Holdsworth was Falcon’s pro-level range, and the brand re-emerged last year with a Reynolds steel road bike in iconic burnt orange. Can the new all-carbon £3,000 Firenze live up to the legendary name?
Frame and handling
Holdsworth’s Firenze is a race machine based around 73-degree angles, with an arched but dramatically sloping top tube, a 165mm tapered head tube, BB30 bottom bracket and short, stout chainstays. The straight-bladed all-carbon fork keeps the steering direct and the ride stable.
With dimensions like this the Firenze is at its best when you are: the long, low position encourages speedy, in-the-saddle and on-the-drops efforts, though up on the hoods you can still maintain a lower position than you can with a more sportive-orientated bike.
While the Firenze has pulse-like acceleration, the frame can feel unrefined over chattery rough road surfaces, with a slight bang-and-crash nature over potholes. It’s never enough to push you offline, but can become a little unnerving and it’s accompanied by the rattling of the internal cables. For smooth, fast roads the Holdsworth is up with the best, but on Britain’s roads the Firenze can become a little wearing after a few hours.
Gears and wheels
The Holdsworth comes with Ultegra, but the BB30-specific Firenze requires an accompanying chainset. Holdsworth has opted for the superb FSA SL-KLight; its full carbon construction is light and stiff. The gearing, like the frame, is aimed at racers, combining a 53/39 and close ratio 12-25 cassette. Despite the ‘tall’ gearing, the low weight and great wheels mean the Firenze never becomes a chore on the steepest climbs.
Holdsworth have kept the Shimano theme, with tubeless-ready Ultegras. Tightly built, light and with quality hubs, this is the standard of wheels we’d hope for. The Rubena Syrinx V80 tyres have a soft, supple casing and roll beautifully, despite a pronounced tread that makes for a slight squirmy feeling under hard cornering.
Holdsworth have assembled an excellent finishing package, with the one-piece carbon Pro Stealth Evo bar/stem the real jewel. One-piece setups have the advantage of nothing to loosen or slip. They may lack adjustability but if the shape suits you won’t look back. The shallow drop and oversized top make it comfortable in every position and its impressive stiffness matches the bike’s overall feel.
The all-carbon Vibe seatpost is also from Pro. The slotted, open head design gives a little movement, damping vibration from the rear. It’s topped with a San Marco Concor saddle whose deep-sided, narrow shape suited our test riders.
Holdsworth’s debut carbon bike is also aimed squarely at racers. The ride is stiff, the handling direct and if you’re looking to get your racing kicks from somewhere leftfield, the superb value Firenze could be it.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.