BIKE TEST

Is it time to re­assess the mer­its of alu­minium? We test six road, all­road and adventure bikes to see whether this me­tal still mat­ters...

Cycling Plus (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS - Pho­tog­ra­phy Robert Smith

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.

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