Another bike that shares a frame with a more expensive sibling (the £2,400 Interval), the Moda Sharp is a good-looking and impressively lightweight aero all-rounder for less aggressive riders.
Moda’s Sharp might not be appropriately named due to it’s soft frame feel and even softer cockpit and wheels. But if you’re a smooth, subtle rider looking for a lightweight ride that ticks all the basic aero boxes then it’s a naturally friendly and comfort-nurturing long-haul contender at a decent price.
Ride & handling: A comfy welcome, rather than a prescriptively performance-orientated feel
While there's a lot of plus points about the Sharp, sharpness, ironically, isn’t one of them. Unless you’re taking a relaxed start to your ride, the cockpit and wheel ﬂex is the ﬁrst thing you’ll notice about the Moda. Not only did we have to adjust the brakes to allow for ﬂex when climbing hard, but we also had to adjust our cornering and feedback demands to cope with its soft steering feel and vague traction feedback. There’s a similar softness in the frame when you stamp hard, so it’s a bike that’s best spun up to speed through the gears rather than torqued into life with a few wrenching strokes.
While their wandering habits take some getting used to, the lightweight wheels accelerate well if not bullied. The low bike weight is also a bonus if you’re spinning uphill at tempo rather than grunting against the gears. The softness of the wheels, the frame and the cockpit means there’s a lot less road vibration and fatigue-inducing rattle coming through from the Tarmac than most bargain aero bikes.
The arm-rest pads get sweaty quickly and the basic saddle, which needs careful adjustment to make it comfortable enough for steady cruising, was chosen as a ‘sooner rather than later’ upgrade by most of our testers. The ﬁnely adjustable saddle offset position makes it easy to ﬁnd your optimum pelvic position and, while the headtube is short, it’s topped by a healthy stack of removable spacers, which all helps give a comfy welcome, rather than prescriptively performance-orientated feel.
Once you learn to allow for the wheel vagueness, the handling is easy and unthreatening too, with no nasty tuck-under habits when you’re out of the saddle or speed wobble vices waiting to catch you out. Having ridden its American Classic 58 wheel-equipped brother (the Interval) we know it handles OK with deeper section wheels and less delicate weather conditions too. While they’re not the stiffest of wheels themselves, the 58s are more directionally accurate than the Victories. That should make the upgrade to the otherwise identical Interval tempting if you want a comfortable, fully equipped aero bike, even if it costs a few quid more than the price of the wheels alone.
Frame: Full carbon frame and impressively light fork
If you like your aesthetics clean then the black and white Moda looks as monochrome Sharp as the name suggests. Starting with a low-position-friendly short headtube, complete with leading edge bulge and teardrop downtube, the carbon-ﬁbre mainframe ends in an aero seat tube with wheelhugger cut-out. At the back, the blended wishbone for the rear stays means equally clean lines continue all the way to the horizontal dropouts, with large thumbwheel axle adjusters built into them. The stays themselves are relatively chunky too, with a speciﬁc LDC (Load Dispersing Carbon) element to reduce road buzz transmission before it gets to your bum.
The aero ‘Switch Pitch System’ seatpost also gets a fore/aft adjustable Ritchey-style cradle to alter effective seat angle. The brakes are a conventional design, conventionally mounted, and all the cables run externally, which is less aero than an internal routed set-up, but much easier to work on. You get external cable adjusters to tweak tension on the go, too. The full carbon frame and impressively light fork means chassis weight is also reasonable, if not exceptional, and there is a full range of sizes to suit most riders.
Equipment: Clever, lightweight kit choice
Stop-and-go gear is provided by SRAM’s mid-level Rival in a standard rather than compact-sized chainring format. This powers a set of American Classic Victory wheels with skinny hubs making them very light for the price. However, they’re similarly waif-like in terms of stiffness and tracking accuracy, with a wayward feel. The Kenda Iron Cloak tyres are low on traction and supple comfort too.
The brakes are trick-looking lightweight callipers with a cam assist arm giving adequate power for rolling courses, while thin-bladed SRAM levers keep operation aero-efﬁcient, if not particularly ﬁnger-friendly. The Barelli bars are very ﬂexible when you’re cornering, or out of the saddle up climbs, which adds to the twangy feel of the wheels.