The Verenti Technique Tiagra may look like a nineties throwback thanks to its paintjob but the spec list is bang up to date with a hydroformed alloy frameset, tapered headtube, full carbon fibre fork and Shimano's latest Tiagra 4700 groupset. You can even bung full guards on it too and all for six hundred and fifty quid.
Not heard of Verenti before?
It's an in-house brand of online retailer Wiggle and as we've often found in the past their bikes come with an excellent specification for the money thanks to their massive buying power keeping prices down.
But being great on paper is pointless if the overall ride isn't much cop. Thankfully that's not a concern with the Technique.
Verenti's marketing aims the Technique range at the beginner, someone who's looking for their first serious road bike. What they are offering is a very stable, easy to ride yet exciting bike.
Looking at the geometry you'd expect the Technique to be a lot less forgiving than it is. Our 54cm model has a 986mm wheelbase which isn't overly long for a bike that'll take full mudguards and with a head angle of 73°, a seat angle of 74° and a stack to reach ratio of 1.45 the Verenti is floating somewhere in between a full race bike and a more relaxed sportive or endurance option.
Out on the road it is very easy to ride tracking well and offering no surprises or twitchiness, exactly how it should be for a novice rider. But don't go thinking it's boring to ride if you've got a bit more experience in the saddle.
Push the pace and the Verenti has an engaging ride. It's not as sharp at the steering as some but you can actually 'ride' it to get a response instead of just being a passenger turning the pedals. High speed descents are dealt with in an unflustered manner and as long as you don't go flying into the turns like an animal you'll come out the other side unscathed.
If you do overcook things the Verenti takes a bit of coercing back onto its line due to the neutral steering but that's barely a criticism as it's not really what the Verenti is about. I doubt any of the relative novices it's untended for would really be pushing things that hard to get it out of shape in the first place.
While we're in the bends it's worth mentioning the tapered fork steerer and headtube as they really keep the front end stiff and tight when cornering and under heavy braking.
Where the Technique really excels is tapping the miles out in the lanes at a more relaxed pace and if you can get on with the softly padded Cosine saddle then you'll be comfortable for hours, enjoying the scenery and sunshine.
If the going is a bit lumpy the overall weight of 9.81kg is offset by the compact 50/34t chainset and ten speed 12-28 cassette which means it's no slouch on the hills. Out of the saddle climbing doesn't find the bottom bracket struggling for stiffness unless you are really gunning it sprinter style. You'll feel a very tiny amount of sideways movement then.
The shifting on the new Tiagra groupset has taken a massive step forward thanks to using what are basically replica 105 5800 shifters minus a gear. Thee effort needed for each change requires just a little more force than the 105's but it's negligible.
Coming with mudguard mounts front and rear (hidden on the inside of the seatstays) the Verenti also makes a great year round commuter. Wet, greasy or freezing roads require the type of neutral handling and stability the Technique has, so even in experienced hands it's nigh on perfect for off season training.
Aluminium alloy frames still suffer from being instantly thought of as harsh and to be honest if the Technique was the only alloy bike you'd ridden then that's probably the conclusion you'd draw.
It's no boneshaker like some of the frames that were knocking around at the beginning of the century but it isn't as refined as some we've been testing lately. Again this no doubt comes down to price so it's far from a deal breaker but with more money comes things like butted tubes to bring some flex in for comfort.
The Technique Tiagra does come with Continental Ultra Sport II tyres in a 28mm width to offset any road buzz with the full carbon fork also making a difference. That's right, full carbon including the steerer at a price where most brands use an aluminium steerer to save cost.
The finish of the frameset looks very good, with the slightly agricultural welding being left in its raw guise – something not everyone will like but I do. The paint finish is a deep metallic blue which is hardwearing and not one to pick up scratches too easily.
Many riders, especially new ones tend to buy from a spec sheet, and that hasn't been missed by Wiggle. Whereas a lot of manufacturers will upgrade the rear mech a groupset higher while sacrificing the chainset and brakes for perceived value Wiggle have gone straight in with a full groupset – bosh!
With its new grey colour scheme Tiagra is visually pretty stunning especially now it's taken on the four arm chainset design mimicking Shimano's more expensive groups. The move to place the brake and gear cables under the bar tape gives the bike a classier, less cluttered look too.
Shifting, as I mentioned earlier, is now crisp and offers much better feel than any of the predecessors, especially when changing gear under load.
But the biggest single improvement is to braking. The new calipers are much stiffer and an upgrade to decent cartridge pads rather than the black wine gums found on the old Tiagra dual pivots.
The wheels come courtesy of Shimano too, their dependable and hard wearing RS010 set which are ideal for winter commuting duties. They are far from light though so if speed or climbing is your thing than an upgrade to something lighter will really make the difference to the Technique's 'get up and go'. We swapped in some Superstar Components Pave 28 wheels and it really gave a boost to the Verenti's responsiveness.
The rest of the finishing kit comes from Cosine, another of wiggle's brands. The alloy seatpost, stem and handlebars are all pretty basic stuff but do the job and I can really see no reason to replace and upgrade. The compact bars offer plenty of hand positions and were comfortable too.
Value really is the key word here with the Technique especially when you compare it to others in our £500 - £750 bike buying guide.
With a full Tiagra groupset and that full carbon fork the Verenti certainly looks better specced than many bikes one hundred pounds more expensive and as we can see from above it isn't just good on paper. With an upgrade to some lighter wheels for a hundred and fifty quid the Technique Tiagra would still offer excellent value for money.
The Verenti offers everything that a new rider could possibly need and keeps offering more too. The bike responds to what you put in so as you become more confident and start to ride harder and faster the Verenti just takes it all in its stride replying with that same stable, surefooted ride.
There are bikes with moe exciting ride characteristics but the Technique still offers plenty of responsiveness and fun, and one thing is for sure: the Verenti Technique Tiagra is an absolute performance bargain.
Excellent value for money first road bike, audax machine or year-round commuter
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Verenti Technique Tiagra
Size tested: 54
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Mudguard Mounts: Yes
Rear Rack Mounts: Yes
Number of gears: 20
Front Axle Type: 9mm QR
Cable Routing: External
Model Year: 2016
Frame: Technique 6061 Alloy frame with hydro-formed Toptube and Downtube
Fork Material: Carbon
Fork: Full carbon, tapered
Bottle Cage Mounts: Double
Front Derailleur Mount: Band On
Dropouts: Replaceable Rear Derailleur Hanger
Wheel Size: 700c (622)
Wheelset: Shimano RS010
Groupset Manufacturer: Shimano
Brake Levers/Gear Shifters: Shimano Tiagra
Front Derailleur: Shimano Tiagra
Rear Derailleur: Shimano Tiagra
Brake Type: Caliper
Brakes: Shimano Tiagra levers
Brake Callipers: Shimano Tiagra
Chainset type: Compact
Chainset: Shimano Tiagra
Chainring Size: 50 Tooth, 34 Tooth
Bottom Bracket: Shimano
Cassette: Shimano 10 speed
Cassette Range: 12-28 Tooth
Handlebars: Cosine, 75mm reach, 31.8mm, ext:50/52cm-400mmW,54/56cm-420mmW, 58/ 60cm-440mmW
Bar Tape/Grips: cork tape
Stem: Cosine, 3D FORGED, 4 BOLT, -7 degree, 31.8mm,, ext:50/52cm-80mmL,54cm-90mmL,56cm-100mmL, 58cm-110mmL, 60cm-120mmL
Seat Post: Cosine 27.2 black
Saddle: Cosine Road
Tyres: Continental Ultra Sport II 700x28C
Pedals: Supplied with basic flat pedals
Warranty: 5 year frame warranty, 12 month parts warranty
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 Technique brings Verenti road performance foundations into a new lower price point. The design remit was clear, build a fantastic value road bike that will lead our customers into a superb cycling experience. The bike is aimed at the first time road bike rider who wants a sporty ride, reliable performance and unbeatable value."
It is certainly an impressive package from Verenti and with it's stable handling and 'easy to live with' manners the Technique is perfect for those new to the sport.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
It isn't the most technically advanced frame out there but perfectly acceptable when you take price into consideration. It's well finished though and the fact you are getting a full carbon fork with a tapered steerer at this price point is certainly impressive.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The Technique uses a 6061 Alloy frame with hydro-formed toptube and downtube and the fork is full carbon fibre, i.e. carbon legs and a carbon steerer to.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The Technique sits somewhere between a full on race bike and where you'd expect to find an Endurance machine with a decent length top tube without being overly tall at the front. Steep seat and head angles give a responsive, quick ride. Geometry table can be found here - http://www.wiggle.co.uk/verenti-technique-tiagra-2016/
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Our 54cm test model had a stack of 553mm and reach of 380mm which gives a ratio of 1.45. The virtual top tube length doesn't correspond exactly with the frame size so it's worth a look at the size chart before buying.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes, the frame was a little 'buzzy' compared to some of the more technically advanced alloy frames we are seeing but it was far from uncomfortable. The 28mm tyres help.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The bottom bracket shell didn't seem overly flexible and overall the bike felt pretty responsive under load.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Considering the weight it's no slouch.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
A little bit but no issue.
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?
Considering the angles and geometry the Technique is surprisingly well mannered and perfect for the novice rider. Push it a bit in the bends though and it steps up to the game.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I wasn't too sure about the Cosine saddle, it was okay for short blasts of an hour or so but a touch squidgy for longer runs.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The Cosine alloy bars, stem and seatpost are on the stiff side definitely.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The Shimano wheels are dependable but swap in something lighter to really give the Technique a boost.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The latest version of Tiagra is simply great. It's lost that slightly spongy feeling of its predecessor and you now get a defined click as you change gear. The brakes are a massive improvement too.
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 Shimano wheels are solid performers and ideal for commuting work or winter riding but they are heavy so an upgrade really benefits the bike. The Continental tyres also work well with plenty of grip and a durable casing and what feels to be impressive rolling resistance.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The Cosine stuff is on the stiff side. Compact bars will work for most though.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? yes
Would you consider buying the bike? yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? yes
Use this box to explain your score
The Technique Tiagra is a great all round package for the money offering a decent frame, excellent groupset and sensible finishing kit. Perfect for the novice rider or year round commuter.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike 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.