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Verdict: 
Very good sportive or race-day bike with a fast feel and aero touches
Weight: 
8,100g
Sensa Giulia G2 Ultegra
8 10

Sensa has updated its Guilia road bike. We tested the last version in 2013 and the latest incarnation, the Giulia G2, is an improvement. It's a bit lighter and a bit more comfortable without sacrificing any of its race-ready stiffness, and the design has been tweaked with some aero touches. It's a good racing all-rounder.

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The ride: firm, fast

"Perhaps the most significant move is the attempt to tune the comfort aspects of the Giulia," Sensa says of the new frame. "Some riders and testers have commented that the previous Giulia was a bit on the firm side at the rear. The new Giulia sees slimmed down seat stays to introduce a bit of give at the back. The tyre clearance on the frame and the fork has been increased to better allow for new generation 25mm tyres."

Sensa Giulia G2 - back.jpg

Sensa Giulia G2 - back.jpg

Has it worked? Yes. Yes, it has. The new frame is a fair bit lighter – 960g as opposed to 1100g – with the fork gaining 25g. Overall that's a 115g saving. We like percentages round here. That's about 8%.

Sensa Giulia G2 - front.jpg

Sensa Giulia G2 - front.jpg

Is it 8% more comfortable? That's a lot more difficult to objectively measure. As a whole, the bike feels smoother over rough tarmac, but how much of that is down to the frame and how much to the fact that you can now fit (and it comes equipped with) 25mm tyres as opposed to 23mm is hard to say. By way of a test I pumped the tyres up to Stu Kerton levels of hard (140psi) when I'd normally run them at 95. That made the bike a touch more skittery over broken tarmac but actually it wasn't bad, especially considering there are some deep sections in the frame and the 31.6mm seatpost won't be bending as much as a slimmer one would. Watch Sensa's video here

Overall the bike is more comfortable than the last incarnation, anyway. That's a product of all the design choices, tyre width included. It's a firm, racy feel, though, with a very direct front end. There was just a touch of lift-off from the front when descending at speed, meaning it didn't always feel perfectly planted, but overall the steering response and the tracking was very good. There weren't any scary moments.

Sensa Giulia G2 - riding 2.jpg

Sensa Giulia G2 - riding 2.jpg

Putting the power down to haul yourself up the other side of a dip revealed that there's no loss of stiffness in the G2 from the loss of weight. It's a very rigid platform and you never feel like you're wrestling the bike forward or wasting energy. Stamp on the pedals and you get some go. It's a simple equation.

The G2 has more nods to aero styling than the last frameset. The headset area is deeper and the fork crown and headset integrate into the head tube for smooth lines at the front. The down tube is less of a box and more of a teardrop, and the fork legs have been redesigned for better aerodynamics as well. It's not a fully-fledged aero bike – Sensa has the Calabria for that – and it doesn't make any specific claims for the G2 as regards power saving. It'll probably save you a few watts when you're going fast, though. And every little helps.

Sensa Giulia G2.jpg

Sensa Giulia G2.jpg

The build: quality transmission, decent finishing kit

Shimano's 11-speed Ultegra 6800 groupset (tested here) probably needs no introduction, but suffice to say that even though it's a few years old now it's right up there with the very best mechanical transmissions, mostly losing out to top-tier stuff like Dura-Ace and SRAM Red on weight rather than performance. Sensa specs the Giulia G2 with a 52/36 semi-compact chainset and an 11-28 cassette; that's what many of the pros use these days, so that's you out of excuses. It's the full groupset too: no skimping on the brakes or the chain or the cassette, you get the whole lot. And given that this bike retails for £1,699 and is usually 10% less than that on the Merlin website, it's a lot of bike for the money.

Sensa Giulia G2 - drive train.jpg

Sensa Giulia G2 - drive train.jpg

What you don't get for your £1,699 (or less) is the Supra RCA55 wheelset: that costs an extra £400. But that's okay, because you probably don't want it. The G2 normally comes specced with basic-but-upgradeable Supra RA Pro alloy wheels. If you're looking to race (or look as if you might) then it's a racy enough frame to throw some decent aero wheels at. The RCA55s are just a bit ordinary, though. They're fairly heavy at just under 2kg, and they're not especially stiff. I swapped them out for a set of Swiss Side Hadron 485s (another quick check to make sure I've spelt 'Hadron' right) which are a fair bit lighter and more predictable in sidewinds. Unsurprisingly, they were an improvement. If you want aero wheels then best get the bike with the basic ones, keep them for training or the turbo, and save your pennies for something nice. The £400 won't buy you a set of Hadrons, but it'll get you nearly half way there.

> Check out our guide to the best sportive and endurance bikes

Supra supplies the finishing kit. It's all alloy, and it's all fine. The handlebar is a shallow drop that gives you an easily accessible lower position. Our 61cm test bike has a 20.5cm head tube and a stack-to-reach ratio of 1.5. The higher that number is, the more upright the position, and 1.5 is pretty relaxed for a race bike; the smaller sizes are progressively lower in terms of that metric. I slammed the stem on our G2 (that's 'removed all the spacers') and still could have coped with a deeper drop than the one specced. It's not a bike that feels particularly upright, though.

Sensa Giulia G2 - riding 3.jpg

Sensa Giulia G2 - riding 3.jpg

The bar tape is nice and comfy and the Selle San Marco Aspide saddle, although not one of my favourites, is a quality model.

Overall: Great value sportive bike or entry-level racer

Specced as Merlin sells the bike on its website, with alloy wheels as opposed to the deeper section ones we have here, the Sensa Giulia G2 is a really good value option for the sportivist or privateer racer. The bike is responsive and quick, and the comfort is improved from the previous version. The Ultegra transmission is faultless in operation and the alloy finishing kit is dependable and upgradeable. Just add a set of race hoops and pin a number on your back (or ziptie one to your bar) and you're good to go.

Verdict

Very good sportive or race-day bike with a fast feel and aero touches

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Sensa Giulia G2 Ultegra

Size tested: 61cm

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

Frame: Monocoque Generation5 - Zero Void Curing - Carbon Fiber - SAF-design

Front fork: Supra Full Carbon Monocoque AirFlow 1.5

Group: See above

Seatpost: Supra Speed Line

Handlebar: Supra Speed Line Wingshaped

Stem: Supra Speed Line

Wheels: Supra RA Pro

Tires: Schwalbe Lugano 25mm

Saddle: San Marco Aspide

Color: Matt Black + White + Grey

Weight: Approx.- 7.4 KG

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?

Sensa says:

As with the previous Giulia, the new model uses size-specific geometry and tubing dimensions. So no matter what size rider you are, you'll all be getting the same 'Giulia ride feel'.

Perhaps the most significant move is the attempt to tune the comfort aspects of the Giulia. Some riders and testers have commented that the previous Giulia was a bit on the firm side at the rear.

The new Giulia sees slimmed down seat stays to introduce a bit of give at the back. The tyre clearance on the frame and the fork has been increased to better allow for new generation 25mm tyres.

Speaking of the fork, the new Smooth AirFlow (SAF) fork is a completely new item. As well as increased tyre clearance it has been designed with aerodynamics to the fore. It links smoothly into the frame down tube in a decidedly lovely way.

Aerodynamics are very much The Thing in the road bike world at the mo but Sensa have wisely not gone OTT on the aero for the Giulia (they have the Calabria if you want an aero bike by the way). The headset cover cap is integrated and 'dropped' in the frame's top tube. The down tube has been made narrower. Those aforementioned slimmer seat stays now terminate at the back of the seat tube (rather than partially at the sides).

Sensa are justifiably proud of the look of the new Giulia. Unlike a lot of other remodelled bikes from other companies, the new aero features actually improve the look of the bike. Which is no mean feat really and something that will no doubt attract a lot of praise.

The weight of the new Giulia frame is 960g (compared to the previous 1,100g). The fork has actually gained a bit of weight - but it's only 25g. So the overall frameset weight is down on previous years.

Creating a successor for the beloved Giulia Sensa have set the bar high. Keeping all that was good, yet dropping weight, adding comfort and making it more aerodynamic. The New Giulia G2 is stiff enough for a proper racer and light enough to fly up mountains. Stable enough to decent as fast as you dare but yet comfy enough to finish any Grand Fondo. With the newly designed Geometry every frame size offers clearance for a wider tyre.

The G2 has aero features such as the integrated cover cap, a narrow downtube profile, slimmer chain stays and a smooth airflow front fork. The Sensa Giulia G2 a true racer which you will love. Models ranging from Ultegra to Dura Ace mechanical to Di2.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
8/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Very nicely finished.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Frame: Monocoque Generation5 - Zero Void Curing - Carbon Fiber - SAF-design

Front fork: Supra Full Carbon Monocoque AirFlow 1.5

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

See https://www.merlincycles.com/sensa-giulia-g2-matt-custom-road-bike-2016-... for the full geometry chart in all sizes.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

Fine. For a race bike it's on the tall side so deeper drops in the 61cm build might be better.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

It's firm but feels fast, and it's more comfortable than the previous incarnation.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

Yes: lots of stiffness.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

It's very good under power.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

No issues.

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?

Predictable and direct. A touch of lift-off at speed.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
8/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
10/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
9/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
9/10

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels and tyres for performance:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels and tyres for value:
 
7/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
7/10

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes, for a fast sportive or race bike.

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
9/10

Use this box to explain your score

No denying it's great value and comfort has improved from the previous version. A very good bike for the money.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 189cm  Weight: 92kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.