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Mason Resolution Force AXS

8
£4,795.00

VERDICT:

8
10
Comfortable distance-crushing steel road bike with an ace specification, but it's not cheap
Weight: 
9,050g
Contact: 

The cycling world has changed a lot since the original Mason Resolution (and its aluminium sibling Definition) was launched in 2015, but the updated Resolution 2 continues to offer the same impressive all-round appeal and long-distance comfort, with some minor updates that bring it bang up to date, namely 12mm thru-axles and flat-mount brakes. It's still a pricey proposition but the looks and ride quality might just be good enough to sway you over cheaper rivals.

  • Pros: Ride quality, handling, comfort, looks
  • Cons: A touch pricey

I have a soft spot for steel bikes, and the updated Resolution does nothing to diminish this love affair. It's silky smooth over all road surfaces, has a good turn of speed when you drop the hammer and the handling is predictable and very stable.

> Buy this online here

This is a bike for doing long rides on. If comfort over long distance is what you look for in a road bike, the Resolution 2 will not disappoint. The ride quality is so lovely that it makes you want to get out and ride as much as you can, to stay on the road as long as your energy levels will sustain you.

Rough roads are handled with ease by the steel frame and cushy 30mm tyres, ensuring no nasty impact vibrations can ruin the ride. Poorly surfaced roads, the odd gravel track, potholes and other imperfections are all smoothed away by the Resolution.

Mason Resolution 2 - clearance.jpg

The geometry gives you a comfortable riding position. It's not too stretched, slammed or tall, just the right balance of taking the strain off your back but putting you into an efficient stance.

It's not the liveliest or fastest handling bike in the world; if you like it frantic and nippy you'd be best off on a race bike. The Resolution isn't designed to scare the living daylights out of you on a descent, it's all about helping you to waft along country roads in comfort and notch up big miles in relative ease. It's calm, sedate and measured.

Mason Resolution 2 - front.jpg

Through corners and on descents, the Resolution is very predictable. The steering leans heavily toward the lazy, relaxed end of the spectrum, meaning it remains composed in all situations. You can ride no-handed with ease and even hurtling through a high-speed bend, the steering isn't going to do anything erratic or catch you off guard.

The frame and fork reveal adequate stiffness when you're hauling up a steep climb, heaving on the cranks out the saddle. It's solid under heavy braking and even when I had a locked up rear tyre moment (thanks motorist for not looking before turning into my path) the slide was so predictable and the Resolution planted that it didn't escalate into a serious incident.

Frame and details

A lot has changed in the bike world since the Resolution first launched. Disc brakes and wide tyres are now commonplace, not the new trend they once were. These were two key pillars of the Resolution's design to provide four-season cycling capability, with mudguards during the winter and speed for summer epics.

Mason Resolution 2 - rear dropout.jpg

The original Resolution rolled out of the company's Brighton HQ with quick release axles and post mount brakes, but since then 12mm thru-axles and flat-mount callipers have become de facto standard on drop bar bikes. The Resolution 2 gets brand new dropouts custom-designed by UK company Bear and matched up front by a new carbon fibre fork with neat replaceable thru-axle inserts.

Mason Resolution 2 - front disc brake.jpg

Those small changes aside, the frame retains the same Columbus Life and Spirit tubing, the former providing the lovely ovalised top tube and the latter the D-shaped down tube, profiles that are intended to tune the ride quality and stiffness of the frame. There's a tapered head tube with internal cable routing with ports that can be easily adapted for different groupsets, whether mechanical, electronic or wireless.

Mason Resolution 2 - top tube.jpg

Sensible details abound, including the threaded bottom bracket and provision for adding mudguards and a rear rack. More details include a repositioning of the brake hose routing on the chainstay to provide a smoother journey to the brake calliper.

Mason Resolution 2 - bottom bracket.jpg

There's even a chain pip for hanging the chain off when taking the rear wheel in and out. It's all about attention to detail here, including the stylishly understated decals, though there are one or two too many slogans for my taste.

Mason Resolution 2 - top tube detail.jpg

Tyre clearance is generous and has increased from the original. It'll now take up to 35mm tyres, reducing to 30mm with mudguards. Mason says the actual tyre that will fit does depend on the specific choice as there are some variances: a 35mm Panaracer GravelKing fits but the SK version runs too close. If you're trying to fit wide gravel tyres to the bike you're probably better off with the Bokeh anyway.

Mason Resolution 2 - seat stays.jpg

The geometry is carried over from the previous model, and there are three colours to choose from: grey, black or blue.

Mason Resolution 2 - rear.jpg

Equipment

The bike on test costs £4,795 with a SRAM Force eTap AXS groupset. A Shimano 105-equipped bike kicks off the range at £3,140, or you can buy a frameset for £1,595 or a rolling chassis including Hunt wheels and a Mason seatpost for £1,953.

Mason Resolution 2 - shifter.jpg

The Force eTap AXS groupset takes all the key technology and 12-speed gear ratios from SRAM's top-end Red groupset, but at a much more affordable price. The 48/31 chainset and 10-33 cassette provide a seamless cadence journey up and down the sprockets, and there's ample range for summiting steep climbs and bombing down hills. It works flawlessly, with instant gear changes, quiet running and no issues to speak of.

Mason Resolution 2 - drivetrain.jpg

The Resolution is normally specced with Mason x Hunt 4Season V3 Disc wheels, but for an extra £150 you can upgrade to the Hunt 34 Aero Wide Discs, a new aero aluminium wheelset launched earlier this year, and which follow on from the carbon fibre 48 Limitless Wheels.

The new wheels feature a rim profile based on the carbon wheels, designed specifically for rim brakes, with a 26mm external width and 34mm-deep profile. They're laced to brand new Sprint 7.5 hubs with one of the loudest freehubs in the world, and Pillar PSR Wing spokes lacing everything together. They're tubeless-ready, naturally for a company that has trumpeted tubeless from the outset.

Mason Resolution 2 - rim 2.jpg

The best thing is, they cost just £479 which is pretty reasonable for the aero design and attention to detail, and the competitive 1,548g claimed weight.

I can't really verify the 'fastest allow disc brake wheelset in the world' claim, but they certainly felt rapid with the sort of speed you'd expect from a high-end carbon aero wheelset. The shallow profile means they handle well in strong crosswinds and there is ample stiffness to ensure they don't flex wildly when sprinting.

Mason Resolution 2 - rim.jpg

This was my first ride on Schwalbe's brand new Pro One tyres, tested in a 30mm width and installed tubeless, and colour me impressed. The revamped tyre is lighter than the old tyre while also being claimed to provide more grip and less rolling resistance. On the road it certainly impressed and seemed to live up to these claims, feeling very fast and reassuringly grippy in the corners, whether the road surface was dry or wet.

Mason continues to spec Deda handlebars and stems and Fabric saddles, and it's all good kit that works flawlessly. The Zero100 handlebar is made from aluminium and claimed to be one of the lightest on the market; claims aside, it has a pleasing shape with a 130mm drop and 75mm reach, which lets you spend quality time in the drops with no discomfort.

Mason Resolution 2 - bars 1.jpg

The Fabric Scoop is one of my favourite saddles, and is a shape that many people seem to get on with just fine. It's matched to some Fabric Knurl bar tape which feels lovely with no gloves on.

Mason Resolution 2 - saddle.jpg

Value

The Mason Resolution stood out when it first launched, but four years later there are a lot more choices if you want a disc-braked, mudguard-wearing four-season bike.

If you want a steel frame from a British brand, you could consider the Fairlight Cycles Strael which is a bit cheaper and a bike Stu reckoned just pipped the original Mason Resolution because of the 'sublime ride'. Frames start at £1,199, so £400 less than the Mason, and various full builds are available to suit your budget.

Another British option is the Shand Cycles Rizello Disc which costs more at £1,950 for the frame, which makes the Mason look like good value, though Shand will custom paint the bike to make it really stand out. 

> Buyer's Guide: 21 of the best steel road bikes and frames

Offering a bit more do-it-all appeal, the Cotic Escapade is another British designed steel drop bar bike that originally launched in 2014, but this updated model is just as good on the road as it is on forest tracks according to Stu's review. You can get a frame for just £599, a full grand cheaper than the Mason, and a full bike with SRAM Apex 1 for £1,649.

Comparing with similarly priced £4k bikes opens up a lot of choices. You could check out the brand new Trek Domane SL 7 (£4,900) with its carbon frameset, disc brakes and 33mm wide tyre clearance, a down tube storage compartment, carbon wheels and Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset.

Sticking with steel, the lovely Ritchey Road Logic Disc Frameset costs £1,299 and comes from one of the most famous frame makers in the business. As well as the recent update to disc brakes, it'll take 30mm tyres and there's an external bottom bracket, but it does lack the mudguard eyelets of the Mason.

> Is there still a place for steel road bikes in the age of carbon fibre?

If you want titanium then the recently tested Genesis Croix de Fer Ti (£3,799) is cheaper as a whole bike, with Shimano's new GRX groupset and decent finishing kit. It does lean more towards mixed-terrain riding with clearance for up to 38mm tyres if you want to go down that route.

Summary

The Resolution is still a beautiful bike with hugely impressive ride quality and handling that is tailor-made for long-distance rides where comfort is a top priority, and the attention to detail is first class. You do pay for that attention to detail, though, and there are rivals that make the Mason look expensive, but if you can ignore the price premium you won't be disappointed.

Verdict

Comfortable distance-crushing steel road bike with an ace specification, but it's not cheap

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Mason Resolution Force AXS

Size tested: 56cm

About the bike

List the components used to build up the bike.

Mason says: "These modern steel bikes are based around our Italian crafted Resolution2 frame sets. We decided to really focus on a niche that we believe is under-developed and give it our full attention to produce the absolute best product possible. #FastFar has become the tagline for these uniquely progressive bikes. This is a thoroughly modern, Multi-Surface, Continent Crushing, Ultra-Endurance, Se4son, adventure machine. Capable of keeping you fresh and engaged whilst crossing a country or delivering you swiftly home at the front of the club run.

With the first Mason Resolution and Definition models, we were excited and spurred on by advances and new thinking in braking, transmissions, wheels and tyres. The first Mason bikes embraced the revolution in disc-brakes, large volume tyres, disc-brake specific and tubeless ready wheels and adaptable internal routing for hydraulics and electronic shifting.

We are not building down to a price, so we use full groupsets, not a mix of different levels like many brands. The idea is that the bikes are built up to a performance standard, not down to a price point, they are designed to last a long time and the modern features mean they won't date fast and can be updated as your needs and riding style changes.

These bikes are designed for serious adventures, in speed and comfort. The geometry is designed for stability at speed and when loaded and the slacker, but not too slack, angles work perfectly with disc brakes and perform dependably on a variety of surfaces, on and off road. Longer head tubes mean you are not too head-down for comfort, but they are a sensible length to ensure that power isn't compromised when accelerating and climbing.

Above all, we worked to ensure the Resolution maintains the matchless ride of steel that makes you want to come back to the bike and take it far, but stiff enough to entice speed. That really is the essence of our steel model."

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?

From Mason:

Award-winning, Columbus Spirit/Life Resolution2 performance steel frame with exclusively developed Flat-Mount/Thru-Axle dropouts.

Force AXS 12spd: The essential features of etap AXS''modern wireless gearing, advanced chain management, and easy personalization''in a more affordable package.

Inspired Flattop technology enables a narrower chain with quieter operation and increased strength and durability.

Force XG-1270 Cassette is optimized for electronic shifting and features X-Range gearing technology. Smooth, precise shifts, from 10T on up.

HydroHC, AXS-enabled brake system is fully customisable and refined for AXS.

Proprietary 48/31 12speed chainset

'Orbit' Fluid Clutch chain management technology keeps drivetrain totally secure and silent.

Front and Rear Mechs feature AXS personalization technology.

Deda Zero100 'bars & stem are the lightest alloy control points available.

Choices of Schwalbe and Continental tubeless tyres designed for maximum speed, ride quality and all-surface control.

Configurable with the full-range of award-winning HUNT wheelsets.

Clearance for full mudguards.

Fully and discretely eyeletted for rack and 'guards.

Unique Mason MultiPort adaptable internal routing.

Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options

It's the fourth most expensive model in the Resolution range. A Shimano 105-equipped bike kicks off the range at £3,140, or you can buy a frameset for £1,595 or a rolling chassis including Hunt wheels and a Mason seatpost for £1,953.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
9/10

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

Frame and fork are beautifully made and finished.

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

Columbus Spirit/Life steel tubes for the frame and a custom carbon fork.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

Designed to provide easy handling on long rides, with a focus on comfort.

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

I found the fit spot on with no changes necessary.

Riding the bike

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

The comfort is very impressive and lives up to the expectation for a steel frame.

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

There's ample bottom bracket stiffness when putting down the power.

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

It won't win any sprint finishes but it's no slouch.

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

None.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Relaxed.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

Handling leans towards the relaxed end of the spectrum

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

The new aero Hunt wheels and Pro One tyres were jolly impressive.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

There's nothing I'd change.

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

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
8/10
Wheels and tyres
Rate the wheels for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for performance:
 
10/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
9/10
Controls
Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
8/10
Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Yes

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It's a little pricier than some of the competition.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
5/10

Use this box to explain your overall score

The Resolution is a very impressive steel road bike that works on UK roads, but the highish price holds it back from scoring higher.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   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: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

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