This Spanish speedster is a classic road-racing layout that’s comfortable on long rides thanks to its compliant frame and compact chainset.
A good amount of vertical compliance and the compact chainset make the BH a comfortable companion for long rides, but that’s not to take away from the fact that it’s still a performance-orientated machine that’s built for speed. The ride position isn’t as aggressive as some but it’s certainly low and efficient when you get down on the drops and give it the beans.
The Speedrom is a couple of pounds too heavy to be a pure hill-climbing thoroughbred but it doesn’t hang about on the climbs and you really start to value the low gearing when the going gets tough. It spins along easily on the flat and the frame stays perfectly straight when you fire it down snaky descents as fast as you dare – a trait we’ve come to expect from BH.
Swap the wheels for something better and the BH becomes immediately more lively; it responds quicker when you put the hammer down and it takes on the hills with real enthusiasm. Pretty much any bike could be improved with better wheels, of course, but the BH is practically getting up on its hind wheel and begging for an upgrade, and that’s exactly what we’d be giving it as quickly as possible.
The Speedrom 105 L51’s frame is easily its most impressive feature. This unidirectional, high modulus carbon fibre chassis could grace a more expensive bike. In fact, it does. It’s available in SRAM Rival (£1799), Campagnolo Centaur (£1699) and Shimano Ultegra (£1499) builds too, as well as in a cheaper Campag Mirage version for £1299.
The top-tube is a round-edged triangle in cross section and it slopes downwards to give a fairly low standover height. The teardrop down-tube is one of the beefier options out there and it adds plenty of rigidity through the mid-section, while out back slender wishbone seatstays effectively damp out buzz from the road.
The hard-edged chainstays aren’t particularly elegant but the overall result is a reasonably lightweight frame that stands firm when you add the oomph. The carbon-bladed fork provides accurate steering and adds to the blend of strength and comfort.
The BH has a spec that’s based around Shimano’s mid-range, high value 105 group, which is the norm around the £1200 price point. The 105 shifters and rear derailleur provide light, consistent gear changes up and down the block, while the FSA Energy front mech performs just as well.
The Speedrom comes with a compact 50/34 chainset rather than the traditional 53/39 – in this case a carbon wrap model from FSA – to provide easier climbing at the expense of a small reduction in top speed.
You rarely find yourself wanting to change up to a gear that isn’t there, though, thanks especially to the 11-tooth small sprocket.
A triple chainring option (50/39/30) is available, and will cost you £20 extra.
We’re not big fans of the dual pivot Titan brake callipers – we found them lacking in progressive power – but the San Marco saddle is a comfy highlight while the aluminium FSA stem, bars and seatpost all provide respectable, workmanlike performances.
Rolling duties are taken care of by a pair of Shimano R500 wheels. They’re a reasonable weight and the black chrome plated spokes (20 front, 24 rear) hold them surprisingly firm; we only managed to get brake rub when throwing the bike about on the climbs in a ridiculously high gear.
The front wheel did go slightly out of true after a few rides, though, which was disappointing but easily remedied. We’ve also found that the R500’s cup-and-cone bearing hubs often need a little tweaking to keep them running smoothly although the contact/labyrinth seals are effective enough and long-term durability is good.
The Michelin tyres are not especially fast rolling, but they are pretty grippy even in greasy conditions and come with a good life expectancy.