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