Does the classic-looking Sonnet Mk1 strike all the right notes? Plus a unique commuter from Canyon and a rather lively folder
£ 2,799.00 Sonnet founder Casey Parson’s aim with the brand was to produce artisan, quality bikes – such as you’ll see in our massive Bespoke coverage on page 42 – at a more affordable price. While not a framebuilder himself, Casey uses a European-based family framebuilder to construct what is an impressive slab of skinny steel.
By using Italian steel maestro’s Columbus’ Spirit tubing – specifically their Keirin variant – the Mk1 has a heart comprising triple-butted steel and one usually reserved for the track. The result is tubing that’s stiff where you need it. A real-life example? Sprinting away from traffic lights and powering force through the bottom bracket does little to unsettle the frame’s balance. We were also impressed to find that it retains the lively spring associated with quality steel; in fact, it achieves this power-comfort balancing act brilliantly. Upfront the slender fork and head tube, and the luxurious Veloflex tyres, make short work of rougher surfaces. Yes, on occasion the front end
can feel a little more flexi than a carbon or aluminium frame, but rather than detract from the ride it seems to add character. Elsewhere it’s top-grade quality throughout with Japanese tubing manipulators Nitto providing their glorious Craft stem, with its luscious polished finish and enameled plaque badge reminding you that this traditional quill stem is among the very finest of its kind. The matching Nitto M190 bar and post all make for a very considered component choice. The Mk1 runs on a pair of Mavic Open Pro rims hand built onto classic Novatec cartridge hubs by none other than British wheelbuilding legend Harry Rowland. This tester has had a set of wheels built by Harry running on one of his bikes for more than a decade without any need for maintenance beyond the occasional hub clean, lube and check of the spoke tensions. So again, Sonnet score highly here.
The overall weight of just over 9kg is good for a bike of this genre, especially when you consider that Campag’s Potenza is a few rungs down the ladder from their lightweight Super Record group. Potenza, though, is a great choice, with its polished finish proving a great match to the Nitto parts and polished lugs. The performance is bang on, too, with Campag’s signature click-clunk vocal shift letting you know it’s hit the right cog every time. The gear combo is pretty much the sweetspot, with 52/11 giving all the top-end pace potential you’ll ever need and the bottom 36/29 being your friend when the road really steepens. Overall, the Sonnet’s off-the-peg yet artisan build is a success; in fact, the only downside is the price. Mind you, Sonnet has reduced prices over the past couple of months and you really can’t argue with that superb performance.
BIKE SPECS Frame Columbus Spirit Keirin triple-butted steel / Fork Columbus SL 1in steel / Wheels Mavic Open Pro on Novatec hubs by Harry Rowland / Transmission Campagnolo Potenza 11-speed 52/36, 11-29 / Brakes Campagnolo Potenza www.sonnet.cc