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Holdsworth Corsa Superlight Disc SRAM Force 22 review

Force mechanical is almost old enough to go to big school

Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
GBP £1,900.00 RRP | USD $2,407.00 | EUR €2,432.00
Pack shot of the Holdsworth Corsa Superlight Disc SRAM Force 22 road bike

Our review

It’s stiff and fun, but don’t expect much in the way of refinement
Pros: Stiff, racy ride; tubeless-compatible wheels
Cons: Budget tyres; unrefined ride quality; dated groupset
Skip to view product specifications

Holdsworth is a name once associated with classic British steel bikes but these days it’s part of the Planet X stable, one of a number of legacy brands acquired by the northern bike shop.

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The Corsa Superlight is a full-carbon bike with a SRAM Force 22 hydraulic disc groupset. It’s raced by UK U-23 and Juniors team Holdsworth Zappi.

Holdsworth Corsa Superlight frameset

The Corsa Superlight’s carbon frame is claimed to weigh 1,157g for a medium, plus 490g for an uncut fork.

There are no aero profiles to speak of, so in that sense it’s a more traditional design. It does, however, have dropped seatstays, neat internal cabling, 12mm thru-axles front and rear, a press-fit bottom bracket, and flat-mount brakes – so it’s hardly old-fashioned.

The cockpit and seatpost are standard items with no proprietary parts, meaning that component swapping will be straightforward should the urge take you.

Male cyclist in blue top riding the Holdsworth Corsa Superlight disc road bike
This is a good looking bike and ticks a lot of boxes but won’t suit all riders.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

The Corsa Superlight is a handsome bike but up close there are clues that this is a more affordable frameset.

The glossy sections of the frame appear to be decals with a distinct edge, for instance, and on my test bike there was a noticeable asymmetry in the carbon where the seatstays meet. Details like this have no impact on how the bike rides, of course, but equally they don’t scream quality.

Many of the latest disc road bikes take advantage of the technology to offer drastically increased tyre clearances, with some proper bikes now accepting 32mm rubber. That’s not the case here – Planet X specifies a maximum 26mm tyre width and pushing much beyond 28mm may endanger your paintwork.

Holdsworth Corsa Superlight build

The Corsa Superlight is built up with a full SRAM Force 22 hydraulic disc groupset, also known as “the groupset you didn’t realise was still in production”.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Force, but it first launched over eight years ago and it’s starting to feel quite dated.

Force was launched to compete with Shimano Ultegra and it’s an impressively feathery set of components that helps make the Holdsworth one of the lighter disc road bikes in its class.

SRAM Force 22 HydroR hydraulic disc brakes on the Holdsworth Corsa Superlight road bike
The flat-mounted SRAM Force 22 HydroR hydraulic disc brakes are plenty powerful.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

At the same time, it feels quite unrefined compared to the latest generation Shimano groupsets, particularly when it comes to front shifting. The brakes are plenty powerful and it gets the job of shifting done, but it’s certainly not cutting-edge stuff.

The Holdsworth’s wheels are Fulcrum Racing 800 Disc aluminium clinchers, a solid affordable option. Their 19mm internal width is a good match for road tyres and they’re “2-Way Fit Ready”, Fulcrum’s way of saying they can be converted to tubeless. Officially, you must use Fulcrum’s own tubeless tape for this. Unofficially, any good tubeless tape should do the job.

The finishing kit is all Selcof-branded, another name with history – it’s Italian – that’s been brought under the Planet X umbrella. It’s ordinary but perfectly nice stuff.

A key selling point of Planet X bikes is that you can customise your build to an extent. You can’t change every part, but there are options to switch finishing kit and wheels before committing to buy. Some changes are free, some cost extra.

Holdsworth Corsa Superlight Disc SRAM Force 22 geometry

44M47B>515457
Seat angle (degrees)75.575.574.573.572.5
Head angle (degrees)70.571.572.573.573.5
Chainstay (mm)405405405405405
Seat tube (mm)440470510540570
Top tube (mm)491515535555585
Head tube (mm)100135160170190
Fork offset (mm)4545454545
Bottom bracket drop (mm)6969696969
Wheelbase (mm)9609779799791,002
Stack (mm)496509526549587
Reach (mm)362.7383.4389392.4399.8

Holdsworth Corsa Superlight ride impressions

If there’s one word to characterise the Holdsworth’s ride quality, it’s ‘stiff’. Despite skinny appearances, the frame is impressively flex-free under hard pedalling and, as a result, it’s satisfying on the climbs, feeling fast, efficient and racy.

The standard build gets you gradient friendly gearing too, with a 50/34 and 11-32 combo offering a bottom end suitable for the steepest ascents.

In geometry terms, the Holdsworth is a race bike through and through. The angles are steep and the wheelbase short at 979mm for a size 51/medium.

It’s aggressive too – many riders will want a good few spacers under their stem with a stack of just 526mm. The reach is reasonably long at 389mm, giving a nice stretched-out fit even with the modest 100mm stem fitted as standard.

The Corsa Superlight’s stiffness goes hand-in-hand with a fairly firm ride. It has a solid feel that’s typical of more affordable carbon bikes and in some ways more akin to a steel road bike than premium carbon.

Internal cabling on the Holdsworth Corsa Superlight Disc road bike
The Corsa Superlight has neat internal cabling through the fork and down tube.
Russell Burton / Immediate Media

This isn’t helped by the budget tyres fitted – this bike deserves better. The Panaracer Catalyst Sports are skinny and hard, and do little to enhance the riding experience.

Tyres are one area where a modest investment can yield real improvements in performance and comfort.

I’d suggest doing some childish skids on the Panaracers before donating them to a good cause, and then taking advantage of the Fulcrum wheels’ option to go tubeless with a decent set of tyres.

This would unlock a little extra speed and/or allow for lower tyre pressures to add a little extra comfort.

If you like your road bikes stiff, firm and direct, the Holdsworth will appeal. It isn’t the most refined machine, but it’s well suited to strong riders intent on go-fast exploits.

Holdsworth Corsa Superlight overall

The Holdsworth ticks a lot of boxes with a full-carbon frameset, lightweight disc groupset and reasonable price tag, but the complete package won’t suit all riders.

If unyielding stiffness is a priority, the Corsa Superlight has a lot going for it, but racers might favour a bike with at least a nod to aero considerations, while more leisure-oriented riders may prefer a more refined groupset and ride quality, or a less aggressive riding position.

You can decide for yourself if having a newer groupset matters or not. SRAM Force 22 is as good as it was back in 2013, but it’s fair to say the market has evolved somewhat since then.

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The tyres, meanwhile, are simply not that great and when you’re spending close to two grand, it’s not unreasonable to expect a little more in this department.

Product Specifications

Product

Price EUR €2432.00GBP £1900.00USD $2407.00
Weight 8.6kg (51cm)
Brand Holdsworth

Features

Available sizes 44, 47, 51, 54, 57cm
Headset Selcof Sport Integrated
Tyres Panaracer Catalyst Sport 25mm
Stem Selcof Zeta V2 100mm
Shifter SRAM Force 22 HydroR
Seatpost Selcof Zeta V2 27.2mm
Saddle San Marco Monza Start
Rear derailleur SRAM Force 22
Handlebar Selcof Zeta 42cm
Bottom bracket SRAM Press-fit GXP
Front derailleur SRAM Force 22
Frame Toray T700/800 carbon
Fork Carbon tapered
Cranks SRAM Force 22 50/34
Chain SRAM PC1110
Cassette SRAM PG1130 11-32
Brakes SRAM Force 22 HydroR hydraulic disc
Wheels Fulcrum Racing 800 Disc