Is it time to reassess the merits of aluminium? We test six road, allroad and adventure bikes to see whether this metal still matters...
In a world of more celebrated frame materials, can we still get excited by aluminium?
Metal matters. Yes, even in the carbontastic era in which we find ourselves. After all, it’s a fair bet (even in 2019) that most bikes sold in the UK are still made from aluminium. For good reason, too. Since it was first popularised as a frame-making material back in the 1980s, companies have gained vast experience in working with aluminium. It can be used to make lightweight frames and manipulated into all sorts of shapes.
Our six bikes are made for a wide range of cyclists. They start with Cinelli’s Campagnolo Centaurequipped Experience road bike. It’s a sign of the times that this is the only one of our sextet with rim brakes. Canyon’s Endurace is a familiar sight in Cycling Plus – and on Britain’s roads – and we’ve tested its Shimano Ultegra hydraulic disc version. This is the same groupset that adorns the Roc gravel bike-cum-all-round road machine from the long-established British online company Merlin. Unusually, it’s not a massive Shimano majority this month, as our final trio all have SRAM gearing. The ever-growing popularity of ‘all-road’, adventure and gravel bikes has been matched with a move to singlechainring 1x setups, pairing a 40- or 42-tooth ring with an ultra-wideranging 11-42 cassette or similar.
On Fuji’s Jari 1.3 it’s joined by cable disc brakes while the other two have SRAM’S hydraulic stoppers. Poland’s Rondo Ruut AL is the genre-busting relative of the bike that won Cycling Plus’s 2019 Bike of the Year title. It’s in aluminium rather than carbon fibre but has the same Twin Tip fork that lets you switch between two different geometries. Neat. The Kinesis 4S Disc is available as a frameset, or in either a gravel or road build. We went for the latter, with SRAM Apex once again.