£ 2,949.99

Urban Cyclist - - On Test -

R iders of a cer­tain age may re­call when Holdsworth was one of the finest Bri­tish bike man­u­fac­tur­ers around, with steel ma­chines be­ing raced by prom­i­nent rid­ers. Sadly, the orig­i­nal com­pany fell by the way­side sev­eral years ago, but the brand has been res­ur­rected by cur­rent owner Planet X, and of­fers qual­ity steel frames in keep­ing with Holdsworth’s her­itage.

The Strada was de­signed by Mark Reilly [of Reilly Cy­cle Works] and is built from Reynolds 953 stain­less steel. It’s TIG welded be­fore be­ing highly pol­ished, apart from its matt de­tail­ing and the enamel-painted brass WF Holdsworth head-tube badge that adds au­then­tic­ity. An over­sized head-tube is a use­ful con­ces­sion to mod­ern cy­cling, hous­ing the car­bon fork’s ta­pered steerer and 1.5in lower head­set bear­ing but, be­hind it, ev­ery tube is slim and round, apart from the sub­tly ovalised chain­stays, which are crimped to pro­vide clear­ance for 28mm tyres.

A more con­tem­po­rary (look­ing) Shi­mano Ul­te­gra serves groupset du­ties with 50/34 up front and 11-32 at the back to en­sure no hills are out of reach. Another Planet X brand, Sel­cof, pro­vides the car­bon fork and seat­post plus alu cock­pit. The com­plete bike price is near three-grand, but it’s still im­pres­sive that it in­cludes a Ful­crum Rac­ing Zero wheelset with ce­ramic bear­ings. The ef­fect those wheels have on per­for­mance is con­sid­er­able, their thick, bladed spokes, milled rims and rigid­ity guar­an­tee slick progress. Hutchin­son’s Fu­sion 5 25mm tyres roll well and of­fer de­cent grip.

The 15cm head-tube and 57cm equiv­a­lent top-tube com­bine clas­sic looks with the op­tion of a long, low rid­ing po­si­tion. And from the first me­tres there’s some­thing spe­cial about this frame. Ev­ery pedal has a more no­tice­able ef­fect on for­ward mo­tion than any other bike on test.

Un­doubt­edly, the Ful­crums ac­count for some of this and, when out of the sad­dle, push­ing down on the ped­als cre­ates a def­i­nite spring that seems to whip the bike for­wards. In fact, the frame’s dy­namic na­ture makes it very talk­a­tive, with braille-like sur­face commentary help­ing when things get twisty. Its 73° par­al­lel an­gles are an ideal blend of sta­bil­ity at all speeds and com­posed cor­ner carv­ing, with no nasty sur­prises when you need to change line mid-bend. It’s an im­pres­sive spec on an im­pres­sive frame, and our only worry is how of­ten we’ll want to pol­ish it.

BIKE SPECS Frame Reynolds 953 pol­ished stain­less steel / Fork Sel­cof Delta / Wheels Ful­crum Rac­ing Zero Trans­mis­sion Shi­mano Ul­te­gra 50/34, 11-32 / Brakes Shi­mano Ul­te­gra www.holdsworth-bikes.co.uk

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