Sabbath bikes are a British company that's been going for the best part of seven years and have a small range of just six titanium bikes comprising of top end race, full touring and sportive style machines.
The September is designed for, and to quote Sabbath's website, 'Utility and audax riders looking for year round riding.' Like most other titanium frames out there the September is made from 3Al/2.5V titanium tubing, although they've gone for straight gauge walls rather than double or triple butted unlike Kinesis and Genesis have on their respective all-rounders. Our Medium (54cm) test frame has a claimed weight of 1.55kg.
Audax UK have relaxed their rules on compulsory mudguards a little but if you're buying a bike specifically for carrying your brevet card around the countryside you're going to be expecting full mounts and that's what you get with the September at the rear dropouts and chainstay bridge. Large 28mm tyres fit easily even with mudguards attached and if you want to press the Sabbath into commuting service rack mounts are also attached that can carry up to a cliamed 25kg no less.
The geometry is pretty relaxed as you'd expect on a bike of this style. The ability to take full mudguards automatically increases the wheelbase length which should mean stable, surefooted handling. At the front end things are raised slightly with a 155mm headtube and set up with a single 10mm spacer under the stem a really good compromise of comfort and racing position was easily achieved. A 72° angle means the steering is confident and balanced without being twitchy. No tapered headtubes here though, it's a standard 1 1/8' external headset supplied by FSA. A good option on a year round bike as even though mudguards should keep the majority of road grit out if it does get into the races the headset can just be replaced. Things aren't so easy with an integrated version as the races are part of the headtube meaning new frame time.
As is the norm with titanium the frame is left unpainted, the finish is known as Bright Brush which is semi polished while leaving a bit of grain from the material. The logo is sandblasted which looks good and also means no transfers to get damaged. The welds are tidy and non-obtrusive to the eye and this goes for the attachments. The cable guides and bottle cage bosses are all welded rather than riveted complimenting the longevity of the material.
Dedacciai provide the Blackrain fork which has carbon legs and an alloy steerer. As you'd expect the alloy dropouts contain mudguard mounts plus there is plenty of tyre/guard clearance.
There are plenty of build variations available and the frame also comes with the option of custom fit geometry by filling in the form on Sabbath's website. Our test model was built up with a full Shimano 105 groupset but with a swap to non-series deep drop brakes. Shimano provide the finishing kit as well through their Pro brand with an oversize alloy bar, stem and seatpost combo from the LT range. Sensible kit with understated graphics and the matt black finish compliments the titanium frame.
Whells are by Fulcrum, their Racing 5 wheelset which is ideal for everyday use. They're quick enough for fast paced efforts but equally comfortable taking a knock or two from potholes and the like. Wrapped around them are Conti's well regarded 25mm Gatorskins that follow much the same ethos as the Fulcrum's, good rolling resistance coupled with decent reliability.
SKS Chromplastics come as standard and once fitted they always remain in place and rattle free. With the mudflap attached they keep most of the rain of your feet and the rear does a good job of not covering your following ride buddy/wheelsucker in mud.
The first bike you think of in terms of competition to the September is Genesis' Equilibrium Ti, same price (£2299.99 rrp), same finishing kit and a very similar weight – the Sabbath comes in 400g heavier at 9600g but is sporting mudguards which'll account for the extra weight. Once you hit the road though that is where the similarities end. While I found the Genesis a little bit lacking in the fun stakes the September is the complete opposite. It's got a bit of zing about it, feedback, responsiveness, all the things you want from a bike you could be spending a lot of time aboard.
The frame has the comfort/stiffness balance down to a tee as the shock absorbency takes every vibration out of the ride, it literally runs silently on everything but the roughest of surfaces. Push the frame though and that suppleness isn't at the cost of stiffness. Whether you're climbing, accelerating or sprinting the Sabbath remains planted beneath you and responds to changes in pace instantly.
Obviously a bike of this ilk isn't really about all out performance but fear not the September easily maintains speed keeping your average up over the distance. The by-product of that comfort also means you can maintain that speed for a long time before the usual muscle fatigue starts to kick in
The handling is easy to live with, no real surprises whether you're cruising along the main road or fighting your way through traffic. The relaxed head and long wheelbase provides the stable footprint that this style of bike requires and leaves you free to take in the scenery and enjoy the ride.
With a 50/34 chainset and a 12/27 cassette both the downhills and the uphills are taken care of with regards to gearing. Whether in or out of the saddle the September climbs well due to the stiff frame and components getting the power down. On descents the Gatorskins grip with confidence and you can really let go of the leash and allow the bike to gain speed. Things can get a bit twitchy once you're really flying if the road turns a bit technical but considering the Sabbath isn't a race bike that doesn't come as a huge surprise.
The Fulcrum 5's dealt with the freezing wet spring weather we've just come through with no grumbling bearings or trueness issues from the inevitable pothole clout. The shallow box section rims happily shrug off most knocks and bumps and the braking surface bedded in quickly. The Conti tyres also lived up to their reputation with not a single visit from the puncture fairy and the rear especially seems to be wearing well considering the amount of miles covered.
The performance of the entire 105 drivetrain doesn't suffer with a coating of road paste (that beautiful mix of salt, grit and a build up of chain lube) keeping the gear changes going between the weekly clean.
There are a couple of things I'd change though. The brakes lack the bite of the Tektro's found on the Equilibrium Ti and the resulting effort of constant deceleration in built up traffic areas left my hands aching. A change to Swisstop Green pads helped a bit but there is quite a bit of flex in the calipers.
The saddle is another sore point... quite literally. The Selle Italia XO is a budget offering to be fair and Sabbath no doubt expects the rider to change to a favourite perch from the start considering the big mileage intentions of the September. The XO itself though is a bit of a shapeless thing that shows no signs of bedding in at all. I tolerated it for the first 400 miles but then had to switch to something more comfortable.
Once that was done the September definitely became the bike to grab out of the garage even on days when I could have taken the Sunday best race bike. I'd always take the Sabbath due to the fact it was almost as quick from A to B if you haven't got a number on your back and it was supremely comfortable meaning the ride home was hell of a lot easier to get motivated for.
Overall the September is engaging giving a fun ride if you fancy a quick blast but also reserved and well mannered enough that you can ride for hours on it without giving it a thought.
With this build the Sabbath September is one of those bikes where all the parts complement each other. The low rotational weight of the Fulcrum 5's means the bike feels much lighter than the scales would have you believe and you could easily hold your own on a spirited club run or sportive course. The feedback is of a solid, sweet handling, comfortable road machine and apart from the small imperfections mentioned above it strikes a beautiful balance of reliability, speed and comfort over your chosen distance.
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sabbath September
Size tested: 56cm
About the bike
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame- 3Al/2.5V Titanium
Fork- Deda Blackrain (carbon/alloy)
Bars- Pro LT
Stem- Pro LT
Seatpost- Pro LT
Saddle- Selle Italia XO
Brakes- Shimano deep drop
Shifters- Shimano 105
Front mech- Shimano 105
Rear mech - Shimano 105
Chainset - Shimano 105 50x34T
Cassette- Shimano 10spd 12/27T
Wheels- Fulcrum Racing 5
Tyres- Conti Gatorskin 25x700c
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 September is an audax/tourer that can also be used as a winter trainer or year round commuter. It covers all bases and is perfect as an all rounder, a one bike does all.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The welds are neat and welded bottle bosses and the like all add to the longevity of the frame.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
3Al/2.5V titanium tubes are 3% aluminium, 2.5% vanadium and the rest titanium. It's a good balance between strength, machinability and weldabiliity
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
A really good fit was achievable. 55cm top tube is pretty standard for a medium and the 155mm headtube was a good balance between comfort and aero.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes very. The bars and other components are very stiff which they can get away with due to give in the frame. Its a typical titanium trait but the Sabbath seemed to exploit it better than most.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The whole bike is a perfect balance between stiffness and comfort provided by the titanium.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very well, it responds like a race bike to your inputs
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
Yes, a little but it wasn't an 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?
All in all the handling as very good. plenty of feedback gives the rider confidence no matter what the road condition.
The handling could become a little unresponsive at really high speed though.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The saddle = bad, that thing was truly awful.The frame compliments a lot of the stiff components.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The bar and stem combo keps the front pretty tight and the wheels don't show any sign of flex under effort. The bike wouldn't want to be any stiffer.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The package works together to be fair with each component complimenting the next.
.........with regards to it's weight
again, when you take its weight into account
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
105 is dependable, good looking groupset that lasts well. It might not be the most refined but its suited to this style of bike.
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 Fulcrum's were better than I expected taking the knocks and bad weather the test miles were subjected to for what is basically a racing wheel. You can get them online for a smidge under 200 quid so they're a worthy upgrade to any bike.
The tyres are among the top winter tyres for durability and rolling resistance and they didn't show anything over this test that would damage their reputation.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Shimano's Pro kit is good value for money especially the LT range. Its basic alloy but it does the job and is comfortable
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
About the tester
Age: 34 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: Ribble Winter Trainer for commuting, Genesis Flyer My best bike is: Sarto Rovigo
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.