Frame: Specialized A1 Premium Aluminium, fully manipulated tubing with smooth welds
Fork: Specialized Aluminium fork, alloy steerer and crown, 1-1/8″
Front and rear Derailleur: Shimano 2300
Number of Gears: 16
Shifters: Shimano 2300 STI
Chainset: Shimano 2300 Compact with 50/34T chainrings
Bottom Bracket: Sealed cartridge, square taper, 68mm
Cassette: Shimano HG-50, 8-speed, 12-25
Chain: KMC Z51
Pedals: Nylon flat test ride, loose-ball, w/ reflectors (suggest these are upgraded!)
Front and rear Brake: Tektro dual-pivot
Handlebars: Specialized Comp, 6061 alloy, shallow bend
Stem: Cast alloy, 4-bolt, 31.8mm
Headset: 1-1/8″ sealed Cr-Mo cartridge bearings integrated w/ headset, 20mm alloy cone spacer, w/ 20mm of spacers
Rims: Axis Classic wheelset
Tyres: Specialized Espoir Sport, 60TPI, wire bead, double BlackBelt protection, 700×25c (suggest these could be a good upgrade area)
Tubes: Standard Presta valve
Saddle: Body Geometry Riva Road, Cr-Mo Rails, 143mm
Seatpost: Specialized Sport alloy, 27.2mm
Seat Binder: Alloy, 31.8mm
UK price: £550
This is an entry level road bike which I think offers extraordinary value for money from a well respected brand. Please don’t let the term “entry level” put you off in any way or give you them impression this is a naff bike with lots of corners cut because it isn’t. It is ideal for someone wanting a sporty bike for commuting or for joining a cycling club with a bit of competitive cycling in mind. It has components which do the job but won’t set the world alight. They are perfectly decent well made components which illustrate just how well bicycles have been refined over the last few years!
On the road
It starts with a nicely made frame which will give a lively, firm and precise ride. The ride is predictable and easy to get used to; for people stepping from MTBs or hybrids this will be like stepping into a Porsche! It has good quality brazing and I reckon a beautiful eye catching paint job without being too flash. It’s also a good investment as a winter training bike especially if you’re a high spending racing cyclist. This is the ideal bike for clocking up plenty of winter miles on salty roads or conditions where you wouldn’t want to get your summer carbon fibre dream exposed too much to the elements. It is possible to fit training type mudguards although there aren’t threaded eyes for ‘guards and racks as it simply isn’t that kind of bike.
While the components are fairly modest, they are mostly good stuff. The drive train is based on 8 speed which, for some, will seem a little old fashioned with 10 speed being the norm for bikes costing double. Again, don’t let that put you off. The ratios are fine for what the bike is designed for and the compact 34T chainring will help with those hills. You might be able to invest in a different cassette which goes down to 28T if you need that extra help on steep hills. Thinking of the cost of the well proven Shimano STI levers on their will make you realise why this is such extraordinary value for money.
The Tektro brakes are perfectly adequate and are well matched to the pull ratio of the levers. You can upgrade the pads later on if you want and it certainly wouldn’t hurt as you’ll need to replace them sooner or later. There’s a reasonable amount of feel to the brakes which I think can always be enhanced by upgrading the cables but don’t be discontent in anyway with what’s supplied.
For myself, being a picky kind of cyclist, I could not resist the opportunity to upgrade a few things from the outset but this is just a personal thing. The pedals are an obvious target for upgrading: the ones supplied are really just for getting you started. It is almost inevitable that anyone buying this will be investing in some SPD type pedals sooner or later. The second upgrade would be the tyres. Again the original equipment ones are fine and seem to “seat down” alright but it’s just that I appreciate some better handling rubber and more importantly some better puncture protection. Lighter tyres also mean a slightly faster bike; worth remembering.
The saddle is fairly lightweight and certainly looks the part. It is up to you whether you upgrade this but I’d recommend giving this a good go for a few weeks before making any decision as I don’t think it’s bad at all. As with any bike, you can improve the feel and handling of a bike by making small tweaks on the contact points – the position of the saddle, positioning of the bars etc. It has to be said though, the STI levers are lovely and comfortable and ergonomically shaped.
If you want a decent, fast bike to use for a good blast at the weekends or summer evenings, this could be just right. If you want a bike to use through the winter where there is a certain amount of disposability to the transmission, this will prove very cost effective indeed. There are plenty of very positive reviews on the Evans website from people who’ve already taken the plunge and overwhelmingly cyclists do like this bike. I think Evans do very well in maintaining a professional HIgh Street presence. Currently priced at just £550 this is a really good deal. I would add some SPD pedals and you’re off! For the winter, go back and get some lights and ‘guards for the next seasons’ use.
The only negative aspect is the question of supply. I remember last year my LBS (who sell these) bemoaning the difficulties they were having in getting sufficient supplies to meet demands since production, shopping etc has to be planned months in advance and sometimes shortages do occur. So, if you want one, bag one while you can!