We test Rotor cranks, Niner’s RLT 9 RDO, the Cervélo P5x and chase down some cinnamon rolls

Gear highlights from a week of testing on gravel, tarmac and plenty of dust and dirt

The past week has been a busy one with the team travelling to Spain to not only test bike’s for our annual Bike of the Year awards, but also take part in Rotor’s ‘Big Race’ in Torrelaguna, northeast of Madrid.


Josh Patterson — US tech editor

Niner’s new gravel racer, the RLT 9 RDO
Josh Patterson / Immediate Media

This week I continued to test Niner’s new gravel racer, the RLT 9 RDO.

Instead of putting it through its paces by racing, as I did last week, I went on a 65-mile fun ride known as the Cinnamon Roller.

The route took us to a road-side diner with a reputation for baking tasty, calorie-dense cinnamon rolls. Colorado’s unseasonably warm winter weather coaxed more than 100 fellow cyclists out for this dirt road fundo. For me at least, this created a sense of urgency to stay near the front in pursuit of pastries — technically this made me a cinnamon rouleur. 

On a mission for cinnamon rolls!
Josh Patterson / Immediate Media

Whether racing toward a finish line or sticky, spiral-shaped carbohydrates, the RLT 9 RDO has proven itself to be a quick and comfortable gravel bike.

Jack Luke — staff writer

This weekend, I raced the 2017 edition of the Rotor Big Race in Torrelaguna, about an hour north of Madrid.

The original 75km, largely singletrack route was altered at the very last minute due to environmental concerns, to 47km — owing to unusually heavy rains in the weeks preceding the event — and on the day before the event we had the chance to ride around 30-very-gnarly-km of the route as practice.

Pre-riding a race course obviously involved posing like an idiot
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

The event started with a chaotic, 400 strong mass-start and took us through the winding, ancient streets of Torrelaguna. For some unknown reason I was gridded right at the front of this mayhem and one place behind my pal Jose Antonio Hermida.

We were given no details as to the type of terrain we’d encounter on the altered route and I foolishly assumed that we’d be riding a level of gnar comparable to the practice route. As such, I was running the already draggy — for XC racing — Minion/Ardent combo that my loaner Santa Cruz Tall Boy came with at around 25psi a piece.

Unsurprisingly, this was hell on the flat gravel roads that made up the first 20km of the ride and I eventually gave up and dropped back from the furiously quick lead group to top up my tyres.

I had chance to try out ROTOR’s new Hawk crankset during the race. Keep your eyes peeled for a review in the coming months
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

With more spritely feeling rubber beneath me, I managed to make up a little time on the first draggy climb of the day. And although the Tall Boy was far too much bike for such a tame course, I was thankful to have a bike suitably burly enough that I could take sketchy high-lines on the rocky descents, passing those on less capable bikes.

I ended up completing the 47km course in 2hrs 13 minutes and given how completely over-biked I was, I’m very pleased with my 126th/405 finish.

After this photo was taken I indulged in a great deal of beer and aftersun
Jack Luke / Immediate Media

Given that Rotor was only informed on the Thursday (by fax!) that the route was a no-goer, I was very impressed by the quality of the course that it managed to put together. Thanks to Saddleback — Rotor’s distributor in the UK — for inviting me to this great event.

Aoife, Tom, Reuben and Joe — Bike of the Year test crew

Plenty of posing, lying about and testing, of course
Reuben Bakker-Dyos / Immediate Media

Aoife, Tom, Reuben and Joe are all out in Spain filming and testing for this year’s Bike of the Year awards. 25 trail bikes are being tested and it won’t be long now until we start revealing the winners. Keep your eyes peeled!

Jamie Wilkins — Procycling deputy editor

The striking looking P5x
Jamie Wilkins / Immediate Media

I had another exciting first ride last week — the first UK test of the radical new Cervélo P5x. I’m testing it for our sister title 220 Triathlon, along with two equally wild-looking and exciting rivals.

The P5x was designed purely for tri use, but its relevance stretches beyond even that huge market. Time trialling in the UK is massive and it’s all run under CTT regs so the only race for which you need a UCI-legal bike is the British Championships. You might not need its three storage bins, but you could race the seat-tube-less, seatstay-less and disc-braked P5x in any other event.

A full review of this tri/TT bike is on its way soon
Jamie Wilkins / Immediate Media

My first outing on the P5x was a good one, 45 miles across the Mendips on a beautiful day to join a family gathering.

Squeezing the bike into the back of a Vauxhaull Corsa for the return journey, seats up with four people, was a very good test of the Cervélo’s designed-in packability. The base bar splits and the extensions unbolt separately, so with the wheels, rear mech and seatpost also removed it went in, just.


Stay tuned and I’ll let you know if it’s likely to shave a few seconds from your club 10 PB for its £13,500 price tag.