Cynics will no doubt be assuming that Evans Cycles have teamed up with Sir Chris Hoy for his HOY Bikes project purely because they’ve seen the success of the relationship between Halfords and Boardman.
But what those cynics will miss is that the latter’s stellar sales aren’t because of the where and who, but because the bikes are good – perfect for a large number of riders, and excellent value. And it’s this model (rather than just the household name/large number of retail outlets) that the Hoy range seems to be following.
To start with, Hoy will be offering three road models – all named after Majorca’s Sa Calobra climb that Hoy and the GB track team used to get all hurty on during winter training.
The range-topping, £1,300 Sa Calobra .004 shares the same aluminium frame as the .003 (£1,000), while the £850 .002 has the same geometry but a slightly lower grade frame. Kit varies as you head down the range.
At this price, the Sa Calobra .004 is riding into a pretty competitive peloton – it’s up against machines such as the other Chris’ highly regarded Road Team Carbon and Cannondale’s CAAD10 105. We reckon it’s going to be able to hold its own.
HOY sa calobra .004: Oliver Woodman/Future Publishing
HOY Bikes Sa Calobra .004
Sir Chris didn’t design the bike himself – he left that to James Olsen, who designed Genesis bikes before moving to Evans – but was involved in every step of the process.
That could explain why the geometry of the Sa Calobra is pretty traditional – 73.5-degree seat and 72.5-degree head angles – and the wheelbase compact. This means the bike sits between race and sportive, but it works. You can chuck the Sa Calobra into bends with confidence; it won’t bite you and it turns with precision.
Predictable might sound like damning with faint praise, but the Sa Calobra is just that. And, considering the target audience, that’s on the money. We battered the Sa Calobra a bit – dodgy roads and badly rutted tracks – and it coped extremely well. The carbon fork adds cushioning but the aluminium frame and Hoy bar and seatpost do give you ‘feedback’. And we’d change the saddle straightaway.
The oversized tubing, chunky 1 1/8in to 1 1/2in head tube and grey-and-black paintwork give the Sa Calobra a look of heft. At 8.8kg it’s not light, but it’s no Clydesdale either.
It does need a bit of monstering up steeper climbs, and for newer riders the 12-25 cassette might feel a little stingy. We reckon a 28 or even 30 might suit the target audience a little better. That cassette is a very good Shimano 105 number, while the compact crankset is FSA’s trusty, if unspectacular, Gossamer.
The frame is alloy, but up front is an all-carbon fork: www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk
The frame is alloy, but up front is an all-carbon fork
Where the Sa Calobra .004 really scores is with its Ultegra shifters, derailleurs and brakes. You’ll be hard pressed to find Shimano’s second-tier parts on many bikes under £2,000.
The Mavic Aksium wheels are also good to see on a bike at this price. That said, unless you’re desperate for Ultegra, the .003 looks to be the Sa Calobra we’d opt for. It’s £1,000 and has the same frame, but with 105 instead of Ultegra and Shimano RS10 wheels, so the ride is going to be close to that of the .004.
Like Mr Boardman’s, though, we think Sir Chris’ machines have a lot to offer and that we’ll be seeing a lot of them over the next few years.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.