We test a mot­ley crew of six ma­chines with not a car­bon frame in sight

Cycling Plus - - CONTENTS - Photography Robert Smith

Car­bon is ubiq­ui­tous but it’s not for ev­ery­one. We ban­ish the ma­te­rial in favour of an eclec­tic bunch of metal frames

Car­bon makes the world a bet­ter place, right? It makes things lighter, it looks stealthy and fu­tur­is­tic, in­deed there isn’t a wid­get that couldn’t be im­proved with a lit­tle bit of the black stuff. Life would be ter­ri­bly dull if we stamped out va­ri­ety en­tirely, how­ever, and this month we’re ban­ish­ing car­bon com­pletely, or rather, we’re ban­ish­ing it as a frame ma­te­rial – forks get a pass on this one.

We’ve all ob­served the re­nais­sance that metal bikes have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in re­cent years, and this month we’ve got six bikes from four dif­fer­ent coun­tries, ev­ery one with a metal frame. At one end of the scale, club-run stal­wart Rib­ble sup­plies a fa­mil­iar alu­minium model with the lat­est in af­ford­able groupsets, while home crowd favourite Ge­n­e­sis serves up a retro steel de­light, the most re­cent take on the pop­u­lar Equi­lib­rium.

We usu­ally ex­pect some­thing pretty main­stream from Amer­i­can giant Spe­cial­ized, but the Allez DSW on test is a left-field choice that uses alu­minium in a novel way. From Fo­cus and Dolan come two ma­chines with a win­tery flavour – the al­loy Par­alane AL and the ti­ta­nium ADX – two very dif­fer­ent ways to achieve sim­i­lar goals. And fi­nally, be­cause ev­ery test needs an out­lier, the Curve Bel­gie Spirit is true lux­ury ti­ta­nium, with the price tag and spec to match.

With such di­ver­sity, this is not a clin­i­cal anal­y­sis of the rel­a­tive mer­its and fail­ings of these six bikes, but rather an ex­plo­ration of the seem­ingly lim­it­less ways one might achieve two-wheeled nir­vana with­out be­ing en­tirely pre­dictable about it. This is not a re­jec­tion of our beloved car­bon, more a love let­ter to its weird, hot cousins.

We’re re­duc­ing our car­bon foot­print with our mix of metal ma­chines

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