With a responsive, simple frame, surprisingly fun ride characteristics and nicely balanced handling, Pinnacle's Laterite 3 is a great package for those of you who are looking to spend less than a grand on their first or next bike. With its mudguard mounts, deep drop brakes and a smattering of Shimano's 105 groupset, I don't think you can really go wrong for the money.
- Pros: Fun, easy to live with, some decent spec
- Cons: Handlebar is too stiff, could do with a brake pad upgrade
The ride: buzzy, in a good way
I really wasn't expecting a ride experience as good as the Laterite gave when I first climbed aboard. It feels nippy, and when going out for an hour's smashfest through the twisty country lanes it felt like it wanted to keep being pushed harder into and out of the bends. It's a buzzy kind of a ride – not in a harsh, feel-everything-from-the-road kind of a way, but buzzy in the way it makes you feel.
On the main roads mixing it with lots of traffic it holds its own too. With a slightly relaxed head angle and a lengthy wheelbase, the Laterite's neutral handling makes it easy to dice with lorries and cars through busy intersections and roundabouts, whatever the road conditions.
The confidence it gives you lets you forget about the bike and focus purely on the road and surrounding metal boxes, especially as you keep the pace high to maintain your position in the rush hour melee. It makes for a very capable commuter.
We don't all ride like loons all of the time, though, so thankfully the Laterite 3 is pretty good when it comes to tapping out the miles on a Sunday morning.
With an effective top tube length of 560mm and 160mm head tube on our medium size, the Laterite isn't as aggressive as a race bike, but nor is it a bolt upright endurance steed.
The stack and reach figures of 569mm and 386mm respectively allowed me to get into a pretty low-slung position without requiring too much of a stretch, and by rotating through the various hand positions I found the setup comfortable for hours.
Aluminium alloy frames used to have a reputation for giving a harsh ride and while the Pinnacle isn't uncomfortable per se it is a little bit 'old school'. Let's say it hasn't got the most refined aluminium alloy frame I've ridden, though wouldn't really expect it to at this price.
If you are going to do a lot of long rides on the Laterite I'd recommend playing about with tyre pressures a bit and maybe tweak some of the contact points to maximise comfort.
First to get the cull would be the own-brand winged handlebar. True, this type of flat topped bar does give a more comfortable hand position when riding on the tops, but this one is very stiff and just compounds the firm ride from the frame.
If you are on one of those roads where the surface is like a washboard, your wrists are soon going to know about it. This medium model gets a 420mm bar which is quite narrow, adding to the stiffness, though it does help with keeping the front end quick for that fun handling I mentioned earlier.
Another issue with wing shaped handlebars is that you can't fit anything to them. Lights, computer mounts, bells... and as this is a great commuter bike, at least some attachments are going to be a must. Anyway, I digress – back to the ride.
The Laterite's stiffness does benefit forward motion. Climbing and acceleration, while hampered a little by the overall 9.75kg weight, is pretty good and you certainly get a good return for your efforts.
In fact the Pinnacle responds like a lighter bike a lot of the time. Attacking short, sharp climbs out of the saddle is fun, and if you are in it for the long haul you can just sit down, bang it in the 34-tooth chainring and 28 sprocket and spin away.
The balanced handling I mentioned earlier comes into play on the downhills too. The Laterite feels planted and as long as you can see the exit of the bend you can point it on to the line you want and carry a decent pace throughout. The head tube isn't tapered but the fork is pretty stiff so you have some confident steering to guide the bike through the turn.
It's only if you have to tweak your position that things require a bit of work. An unexpected pothole, gravel or a tightening corner when you are travelling at high speed will show that the Laterite hasn't got the sharpest steering in the world, and it can take a bit of skill to shift your line to catch the apex. This is no carbon superbike, though, so I wouldn't criticise it too much for this.
Frame and fork
The Laterite uses 6061-T6 grade aluminium alloy tubing in its construction and it is a common one that we see in the bike industry.
The tube walls are double butted, which is where they are thicker at the ends for strength at the weld area and thinner in the middle to promote a bit of flex for comfort.
For the money, the welding is relatively tidy and the overall finish is tough and robust, so battle scars should be kept to a minimum. The black and red paintjob is quite understated too, should you leave the bike locked up in public.
The frame itself is quite simple. There are no radical tube profiles or massive oversizing going along the bottom half the frame. The head tube is 1 1/8in in diameter from top to bottom, with the down tube maintaining pretty much the same profile right the way through.
Those who use their bikes in the rain will rejoice in seeing the threaded bottom bracket shell rather than a press-fit option, which then leads into the rectangular section chainstays.
The seatstays run narrower – a common idea to promote flex and comfort – and the sloping top tube allows you to run a good length of exposed seatpost for a little added movement there.
Internal cable routing is used for the front half of the frame, with both of the gear cables exiting at the bottom bracket, which provides a small amount of protection from the elements especially if you are running mudguards.
And yep, you can do that because the Laterite is equipped with mounts for guards front and rear and some for a rear rack too. Evans Cycles, the shop chain behind Pinnacle, even sells mudguards for the Laterite and its Dolomite stablemate, with trimmed stays for ease of fitting.
As you'd expect these days, the Pinnacle uses a carbon fibre fork and this one comes with an alloy steerer. As I touched on earlier, its stiffness is pretty good plus Pinnacle has gone for a 50mm offset for stability, whereas most road bikes go for 45mm.
Mix and match
Between £700 and £1,000, most manufacturers adorn their bikes – if they go down the Shimano route – with either a Sora (9-speed) or Tiagra (10-speed) groupset, so the 105 mechs and shifters here are a big plus. After all, you get an extra gear or two to play with as 105 is an 11-speed setup, with the Laterite coming with the reasonably close ratio 11-28 cassette option.
Although it is probably due a revamp soon, following in the footsteps of the latest Dura-Ace and Ultegra groupsets, 105 is still one of the best setups out there for performance versus price. You can read a full review of 105 here. The shifting is precise, nicely weighted and copes well with pretty much everything the winter weather chucks at it.
Fitting 105 parts to a £700 bike does have consequences elsewhere, though. The chainset, for instance, has been swapped out for a Prowheel Ounce with 50/34t chainrings.
Shifting was fine and stiffness was plenty good enough, but the whole chainset does look quite dated compared with those of Shimano's cheaper groupsets, and with Sora and Tiagra offering very similar performance to 105 but just with fewer gears I'd happily sacrifice the more expensive components for a complete groupset; it just makes for a nicer looking bike, in my eyes.
As the Laterite can take mudguards, the brakes need to have a deeper drop to reach the braking strip on the rim: 57mm over the usual 49mm. This allows clearance between the mudguard and tyre.
Pinnacle has specced Tektro's R315 brakeset which, when you consider they cost about £15, are decent enough performers. I certainly didn't think they were dangerous in any way, like some cheap brakes. The main body is a little flexy if you haul on them hard, plus the non-cartridge pads haven't got the grippiest compound for allowing much modulation. A pad upgrade would change things for the better, but if there is money in the kitty I'd say splash out on some Shimano R650s for a better and more confidence-inspiring performance.
I've already touched on my thoughts about the handlebar, so we'll move on to the stem, seatpost and saddle, all own-brand items.
Well, there isn't much to say, actually: they do a decent job for budget components and I wouldn't bother to change them. At 100mm the stem is shorter than I would expect on a bike of this size, but it works with the longer top tube and extended fork trail to keep the riding position the same and the handling quick enough.
Saddle-wise, I found the Pinnacle model adequately comfortable for the majority of riding but as with all things seat-related it's a very personal choice. If this saddle doesn't suit, find one that does and that'll improve the Laterite's ride quality for you.
Wheels and tyres
The wheels are unbranded but that's no real issue here. What they lack in logos is more than made up for in performance. They use a double wall rim with 32 spokes front and rear, which offers plenty of strength and reliability for the commuter or light tourer, both uses the Laterite is perfectly suitable for.
Both wheels ran true out of the box and I had no issues at all with them throughout testing. They are a touch weighty but just like the Pinnacle as a whole, they didn't feel hindered by what the scales are saying. Upgrade? Yes, definitely if you are going to put in a lot of miles in the hills, but these wheels are solid performers and will work well for the winter months at least.
Schwalbe Durano tyres are a nice touch to see here. They offer a really good balance of rolling resistance, grip and, more importantly for this type of bike, durability.
Big on value
A lot of brands like to send us their top of the range models for testing, so as far as 2018 goes we haven't reviewed a lot of sub-£1,000 bikes (yet), so with a bit of inspiration from our £500 to £750 buyer's guide, I'll take a look at what some of the big brands are offering in comparison to the Laterite 3.
Trek has the Domane Al 3 which is a similar beast to the Pinnacle, with an alloy frame, mudguard mounts and a carbon fork. It does come with a full Shimano Sora groupset, though, for its £750 price tag.
Giant has the Contend 1, priced pretty much the same as the Trek at £749, and the spec is similar, too, although you don't get an option to fit proper mudguards.
Obviously you can't discount Specialized's Allez here either, especially after its revamp with more relaxed geometry and mudguard mounts – fork recall issues aside, which should be dealt with soon. I loved the latest 2018 Elite version and the Sport model comes in at £799 with Sora mechs and shifters, Praxis chainset and Tektro brakes.
The Allez's frame offers a better ride quality than the Pinnacle in terms of comfort, but you can't take away the fact that the Laterite 3 is very competitively priced.
I'm a big fan of the simplicity of cycling and while it can be an expensive pastime it doesn't have to be, and the Laterite 3 highlights that.
Yes, for more money you will get a lighter, more comfortable bike with a more refined ride, but for just £700 this thing is a blast and you'll still come home with a smile on your face.
It's a simple frame with decent components and while it could do with a few tweaks, it's hard to knock for the money.
A simple, well-designed, fun bike to ride – whatever your ability
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Pinnacle Laterite 3
Size tested: Medium
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Listed on Evans:
6061-T6 heat treated aluminium w/ double-butted tubes
Carbon blade, straight 1-1/8 alloy steerer w/ mudguard mounts
Shimano 105 5800 31.8mm band on
Shimano 105 5800 11 speed
Number of Gears
Shimano 105 5800
Prowheel Ounce 721, 50-34T, S/M - 170mm, L/XL - 175mm
Prowheel BB-68 external threaded
Shimano 105 5800 11-28T
Tektro R315 dual pivot, 57mm drop
Pinnacle 6061 alloy 125mm drop, 80mm reach, width; S/M - 420mm, L/XL- 440mm
Pinnacle alloy, +/- 3 degree, S/M - 90mm, L/XL - 105mm
FSA No.10, internal 1-1/8
Alloy double wall 700c, 32H
Loose ball bearing 32H QR
Schwalbe Lugano 700x25c, K-Guard
Pinnacle aluminium 350mm x 27.2
Tell us what the bike is for
From Evans: "Introducing the new Pinnacle Laterite. Features and details that have given the Pinnacle Dolomite its coveted and award winning name can be found all over the Laterite. The design, which is ideal for the UK conditions see's all the cabling hidden in the frame out of harm's way. A threaded bottom bracket means easy maintenance and mudguard fittings mean dry and clean kit all year round. Combined with performance enhancing features including a carbon bladed fork and low overall weight which the Laterite punches well above. Comfort is not forgotten with an ergonomic handlebar shape, thick comfort bar tape and geometry that is also borrowed from its sibling to give a balanced riding position, somewhere between out and out race and up right sportive.
"Looking for some performance but on a budget. Maybe your first introduction to road bikes, it could be an upgrade, or just a winter bike for those chilly mornings. Look no further than the Laterite 3, at under 10kg it has it all with a stiff 24mm axle chainset and Shimano's excellent 105 11 speed groupset. Finished off with high quality rubber from Schwalbe will all help get you down the road pretty quickly."
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The matt paint finish seems to be hardwearing and the overall build quality looks to be decent enough.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame uses double butted 6016-T6 tubing paired with a carbon fibre fork that has an alloy steerer.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry sits somewhere between that of a race bike and a more relaxed endurance style bike. A long wheelbase makes for great stability in all conditions.
Full geometry details can be found here - https://www.evanscycles.com/pinnacle-laterite-3-2018-road-bike-EV299415
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
On our medium model we have a stack of 569mm and a reach of 386mm which gives a ratio of 1.47. This gives quite a sporty bias to a neutral handling bike.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
The frame is quite firm but well within the limits of what I'd expect for a bike of this type and price.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness levels are good for the type of riding the Laterite 3 is intended for.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Yes, efficient enough.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The Pinnacle is a very easy bike to ride. The whole setup provides balanced handling which is confidence-inspiring.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
Definitely swap the handlebar for something more comfortable.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Apart from the handlebar everything else worked well with the bike, so I'd leave it as it is.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Lighter wheels would go a big way to make the bike more responsive, if you have the funds.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
It's a bit of a mixed bag but it all works well enough together. Personally, as I said in the review, I prefer the look of a complete groupset, but to be fair Pinnacle has provided a decent setup that allows you an extra two sprockets over Sora for a bike of the same money.
Wheels and tyres
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so
For what they are the wheels are actually decent performers and for an off-the-shelf bike I wouldn't be in a huge hurry to change them unless weight was the primary concern.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so
I like the Schwalbe Duranos – they provide a mix of qualities that suit this type of bike.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
The handlebar takes the shine off here. It's too stiff and impractical for what I'd say the Laterite is best used for, a commuter or winter trainer.
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 overall score
I was thoroughly surprised by the Laterite 3. It feels lighter and rides better than the scales and spec list would have you believe, plus it's fun and practical. Very good price, very good performance – it's a 'very good' overall.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is:
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.