As levels of ambition go, saying you want your new bike company to be a British rival to German bike giants Cube within three years is a bit like taking up cycling today and resolving to stand on the podium at the 2012 London Olympics. Yet that’s exactly the target that new UK brand Moda have set themselves and, so far, they're on track.
In fact, the Olympics, and the anticipation of further British success in the velodrome, mean that the Moda range already includes a track bike as well as cyclo-cross, commuting, trekking and mountain bikes. There are three road bikes so far, with more on the way to target the key battlegrounds at £1,000 and £2,000.
- Frame: Fast and comfortable; aluminium still has a place in bikes over £1,500 (8/10)
- Handling: Agile, precise, confident; loves descending and carving through corners (8/10)
- Equipment: Slick Shimano Ultegra is great value; Barelli kit is decent and the bar is a great shape (9/10)
- Wheels: American Classic aren’t that well known in the UK, but these are very light for a bike at this price (8/10)
The Tempo is currently Moda's entry road model, though it’s far from the usual base-model spec. A full Shimano Ultegra groupset and American Classic Victory 30 wheels, £350 to buy separately, are the impressive highlights. Ultegra is rare at this price and such classy wheels likewise, so ﬁnding the two together is remarkable.
But don’t assume that the frame, then, is cobbled together from discarded scaffolding. It’s triple-butted 7005 aluminium, made in Taiwan by ‘a well established factory’, and it rides brilliantly. It’s responsive, agile and precise. In tighter corners it inspires conﬁdence to crank the bike over to deeper lean angles, and rapid descending is immense fun.
When you do ﬁnally decide to grab the brakes, the Ultegra units are excellent. Brakes are often a soft target for cost cutting, especially when trying to cram a high spec groupset onto a cheaper bike, so all credit to Moda for choosing quality over price.
The rest of the Ultegra groupset is brilliant; the shifting is fast, sharp and precise, and the sleek hoods look smart with the cables routed out of sight, feel purposeful and offer a useful range of riding positions. With a purposeful, racy groupset comes gearing to match – 53/39 with a 12-25 cassette.
There’s a yet-to-be-discovered formula that says, for a given medium ﬁtness level, how aero a bike has to be to help you drive a 53-tooth ring on the ﬂat and how light that bike also has to be to allow you to drag it up steep gradients in a 39t inner.
Multiply by your weight, then by the average gradient of the hills within a 40-mile radius, divide by your VO2 max and, hey presto, a shop ﬂoor ‘Do I need a compact?’ calculator. The Moda, at 8kg and with 35mm deep rims, does more to help you than most bikes at this price, yet clearly has stronger riders in mind. One man’s Tempo is another’s anaerobic threshold.
When you put in the work, the American Classic wheels really shine. At under 1,600g for the pair, they’re among the lightest wheels we know of on a bike at this price. They accelerate and climb superbly, really underpinning the performance of the Tempo. They look great too.
Moda’s parent company, Eurobike, are the UK importers for American Classic, which is why they can pull off such a pricepoint-defying spec. Happily, this also means that every Moda, including the forthcoming £1,000 model, will run this brand of wheels.
The deal clincher for us is the ride quality – the Tempo is exceptionally comfortable for a fast aluminium frame, more so than many carbon bikes, so leave your preconceptions outside the shop.
In azzurro blue with bold white graphics it looks very Italian, though we’re told that wasn’t a speciﬁc intention. The little tricolore ﬂags on the own-brand Barelli ﬁnishing kit must be a coincidence too. Who cares when it looks this good.