Competition is picking up in the budget women's road bike market and several brands have solid offerings at around £500 in addition to pricier models. The Continental Race is Revolution's first women's specific race bike.
It has well proportioned geometry with ample standover height and an amazing amount of toe clearance. Throughout its sizes, the Continental can turn sharply without an average-sized foot getting near the front tyre, thanks to a steeper seat tube and shallow head angle. This makes riding safer for the novice, though the knock-on effect is slower steering, particularly noticeable at low speeds, which takes some getting used to. Sizes 44 and 49cm have shorter top tubes and overall smaller dimensions than normal to give women a better fit and a sporty position.
Using the same Strongman 7005 aluminium frame as the men's, this oversized tubeset offers a stiff ride. Over a long day out the jolting became noticeable at the back, especially given the compactness of a frame this small. On the plus side though, it accelerated surprisingly quickly and was well suited to out-of-the-saddle stomps. Carbon forks really made a difference to comfort at the front end and were a welcome bonus on a bike at this price.
Straight out of the box we found the handlebar set-up uncomfortable and although it's easy enough to reposition the levers into a more natural angle and flip up the stem, it's not something most newbie cyclists want to be doing. The Shimano Sora shifters don't have shims to bring the levers closer so it's tricky to get them mounted near enough on the bars (which is probably why they started out at the odd angle).
However, teamed with a Sora rear mech and a basic Shimano fd2203 front mech, the drivetrain worked perfectly well, running smoothly throughout the test period. The Truvativ chainset features 165mm cranks, specific for shorter riders, and standard 30/42/52 rings, while the 12-23 cassette could take an extra gear or two smaller.
The Tektro 423A alloy dual pivot brakes were less impressive, requiring a lot of force on the levers when pulled from the hoods to bring the bike to a stop. Wheels arrived true and well tensioned, made from Rigida Nova double-walled rims with 32 spokes laced to alloy hubs and 23c width tyres. The saddle is a comfortable but basic women's specific model.
The relatively heavy 23.5lb weight means the Conti Race is unlikely to fulfil any podium dreams without significant part and wheel upgrades. It's still a good all-round road bike, but would benefit from a few changes to the brakes and controls set-up to make riding easier for beginners.