Mario Rossin started building bikes back in 1973, and with top riders like Hennie Kuiper, Roger De Vlaeminck and Moreno Argentin on the roster, the company soon developed a big presence on the race scene.
The Zenith is an impressive value all-rounder. The frame, at £930, is one of the more affordable, and apart from the external cable routing it’s well detailed. Using a ‘bi-modular’ monocoque technique, the front and rear halves are moulded separately and then bonded together. The geometrically shaped tubes use reinforcing webs and buttresses at the junctions and the top-tube wraps round the seat-tube, while the fork blades and rear stays are inwardly curved and deeply indented. The Rossin’s seat-tube is internally sleeved with an aluminium insert, which adds durability to a popular carbon trouble spot. It’s available in white or red, although the external cable guides are a budget giveaway.
The payback comes when you look at the spec options. The basic Zenith with Campagnolo Veloce and Mavic Aksium wheels comes in at £1475, but with full bling spec our Zenith is £2975. SRAM Red and Mavic R-Sys components carve a huge chunk off the bike weight to make this a feathery 7.16kg. The difference in responsiveness is palpable too, with a very encouraging eagerness when you up the ante, and an aggressive attitude to altitude gain as well.
It’s stiff enough to make good use of the wattage you supply and it tracks accurately enough to keep you connected and informed as to what the tyres are doing. Classic 73° parallel geometry makes for a balanced base ride, and the hollow carbon spokes of the R-Sys wheels take some of the sting out of rougher road sections, although there’s still a fair amount of buzz coming through the superlight SLR saddle and the alloy 3T bar.
The combination of very narrow 400mm bar and long 125mm stem is definitely an unwieldy one, particularly if you get out of the saddle. Even when we tried out a shorter stem, we still couldn’t shake off the conclusion that while the chassis is an affable and enjoyable all-rounder, it’s essentially an average bike wearing aspirational kit. There are plenty of riders happy to take that tack though, and for them this is clearly a great value component clotheshorse.