“You would purchase a automobile for that!” It’s a well-known chorus heard within the biking world. Fanatic riders groan each time a ‘non bicycle owner’ tells them they might purchase a conventional petrol-powered automobile for the quantity they’ve spent on “only a bike”.
Sure, after all you might buy a functioning second-hand automobile for £500, however a seasoned rider will at all times let you know it’s unlikely it’ll be as enjoyable, as nice for the planet or make you as match as an amazing bike will.
This time nevertheless, for as soon as, I’m in settlement. You really may purchase a automobile for the value of Specialised’s new two-wheeled mannequin.
Except you are lucky sufficient to be working your method by means of a considerable bonus, £13k is an actual outlay. The Dacia Duster, VW UP and Citroen C3 all sneak in below this price range – and also you’ll get two further wheels thrown in for the value. However I’m meant to be on the ‘bike facet’ on this debate.
I’m no stranger to two-wheeled funding, both. My regularly rotating arsenal options titanium, carbon fibre, aluminium and metal steeds (any body materials however bamboo proper now), and, sure, I’m the man who advises their colleagues to get the costlier bike to commute on: ‘It’s an funding if you happen to trip it on a regular basis, proper?’
Enter Specialised with arguably 2020’s most hyped road-bike launch. The Aethos. Apparently it’s pronounced ‘Ethos’, as in ‘distinguishing character, sentiment or guiding beliefs’.
The 2-wheeled mega-brand has reportedly ‘damaged the foundations’ on this one (which occurs very often in bike design). The Aethos has apparently ‘reshaped the way forward for trendy highway bikes’ (I’m unsure how but), ‘went lighter than the foundations permit’ (breaking the UCI minimal weight restrict on racing highway bikes) and ‘gone rogue’ (dropping commercial-looking color schemes and brash logos).
Specialised have additionally reconsidered the outdated ‘stiffer is best’ racing bike engineering mantra and aimed to construct a trip that’s as technologically superior as a race-bike, as gentle as a race-bike and as properly specced as a race bike – however for each rider. The rationale being the overwhelming majority of fanatic riders in search of efficiency at this degree won’t ever hassle the peloton of a ‘crit’ race, or weekend ‘time-trial’ occasion… and that’s okay.
These brutal, unforgiving race frames of the previous simply aren’t related for 99 per cent of riders (even the very fast ones). Fashionable lovers are properly turning to compliant, forgiving and extra versatile rides. Fast, sure – however not on the expense of all-day consolation. In spite of everything, when fatigue units in, nobody can trip quick.
This manifested itself in engineering selections for the model – proper all the way down to the lay-up of the carbon fibre of the body. Out are over-built (and heavier) carbon ‘layups’ at tube junctions (just like the headtube, seat tube / high tube and backside bracket) extra suited to pro-tour rider efforts. In are ‘longer, extra steady unbroken (carbon) plies’ and extra ovalised tube profiles, including to a extra forgiving and loopy light-weight 585g – 56cm (medium) body. Specialised maintains that is the primary instance of a brand new method of designing frames for the corporate.
Alright, plenty of technical element, however what does it really trip like? And, extra importantly, does £13,000 get me a rig that can make me trip quicker than my already mind-bendingly costly titanium bike (that price a 3rd of the value)?
The take a look at route can be my fast morning loop – a rolling 60km northeast London route with round 500m of climbing. It’s a mixture of traffic-choked metropolis roads and quiet nation lanes – with a few little punchy climbs thrown in for good measure.
After all that is no wind-tunnel, Vo2 max, heart-rate monitored take a look at, however, it’s a ‘actual world’ take a look at, with a really common ‘actual world’ fanatic rider – exactly the form of rider Specialised is advertising and marketing the Aethos at. This may be a ‘blind’ take a look at, too, the Garmin GPS is ready to ‘Energy Save Mode’ so there can be no pace or time information displayed as I’m using.
First a part of the take a look at was my common trip. By myself light-weight highway bike I got here residence at 2hs 01min with a median pace of 30kmph. I used to be fairly proud of that on a windy Autumn day.
Now it was time for the Aethos. Lifting it out of the field I let loose an involuntary “Woah!”. It’s the lightest bike I’ve ever laid a hand on (apparently the Aethos really is the world’s lightest manufacturing road-bike).
Right away from the kerb the dearth of weight is noticeable, too. Each pedal stroke felt efficient – and with out that punishing stiff ‘race bike’ feeling both. The Aethos wished to surge forward, whether or not my legs preferred it or not. The bike felt an eerie mixture of each very fast, and surprisingly comfy.
Two thirds of the way in which around the route and my legs have been paying me again for my early ‘new bike’ enthusiasm. There was now a headwind and it was raining. It felt just like the take a look at may go both method. I rolled again as much as my home and stopped the Garmin.
The outcome? One hour 55 minutes, with a median pace of 32kmph. Six minutes faster than my common light-weight bike on the identical route – and faster than my quickest time on a loop I’d ridden for years.
With the Aethos, Specialised have created one thing very intelligent and really trendy. A light-weight ‘climbers’ bike for normal riders. A fast using rig, with not one of the anti-social traits of a pure race bike. Time-trial pace with all-day consolation.
And, sure, it seems all that cash does certainly purchase you pace. However is it value investing round £2,000 per minute gained in your native bike loop?
Publicly, I’d need to say no, however, that’s lacking the purpose with the Aethos. You’re paying for a ‘pure’ using expertise. To return to the four-wheeled comparability, you’re most likely not going to purchase McLaren’s coming 2021 Sport Sequence hybrid simply to have the ability to drive at blistering pace – you’re shopping for it for the craft, the trip, the design excellence, the driving expertise and, sure, the innovation on show.
Whatever the backside line, the Aethos is a superb instance of contemporary considering from a big-brand, and completely illustrates the path efficiency highway bikes are going within the subsequent 5 years.
And, no, I don’t wish to give it again.
The Specialised S-Works Aethos Founders Version is accessible now for £13,000 through Sigma Sports activities.
The S-Works Aethos Dura Ace Di2 is £10,750 through Tredz and Rutland Biking.
Extra nice tales from WIRED
📦 One of the best Prime Day 2020 offers hand-picked by the WIRED crew
🚽 Pee fanatics wish to feed the world along with your liquid gold
🎞️ YouTubers are utilizing AI to carry the previous to life. Historians aren’t comfortable
🔊 Hearken to The WIRED Podcast, the week in science, know-how and tradition, delivered each Friday
👉 Comply with WIRED on Twitter, Instagram, Fb and LinkedIn