Sabbath Silk Road £2299

Brit-designed frame suggests good value and road-smoothing comfort

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

UK-based Sabbath has only been around since 2006 but has a strong reputation for distinctive titanium bikes. It offers six models, with the Silk Road promising ‘all-day comfort and stable handling’. There’s also an (extra cost) custom geometry option. The current frame uses double-butted tubing, and Sabbath claims it’s 10 percent lighter than the previous model.

  • Highs: Great value as a full bike, lively but comfortable ride
  • Lows: Hint of twang under larger riders, limited tyre room if you want to fit mudguards
  • Buy if: You want a light, comfortable all-weather bike

The Silk Road is a handsome frame. While it’s quite traditional in some areas, such as the conventional straight head tube, Sabbath hasn’t gone for the easy option of straight tubes throughout. The down tube is significantly manipulated, formed into a slight vertical oval at the head tube for increased weld area and a horizontal one at the bottom bracket for a little more stiffness. Out back, slender curved seatstays promise extra comfort.

The Silk Road's frame is traditional-looking, but with some pleasing modern touches to aid stiffness and comfort

We’re particularly impressed by the concealed rear mudguard eyes, tucked away on the inside of the seatstays. It’s not as if mudguard mounts are particularly obtrusive, but these lend the Silk Road a sleek appearance if you’re not using them. There are mounts on the carbon fork too, although they’re the normal sticky-out sort. But if you want to run mudguards, the short-drop brakes mean you’re limited to 23mm rubber – for an all-rounder like this, a little more room would be welcome. The socket-style rear dropouts with a replaceable gear hanger are a neat touch, and the brushed/etched graphics make for a classy finish.

Sabbath sent a test bike kitted out with a full Shimano 105 groupset. 105 is not as slick as the brilliant new generation of Ultegra, but you’ll have to pay more than £2299 for an Ultegra-equipped titanium bike. Shimano’s latest wizardry might not have trickled down to 105 level yet, but it’s still good stuff.

It scores over the similarly-priced Genesis Equilibrium Ti by featuring a 105 chainset and a Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheelset complete with Mavic’s Yksion tyres. And it’s a healthy dose lighter too. The lack of any barrel adjusters in the gear cables was something of an oversight, though.

There's a hint of titanium flex under fast cornering, but it's more characteristic than fault

The Silk Road lives up to its name with a notably smooth ride. It’s clearly built with longer days in mind, with a fairly tall head tube and a feel that prioritises compliance above absolute stiffness. The slender front end and untapered steerer can be coaxed into a bit of twang if you’re really motoring, although something about the way titanium rebounds makes that more of a characteristic than a criticism. Sabbath has gone for tried-and-tested frame angles that work well for all-round riding – it’s agile without being hyperactive.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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