Silverback's South African-born founder Deon Retief certainly isn’t short of ambition: "I want the Silverback brand to be the Apple of the bicycle industry," he says of the company that now has its Global Development Centre in Stuttgart (after six years in South Africa).
We like a man with ambition, but that’s big cojones by any standards, although the Silverback Sirelli's figures do make for a bold start.
Classy rolling stock, snappy carbon spec
The level of equipment is impressive, as is the 7.25kg weight. And while Shimano Ultegra is the go-to groupset at this price point, the wheels and accompanying kit are both at the higher end of the component spectrum. The Fulcrum Racing 3s are light, tight and quick to get up to speed, and our experience suggests they’re pretty durable too. The tyres are Vittoria’s Rubino Slicks in a supple 25mm width.
Fulcrum Racing 3 wheels are wrapped in classy 25mm Vittoria Rubin Slicks
Other treats include a carbon handlebar and 27.2mm carbon seatpost. These were both welcome, helping with the comfort and keeping weight to a minimum.
The frame may not be groundbreaking, but it has all the features you’d expect in a modern performance-orientated road bike. The down tube and bottom bracket junction are big and beefy, the head tube is short for a head-down position and tapered for responsive handling.
Frame angles are on the steepish side, again emphasising its racy – rather than casual – inclination. But the seatstays are pencil-slim and meet the seat tube below the top tube junction, so while the ride is (to slip into lazy national stereotyping) swift and Germanically efficient, comfort is much more than adequate, helped by the carbon bar, stem and carbon-railed saddle. It’s very good over big bumps, and decent over cracked, chattery surfaces too.
This is no dawdler
The Sirelli does at least come with a few spacers on the steerer if you don’t want the bar slammed directly on to the top of the headset, but this isn’t a machine for dawdling.
The low overall weight meant that the 11-25 cassette proved low enough for me (I’d usually go for a 28-tooth bottom gear). Not only does it climb with an air of smooth nonchalance, it descends and sprints like a demon – its sub-1m wheelbase making it eminently chuckable. If you’re looking for a fast machine for potentially challenging sportives/fondos this is a good fit.
The Sirelli climbs almost nonchalantly, but sprint or descend and it soon shows its teeth
There’s good attention to detail too, and it’s nice to see features such as a chain catcher, as well as size-specific stem, bar and crank length. Our dislikes are minimal: we’d have preferred thicker bar tape, and the Fulcrums’ white hubs were tough to keep clean even during a few days’ testing, so who knows what they’ll look like by the end of the winter?
And Silverback can’t resist a bit of tech-speak, either. The phrase ‘Advanced Dynamics’ turns up a few times on the ‘Aston Black’ and ‘Aventador Lime’ frame (black and green to the rest of us). But that’s countered by a quality frame decked with quality kit, for a bike that delivers a fast and fluid ride.
Perhaps it’s not yet the Apple of the bike-building world, as there’s little genuine innovation going on, but on this basis Silverback is still a name worth watching.