At £10,949, the Storck Aerfast Platinum would be a massive outlay, but boy, oh boy would you get one hell of a return on your investment. It's a sub-6.5kg race weapon, with aerodynamics that work in the real world, and it offers comfort levels to challenge most endurance bikes.
Taking plenty of things it's learnt from its astonishingly good Aernario, Storck has pushed the design even further down the aerodynamics route, and what it has created in the Aerfast is a bike that's not only unbelievably fast, but light and stiff too.
If you're in the market for an aero bike, speed is going to be topping your list of priorities, and it's where the Aerfast truly excels. Below about 23mph the Storck feels like any other bike to ride, any other superlight bike that is, but all the same it feels like it requires some effort; you've got to work at it.
Get above that speed, though, and the aerodynamics really come into play. It feels like a permanent tailwind is nudging you along, a friendly hand on your back as you watch the numbers climb on the Garmin – with no more effort required than there was 5mph ago. It's a wonderful feeling, and one you never tire of.
The long and low stance of the Aerfast allows you to mimic the aero intentions of the frame to really exploit every last bit of speed. Even on the hoods, with wrists resting on the bar, you can get low with a flat back and cruise along 3-4mph faster than you can on a standard road bike on the flat. I've ridden time trial bikes that don't offer this level of wind-cheating.
The only downside to all this 'aeroness' is that the Aerfast really doesn't like turbulent air. If you're drafting a lorry, for instance, and you drop back into the dirty air as it swirls around the Storck gets buffeted around something terrible. Strong crosswinds can also make it a little twitchy.
The real beauty, though, is how long you can keep this speed up for. The Aerfast is so comfortable, with the rear end taking the sting out to the point where you find yourself checking back to see if you've got a slow puncture.
My first ride on the Aerfast was 101 miles on a mix of lanes and fast A roads with about 1800m of climbing thrown in – similar to plenty of sportive routes. I'd finished the loop and was nearing the front door at mile 89 realising I was feeling a damn sight fresher than I've ever felt at that distance before. So I decided to carry on and chuck in another couple of mini laps to get past the century. I ached, don't get me wrong, but after nearly six hours in the saddle I felt as if I'd only done half of that.
Post-ride coffee in hand, watching the Storck drip muddy rainwater all over the kitchen floor, it's hard to believe a bike design appearing to be so specific to a single task is actually a real all-rounder. A stonkingly fast multi-tasker.
The Storck is a very easy bike to ride. At speed it feels planted and easy to control just by shifting your bodyweight, making it an absolute joy to ride through technical bends. And it feels so smooth as you change direction too; the point in the middle of a chicane when you flick the Aerfast from one lean angle to the opposite is so effortless, and you can do it at such a high speed, that it gives you goose bumps when you nail it time and time again.
The Schwalbe One tyres are awesome, and really give you the confidence to lean the bike over – to the point where you're thinking you're probably going to need to drop a knee down to stay upright.
High-speed descending is an absolute blast. The steering is highly responsive – a touch twitchy at lower speeds but here, hurtling downhill, it's bang on. As you take to the drops and lower your shoulders the front end feels beautifully weighted; the slightest input from you and the Aerfast responds instantly. The model-specific Aerfast fork certainly doesn't let you down on the stiffness front, even when you're really hauling hard on the front brake between bends. The overall speed achievable is unbelievable too – I was hitting an extra few mph on most of my local descents.
Weighing a little less than the UCI limit obviously means the Storck is no slouch on the hills, but that's bolstered by the stiffness from the bottom half of the frame. The bottom bracket junction is huge, as are the down tube and chainstays, so you can really stamp on the pedals.
Saying that, the Aerfast doesn't quite feel as tight at the rear end as other Storcks I've ridden, though it's still bloody stiff, and it makes it more user-friendly on UK roads.
Frame & fork
Storck has tackled the aerodynamics by working in a parallel plane from the ground, taking into account where the tubes are actually situated in real world terms rather than just making the individual tube aerodynamic. This is why some of the tubes don't necessarily look as faired as you might expect. If you were to take a cross-sectional view, though, things would become much more evident.
For instance, the down tube tapers in both ends as it leaves the head tube and bottom bracket, to reduce surface area to the wind and lessen drag. It also takes into account the way the air is leaving the front wheel. It's what Storck calls 'Sectional Aerodynamic Shaping', developed through 3D CAD modelling and fluid dynamic computer development. A cost effective way of designing something slippery yet stiff.
Up front the steering is kept tight thanks to a tapered head tube, 1 1/8in at the top and 1 1/4in diameter at the bottom. It's something you really notice under heavy braking and hard cornering. To reduce weight the headset cups are carbon fibre – no alloy inserts here.
The bottom bracket uses a press-fit bearing system with an 86.5mm shell width for extra stiffness rather than a more traditional 68mm. This means the chainstays can be wider (apart and in themselves) and the bottom of the seat tube is wider too, bringing with it even more stiffness. Unfortunately the Aerfast is plagued with the same affliction of many bikes with this setup, creaking after a few wet rides.
Storck has chosen to position a direct-mount rear brake under the chainstays for aerodynamic purposes (as shown a few pics above), which means it's been able to remove the brake bridge from the seatstays. This has not only brought some much needed comfort but also, because of the horizontal rear dropouts, means you can adjust the position of the wheel for tyre clearance at the seat tube. Ours was running 25mm tyres but you can go a bit bigger.
As I've mentioned, the fork is model-specific. Also called the Aerfast, it's designed to fill the gap under the down tube exactly when the front wheel is straight, with a little faired nub. The carbon steerer is tapered, too, to match the head tube.
Making something aero tends to use more material, which adds weight; take that material away and you lose stiffness, so you've got a bit of a balancing act on your hand. Storck says that it uses 'proportional tubing' – tubes that have different wall thicknesses, getting thicker as the bike gets bigger for heavier riders and the spans between tube junctions increases. That it still achieves a claimed frame weight of just 890g (47cm) and 350g for the fork is impressive.
The Aerfast comes in three models: Comp, Pro and this, the top end Platinum. They all come out of the same mould but use different grades of carbon, which is why the Platinum frame is 260g lighter than the Club's. The carbon itself is laid up unidirectional – all the fibres travelling in the same direction – which is time consuming but means it can be laid up to optimise frame strength and comfort.
All of the cabling is routed internally to keep a smooth and clean look, plus it'll also run both mechanical and electronic groupsets. Even things like the seatpost bolt are hidden beneath the top tube. It tightens up against a wedge to keep the aero post in place, but you can also use a round 31.8mm diameter post too.
Even though the position is stretched out, the Aerfast isn't as steep and slammed as you might expect. Our 55cm frame has a head tube length of 168mm, which is quite tall for a race bike, plus the head tube angle is just 72.3 degrees. But whatever the numbers, it certainly works.
My only criticism is that the overall finish of the frame isn't quite as high a standard as I would have expected for the money. The area where the seatpost slides in looks a bit rough around the edges, and also where the paint ends at the rear dropouts. It seems a shame to create such an engineering marvel and not follow it up on the aesthetics.
Top end finishing kit
What you are looking at here is the first Aerfast Platinum in the UK, so our test model has had a bit of a spruce up, hence that eye-watering price.
The Lightweight Meilenstein clincher wheels are a pure extravagance, though they do back up the performance of such an excellent frameset. Mat tested the tubular version recently so I won't go into massive details here, but basically I found similar results. You're getting all the performance of the tubulars but with the added practicality of clinchers. That rim does increase the price to £3,699, which is £600 more than the tubular version, and a few more grams too – 1180g total weight.
We've also got the 20th Anniversary edition carbon bar, which carries a premium price. It's a lovely shape, curving back slightly towards you and having a small amount of flex to soak up bumps without feeling bendy under hard acceleration.
Other than the 20th Anniversary edition saddle, a Selle Italia SLS Monolink, we've got the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 build which, if you bought it with the standard spec DT Swiss R38c Spline wheels, comes in at £8,019. The entry-level build is Ultegra mechanical with DT Swiss R32 wheels for £4,949 or the frameset on its own would set you back £3,949.
Di2 works brilliantly with this frame – you need the speed of those shifts to match the speed of the Aerfast. And the ability to brake and change gear at the same time means you can really set the bike up for the corners.
Shifting can still be a little bit clunky at times, especially at the front, but that's more of a rider interface. Sometimes you just can't quite match the pressure on the pedals with a button like you can with a lever to really mesh that shift, but other than that you can't knock electronic gears.
Out test model came with a compact chainset and an 11-28 cassette, which gives a good range of gears. I must admit I was expecting a standard 53/39 up front but I certainly didn't find myself spinning out.
Wrapping the Lightweight wheels are Schwalbe's excellent Ones, and they performed absolutely brilliantly yet again (I've ridden them loads of times), both in terms of grip and robustness on really wet, muddy and grit-covered roads. Not a single mark or puncture in the test period.
The Aerfast manages to encapsulate all-out, high-speed performance with comfort in a way I've never experienced before from such a bike. Often when you ride really light carbon bikes they can be twitchy, a little nervous on rough roads or technical sections – a bit skittish at times – which can make controlling them at speed hard work. The Storck isn't like that. It's confident, feels solid and will flatter the most ham-fisted of riders. That doesn't make it watered down or dull, it's efficiency at its best, and when you push it – really, really push it – the grin you get on your face will start to ache.
All this comes at a price, but bear in mind our build here is pretty much as top spec as you could go. Looking at the price of the frameset, or even the entry-level Ultegra model, and I don't think it's excessive at all, especially when you take the ride into account. I'd like to see a little more care in the overall finish – but it wouldn't put me off buying one.
Truly awesome race bike with aerodynamics that work in the real world, coupled with a forgiving ride
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Storck Aerfast Platinum
Size tested: 55cm
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame: UD Carbon Fibre with proportional tubing sizes
Fork: UD Full Carbon with tapered steerer
Rear Derailleur: Dura Ace Di2
Front Derailleur: Dura Ace Di2
Shift Levers: Dura Ace Di2 11spd
Brakes: Dura Ace
Crankset: Dura Ace 50/34, 172,5mm
Chain: Dura Ace 11spd
Handlebars: Storck RBC 220 20th Anniversary Edition
Stem: Storck ST-115
Saddle: Selle Italia SLS Monolink
Seatpost: Carbon Integrated
Tyres: Schwalbe One 25c
Wheels: Lightweight Meilenstein Clincher
Cassette: Dura Ace 11/28
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?
Storck says: "The lightest aero race bike in the Storck range offers the ultimate aerodynamics to weight ratio. The Aerfast takes the 'Sectional Aerodynamic Shaping' that's used in our Aernario family, and pushes it to the next level."
The aerodynamic tubing on this bike really works out on the road rather than just in the wind tunnel. It's a brilliant machine which, on UK roads, benefits from having that small reduction in stiffness.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The actual build quality of the frame is very high, only let down by a few cosmetic finishes I feel should be addressed on such a high value item.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Both the frame and fork are constructed from uni-directional carbon fibre in a lay-up that controls the stiffness and comfort.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
A stretched-out race position but not to extremes; a medium length head tube still allows you to get aero, though.
Full geometry tables are here - http://www.storck-bicycle.cc/road-bikes/aerfast-platinum-2016
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Stack is 571mm, with reach at 381mm. I'd expect a lower ratio than 1:5 on a race-orientated bike, but hey, it works!
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes very much so, especially at the rear thanks to the seatstays. The trade-off in stiffness in relation to other Storck frames benefits the rider on rough UK roads.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes, the balance between stiffness and comfort is pretty much spot on.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Flat-out sprinting isn't the Aerfast's strongest point, but then again that's not really what it's all about. It's not 'soft' or anything, but there are slightly more punchy bikes out there. For what it's intended for, powering along at a steady output on a lone break, cutting through the air, it's tough to fault.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
It's close but no.
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? Lively
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The handling is quick but very direct, which is great at speed, though it can be a touch twitchy at really low speeds.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The handlebar's minimal flex really helped to just take the sting out of the front end. Very nice bar for century rides.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
You can't beat a Shimano Dura-Ace chainset for really putting down that power.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The Schwalbe One tyres are so grippy, fast and just all-round brilliant that they help you carry much more speed through the corners, keeping that average speed high.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
Shimano Dura-Ace is lovely; the jump from Ultegra is marked and really worth the extra cash if you want that premium feel. As far as the electronics go, the shifting is instant and the majority of the time very crisp.
Wheels and tyres
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 Lightweights are insanely light and match the aero ride of the Aerfast, but they are a touch extravagant for me at £3600. They are impressive, but I've ridden others that are much cheaper with the same outcome. Saying that, though, maybe it's the Storck's frame being so good that it outshines the wheels...
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The Storck own brand components complement the frame. They are well designed and do the job well. A special mention for the handlebar too; it has a comfortable shape and just the right amount of flex to absorb the bumps.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
I really like the Monolink design of the Selle Italia saddle. It's light and very easy to use.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes, it's amazing.
Would you consider buying the bike? I would, but I'd ditch the Lightweight wheels.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
I love this bike. The speed, the handling, the whole riding experience is brilliant, and the only reason the value score takes a hammering is because I think the expensive wheels aren't necessary – the frame excels without the need for them. There are a few issues with the frame finishing for me, but I'd easily overlook them for the performance and fun I get from riding it.
About the tester
I usually ride: Kinesis T2 My best bike is: Mason Definition
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
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.