carbon fork and seatpost. Brakes are included too for a very reasonable £800. There's been a lot of work put into the frame, smoothing the welds to give an appearance – and, more importantly, an airflow – resembling a Carbon bike. There's a reversible seatpost to give you a choice of two seat angles and internal cables will shave half a second off your ten. For more info on bikes and pricing check out the Argon 18 section at www.i-ride.co.uk.
Litespeed were showing off their Archon Composite range, which features one frame - the C1 - and two full bikes, the C2 and the C3. All three share the same basic design but the C1 is built from higher grade Carbon and also features internal cable routing.
Bike headtubes seem to be getting bigger and bigger but even though the C1 features a 1.5" crown race – almost the standard now at the high end – the profile of the front is very sculpted, with scooped sides that Litespeed claim make a big difference to the aerodynamics.
The down tube is flared around the bottle bosses which is designed to improve airflow if you fit a water bottle, and Litespeed have been doing a lot of work on the Carbon layup around the seat tube junction to ensure the bike is comfortable as well as stiff.
The Archon Composite bikes feature integrated seatposts and you get a cutting guide for those scary minutes with the hacksaw. You can fit up to 30mm of spacers to tweak the fit if you don't get it exactly right, and there's going to be a retrofittable seatpost available if you really screw it up.
The C2 and C3 bikes use a lower grade of Carbon and as a result the frame is about 60g heavier. For the Ultegra-equipped C3 you'll need £2,700 and it's another grand on top for the Dura-Ace-bedecked C2. The C1 frame is £2,200, which doesn't sound too salty when you consider it's made from the same grade of Carbon as bikes like the Cervelo S3 and the Pinarello Prince.
Ibis are probably best known for their handbuilt high end mountain bikes, but they've never limited themselves to one type of bike and they were showing off the second generation of their Silk road bike frame at Core as well as the Hakkalügi 'cross bike… we'll come back to that name later.
Although it's got a decidedly racey weight, 950g for the 58 cm and a very raceable Easton EC90 fork, the Silk is designed as an all rounder, yep the geometry backs up the weight and is aggressive enough for racing, but it also has a longer head tube for all day riding (so sportives then). Q factor* fans take note this one has a narrower Q factor - so your feet are closer together when pedalling as they would be if you were walking or running. That is actually a pleasing by-producut of Ibis wanting to make sure the Silk has a compliant ride - their angle, as explained to us by Tom Morgan one of the men behind Ibis, is that a lot of manufacturers have stiffened up their carbon designs by over building the bottom bracket area and consequently requiring much wider tube profiles at the bottom bracket junction the consequence being that carbon's natural compliance being sacrificed. Ibis though wanted to build a bike with a comfy ride.
Seat stays and chainstays are much more "reasonable in size" Ibis instead stiffen things up using a slightly bigger top tube diameter. As you'd expect on a top end bike all the tube sizes and profiles are size specific – so which of the size sizes from 47 through to 61 has the smallest diameter top tube? Ha, it's the 53 because in the two smaller sizes (47 and 50) the top tube diameter goes up because to stiffen the proportionately smaller headtube.
You can have an Ibis Silk as a frameset for £1549.99 or with a choice of either Shimano Ultegra or Dura Ace build kits at £3149.99 or £4549.99 respectively, and it's available in a choice of three colours (British Racing Green, Sangria Red, or Clear Carbon) and six sizes from 47 through to 61cm.
The Silk is planted enough that the guys from Ibis found that it will even handle a bit of off road - that led in turn to the Hakkalügi, 'cross bike. Ibis have mated a Silk front triangle with a new longer rear end and added a bit of carbon where it might be needed to toughen things up - the end result was a nice handling cross bike which was well received on its debut last year.
Don Mira 4xUS cyclo cross champ and 1987 MTB world champ tested the prototype and liked it so much he came out of retirement and raced to second at the US Cyclo cross Masters.
Not just a pure race bike, the Hakkalügi is designed to be a fire road blaster too for a big day out in the Californian hills - we can see that working in the UK too though – there are plenty of fire roads on Forestry Commission land all over this country, and Ibis reckon it would be a great bike to tackle something like the Three Peaks.
The Hakkalügi is available as a complete bike with a choice of Shimano Ultegra or SRAM Force build kits for £2999.99 or as a frameset for £1549.99
47 50, 53, 55, 58- 61
It's a one colour option: Phlegmish yellow, with the same choice of sizes as the Silk 47cm, 50cm, 53cm, 55cm, 58cm 61cm.
To find out more about Ibis visit their website www.ibiscycles.com.
Hmm… how many shows have we been to in the last few months featuring a De Rosa stand? Lots, is the answer, but finally at CORE we noticed that they've launched a new version of their big seller, the Idol - better late than never.
So what's different? Well, it's s completely new frame, the previous model was a thing of curves and beauty, very much what Italian road bikes have been about in the last few years. The new Idol is a much more purposeful looking beast, straight is the new curved… at De Rosa at least. One thing that is retained is the integrated seat post. A straight top tube makes it easier to integrate cables, from the look of it this is a bike that is about stiffness and fast power transfer to the back wheel. It is a very fine looking piece of kit too the top tube's flattened top and straight bladed fork reminded me of the new Felt, the De Rosa's top tube is wider at the head tube and more tapered at the seat tube junction, plus the cable entry points are different too.
It's not like anything else at the back though, that's what De Rosa reckon, because they've come up with a novel way of joining the seat stays to the seat tube, they attach via a crescent moon section in to the integrated seat tube, not only does this look elegant, De Rosa reckon it increases the "reactivity" of the whole frame for greater rider comfort.
A burly looking bottom bracket area, with a larger section downtube an asymmetric head tube and some sculpted looking deep section chainstays should give a stiff pedalling platform and if you want to make it stiffer still, the bottom bracket shell comes with an adapter so you can fit a BB30 bottom bracket.
It's a looker, though personally the grey version we saw doesn't do it full justice.
The new Idol can be yours as a complete bike with Campag's Athena 11 speed groupset and Fulcrum Racing 3 wheels for £4199. For more information check out www.i-ride.co.uk. or you can have it as a frameset for £2299.
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.