Photon

Th e litt le broth er to isaac’s muon isn’t as aggress ive but st ill packs a power punch

Triathlon Plus - - Iron Bikes - Jun­gleprod­ucts.co.uk

e’ve test ed Isaac’s bru­tally fast Muon su­per­bike be­fore but the cheaper, more for­giv­ing and still damn fast Photon is ac­tu­ally likely to ap­peal to more rid­ers. Es­pe­cially those sandwiching their bike leg be­tween a 2.4mile swim and a marathon.

Frame and fork

Un­like most ‘younger brother’ frames, the Photon doesn’t just use a cheaper car­bon fi­bre lay-up in the same mould as the flag­ship frame. The de­signs are sep­a­rate but they use the same High Mod­u­lus Nano Aero car­bon. The front end is the most ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ence be­tween the two bikes as the Photon gets a con­ven­tional short head-tube and a low top-tube rather than the dis­tinc­tive hunch­back top-tube ar­range­ment of the Muon. In­ter­est­ingly, the Photon gets a set of TRP V-brakes hid­den on the back of the forks while the Muon uses con­ven­tional brakes on the front. Which de­sign as­pect wins out in over­all wattage sav­ing we don’t know but it cer­tainly makes the two closer in aero terms than if they both had hid­den brakes. The rear brake is also a V-style unit sit­ting be­hind the aero seat­stays rather than hid­den un­der the chain­stays. It’s no more con­ve­nient in prac­ti­cal terms as you still need to undo the rear brake or de­flate the tyre to re­lease the wheel.

The Photon back end is also frac­tion­ally longer and the bot­tom bracket is lower, adding sta­bil­ity. The kite sec­tion seat-tube de­sign with wheel­hug­ger cut-out and in­set seat­post clamp is shared be­tween the two de­signs. The slid­ing seat mast mount is also shared. While you might need to dis­man­tle the seat­post head clamp rather than just slide it along, there’s 80mm of fore-aft adjustment for tun­ing the ef­fec­tive seat­post an­gle. The neat, light Ritchey clamp is easy to ad­just for an­gle and the soft-nosed Selle Italia Tri sad­dle was liked by all our test team. Fin­ish­ing touches in­clude metal plates on the out­side of the dropouts to stop clamp­ing dam­age and neat ver­ti­cally in­serted in­ter­nal cable rout­ing be­hind the stem.

The kit

Our sam­ple used 20-speed Ul­te­gra 6700 but con­sumer bikes have al­ready changed to the lat­est 22-speed 6800 set. Shift­ing is pre­cise and the cranks add wel­come stiff­ness when you’re putting the power down hard. What the one-piece al­loy Vi­sion tri-bars lose in adjustment they make up for in sleek aero­dy­nam­ics, low weight and far fewer bolts to worry about loos­en­ing. The real gem of this com­po­nent pack­age is the Vi­sion wheelset though. They’re far lighter than the other wheels on test (the rear wheel is barely heav­ier than the front wheels of the Raleigh and the Neil Pryde) but still add a bit of aero edge with­out af­fect­ing han­dling or brak­ing. Smooth run­ning, eas­ily ad­justed bear­ings mean they’ll make a trusty long-lived set of train­ing wheels even if you up­grade to race wheels at a later date too.

The ride

The fact we were think­ing of long-term plans for the Isaac as soon as we started rid­ing it says a lot about the bike. With the sad­dle nudged to the front of the seat­post, we fell into a very nat­u­ral feel­ing tuck po­si­tion over the rel­a­tively short top-tube straight away. There’s plenty of propul­sive stiff­ness right through the crank, BB and chain­stays to the rear wheel. At this point the light wheels take the rich sup­ply of wattage and trans­late it into se­ri­ously re­spon­sive ac­cel­er­a­tion. The re­sult is a proper punch of speed and its bel­liger­ent

Size tested: 51cm

With 80mm of fore-aft move­ment, the seat­post top makes it easy to find an ef­fi­cient and com­fort­able po­si­tion

The light weight Vi­sion T30 wheels look great, pick up speed eas­ily and han­dle re­ally well too

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