Claud Butler is a famous old British name now associated with budget bikes. But what’s this? Only a lightweight carbon fibre road bike sporting Claud’s signature in an Ernesto Colnago-like flourish. Okay, it’s from the Far East, not Butler’s original London, but we think Claud would have been happy.
It certainly looks the part, with bold graphics, and even the wheels boasting logos on the semi-deep rims. The kit is quite modest, coming with Shimano’s nine-speed Tiagra groupset and budget WH500 wheels.
We put these through some pretty serious testing though, not just tackling post-winter potholes but also bouncing them along some rough canal towpaths to see if we could knock them out of kilter – we couldn’t. And it wasn’t a bone-jarringly hard ride, the carbon frame and fork and 27.2mm seatpost taking the sting out and keeping teeth intact.
The Torino probably isn’t one for the dedicated competitive rider, its wheelset being a little heavy. But it doesn’t have the extended head tube that some comfort-orientated bikes are specced with, so you could use it for the occasional time trial or triathlon with a set of clip-on tri bars.
The Tiagra kit doesn’t have the cachet or the looks of 105 but its non-concealed cables contribute to a very light shifting action. The compact 50/34T chainset and 11-25T cassette provide a good gear range, and if you want more help on the hills you could go up to a 27T sprocket. Ritchey supply a decent bar, stem, seatpost and saddle, adding to comfort.
Handling is reassuring rather than lightning quick but the bike corners confidently and deals with rapid changes of direction through traffic well. While it’s not super-quick on climbs there are no problems on descents. This isn’t an out-and-out racing snake but it manages to be more than the sum of its parts. It’s a very enjoyable ride, well set up for long-distance leisure and fitness riding.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.