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.
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.
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.
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
|Seat angle (degrees)||75.5||75.5||74.5||73.5||72.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||70.5||71.5||72.5||73.5||73.5|
|Seat tube (mm)||440||470||510||540||570|
|Top tube (mm)||491||515||535||555||585|
|Head tube (mm)||100||135||160||170||190|
|Fork offset (mm)||45||45||45||45||45|
|Bottom bracket drop (mm)||69||69||69||69||69|
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.
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.
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.
|Price||EUR €2432.00GBP £1900.00USD $2407.00|
|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|
|Cranks||SRAM Force 22 50/34|
|Cassette||SRAM PG1130 11-32|
|Brakes||SRAM Force 22 HydroR hydraulic disc|
|Wheels||Fulcrum Racing 800 Disc|