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Discs are a common sense option on a bike like Sabbath's September, an audax machine that's just at home on the commute, sportive or light touring. So fitting discs is what the bike-building Macc lads have done.
The September is a smart looking bit of kit with plenty of presence. Whether that's from the anodised red Hope hubs or the black Shimano 105 groupset I'm not sure but it looks more aggressive than the caliper version.
There are three builds pencilled in for release with the top £2799 option being very similar to what we've got here: 105, Hy/Rd brakes but with a Kinesis DC37 fork instead of the Whisky Parts Co version on ours. You'll also get mudguards chucked in. The test bike weighs in at 20.5lb (9.34kg) for a size 55.
The other two builds will use TRP Spyre brakes instead of the Hy/Rd's and Mavic Open Sport/Shimano XT wheels with a Tiagra option (£2299) or Shimano 105 (£2499).
The 3Al/2.5V titanium frame has been beefed up a little over the caliper braked version we tested last year to withstand the added stresses from the discs under heavy braking. At the back end the rear dropouts have been thickened and offer more of an overlap with the chainstay for strength.
The chainstay length has also increased from 425mm to 430mm to allow bigger tyres alongside mudguards. The September will now take 35mm tyres with guards and without guards you can stick a decent set of cyclo-cross tyres on there.
You also get a replaceable gear hanger to which is always a good idea on a frame that is likely to get dropped on icy or wet roads. The build quality is top notch with neat, small welds and all the mounts (guard, rack, bottle bosses, cable guides) are welded rather than riveted on.
The top tube has increased in diameter by near as damn it 3mm to 34.9mm which isn't far off the 40mm diameter of the downtube. Both have been ovalised at their ends to increase lateral stiffness.
Can you feel any difference from these tweaks? Oh yes. The September has become tighter, more responsive and greater fun to ride while still managing to keep its stable and secure handling thanks to that long wheelbase and semi relaxed geometry.
Titanium frames always have this underlying smoothness to them and although the September Disc is stiff it retains that. It certainly doesn't feel like a 20lb bike once you're rolling either, maintaining speed is easy and the Sabbath is happy to attack the hills and sprint from roundabouts or lights.
Like all disc equipped road bikes at the moment the wheels are heavier as they need to be more robust and that's exactly the same here. Acceleration is blunted, especially from a standing start and you notice it most if you're riding in company.
Descending is tight and the Sabbath feels absolutely planted as you pick up speed and start to bank it over through the corners. It's not as sharp as full race bike but then it's not expected to be; what it is, is one of the best handling audax frames out there.
Don't think the September Disc is all about speed, though. If you just kick back a bit it's a well-mannered cruiser. Even with the stiff Pro alloy components the smooth ride from the frame means you can ride for hours in comfort as it filters the majority of the road buzz out before it gets to your fingers.
The rest of the chosen components suit the feel of the Sabbath especially the Stan's NoTubes wheels as the 32-spoke three-cross laced set up offers the same feeling of stiffness with a little bit of give. The Alpha 400 rims are, as you can probably guess from the name, tubeless although ours were running with tubes and non-folding beaded Conti Gatorskins. The wheels performed well taking plenty of abuse both from the surface and the weather. The Hope Pro2 Evo hubs were buttery smooth and you never tire of the clicking freehub as you freewheel.
Shimano 105 is a good workmanlike groupset with a solid gear change and predictable manners matching the September's no-nonsense approach to weather and terrain. Every shift across the cassette and compact chainset was precise. The wear rate of 105 is perfectly acceptable should you use the Sabbath for year round commuting and fact that you can pick up an entire groupset for three hundred quid online means its not expensive to replace either.
Leaving the best to last though and the thing that makes this bike what it is, those brakes. Hydraulic braking is a revelation on a bike like the September and makes a great bike even better. Admittedly the TRP Hy/Rd calipers aren't fully hydraulic, being cable operated at the lever which actuates a fluid reservoir at the point of bite.
The 160mm rotors certainly seem man enough for whatever you chuck at them and Sabbath have run the cable along the bottom of the downtube and along to meet the chainstay mounted caliper. This keeps a nice smooth run keeping braking power consistent thanks to a lack of any sharp bends.
In the wet discs will always outperform rim brakes, it's a fact, but in the dry it comes down to modulation and a hydraulic system is always going to perform better than a cable one. The Hy/Rd's allow you to brake later and harder, without the risk of locking up regardless of the weather or road conditions.
Overall the September Disc takes all the things that are great with the caliper version and makes them just a little bit better. The by-product of increasing the tube diameters to cope with the brakes has also improved the performance when you increase the speed rather than scrub it off. That makes the September Disc even more of an all-rounder as you could knock out some seriously quick sportive times on it.
Impressively comfortable and quick mile muncher that benefits from maximum braking power
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Make and model: Sabbath September Disc
Size tested: 55, Silver
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
3Al/2.5V titanium frame
Whisky Parts Co. carbon fork
Shimano 105 groupset
Stan's NoTubes Alpha 400 rims with Hope Pro2 Evo hubs
Pro alloy handlebars, stem & seatpost
TRP Hy/Rd disc brakes 160mm rotors
Continental Gatorskin tyres
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?
The September is designed as an audax, light touring, commuter kind of do it all bike and the disc version has been created to offer more year round versatility by allowing consistent braking in all weathers.
I'd agree with what Sabbath has set out to create and it is one of the top options on the market.
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Nicely put together with all mounts and accesories welded in place rather than riveted. With an unpainted frame there is no way to hide any mistakes.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The titanium grade is 3Al/2.5V (3% Aluminium, 2.5% Vanadium)
Fork is full carbon fibre
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Stack and reach are pretty much spot on for a 55cm top tubed frame.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, stiffness yet that lovely titanium feel to it where it just cancels out road buzz.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes, plenty of stiffness around the BB and head area.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very well indeed for a non racer.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? neutral regardless of speed thanks to that long wheelbase
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The September offers near race bike handling just being slightly more relaxed and slower thanks to a slacker head and that longer wheelbase.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The Selle Italia saddle was comfy though the frame provides the majority of the comfort.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The finishing kit and wheels were stiff which helped with power transfer.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels took a bit of getting up to speed due to the weight.
Surprising for an audax bike.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Shimano 105 is a solid performer without being exciting and cracking value for money vs performance.
Tell us some more about the wheels and tyres.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels or tyres? If so, what for?
The wheels are good performance built up with top class hubs and decent rims. They stayed true throughout the test period.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The Pro stuff is solid stuff and ideal for getting the miles in. The bars have a compact drop so accessible for most riders.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.
Age: 35 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Whatever needs testing or Genesis Flyer, fixed of course! My best bike is: Kinesis T2 with full Centaur Red
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!