Q:

Are these new high-end, affordable road bikes too good to be true?

I’ve noticed several seemingly high-end road bikes, such as Scattante, Habanero, and Leopard, hitting the market at significantly lower prices than other major brands. Is there a quality difference between these fres and the more well-known fre builders? And why haven’t I seen any serious reviews of these bikes? Philippe New York, New York

Jul 7, 2006
Outside
Outside Magazine
Scattante CFR road bike

Scattante CFR road bike

A: As they say in business school, competition is very, very good. And that’s what you’re seeing here. The bike brands you mention are all sort of “upstarts," trying various distribution and business models to undercut the more established players such as Trek and Cannondale. Scattante, for instance, is the “house brand" for the Performance bike shops. The frames are made, for the most part, in Taiwan, at factories that have plenty of experience and, in fact, probably make some frames for the big guys. Habanero is just a small shop where a guy is passionate about bikes and wants to give customers good value on titanium bikes. And Leopard offers carbon-frame bikes on a Web-only store, saving the overhead of running a shop.

Although these guys don’t get a lot of review space yet, there are some signs of life as they become more well-known. Our very own Outside magazine recently named a Leopard road bike as a “killer value" in the annual Buyer’s Guide—not a bad recommendation.

So, I’d trust any of these brands. Last winter, for instance, I purchased a Weyless-brand hardtail mountain-bike frame from Supergo—then owned by Performance, and now absorbed into the parent company—and think it’s just great. Light, stiff, and well-made. No complaints at all. You can get a Leopard (www.leopardcycles.com) L1 carbon-frame bike for $2,300 with Shimano Ultegra components. That’s a smoking deal, if ever there was one. Or, Performance (www.performancebike.com) has the Scattante CFR carbon bike, also with Ultegra, on sale right now for just under $1,900. Or, price out Habanero (www.habcycles.com) titanium cycles from $2,000 (with perfectly serviceable Shimano 105) to $3,400 (with super-sexy Campy Record). Too hot!

The votes are in: Check out the winners of Outside's 2006 Gear of the Year awards, including the year's hottest road bike.

Filed To: Road Bikes

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