Revolution Shadow... £999

Knows what greatness lurks in the heart of a reasonably priced road bike

BikeRadar score 4/5

The Shadow is the flagship road bike in Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative’s Revolution range. It squeezes a whole lot of performance into a £999 package with a lively, enthusiastic ride that’s also very comfortable. There’s a lot to get excited about here and, in terms of value, it’s hard to beat.

Revolution is the in-house brand of Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative, the Scottish retailer with a big on-line presence as well as, these days, shops south of the border in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester.

The Shadow boasts a lightweight aluminium/scandium alloy frame, an Easton EC90 Superlite fork and a full Shimano Ultegra-SL groupset. It looks to be a killer deal. We hit the road to find out whether it delivers on the promise

Ride & handling: light and lively

Weighing in at just 8.2kg (18.0lb, 57cm model), the Revolution is right up there among the lightest road bikes you’ll find for under a grand. That lack of weight makes itself felt straightaway, the Shadow skipping up to speed eagerly from your first pedal stroke with little in the way of frame flex to dull its responses. Turn the power on after a tight corner or just put in a burst when you’re feeling strong and you’re rewarded instantly with a surge of acceleration; there’s no hanging about for your effort to kick in like you can get with heavier bikes.

The groupset is Shimano’s second tier Ultegra SL which provides shifting that’s both light and accurate. The 52/39 chainrings are hitched up to a 12-27 cassette to give a reasonably wide range of gears although some people might prefer a compact (50/34), sportive-friendly crankset for an easier spread.

That said, the Revolution climbs well, the light weight giving it a distinct advantage over most price-point rivals. Get out of the saddle and stomp when the terrain gets steep and the bottom bracket doesn’t go walk-about but stays put to provide a staunch, firm platform for your pedalling. You do get a couple of big three-tooth jumps at the top end of that cassette which can upset your rhythm when you change up, but it’s really not that big a deal if you remember they’re coming.

The Shimano R500 wheels are the only real limiting factor when you hit the hills. These are excellent value kit for their level… but that level is a couple of pips lower than the rest of the Revolution’s key components. They don’t flex much – we got very little brake rub even when trying our gear-mashing, muscle-popping hardest – but they’re not especially light. Invest in wheels that are up to the standard of the rest of the bike, reduce the rotational weight and you’re on to a winner.

We’re big fans of the dual-pivot Ultegra-SL anchors which provide well-controlled modulation as well as big-punching power when it’s needed. Knowing they’re capable of getting you out of trouble, you’ll soon find yourself tackling tight corners and bendy descents at full speed – good brakes definitely increase your speed as well as reducing it when required.

The Revolution bucks the trend towards more upright set-ups with a traditional-style frame geometry. The head tube on our 55cm  model was just 14cm long, and even with 30mm of headset spacers and quite a high rise stem fitted, that makes for an aggressive ride position. We like this approach and the aerodynamic benefits it provides but it’s certainly something to be aware of when making your buying decisions, especially if your back isn’t particularly supple.

We actually found the Revolution to be a really comfortable ride, doubtless helped by the carbon seatpin, fork and handlebar. Even at the end of a sweaty 5-hour stint we were still feeling fresh… okay, ‘fresh’ might be pushing it, but not battered and bruised either.

Frame & fork: Stealthy styling

At the heart of the Shadow is a triple butted aluminium/scandium alloy frame that combines light weight with impressive rigidity. A biaxial ovalised top tube (its profile is an oval on its side at the top tube junction, and on its end by the time it reaches the seat tube) and oversized down tube prevent any flex through the centre while dead straight stays keep everything good ’n’ taut out back.

We’ve mentioned that the head tube is on the short side to provide a low front end and, along with the non-sloping top tube, this gives the Revolution a fairly traditional shape. The welds aren’t filed or filled but they’re neat enough while the black anodized finish saves weight over paint and you’d have to go some to scratch it and damage the stealthy looks. Overall, this is a tidy, no-nonsense chassis that packs in a big performance.

Easton’s full-carbon EC90 Superlite fork is another star. It’s stiff and strong with just enough damping to take the edge off irregular road surfaces. Bought alone it would set you back £220; it’s a real bonus on a £1,000 bike.

Equipment: high-end group with savings elsewhere

Shimano’s Ultegra SL components are high-quality throughout – light, reliable and, in their ‘ice-grey’ finish, pretty too. There are no sneaky downgrades hidden away, either – even the bottom bracket is the real deal.

Guizzo provides the forged alloy stem, the anatomically-shaped carbon fibre handlebar and the micro-adjustable carbon seatpost. This Far Eastern brand might not be the most prestigious out there but we’ve no complaints; it’s all decent stuff that’ll stand the test of time.

Although it’s a personal thing, we got on well with the Velo Pronto SL saddle too. Narrow-nosed with a cut-away centre and enough give in the hull to take the sting out of bumps and potholes, we found it comfortable on even the longest rides.

Wheels: the obvious compromise

Underneath Ultegra in Shimano’s component hierarchy you get 105, then Tiagra, and it’s at this level you’ll find R500 wheels. It’s not that these are poor quality at all but they’re certainly outshone by the rest of the Shadow’s spec – they’re over-shadowed, if you will. [Groan – Ed.] This is a £75 wheelset; you’re not going to get top-end performance.

They’re fine, though, if a little heavy. There’s little wasteful flex, weather sealing is decent and, when it is time to open up the hubs, regreasing or replacement of the loose bearings is simple. The wheels, though, would be the most obvious first upgrade.

Conti’s Ultra Sport tyres offer a good compromise between all-weather grip and durability. They’re tough and reasonably light, too – no worries on that front.

Summary: High performance, low price

The Revolution squeezes a whole lot of performance into a £999 package; there’s a lot to get excited about here and, in terms of value, it’s hard to beat.

Some riders, especially those who are in to longer rides including sportives, might prefer a more upright position to ease the strain on the old back, and a compact chainset to keep things spinning along at the end of a hard day in the saddle. Others might be tempted to save a little longer and opt for a carbon frameset. But if you want a lightweight, sporty machine on a £1,000 budget, take a close look…

The Revolution provides you with a great frame and groupset, and although the remaining components aren’t of quite the same standard, they’re still sound throughout. It all adds up to a lively, enthusiastic ride that’s also very comfortable. We’d be looking to upgrade the wheels in the long-term but that’ll wait. For the time being it’s a grand well spent.

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