It’s easy – if you’ve got the cash – to fork out thousands on a bike. However, it's still possible to get a road bike that’s ready to roll for less than £550.
The Sentinal (and yes, that’s the correct spelling) is made in Taiwan from 7005 aluminium tubing, but it’s good to see a carbon fork at this modest price, albeit with a steel steerer. The bike weighs 10.3kg, the welds are chunky and functional, and Shimano’s eight-speed 2300 groupset forms the bulk of the kit.
This is Shimano’s cheapest groupset, but performs very well with Sora-like thumb-operated levers taking care of downshifts. It may not have the smoothness and street cred associated with Shimano’s dearer kit, but it won’t let you down.
The rest of the kit is well thought out and functional. FSA provide the headset and chainset, KMC the chain and San Marco the Ponza Power saddle, ﬁne choices all. It’s also good to see 26mm tyres; these offer more comfort than narrower tyres, with little noticeable loss of performance. Rack eyes add to the bike’s versatility.
When it comes to gearing, we wonder whether a triple – or a cassette with a bigger sprocket than a 25-tooth – might be a better option on a bike presumably aimed at newer riders. As it is, it has a 36.7in bottom gear.
A slight concern is ﬁtting mudguards, proclaimed on the frame with an MGC (‘mudguard compatible’) sticker. While there’s loads of room at the front – the fork is elegantly sculpted at the top to ﬁt one – clearance between the rear tyre and seat tube is minimal. Also, though the brakes will stop you well enough, the callipers lack the feel and modulation of more expensive stoppers.
Those concerns aside, the Sentinal 1.0 is a great deal of bike for a modest outlay. Handling is pleasingly neutral with no quirks to unsettle newer riders. And ultimately this would make a very sound choice as a ﬁrst road bike or training machine. At time of writing it’s reduced to £449.99 – even more of a bargain.