Sonnet Road MK1 first ride review£2,799.00

Engaging, smooth and a great handling bike

Sonnet founder Casey Parson’s aim with the brand was to produce artisan, quality bikes at a more affordable price. While not a framebuilder himself, Casey uses a European-based family framebuilder to construct what is an impressive slab of skinny steel.

Sonnet Road MK1 spec overview

  • Frame : Lugged Columbus Niobium/Spirit, internal cable routing
  • Fork: Columbus SL 1" threaded curved fork (optional)
  • Headset: IRD/Tange-Seiki Techno-Glide
  • Shifters: Campagnolo Potenza
  • Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Potenza
  • Front derailleur: Campagnolo Potenza
  • Chainset: Campagnolo Potenza, 50/34t (compact), 52/36t (semi-compact), 53/39t (professional)
  • Crank arms: Campagnolo Potenza
  • Bottom bracket: Campagnolo Potenza
  • Cassette: Campagnolo Potenza
  • Hubs: Novatech A171/F272 hubs
  • Rims: Mavic Open Pro
  • Tyres: Veloflex Master 25 700 x 25c
  • Brakes: Campagnolo Potenza
  • Handlebars: Nitto M190, anatomic road bars (Reach: 80mm/Drop: 138mm)
  • Stem: Nitto CT-1
  • Saddle: Selle San Marco Rolls (optional)

Seatpost:  Nitto S65 Crystal (250mm, 300mm)
  • Colours: Anthracite Black / Mountain Blue / Pine Green / Ruby Red / Ember Red / Ghost Silver
  • Claimed frame/fork weight: 1,799g / 671g
  • Sizes: 48cm–63cm (1 cm increments)

Italian heart

The internal cable routing treatment
The internal cable routing treatment

By using Italian steel maestro’s Columbus’ Spirit tubing — specifically its Keirin variant — the Mk1 has a heart comprising triple-butted steel and one usually reserved for the track. The result is tubing that’s stiff where you need it.

A real-life example? Sprinting away from traffic lights and powering force through the bottom bracket does little to unsettle the frame’s balance. I was also impressed to find that it retains the lively spring associated with quality steel; in fact, it achieves this power-comfort balancing act brilliantly.

The Selle San Marco Rolls saddle
The Selle San Marco Rolls saddle

Upfront the slender fork and head tube, and the luxurious Veloflex tyres, make short work of rougher surfaces. Yes, on occasion the front end can feel a little more flexi than a carbon or aluminium frame, but rather than detract from the ride it seems to add character.

Elsewhere it’s top-grade quality throughout with Japanese tubing manipulators Nitto providing their glorious Craft stem, with its luscious polished finish and enameled plaque badge reminding you that this traditional quill stem is among the very finest of its kind. The matching Nitto M190 bar and post all make for a very considered component choice.

Campagnolo Potenza is on braking duties
Campagnolo Potenza is on braking duties

The Mk1 runs on a pair of Mavic Open Pro rims hand built onto classic Novatec cartridge hubs by none other than British wheelbuilding legend Harry Rowland. I've had a set of wheels built by Harry running on one of my bikes for more than a decade without any need for maintenance beyond the occasional hub clean, lube and check of the spoke tensions. So again, Sonnet scores highly here.

Lightweight beauty

Nitto's M190 bars have a reach of 80mm and drop of 138mm
Nitto's M190 bars have a reach of 80mm and drop of 138mm

The overall weight of just over 9kg is good for a bike of this genre, especially when you consider that Campag’s Potenza is a few rungs down the ladder from its lightweight Super Record group.

Potenza, though, is a great choice, with its polished finish proving a great match to the Nitto parts and polished lugs. The performance is bang on, too, with Campag’s signature click-clunk vocal shift letting you know it’s hit the right cog every time.

The tubing is stiff where you need it and the bike offers great handling
The tubing is stiff where you need it and the bike offers great handling

The gear combo is pretty much the sweetspot, with 52/11 giving all the top-end pace potential you’ll ever need and the bottom 36/29 being your friend when the road really steepens.

Overall, the Sonnet’s off-the-peg yet artisan build is a success; in fact, the only downside is the price. Mind you, Sonnet has reduced prices over the past couple of months and you really can’t argue with that superb performance.

Sonnet Road MK1 early verdict

Engaging ride, great handling, lusciously smooth and clever build.

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