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The Six C Aero is a sound, comfortable road bike from newly formed Bristol brand Sublime Cycles, based around an open mould Toray carbon fibre frame.
Let's deal with the open mouldness briefly to start with and get it out of the way. Rather than being a design owned by a particular brand, an open mould frame is one that anyone can buy and whack their name on. The brand saves money on research and development, filing patents and the like, so open mould frames are generally cheaper for the end consumer – you and me. That's about the top and bottom of it.
Although Sublime say that they'd like to design their own frames and own their own moulds in future, the Six C Aero is essentially a frame that you can buy from a load of other sources. Sublime aren't pretending that they've spent years working on R&D. Google 'FR-315' and you'll find a bunch of very similar looking bikes (although we couldn't vouch for the build quality of any of them).
Sublime import the frames to the UK, paint them in Bristol (you can have any colour your like if this Kermit the Frog green doesn't do it for you), and build them up to any spec you want. You tell them what you'd like, they come back to you with a price, and you go from there. As an indication, our test model came with a Campagnolo Athena Carbon groupset and Sublime's own wheels and was priced at £2,650.
Right, preliminaries out of the way, how does it ride?
The Six C Aero's ride isn't mind blowing but it's good in the vast majority of circumstances.
You couldn't say that this is the stiffest bike in the world. There's a noticeable degree of flex through the centre of the frame when you get out of the saddle and throw the bike around to climb or sprint. Don't get me wrong, it's not a crazy amount of flex – it doesn't flop around like a caught fish – but if you're after an ultra-solid platform from which to launch your best Marcel Kittel moves then maybe you should think twice.
I like a bike that feels as solid as possible when I jack up the watts, and here the bottom bracket just wanders slightly. I'm pretty big by cyclists' standards too, so I probably induce more flex than average. Maybe it's something that'll bother you, maybe it isn't, but I'm much happier with a bike that feels more... locked in.
In terms of steering precision, the Six C Aero is closer to the mark, the tapered head tube (a 1 1/8in bearing at the top, a 1 1/2in bearing at the bottom) and the full-carbon fork proving to be reasonably precise when you sling it hard and fast through the corners. There are certainly more rigid competitors out there, but you wouldn't say that this is an area of weakness.
When seated with your legs spinning – which is the vast majority of the time – frame flex isn't something that you notice at all. In fact, the Six C Aero picks up speed pretty quickly (at 7.67kg/16.87lb it's a reasonable weight rather than ultra-light), and it's a very comfortable ride when you're in the saddle. Sometimes bikes with tubes and seatposts shaped for aerodynamics can feel – let's be frank – painful. Well, not painful exactly, just not very pleasurable. There's not much up-and-down give so you can feel like you're riding a board, road irregularities getting transferred right up through the saddle to your butt, your spine, your teeth. That's not the case here.
The Six C Aero's sloping top tube means that you'll probably have quite a bit of seatpost extending out of the frame and maybe that helps smooth the ride. Road buzz isn't of any real significance here and you'll happily get in the big miles without suffering any unusual aches.
I can't say I got on too well with the Rido R-Lt saddle but it's one of the great truths of cycling that saddles are a personal choice. Stu, for example, loved this model when he reviewed it a couple of years ago.
The Rido is designed specifically to avoid numbness and I didn't get any of that, but I just kept getting sore on rides of over an hour or so (too much information?). I was certainly happier when I swapped it for an old favourite. Horses for courses. And don't forget, Sublime will spec their bikes with whatever you like so you don't have to take any chances here.
The Sublime's ride position is aggressive without being nuts. We had the 56cm model on test with a 56.1cm stack (the vertical distance from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the head tube) and a 39.7cm reach (the horizontal distance between those two points). That gives you a position that's a little more relaxed than that of a Madone in Trek's H1 fit, and a little lower than that of a Cervélo S5 aero road bike.
I was happy with the position once I'd swapped a couple of headset spacers out from below the stem and stuck them on top (I'd cut the steerer down if the bike was my own) although ride position is another of those personal things. As long as you're after a traditional-style road setup (as opposed to one of those new-fangled endurance/sportive jobbies with a short top tube and a long head tube) chances are that you'll be able to work things out reasonably well.
As mentioned up top, Sublime allow you to choose your own components so you're not wedded to any particular build. Our review bike came with a Campagnolo Athena Carbon groupset which performed well throughout testing with faultless shifting across the 11-speed cassette. Whether you like Campag's thumb-shifter on the inside of the lever body is a matter of taste; you're either a Campag kind or a rider or you're not (the same goes for systems from other manufacturers).
The only real weakness from my point of view is the single-pivot rear brake that provides noticeably less power than a dual pivot model. There is a dual-pivot option available in the Athena groupset and I'd undoubtedly opt for that one, especially if you're going for carbon brake tracks (see below). Some people argue that you get better modulation through the single pivot design but... pah! If I'm using the rear brake it usually means that I need to stop in a hurry. It's up to you, of course. The Six C Aero comes with internal cable routing and it's compatible with electronic shifting, so you can spec whatever you like.
The wheels, branded up as Sublime's own, are 50mm-deep carbon clinchers built on Novatec sealed bearing hubs. Like the frame, they're readily available on the internet and, although not ultra-stiff, they don't bend about like reeds in the breeze either.
The rear one went slightly out of true early on but it was nothing that a couple of minutes with a spoke key couldn't sort. The nipples are external so it's a simple job, as long as you have a tool to stop the bladed spoke from twisting as you tighten.
One other small thing: the Lizard Skins DSP bar tape. I'm a fan. It's tacky (as in 'slightly sticky', not 'gaudy') and provides effective cushioning. If you've not tried it before, give it a go.
Judging by people's reactions when out riding, the bright green paintjob is a love it or hate it thing. Actually, that's not true – I'm fairly indifferent – but if people comment, they'll tell you that they love it or hate it. If it's not for you, you're in luck; you can go for a different colour of your choice. Sublime paint their frames to order in Bristol so the turnaround is quick (they reckon on three to six weeks from order to the delivery of your built-up bike). If you want a custom design, that's possible too, the cost varying according to complexity. The quality of the painting is certainly very good.
Short of getting out the paint stripper, we couldn't tell you a great deal about the finish quality of the frame itself although, for what it's worth, everything looks tidy. The entry/exit ports for the internally routed cables are neat enough, for example, and there are no nasty imperfections to be seen inside the tubes. That doesn't mean a lot, of course, but you don't get the impression that corners have been cut here.
As we've mentioned, the Six C Aero is an open mould design and you could source it yourself from other outlets, have it painted and then build it up yourself, or get a local bike shop to do the building for you.
We reckon that you could do all that for about £1,900 (paying someone to build it up for you). That's a very rough figure. It depends how much you pay for the components by shopping around online, how much the paint job costs you, whether you need to pay for transport to and from the paint shop... and so on.
If you want to work out your own figure, don't forget that you need to take international shipping into account along with duty/VAT on imports (use something like www.dutycalculator.com).
Also bear in mind that some of the ebay sellers say you get warranty for 180 days, some don't. How successful you'd be if you had an issue within this time period, we couldn't tell you. Buy from Sublime Cycles and the frameset (£850 if bought unbuilt) is guaranteed for two years.
It's only fair to point out, though, that in many, many cases, buying a frameset and building up the bike yourself is cheaper than the cost of a complete bike thanks to the ability to shop around and buy discounted components on the internet. This is something that is by no means unique to this bike or to open-mould frames in general.
Not the stiffest, but a sound, comfortable road bike built around an open mould Toray carbon-fibre frame
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Make and model: Sublime Cycles Six C Aero
Size tested: 56cm
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Toray carbon fibre frame and fork
Wheels: Sublime 50mm carbon clincher rims on Novatech F271SB/R372SB sealed bearing hubs
Groupset: Campagnolo Athena
Handlebar: Deda RHM01
Stem: Deda Zero 1
Tyres: Continental Grand Prix GT
Saddle: Rido RLT
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 carbon-fibre road bike built for racing, training, sportives. There are no eyelets for mudguards or racks – it's a performance-driven design.
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The paint finish is very good and you can choose whatever colour you like (or colours, if you pay more).
It's pretty much impossible to tell what the finish of the carbon-fibre itself is like because of the paint work although there are no obvious flaws.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
It's a traditional-style road race geometry – not as aggressive as some, not as relaxed as others.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
Just a tiny amount. Not an issue.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I didn't get on with the Rido saddle for longer rides - but you can spec whatever you like.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, it was interesting
Would you consider buying the bike? Not for me, because I prefer a stiffer frameset
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Maybe.
Anything further to say about the bike in conclusion?
This is a hard bike to mark. It's not outstanding but it's good, and that makes it a 7 according to our rating system.
Although sound, this isn't a bike that particularly excited me, to be honest. I think that if I was spending £2,650 I'd want something that performed remarkably well in one department or another and made me gagging to go out on my next ride. It's good but two-and-a-half grand good? Probably not for me.
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 over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.