Handsling's A1R0evo is a bike that focuses primarily on speed – but it doesn't do this at the expense of comfort. The bike is quick, very quick indeed, and just feels on it the whole time, yet it doesn't beat you up like you think a race bike should. The ride is very refined, supple even, and while it's perfectly at home in the middle of a bunch sprint, you can also cover some serious miles with relative ease. Its overall quality puts it up there with the machines in our best aero road bikes buyer's guide.
> Buy now: Handsling A1R0evo Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8100 for £5199.99 from Handsling
It's easy to say that a certain bike is fast, but as any road bike still requires your leg power and input to create forward motion (excepting e-bikes, obviously...) it's not always that easy to quantify. After all you're going to be the main driving force behind the bike's overall speed.
But not all fast bikes are fast everywhere.
Some, whether it's down to having heavy wheels or carrying a little excess overall mass, can feel draggy off the line, though once up to speed can be hugely efficient. Others can accelerate quickly, but then aren't that easy to keep rolling.
When riding the A1R0evo, though, I couldn't find any flaws when it came to its performance. It weighs just 7.76kg on our scales and feels less than that when you're riding it, and I found it responsive away from the line and under any kind of effort. But when you're putting in a massive effort, it's stiffness shows through, which also helps.
Once the bike's up to speed the frame's aero attributes make themselves known, as do the deep-section wheels, which makes for a bike that carries speed well, even when the terrain is rolling.
The geometry is also designed to help you get into an efficient riding position. Slightly stretched with a relatively low front end, but it's well balanced, and not so extreme that you're put into a shape that you can't maintain hour after hour, mile after mile.
Not only could you race on the A1R0evo, it also makes quite the grand tourer, and the clearance for 32mm tyres means you can bolster comfort further.
On the whole, the A1R0evo is very much the definition of what a modern road/race bike has become. A lot of us want to ride fast, but very few of us actually pin on the race numbers and compete, so we don't need the extremes of handling or the boneshaking stiffness that former generations of race bikes offered.
Because the sweet, balanced steering makes the Handsling very easy to ride it's a confidence-inspiring machine for all of us – even if you're a seasoned roadie with all the bike-handling skills you never be left wanting on the A1R0evo.
On fast descents I found the front end of the A1R0evo very direct; it's a proper point-and-shoot machine that changes direction with precision.
There is no understeer from the fork at all even when you bank it over hard at high speed, and feedback through the fork and frame from the tyres is very good indeed.
In fact, most of the review period took place during a dry cold snap which saw the salt levels on the road build up day after day, and that amount of feedback was greatly appreciated when the tyres would start to slide much quicker than you'd expect on a dry road.
With a tight wheelbase well under 1,000mm on our 54cm test bike the A1R0evo also feels nimble, which adds to the direct feel to the handling.
Through technical bends or when you're tackling roundabouts at speed this bike absolutely flies.
It's a decent climber too. With massive stiffness around the bottom bracket shell, chainstays and down tube you can certainly get the power down without worrying about flex wasting your climbing efforts.
Frame and fork
The A1R0evo has been designed from the ground up by Handsling, with the finished product coming from its own moulds, which gives Handsling complete control over the whole production process.
Toray's T800 carbon fibre is used for the construction resulting in a 52cm frame weighing in at around 920g. Handsling's team told me they reckon that they could knock 200g from that figure – but they want a frame that can take some knocks too.
As it stands the frame surpasses ISO standards after being subjected to close to 500,000 cycles in fatigue testing, and it withstood 350kgf (kilogram-force) in strength testing.
On the back of this Handsling can offer a lifetime warranty on the A1R0evo's frame against any manufacturing defects. And should you want to don your race number, the frameset is also UCI approved.
The frame has various aerodynamic cues to its design like truncated tube shapes for smoothing airflow, while the boxy nature of the lower half off the frame is designed to resist forces from your power output, and/or braking.
It doesn't look as slippery as some aero bikes we've reviewed, but it does feel effective in the real world.
And whereas the lower half of the frame is all about stiffness, the upper half is all about compliance, thanks to a top tube that slimes down from front to rear and the dropped, slender seatstays.
The seat tube has an aero design and a rear-wheel cutaway below the seatstays, while above the seatstay junction it has a slimmer profile for comfort. The seat tube takes a D-shaped seatpost, which won't cut through the air like an aero-profiled post but will flex a little for greater comfort.
The short wheelbase tucks the rear wheel in tight to the seat tube and the tight clearances give the A1R0evo a purposeful look.
As mentioned earlier, both the frame and fork will accept 32mm tyres, which I think is a good for this style of bike.
As with a lot of the latest road bikes Handsling has gone for fully integrated cable and hose runs, and that means right from the source. Everything passes through the handlebar/stem, before dropping into the head tube from above and then on to the frame or fork.
The result is a very clean look.
The A1R0evo is available in six sizes from 50-60cm corresponding with 520-600mm top tube lengths.
We have the 540, which has a 550mm top tube, 140mm head tube and a 510mm seat tube, creating a subtle, compact-style frame. The wheelbase is a tight 975mm, with chainstays 408mm long.
The stack and reach figures are 545mm and 390mm respectively, the seat angle is 73.5 degrees and the head angle 73 degrees.
Handsling offers the A1R0evo in a range of 15 colours, a veritable rainbow taking in Candy Red, Inca Yellow, Purple Rain and a dozen more.
The A1R0evo is available in a few builds on Handsling's website including Dura-Ace, SRAM Red AXS, SRAM Rival AXS and 105 Di2 to name a few. And Handsling also gives you the option of Campagnolo and going for a fully customised build.
This model uses the latest R8170 Ultegra Di2, which scored a rare-as 10/10 when we reviewed it last year.
If you haven't had chance to read it yet I'll give you a quick rundown. It has moved from 11- to 12-speed, is disc brake-only, and commands between shifters and mechs are now wireless.
Performance-wise, it can't really be faulted, with incredibly smooth and fast gear shifts and very impressive braking power and modulation. You are also getting more pad clearance on this new version.
Handsling has specced a pro-compact 52/36T chainset which is befitting of the performance delivered by the A1R0evo.
This paired with an 11-34T cassette.
As for the rest of the build, there has been no scrimping anywhere. The cockpit consists of a Handsling Race Integrated carbon handlebar/stem, with its 400mm-wide bar and 120mm stem.
Its shape works well, the flat top section comfortable for steady riding and giving a smooth transition onto the hoods. Their reasonably shallow drops should make them usable for just about any type of rider too.
The in-line position of the carbon fibre seatpost gives you a forward-biased position, which helps you get the power down.
I have ridden Prologo's Dimension saddle countless times before and it has a shape I really get on with.
Our wheels are a £200 upgrade over the standard build's wheels, the Parcours Strade wheels pairing a 49mm front rim and deeper 54mm rear.
The external rim widths are slightly different too, with the front wider at 32mm for improved aerodynamics and the rear 30.5mm, though both have the same 22.5mm internal width.
The 1,520g claimed weight is decent for deep-section wheels and their performance was very impressive. Their depth and weight don't hamper acceleration and I found their lateral stiffness coped with some very hard efforts.
Once up to speed their depth means you can feel the aero benefit from them and I had no issues with durability.
Ours came with 30mm Pirelli P Zero TLR tyres that I found fast, grippy and very durable for a race tyre. They were set up tubeless and are £30 dearer than the standard build's Schwalbe One.
I like them because their grip is great in the wet and dry, they roll nicely and they feel supple – punctures weren't an issue during testing, but your mileage may vary, of course...
With the wheel and tyre upgrades this review model comes in at £5,429 with prices starting from £5,199 if you go for the standard build with shallower wheels.
A frameset costs £1,899.99.
A similarly specced Moda Finale will set you back £5,750 with-deep section Spinergy wheels. Liam certainly liked the lower spec version he tested.
Merida's Reacto range follows a similar sort of frameset design and Leon thought it a great aero bike if you're on a budget, though he did find it very stiff.
The £6,500 Merida Reacto 9000 is constructed from the company's top-level carbon fibre, comes with an Ultegra Di2 groupset and deep-section Reynolds aero 65 carbon wheels.
Or a bike I consider to be one of the best value road bikes out there, the Orro Venturi STC offers high-performance, and it rides brilliantly too.
Current price for the Orro STC Ultegra Di2 Tailor Made is very similar to the Handsling at £5299.99, which includes the Ultegra Di2 groupset, 40mm Fulcrum Airbeat carbon wheels and a BlkTec Carbon Aero bar and stem combo, though it isn't integrated.
Handsling's A1R0evo is an impressive all-round package providing you with plenty of performance and impressive handling, matched with a lot more comfort than you'd expect from a bike of this ilk. As far as I can find, there are no compromises whatsoever either in terms of the ride or build quality, and considering Handsling is a small UK business that has invested in creating its own moulds – which don't come cheap – the A1R0evo still manages to represent decent value for money.
A high-end, no-compromise road race bike that delivers stiffness and comfort in equal measures
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Make and model: Handsling A1R0evo Shimano Ultegra Di2 R8100
List the components used to build up the bike.
Groupset: Shimano Ultegra Di2, 172.5mm cranks, 52/36t chainset, 11-34t 12-speed
Brakes: Shimano Ultegra Hydraulic Disc Brakes. Rotors: 160mm front, 140mm rear
Wheelset: Parcours Strade (49mm front, 54mm rear)
Tyres: Pirelli P Zero TLR 30mm (tubeless)
Saddle: Prologo Dimension NDR Tirox
Carbon Handlebar: Handsling Race Integrated (400mm width, 120mm stem)
Carbon seatpost: Handsling Aero D-Shaped Seatpost
Bar tape: Prologo One Touch 2 Gel
Bottom Bracket: HSCER BB86 24.24R
Thru Axles: 12mm Handsling Superlight axles front and rear
Headset: Handsling Integrated Headset 1.5in
Bottle cages: Handsling Carbon Rib Cage bottle cages
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?
Handsling says: "Every cyclist wants a bike that combines aero advantage with the lightness and comfort for long days in the saddle. The Handsling A1R0evo delivers on all fronts.
"The A1R0evo is the ultimate carbon fibre disc brake road bike. Designed by Handsling from scratch, it is stiff, robust, lightweight, and has clearance for up to 32mm tyres."
The bike will do everything well, from storming tight city centre crits to conquering steep mountain passes to floating over Belgian cobbles. It is used by pro cycling teams and enthusiasts throughout the world."
It's a fast, performance orientated race bike, with a slightly softer edge which gives confidence to riders of any level.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
Stock builds start with the Campagnolo Super Record EPS at £7,399.99, with Dura-Ace Di2 (£6,999.99), Campagnolo Record (£5,399.99) and SRAM Red AXS (£6,199.99) below that.
This Ultegra Di2 is next with Force AXS (£4,999.99), Chorus (£4,699.99), 105 Di2 (£4,699.99), SRAM Rival AXS (£4,299.99) and 105 mechanical for £4,099.99.
Overall rating for frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Very high quality throughout and the option of 15 paint colours.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame and fork are both constructed from Toray T800 carbon fibre.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
While the geometry is performance based, it does so without being overly aggressive.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Height and reach figures are as expected for this type and size of frameset.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Considering how stiff the A1R0evo is, the comfort is impressive.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The lower half of the frame is very stiff, ideal for power transfer.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Very good indeed. A mixture of stiffness and low weight means that it is an efficient bike.
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? Lively
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The handling is quick and direct, although Handsling has backed things off a touch, so that it isn't a handful on technical descents or on longer rides where fatigue comes into play.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I get on very well with the shape of the Prologo saddle, and the Handsling handlebar works well, offering plenty of comfortable hand positions.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The Parcours wheels are stiff and showed no lateral flex.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels' deep rims provide an aero bonus at speed.
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Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
The Ultegra groupset works extremely well, with high-quality shifting and great control from the brakes.
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Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
A good all-round set of wheels with a real-world aero advantage.
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Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
A very grippy, fast-rolling tyre that is a surprisingly robust race tyre.
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Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
A great selection of finishing kit that complements the quality of the frameset.
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?
Orro's Venturi STC offers some of the best value for this kind of bike, but the Handsling is still very competitive. Similar models from Merida and Moda are both more expensive.
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Use this box to explain your overall score
The A1R0evo is a well-designed bike with a focus on performance, but it's built up in a way that it doesn't sacrifice comfort - not always an easy balancing act to achieve. Handsling has shown a lot of attention to detail, and considering its overall quality it scores pretty well on the price too.
Age: 44 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 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,
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