My current top 5 best bike and 5 training bikes….

I love bikes and hope to get a new best bike (or at least a step up from the one I have) in the next 12 months. My current bike will be 6 years old in January and at about 20lbs, I’d like my next one to be much closer to 15lbs (budget allowing).


I thought that today I’d post my current top five choices for new best and training bikes. Next week is the London Cycle Show at Earls Court and I’m going to be spending the day there on Friday – so this is before I go to the show and possibly fall for bikes not on this list.


Even if I’m going to be able to buy a bike off my best bike list, I’m still going to need to strike a keen balance between performance, weight, comfort and cost. I also want good warranty support and to to buy something I feel is well engineered.  Unlike some people, I could care less where the bike is made, as long as it is well made. I know some people want bikes made in certain countries (by hand) – I’m just not one of those cyclists. Most of the bikes on my list are made in Taiwan or China and that’s fine as I know there is fantastic manufacturing quality in many factories there.


So without further ado, my current favourites/leading contenders for my next bikes are as follows:


Top 5 Best bikes


1)= Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL3
Frame and forks retail £1999 – The SL3 has already achieved a first and second in the 2010 Tour and several strong classics wins. The geometry on this bike is almost perfect for me. I’m a big fan of Specialized and I think this bike may well be their best road bike ever. It’s had great reviews and is very well priced as a frameset compared to most other pro tour level frames – so it ticks all the boxes for me. The big negative for me on the Specialized are the colour choices. I don’t fancy a white bike and I hate the orange they’ve released for 2011 – not classy at all. Neither do I like the Astana scheme as I don’t like the team. Fortunately they’re releasing a black version into the UK in the next few months. I believe supply is a bit of an issue so they might be hard to find which could make negotiating a discount more difficult.This bike has had universally great reviews from magazines and owners alike. Here’s a short review here (http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/tech/bikes/127718/1/specialized-tarmac-sl3.html)


1)= Canyon Ultimate CF SLX


Frame and forks approx £1400 delivered at current special prices (1599 Euros) – but they’ve now sadly sold out of the 2010 stock. There are still some great buys for the full bike though. I think this outstanding value for same frame used by the Lotto pro team.http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/bikes/road/product/ultimate-cf-slx-team-10-38298. Canyon’s aren’t available in the US or Australia (sorry to you guys) and are a direct seller like Dell is. As a former Dell employee, I’m a big fan of the direct model for providing fantastic value and think the Canyon delivers this in spades. A few years ago, like most German bikes, Canyons were reknowned for being very stiff (uncomfortable) but this frame is both stiff and comfortable. For UK readers, I understand that Canyon are in the process of setting up a UK customer service centre to make it easier to buy Canyons here. On top of the great value Canyon offer, I think this will help them sell a lot more bikes in Blighty.


1)= Cervelo R3 (2011)


Frame and Forks £2200 – To me the R3 is a modern classic with two Paris-Roubaix (PR) wins and podiums in every PR it’s contested  and it’s now updated with new geometry (http://girodilento.com/2011-cervelo-r3-first-picture). I’m a big Cervelo fan and I’m delighted that the new R3/R5 will now fit me better – the old geometry was a bit too low in the front end for me. I was originally very keen on the Cervelo RS and loved a test ride I had on one about a year ago – but I feel the R3 is a more exciting bike. I held a R3 frame recently and was blown away by how light even the standard R3 is let alone the R5 (which is probably too expensive for me). I hope to ride the 2011 R3 soon and look forward to writing about this shortly afterwards.


4) – Colnago C59


Frame and Forks £3300 – Expensive but the state of the art for Colnago’s famous lugged carbon road frames. Colnago have a mystique about them and I feel that since the EPS (which is another great bike), they’ve upped their game further with the C59, M10 and CX-1 Evo all being newly released. Of those the M10 and the C59 stand out as the most interesting. The M10 because it’s lightest and most aero Colnago monocoque frame ever and the C59 because it’s the latest in a long line of highly regarded lugged carbon frames. I think if I could stretch to the Colnago price – I’d choose the C59 to try the Colnago lugged ride. However as a modernist, I’d choose a sloping frame rather than traditional. As yet there aren’t many reviews on the C59 and none that I can see on the M10 but you can find the C59 reviewed here in some detail: http://www.colnago.cc/


5) Cervelo S3


As I’ve already said I’m a big fan of Cervelo and I’m fascinated by aerodynamics on road bikes. For me the S3 represents the absolute state of the art in aero road frames right now but at £3,500 – it’s an outside choice in my top 5 simply due to cost. In fairness as a recreational rider – it might well be overkill for me but I do like the idea of one – especially because of the extra comfort the S3 brings over the S2. Heinrich Haussler raves about his S3 and here’s a great review from the excellent road.cc: http://road.cc/content/review/8653-cervelo-s3


I’d ideally be buying frame only and my choice for my ultimate groupset is SRAM Red – as it’s light, relatively affordable and high performance. (£990). I think it would also go extremely well with any of my choices above.


Some other bikes that are right on the edge of my top 5 include:



Enigma Extensor – http://www.enigmabikes.com/bike/bike-enigma-extensor.html Owner/Forum review here:


Now as I may not be able to stretch to one of my top 5 best bikes, I’ve also been building a shortlist of more everyday bikes that I think are special but also offer excellent value. In a perfect world I’d have one bike from my list above as my best bike and one from the list below as a great training/winter bike. Ideally I’d prefer to buy frame only and my top two choices are just that, but the other three full bikes also offer fantastic value.


My Top 5 Everyday/Affordable bikes


1) Kinesis KR-810
From the reading I’ve been doing this is a light, high performance and very under-rated frame – with SRAM Force it would make a fantastic training or best bike. The KR-810 can be found for circa £850 if you shop around and I like the Diamond Black particularly. I know that for this year the colours are different (the Diamond Black for instance) and the carbon layup has been tweaked further to improve what was already a good frame. There have been some very good reviews for this frame including this one: http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/frames/road/product/kr-810-carbon-frame-16758. The only thing that confuses me about this bike is the sizing and geometry – so I’m glad that the Kinesis guys will be at the bike show next week so I can talk it through with them and update this post once I have.


2) Kinesis Granfondo
The Granfondo is by all accounts a terrific all year round, all conditions frame with a fantastic ride that’s a little bit different (Easton Scandium tubing) (http://www.kinesisbikes.co.uk/products/racelight/granfondo). I like the colours a lot and this frameset including seatpost can be found for approximately £675 if you shop around. It would struggle with my weight goal but can fit mudguards/fenders but with quite “racy” handling – so it’s highly versatile and would probably be used for over half the year in the UK. There’s a fantastic review at RoadcyclingUK here: http://www.roadcyclinguk.com/bike-reviews/kinesis-granfondo-tested/3490.html


3) Ribble Stealth Sportive (fully built with SRAM Force)
To be honest I’ve never been a big fan of Ribble especially their branding which doesn’t do it for me at all. But in this case Ribble have taken the Pedalforce RS3 frame and applied subtle (for once) branding at aggressive prices. At approximately £1400 for a full bike with SRAM Force and BB30 – I expect these to be very nice indeed for the money (if you can cope with the Ribble name of course) and I’m hoping to see one in the flesh at the cycle show. http://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/


4) Boardman Team Carbon
 These have been a huge seller in the UK since their launch and simply can’t be overlooked now that the price is back down to £999 – they are an awful lot of bike for the money and are deservedly a big seller. If my budget only stretched to £1,000 – this would be my first choice. Here’s an excellent review from Bikeradar/Cycling Plus: http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/bikes/road/product/team-carbon-09-33934


5) Raleigh Avanti Race (full Ultegra 6700 Groupset)
Even I’m surprised to be putting a Raleigh on the list. Until recently I considered this brand to be dead and gone but the Avanti Carbon is reputedly an excellent bike and can be bought on sale for £1500 (or less on Ebay) rather than the £2k retail price. These are race proven (with the Raleigh UK team) and can be bought at substantial discount – so it’s a great bike with an almost anti-brand appeal. A fast bike by review and race results. Here are reviews of both the Ultegra and Dura Ace equipped versions: http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/bikes/road/product/avanti-race-10-37671  http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/bikes/road/product/avanti-team-10-39628


A couple of other contenders include:
– The Enigma Elite: Custom steel frame for under £1,000 by one of Britain’s best bike companies (and not far from where I live):
Verenti Millook: Wiggle own brand bike now available for £999 – with excellent reviews and spec for the money: http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/bikes/road/product/millook-10-37778
Cannondale CAAD10 105 – I’ve blogged about the CAAD10 before. The CAAD’s have an almost cult following but for me the geometry is a little low in the front end, so it’s on my maybe list. I’d love to have a ride on one, but I’m not sure I’d actually buy one unless I was confident of the fit, however a test ride may change my mind. More information here on my blog of course and here at Cannondale: 


For my everyday bike groupset I’d choose SRAM Force – light, good value and good performance (can be bought for under £600). In fact in reviews I’ve read they’ve said that the 2010 version offers very nearly the same performance as Red but for nearly 40% less cost – sounds ideal and I’d sacrifice a 150gms to make that cost saving.


Once I’ve been at the Cycle Show, I’ll post again to share any new choices that have sneaked into the list.


Thanks for reading.