The Italian-made Olympia EGO RS carbon road bike offers a pleasant ride experience and unique styling with more heritage than most other brands.
The Olympia EGO RS flies along along country lanes with delightful grace and a good turn of speed, smooths out rough roads with impressive ability and ascends at a decent pace, making it a very interesting alternative choice from the more mainstream options at around £2,000.
Cycling has boomed in the last ten years and there's now a lot more choice if if you're in the market for a new road bike, but few manufacturers can boast the heritage of Olympia. They were founded way back in 1893, just a few years after Bianchi in fact. Nevertheless, it's clear from their wide range of bikes that they've kept pace with the latest innovations and technological developments that have transformed road bikes over the past couple of decades.
This shows in the EGO RS, their third-tier offering (sitting below the Ikon and Boost). Olympia might be steeped in history, but they don't spend too much time looking back, their gaze is fixed firmly on the horizon. They're one of the few manufacturers that have the capability to produce carbon fibre frames in-house, and they have their own factory in Italy where they produce frames. This gives them complete control over the manufacturing process, and allows them to affect some Italian personality into their bikes.
The EGO RS frame is made from a Toray T70,50 and 50 unidirectional carbon fibre and Olympia use what they call a 'dual moulding' process to make the frame. They don't give too much away about the exact details of this process, but basically they use an internal mould that is placed inside the frame to reduce wrinkles and other imperfections on the internal surface of the frame.
Olympia have produced an elegant and slender frame that manages to stand out from the crowd. The enlarged profile down tube and chainstays shows the frame means business though, while the skinny tapered top tube, squeezed in the middle and flaring where it meets the tapered head tube, in combination with the skinny seat stays, are there to deliver a comfortable ride.
It's packed with all the latest design features that are fast becoming standard these days. The carbon fork has a tapered steerer tube with a 1.5in lower bearing race, and their own design carbon fibre monocoque fork slots into the headset bearings. A PressFit bottom bracket allows this area of the frame, where the downtube and chainstays meet, to be hugely oversized and reduces the need for metal inserts.
As is becoming almost standard these days, the cables are routed internally. Passing into the down tube at the side of the head tube, the gear cables continue inside the frame until they emerge part way down the drive side chainstay and behind the seat tube. The rear brake cable is routed inside the top tube. It's Di2 compatible as well so has good upgrade potential.
The frame weighs in at 1,100g for a medium which is a respectable weight for a bike of this price, but it's clearly not going to trouble the welterweight frames that cost more than this entire bike. If you're in the market for a £2,000 road bike ultimate frame weight isn't going to be a top priority. The bike builds up into a 8.2kg package which isn't all that much heavier than what some of the pros are racing.
The Olympia shows its racing pedigree roots a little with the geometry. The size medium I tested measures up with a 55cm effective top tube and a very short 14.5cm head tube, which promotes a compact and aero position. I had to change to a 12cm stem to get the fit just right. Head angle is 72.5 degrees and the seat angle 73.3 degrees, while the wheelbase is 982mm. Olympia offer six sizes, XS to XXL.
The Italians can be known to go overboard with colours and decals, and the EGO RS is a case in point. For an Italian bike it's rather muted, but the yellow stripes that adorn the frame seem to be met with either love or hate reactions. What I can safely say is that it looks very different from any other bike I've tested and drew much attention wherever I went. Some of the finishing touches, like the 'carbon modular fibre construction' sticker on the head tube, are a bit unnecessary, but Olympia are hardly the only manufacturer guilty of reminding the owner how the frame was made. Suffice to say, it's a charming looking bike that stands out from the mainstream offerings.
£2,000 is a lot of money, yes, but the Olympia EGO RS does an impressive job of working every pound hard. The frame wears a complete Shimano 105 groupset with a compact chainset, which is on a par with most other bikes at this price. It may not be as light or shiny as Ultegra or Dura-Ace, but 105 offers slick shifting and powerful brakes - so good that that you'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference where you blindfolded. Not that we recommend you try this.
Even at £2,000, there's occasionally evidence of corner cutting, but not here; the Olympia packs a full complement of quality branded components. From the excellent, if a little heavy, Mavic Aksium wheels (read our review) with Mavic's own Yksion tyres, to the full carbon FSA Carbon Pro compact handlebar - nice shape and good reach - with a carbon stem and matching seatpost. The Selle Italia X Feel saddle wasn't comfortable for this tester, but that's easily swapped for a saddle that is.
Despite the 8.2kg (18lb) weight, the Olympia EGO RS has a very impressive turn of speed. Blasting along rolling roads the EGO RS proves adept at transferring power effectively through those massive chainstays to the rear wheel, thrusting you forward with every input of power. There's no getting away from the weight on the steeper climbs, but there the compact 50/34 chainset gets you out of trouble.
Through the corners and the EGO RS displays excellent handling. It tracks through slow flat corners and high speed sweeping bends with confidence, making you feel very at home and happy to push on. It gives you the peace of mind on the descents to keep your fingers away from the brakes.
The frame balances the demands of being stiff for decent power transfer, and the ability to absorb the chatter and vibrations from rough and poorly surfaced roads. It's one of the more comfortable road bikes I've tested in a long while, but it's not soft and floppy. When you get on the power the bike responds willingly. It's a tricky balance, but the EGO RS gets it just right.
When you settle down at a cruising speed, the EGO RS is most happy. Rolling along smooth country lanes, flowing through sweeping bends, admiring the view, taking in the nice weather, cresting small rises with a lunge for the summit. It's just a really nice, smooth and fast, road bike that is a nice place to spend a few hours on a Sunday morning. It puts a smile on your face.
The EGO RS is a very easy bike to ride too. Just jump on and feel right at home. The handling is neutral and the steering well balanced, so it doesn't throw up any surprises. This handling balance means it will suit cyclists making the leap up to a more expensive road bike from the entry-level, as well as more experienced cyclists who don't want the out-and-out stiffness and razor sharp speed of a racier number.
There's a lot to like about the Olympia. If you want a true Italian steed that genuinely stands out and rides beautifully, look no further. I was very impressed with the EGO RS, and aside from the saddle, there's almost nothing to dislike about it. Okay, so maybe I couldn't live with the paint job, but because of the way it rides, I could overlook that.
Italian pedigree backed up with modern frame and very smart handling, will suit racers, sportive riders and Sunday cruisers alike.
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Make and model: Olympia EGO RS
Size tested: 55cm
State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.
EGO, a road frame with racing-type geometries, has been completely restyled (RS) for 2013. The new design completely revolutionizes its shapes without altering the concept that has made this model one of Olympia's best sellers over time: maximum results, minimum cost.
The EGO RS has countless quality details: for example, all cabling is integrated in the frame, it has a 1.5' tapered head tube resting on a carbon fibre monocoque fork, the bottom bracket is PressFit TM and the frame is also designed to take the Shimano Di2 electronic gear set, all providing outstanding value for the bike's price band.The frame is in T700 carbon fibre with monocoque structure produced by the 'dual moulding' method also known as 'e-moulding'. This technology, which uses two different moulds (one internal and one external) to produce the structure in a single piece, guarantees excellent compacting of the composite fabrics and an extremely lightweight finished frame. In M size, the EGO RS model weighs only 1100 grams!
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?
Frame: UD Carbon Monocoque Toray T70/60/50
Fork: UD Carbon Monocoque 1.5
Sizes: XS, S, M, L XL, XXL
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Excellent build quality and packed with modern touches like internal cable routing, pressfit bottom bracket and tapered head tube.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Olympia use a mix of Toray T70, 60 and 50 carbon fibre, with a layup that balances the needs of stiffness and comfort.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Olympia show their Italian racing heritage with the geometry, with quite a short head tube compared to the current (US-led) trend for very tall head tubes. This is a good thing if you want to assume a racy position.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
It felt very good, once I changed to a 12cm stem.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Yes it was most comfortable, good compliance through the fork and rear end of the frame.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Yes, the massive chainstays and downtube ensure there's the required stiffness when you want to turn up the speed.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?
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?
Handling is well balanced, throws up no nasty surprises or shocks, it's an easy bike to ride and feel at home on.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels are fine rollers but their high weight was noticeable. A good item for an upgrade in the future, and keep the Mavic's for winter training. This bike would suit some light hoops
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
I was impressed with all the branded components.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Same as above.
The wheels blunt initial acceleration from slow speeds a little, if I'm being really picky.
Sprints very well, very planted and stable.
You feel the weight on the steeper climbs a bit, but the gradual ascents are no problem
Shimano 105 is excellent, good shifting and good range of ratios.
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 nice to see a full Shimano 105 groupset, it's not the lightest but very durable and works brilliantly.
The wheels are good, stiff and dependable, they're just a bit weighty at nearly 2kg the pair
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?
Ignore the weight, and the wheels were fine. The tyres are good, decent grip and not prone to punctures or cutting.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Really like the shape and reach of the compact FSA handlebars, makes riding in the drops less of a stretch.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
Had to change the saddle, but saddles are always a personal thing.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes.
Would you consider buying the bike? Maybe.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes.
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
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, mtb,
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.