Entry into the rareﬁed world of Italian bicycles is usually an expensive affair but Battaglin’s Stealth aims to put Italian exotica into the hands of those with more modest means.
- Frame & fork: Simple looks hide a seriously comfortable ride (7/10)
- Handling: Steady with no drama, an easy bike to live with (7/10)
- Equipment: Excellent groupset and ﬁnishing kit, terrible saddle (8/10)
- Wheels: Not light but among the best you can expect at this price (9/10)
Giovanni Battaglin may not be as well known as Eddy Merckx, but like the Cannibal, the Italian rider went on to make bikes after ending his racing career. And though his palmarès doesn’t compare with the great Belgian’s, he did pick up both the Giro and Vuelta in 1981, and stage wins in the Tour of Switzerland and the Tour de France in the previous decade. So there’s no doubting that Signor Battaglin knows a thing or two about bikes.
Battaglin’s range is topped by the Super Record-equipped all-carbon C12, with the much more modestly priced Stealth propping up an extensive range of road machines.
The Stealth is based around a 7005 series aluminium frame, though given the proportions of our test bike’s head tube, it wasn’t the stealthiest looking bike around. That said, the black paint scheme is subtle, or ‘stealthy’ if you prefer. The top tube and down tubes have a triangulated proﬁle, a distinctive touch at this price.
When it comes to the kit, most bikes between £800 and £900 come with Shimano kit – Sora, Tiagra, 105 or combinations of the Japanese company’s various groupsets. Things are a bit more interesting on the Battaglin, which sports a groupset from comparative upstarts SRAM, in this case 10-speed Rival, the cheapest of SRAM’s three groupsets. Straight out of the box on the Battaglin – and on other bikes that we’ve tried – the gruppo worked perfectly.
Fulcrum’s Racing 7 wheels are at the budget end of the Campag spin-off company’s range, but they kept rolling smoothly throughout testing and are an unusual and welcome sight on a sub-grand bike. Marketed by Fulcrum as a training wheel, they tend to be seen on bikes from £1,000 to £2,000, and we have seen them on bikes over two grand.
All the ﬁnishing kit is supplied by fellow Italian company FSA, including its excellent shallow drop bars. These are ideal for a new rider looking to get used to the riding position on a road machine.
The saddle, a Selle Italia XR, was most unforgiving. It’s a saddle that only Pinocchio could love. “You’d need an arse made of mahogany to get comfortable on it,” said tester Warren Rossiter.
When it comes to riding, the usual preconceptions of low-end aluminium frames is that they’re going to be pretty harsh rides, transmitting road imperfections into buzz at the bars and discomfort through the seat. We’re happy to report that the Battaglin does none of this.
In fact, a combination of a comfortable fork and compliant frame made this a surprisingly pleasant place to be, while an all-up weight of just over 20lbs made it light enough when the road started to rise.
Handling wise, the Stealth is quite neutral. It’s not a ﬂickable sprinting machine, but as a steady long weekend ride and commuter it’s spot on – and as a ﬁrst foray into serious road bikes it's sure to inspire you to ride further and faster.