Massi Carbon Pro SL £4841

Thoroughbred race machine

BikeRadar score 3/5

Massi may not be well known in the English speaking world, but travel to Spain and they're like Trek and Specialized are to the US market. So, is the understated race-winning Carbon Pro SL the bike to make their name abroad?

Visually there’s little to separate this black collection of carbon fibres dunked in resin from any of the hundreds of other carbon bikes on the market. Even the parts seem picked to provoke little more than a single raised eyebrow, with full Shimano XTR transmission only broken by the use of Fulcrum’s Red Metal Zero race-ready wheelset.

With a distinctly Euro cross-country stance we expected a nervy race horse but, while it’s not a bike for idling about on, the Carbon Pro SL isn't going to throw you off for admiring the scenery either.

Ride & handling: One of the finest and most responsive race bikes we've ridden

We immediately felt at home on this bike, as it offers one of the better classic race hardtail positions right out of the box. With barely a roll of the ‘just wide enough’ 22.8in (580mm) Massi carbon bar and adjustment of the saddle, we were flat backed and feeling like we were ready to race.

It’s a feeling worth going with, too, as the bike really doesn’t like being ridden in any other mode than full speed ahead. It takes mental and physical commitment to keep the fuse lit in every situation but, if you do, you’ll be rewarded with one of the finest and most responsive race bikes we’ve ridden.

Take note, though – if you back off and trundle you’ll most likely be disappointed: it’s an unforgiving ride, so don’t be tempted to come off the gas. It’s the die-hard cross-country racer who trains with a road bike and wants a no-messing, race-winning hardtail who’ll get the most out of this bike.

Frame: Stiff, lightweight full-carbon chassis with a racer-low front end

Massi frames are designed in Spain and made in Taiwan. Nothing really groundbreaking about that – in fact, we’d be worried if it were the other way round.

The 1.2kg frame (a drop of 100g over the 2008 model) uses relatively standard round-profile main tubes for the front triangle mated to a short head tube that’s designed for use with an integrated threadless headset – perfect for achieving the racer’s preferred low front end.

The rear of the bike is a blend of substantial chainstays, that offer great power delivery with next to no flex in pedal-stamping situations, and a full-carbon wishbone seatstay.

The only alloy elements on the frame are the inserts for the head tube, bottom bracket, rear dropouts and the (rather overbuilt, in our opinion) twin-bolt seat collar. All guides are zip-tie ready, and the mech hanger is replaceable. 

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