These five pavement beasts were the clear standouts from this month's bike test in Sedona, Arizona
A crew of Outside testers just spent nearly two weeks in Sedona, Arizona, testing a full fleet of 2017’s top bikes. Nowadays, there are so many good options, it’s hard to go wrong. That said, a handful of the bikes definitely stood out. On first blush, here are a few of my favorites.
Scott Addict 20 Disc ($3,800)
The Addict has been one of my favorites since its inception over a decade ago, and Scott has brought the line up to modern standards with the addition of disc brakes. There’s still a full line of rim brake Addicts, but our testers unanimously decided that discs are simply superior. This isn’t the top of the line—that honor goes to the Premium Di2 model—but it’s plenty of bike for mid-level racers and those who favor an aggressive ride, with a full Shimano Ultegra group set including flat-mount disc brakes. The wider 28c tires are a smart spec, and a nod to comfort, and the only real ding against this one was the heavier alloy Syncros wheels, which accounts for the lower MSRP. If you race, this is a bike with which you could happily and easily burn off the competition, and do it in relative comfort.
Wilier Cento 10 Air ($8,200)
If this bike had disc brakes, it would have been the Gear of the Year winner. That said, the deep-section HED tubulars are part of the bikes stunningly fast feel, and they actually brake reasonably well for rim brakes on carbon (though not as well as discs). It’s gorgeously detailed, as is the case with every Wilier we’ve ever ridden, including a wild-looking, but very comfy stem-bar combo. (Some testers would have preferred a full grip wrap rather than exposed carbon on the tops.) The bike is fully aero, and smashes along on flats and rollers accordingly, but it’s also willowy at just of 15 pounds (size 56), which makes it pretty much one of the peppiest bikes in the whole test. It’s pricey, though Wilier sells a less expensive complete build ($6,400), including Shimano RS-21 training wheels, under the assumption that most racers already have their race hoops.
Co-op Cycles ARD 1.4 ($2,300)
It’s sometimes hard to get excited about budget bikes when riding them alongside race machines like the Wilier, but the new REI house brand Co-op, which succeeds the erstwhile Novara brand, didn’t fail to impress. This is the only road bike that many people will ever need, with a carbon frame and an upright position that’s tuned for compliance, plus a Shimano 105 drivetrain, which is surprisingly crisp and precise. The American Classic wheel set yields great performance for the price, especially with the thicker 28c tires. And REI will also stock a gravel build, which we tried out using a second set of hoops. That model impressed us even more for its nimble handling and cushy road feel. The bike even looks high-end, with black-on-black graphics and minimal branding. If it weren’t for the poor choice in handlebars, which fall off at the end and provide no space in the drops, as well was the clunky, too-long non-series shifters, this might have made our list of top three bikes in the entire test.
Franco Kanan ($6,500)
Here’s another carbon road bike that we wanted to hate because it didn’t have disc brakes. But we just couldn’t resist. Franco Bicycles is a small SoCal manufacturer that’s designing and building their own frames (not open mold) and selling them direct to consumer. That means you get an incredibly high-end bike for a lot less than you would with other manufacturers. The Kanan is Franco’s endurance model, and while it is a surprisingly supple ride, it actually feels quicker and racier than many of the race bikes in the test. Part of that is the weight: our tester, equipped with SRAM Red and HED Ardennes Black wheels, was the lightest in the test at 14.3 pounds for a size 56. It felt like cheating, especially on the climbing days, and testers were RoShamBoing for it accordingly. And Franco sells the bike in even more affordable configurations, all built to your desires and shipped pretty much ready to ride.
Look 765 Disc ($3,800)
On paper, the Look seems very much like the Scott Addict, with a carbon frame, full Ultegra parts, and flat-mount hydraulic disc brakes. But this is an endurance frame, so the head tube is taller and the wheelbase is longer, all of which adds comfort and stability. Look has also woven flax linen fibers into the frame, which adds a damping effect to mitigate against road vibration and ease shoulder, back, and neck fatigue. The bike has Look’s classic, beautiful Mondrian styling, and a host of other niceties, including comfy shallow-drop bars, cushy 30c tires, and a popular Selle Italia saddle. The only miss was the Mavic Aksium wheels, which worked fine but felt a bit lower-grade than the rest of the bike, and pumped up the weight to a surprising 19.4 pounds. Comfort over speed on this one.