Planet X Stealth Pro Carbon SRAM Rival review£1,399.00

Serious value time trial package

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A popular stalwart of the time trial and triathlon scene, Planet X’s full-carbon Stealth frame has been piloted to multiple victories at every level. There’s now a new Exocet bike above it in the range, but if it’s high-value velocity you’re after, the Stealth still takes some beating.

Ride & handling: Secure and comfortable machine that offers fast, efficient, easy riding

As soon as you’re aboard it’s very obvious why the Stealth has become such a stalwart. The relatively short reach drops you into the arm pads in a naturally squared off elbow position that’s both secure and comfortable on long distances.

Unlike many compact bikes it doesn’t create the ‘weight too far forward’ jackknife threat that can make slow-speed handling a nerve-wracking experience. There are still some knee-clearance issues on the back of the extension pods when you’re out of the saddle, but nothing that you won’t learn to live with.

The relatively relaxed seat angle keeps it stable right through the speed range too, so reaching for a gel or bottle is never an issue. Its genial handling and reasonable frame stiffness is a real help on more gusty days when the deep-section frame tubes start to get shunted about by sidewinds.

Despite a firm feel under the pedals when you put the power down it’s not an overly harsh ride. It’s not as smooth as the best carbon fibre frames but there’s certainly more road sting removed from the ride than the alloy frames this bike is competing with on price.

The low bike weight (18.09lb/8.21kg) means it’s no slouch when it comes to getting up to speeds where the aero advantage will make a real difference.

Chassis: One of the most proven aero frames available plus a super-light fork

Even after years on the circuit the carbon frame looks sharp and while it’s not the most advanced aerodynamically, it ticks all the essential boxes. For a start the short 10cm aero profiled head tube means you can get a properly low front-end position.

The head blends into the deep triangular down tube which supports the full width of the bottom bracket. Deep chainstays end at horizontal dropout slots with neat built-in wheel adjusters to manage tyre clearance on the wheelhugger seat tube.

There’s more flow blending between the aero seat tube and flat-kinked and flared seatstays. The ultra-light (0.82lb/370g) full-carbon fork aids the competitive overall chassis weight. External gear and brake cables routing isn’t the most drag-efficient or aesthetically pleasing, but makes maintenance a whole lot easier.

Four 700c wheel sizes and two 650c wheel sizes mean there’s a Stealth to fit most riders, and there’s plenty of seatpost adjustment without having to get the saw out. The rearward set clamp of the seatpost sets up a more relaxed seat angle than the nominal 76° number of the frame. If you prefer to keep your hip angle open you’ll want to push the saddle right forward on its rails for best fit.

There’s a white complete bike option as well as the naked carbon version here, plus Spencer Smith pink as a frame and fork option.

Equipment: Kit includes superlight brakes, light wheels and a full carbon cockpit

Planet X are a direct sales operation, which gives them a massive price advantage over the standard distributor and shop retail model. That means if you don’t mind getting your bike in a box (or picking it up from Rotherham yourself) you’re getting a serious-value kit spec here.

The SRAM Rival transmission is reasonably light and works well through the tip shifters but it’s the Planet X stuff that stands out. The wheels and brakes are impressively light and the multi-piece carbon cockpit is usefully adjustable and comfortable in use.

In fact, only the firm saddle potentially needs changing if you prefer a softer-nosed seat. Deeper section aero wheels are an obvious upgrade, but they come as standard on the £2,099 versions of the Stealth.

Guy Kesteven

Freelance Writer, UK
Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
  • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
  • Waist: 76cm / 30in
  • Chest: 91cm / 36in
  • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
  • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster tfhan the last time he did it he's happy.
  • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
  • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
  • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
  • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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