Light, racy and intensely purposeful, the Endorﬁn Carbon SL Race comes from Germany with a simple mission: to be blisteringly fast, and it delivers on this with surprising ﬁnesse and sophistication.
Until recently German bikes had a reputation for three major ride qualities: stiffness, rigidity and lack of ﬂex. That made them fun on shorter rides, where their sheer power transfer encouraged you to annihilate your riding buddies with all-out lactic acid bath efforts, but as the mile count got deep into double ﬁgures the associated buzz and bang became fatiguing.
Endorﬁn’s Carbon SL Race is part of a new generation of German bikes, along with the likes of Cube’s Agree series and Cycling Plus' Bike of the Year the Storck Scenero, that buck this trend. They’re stiff, but their designers have learned to tune the carbon lay-up so that they don’t rattle your sunnies off over every bump.
This means the Endorﬁn is surprisingly light and ﬂoaty over bumps, dissipating road buzz in a way that’s very welcome after yet another winter has turned our favourite back roads into craterscapes. Its handling in curves, over rough surfaces and at speed is impeccable.
The Endorﬁn feels planted and conﬁdent, in part thanks to its classic European road race geometry, but it’s still sufﬁciently ﬂickable that it’s easy to dodge the real chasms. With a long top-tube and standard bar, there’s room to stretch out and weight the front wheel into turns, so it drops boldly into curves, responding to lean and body movement rather than steering and persuasion.
That layout has another advantage: it puts you in a deeper tuck than a sportive-style bike, so you’re faster on the ﬂat and able to put your back into it when accelerating. The Carbon SL Race spins up to speed startlingly quickly, making it a doddle to close gaps or attack for speed limit sign honours. The downside is that less ﬂexible riders need not apply.
With pedals, the Carbon SL Race still comes in under 7.5kg, which explains its acceleration and its eagerness on climbs. It’s happy for you to get out of the saddle and hammer or to sit down and grind your way up a climb. It goads you to go as hard as possible, until you’re in serious danger of losing your lunch.
It doesn’t hurt that the Endorﬁn is ﬁtted with good middleweight wheels, DT Swiss R1600s, and shod with Schwalbe Ultremo R.1 tyres, which are grippy, fast and supple.
Syntace’s lightweight F99 stem and 7075 aluminium Race Lite bar also help dispose of some road buzz, albeit at the expense of noticeable ﬂex when you lean on them. This isn’t an issue on the road but riders can select a stiffer bar and stem – Endorﬁn UK builds the bike to your spec.
The componentry here is dominated by Shimano Ultegra in all its highly functional reliability. Our one complaint is that the shifting action could be easier; the gear cables have been routed round the front of the bar, and we’ve found that the gentler curves of a path at the back give a lighter action.
The whole package has us longing for summer Sundays and sun-drenched evening training rides to exploit its long-ride potential and hammertime generosity.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.