The Storck Aernario Platinum is one special bike that offers an incredibly high level of performance. On the flip side, you're looking at a price of nearly 10 grand, but if only the best will do, this could be the bike for you.
It's hard to know where to start when describing the Storck Aernario Platinum's ride: it's dazzling. We get to review some amazing bikes here on road.cc and this is right up there among the very best we've ever had in. In fact, it makes a strong case to be an all-time number one.
What's so good about it? Well, the biggest characteristic here that you really can't fail to notice is the frame stiffness. There's a lot said about frame stiffness these days with just about every brand claiming that their frames are mega-stiff when many are just... normal, but Storck have got this aspect of the design fully sorted.
The bottom bracket simply doesn't budge sideways, even when you put the bike into an unsuitably large gear, get out of the saddle and jump on the pedals with your sinews popping. Throw down your best moves when you're sprinting for signs and the frame just doesn't care. It raises an eyebrow but isn't really that impressed, to be honest. You'd have to be some sort of sasquatch to provoke any noticeable flex when you're piling on the power.
The front end is equally solid. The head tube is tapered but it's not as massively oversized as you'll find on many performance focussed bikes these days, housing a 1 1/8in headset bearing at the top and a 1 1/4in bearing at the bottom. The fork that plugs in there is Storck's own Stiletto 280, made for them by THM and weighing just 280g (the clue's in the name). But despite that relative lack of material, there's virtually zero flex and the handling is super-sharp. This is a bike that you can chuck into corners as fast and as leant-over as you like, and you come out the other side smiling. Think it and you're there.
We didn't strip the bike down to confirm it, but Storck claim a sub-800g frame weight, which is exceptionally light. Our complete bike (size 57cm) with a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset and Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLE wheels, weighed in at 6.8kg (15lb) without pedals. Yes, you could get a complete bike at this weight for a lot less money, but that's not really the point. A good road bike is about much, much more than just the figure on the scales.
As it is, the Aernario Platinum accelerates beautifully. Kicking the pedals around faster to get onto someone's wheel feels easy, and climbing is a whole lot of fun, especially when you stand up on the pedals and that frame stiffness I harped on about really comes into play. It sparkles on the climbs, flattering your abilities with a wind-behind-you feel.
Straddling performance and comfort comes the ride position. Storck go for a stretched and low frame setup – it's very race-driven. As I said, we had the 57cm model in for review and that comes with a 520mm seat tube, a lengthy 576mm effective top tube, and a pretty short 162mm head tube. If you work in stack and reach – and it makes things much easier if you do – those figures are 574mm and 406mm respectively. The frame angles are a touch steeper than usual, both 73.5° on this size.
I didn't have a problem with this aggressive geometry. I actually shifted one of the headset spacers from below the stem to up above it after these pictures were taken, moving the front end down a touch. Obviously, though, a ride position comes down to the individual, so check Storck's geometry charts before you go putting down 10 grand on a bike that's a little too extreme for you to ride comfortably. It's horses for courses – just make sure this is the right horse for you.
People often associate frame stiffness with a harsh ride but that really isn't the case here. No, you don't get a pillow-soft ride but the Aernario Platinum is certainly comfortable.
Like a lot of brands, Storck have made the seatstays skinny and flattened them out. Whether or not this does actually add to the frame's vibration damping or whether it's a bit of visual marketing and Storck have fooled me, I couldn't tell you with 100% certainty. It doesn't really matter what's at the root of it, the fact that the back end smooths over the lumps and bumps and stays in contact with the road rather than jumping about over rough surfaces is what counts.
The Storck Monolink MLP 150 seatpost helps with comfort too. It's made to the brand's own design with a Selle Italia fixing, and Storck say it's more comfortable than their outgoing comfort seatpost with additional vibration damping. I've not tried the comfort seatpost before so I couldn't tell you how they compare, but this one certainly dulls road buzz and flexes to take the sting out of bigger hits.
The Aernario Platinum is a unidirectional carbon-fibre monocoque, carbon right down to the dropouts. Not surprisingly, it's the same shape as Storck's existing Aernario G1 – it comes out of the same mould – but Storck say that they've managed to improve it by using a higher quality carbon fibre made to Markus Storck's specific formula and layup with an additional process to remove excess resin and thereby reduce the weight. Essentially, Storck claim, they've taken a great frame and fine-tuned it to make it better.
Well, naturally they say that. They would, wouldn't they? They say that they've both lightened and stiffened the frame by putting the carbon fibre exactly where it is needed for strength and rigidity and removing material from any areas where it's not adding to the performance. That's the story. And in doing this, Storck have managed to drop about 100g from the frame and about 20g from the fork. There's no two ways about it, 120g isn't a lot when you consider the total weight of the bike and rider, or even just the bike weight, but it's about 10% of the frameset weight. Whether you think it's worth paying the premium for that, well, that's something you have to decide for yourself.
Storck boast that they make the Aernario Platinum, like all their other carbon frames, with proportional tubing. That means that the tubes used for the 47cm model are different from the tubes used for the 57cm model and all the other sizes too, not just in length but in wall thickness, diameter and butting because the frame will be stressed very differently. The idea is that no matter the frame size, every rider will get the same stiffness-to-weight ratio and the same level of comfort. So whether you're tall or short, your bike will perform in exactly the same way.
The other key feature of the tubes is that they have been designed with what Storck call 'sectional aerodynamic shaping'. Storck say that the down tube was designed using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) 'to create perfect airflow'. Okay, but lots of brands say exactly that. The bike might well have been designed with aerodynamics in mind, at least to a degree, but I really couldn't tell you how it stacks up on that score compared to any other aero road bike out there. It's just not possible without access to a wind tunnel, a whole bunch of rivals and a lot of time. I can't even report any claims from Storck because they don't make any, so I'm going to have to leave you hanging on that one. Sorry, but guessing ain't my thing.
The frame certainly looks very neat and tidy thanks to internal cable routing and a concealed seatpost clamp. It's a wedge system with the Allen bolt hidden away on the underside of the junction between the top tube and the seat tube. Yes, it's a little more awkward to tighten than a standard external clamp, and it's pretty much impossible with a three-way Allen key, but it does look cool.
The only frame detail that I don't really like is that if you have an electronic groupset, the redundant entry ports for mechanical cables are just covered with tape. Don't get me wrong, it's tape that has been nicely shaped and it's probably less disruptive to airflow than anything more substantial, but it's still tape.
That aside, I reckon it's a fabulous looking bike and most other people seem to agree. I'm basing that judgement on science. I stopped for a coffee outside a café on one ride and so many people asked my about the Aernario Platinum that in the end I went and hid it around the back. Wearing me out, it was. So, like I say, science.
The Aernario Platinum is available in eight different builds. These start with a Shimano Ultegra-based build at £6,199 and go right up to a Campagnolo Super Record EPS model at £9,999. All the build kit options and component details are on Storck's website.
It's also available as a frameset (including the fork) for £4,799.
Our test bike came in a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 build with Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLE wheels. We've covered Di2 in a lot of detail before so check out our review for all our thoughts on that.
The battery here is hidden away inside the seatpost, and you can recharge it via the junction box underneath the stem.
The Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLE wheels come with 52mm-deep rims and their best feature, in my opinion, is the Exalith 2 aluminium brake track that offers exceptional stopping, especially in wet conditions. Granted, the file-like surface munches through brake pads like nobody's business, but you can't argue with the quality of the braking.
The only components we've not yet mentioned are Storck's own RBC220 carbon handlebar with an ergonomic hand hold on the drop, and the alloy ST115 stem that, well, it does what a stem is supposed to do, really, holding that bar firmly in place.
The Storck Aernario Platinum is an astonishingly good bike. Of course, if you're paying this kind of money you've every right to expect it to be, but even in the realm of superbikes this is something special. It really is hard to pinpoint any negatives (aside from the price tag). Sadly, I don't have 10 grand to spend on a bike, but if I did, this would be on my shortlist: possibly a shortlist of one!
Light, stiff, comfortable - it's all of them. If only the best will do, this could be the bike for you.
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Make and model: Stork Aernario Platinum
Size tested: 57, Black
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame: Unidirectional carbon fibre
Fork: Storck Stiletto 280
Rear Derailleur: Dura Ace Di2
Front Derailleur: Dura Ace Di2
Shift Levers: Dura Ace Di2
Brakes: Dura Ace
Chainset: Dura Ace 53/39T, 172,5mm
Chain: Dura Ace 11-speed
Cassette: Dura Ace 11-speed 11-25
Stem: Storck Alloy ST115
Handlebar: Storck Carbon RBC220
Seatpost: Storck Monolink MLP 150
Saddle: Selle Italia Monolink SLS
Wheels: Mavic Cosmic Carbon SLE
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 a high-performance road bike.
Storck says, "Germany's 'Tour' Magazine is widely regarded as one of the leading Test Publication of everything bicycle related. In the 20 year history of the magazine they summed up the Aernario Platinum: 'The balanced properties of the Storck and its combination of excellent comfort, superb road-holding and good handling are not approached by the other racing machines. The best frame of all time according to Tour standard' (Tour Magazine, Feb 2013)."
Storck also says, "Taking the Aernario G1 and making further improvements was always going to be a challenge to Markus Storck. To then improve it to an extent that it beat the 2012 'Best Bike in the World' title which Storck already owned (Fascenario 0.6) was the goal. Using the highest modular Carbon Fibres and the most advanced resins with meticulous lay-up techniques, the Platinum Edition provides razor Sharp handling, ground parallel aero dynamics, stiffness and vibration dampening with a frame weight of just 790 grams. Officially: 'The Best Bike in the World 2013'"
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
It's surprisingly comfortable. Not pillow-soft, but certainly a decent level of comfort for a bike of this kind.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes, it's super-stiff. That's certainly this bike's strongest suit.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Cornering is a joy.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Definitely.
Would you consider buying the bike? If I had the cash!
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Undoubtedly.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
The performance is amazing – right up there among the very best, if not the best. Value is trickier to gauge. You're paying a lot more than for a Aernario G1, but if you really want the best, maybe it's a price you're willing to pay.
Age: 43 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
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 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.