A popular stalwart of the time trial and triathlon scene, Planet X’s full-carbon Stealth frame has been piloted to multiple victories at every level. There’s now a new Exocet bike above it in the range, but if it’s high-value velocity you’re after, the Stealth still takes some beating.
Ride & handling: Secure and comfortable machine that offers fast, efficient, easy riding
As soon as you’re aboard it’s very obvious why the Stealth has become such a stalwart. The relatively short reach drops you into the arm pads in a naturally squared off elbow position that’s both secure and comfortable on long distances.
Unlike many compact bikes it doesn’t create the ‘weight too far forward’ jackknife threat that can make slow-speed handling a nerve-wracking experience. There are still some knee-clearance issues on the back of the extension pods when you’re out of the saddle, but nothing that you won’t learn to live with.
The relatively relaxed seat angle keeps it stable right through the speed range too, so reaching for a gel or bottle is never an issue. Its genial handling and reasonable frame stiffness is a real help on more gusty days when the deep-section frame tubes start to get shunted about by sidewinds.
Despite a ﬁrm feel under the pedals when you put the power down it’s not an overly harsh ride. It’s not as smooth as the best carbon ﬁbre frames but there’s certainly more road sting removed from the ride than the alloy frames this bike is competing with on price.
The low bike weight (18.09lb/8.21kg) means it’s no slouch when it comes to getting up to speeds where the aero advantage will make a real difference.
Chassis: One of the most proven aero frames available plus a super-light fork
Even after years on the circuit the carbon frame looks sharp and while it’s not the most advanced aerodynamically, it ticks all the essential boxes. For a start the short 10cm aero proﬁled head tube means you can get a properly low front-end position.
The head blends into the deep triangular down tube which supports the full width of the bottom bracket. Deep chainstays end at horizontal dropout slots with neat built-in wheel adjusters to manage tyre clearance on the wheelhugger seat tube.
There’s more ﬂow blending between the aero seat tube and ﬂat-kinked and ﬂared seatstays. The ultra-light (0.82lb/370g) full-carbon fork aids the competitive overall chassis weight. External gear and brake cables routing isn’t the most drag-efﬁcient or aesthetically pleasing, but makes maintenance a whole lot easier.
Four 700c wheel sizes and two 650c wheel sizes mean there’s a Stealth to ﬁt most riders, and there’s plenty of seatpost adjustment without having to get the saw out. The rearward set clamp of the seatpost sets up a more relaxed seat angle than the nominal 76° number of the frame. If you prefer to keep your hip angle open you’ll want to push the saddle right forward on its rails for best ﬁt.
There’s a white complete bike option as well as the naked carbon version here, plus Spencer Smith pink as a frame and fork option.
Equipment: Kit includes superlight brakes, light wheels and a full carbon cockpit
Planet X are a direct sales operation, which gives them a massive price advantage over the standard distributor and shop retail model. That means if you don’t mind getting your bike in a box (or picking it up from Rotherham yourself) you’re getting a serious-value kit spec here.
The SRAM Rival transmission is reasonably light and works well through the tip shifters but it’s the Planet X stuff that stands out. The wheels and brakes are impressively light and the multi-piece carbon cockpit is usefully adjustable and comfortable in use.
In fact, only the ﬁrm saddle potentially needs changing if you prefer a softer-nosed seat. Deeper section aero wheels are an obvious upgrade, but they come as standard on the £2,099 versions of the Stealth.