KTM scored well with their mid-price bikes last year, so we were very keen to try the Austrian company’s ‘Cycle to Work’-targeted Strada as soon as it was available.
The distinctive KTM orange, black and white palette is certainly eye catching, right down to the half-and-half black and white bar tape. The subtly geometric hydroformed main tubes are also joined with smoothed welds for a carbon-style look – but sharp appearances count for little if performance fails to match.
Highs: Surefooted and responsive, tough kit
Lows: Soft, underpowered brakes
Buy if: You’re after a snazzy-looking bike that’s got a bit of depth
The non-tapered head-tube and fork put the Strada slightly behind the curve when it comes to contemporary features, but this isn’t immediately obvious in the ride. A skinny seat-tube and seatpost are a simple way to introduce comfort into an otherwise stout back end. Cable routing is neat too, with cable stops on the side of the head-tube – eliminating the chance of any paint rub – but there are no mudguard or rack fixtures.
Spec checkers might be disappointed to find mostly Tiagra kit when other similarly framed bikes carry 105 or even occasionally Ultegra. In practical terms the shifters actually work really well because the cables come straight out sideways rather than wrapping tortuously round inside the brake hoods and under the tape.
It doesn’t look that neat, but the action is much lighter and more accurate than most 105 and Ultegra setups we’ve tried recently – and we’ve got 10-year-old sets of the essentially identical 105 that are still running superbly. The same heirloom-style longevity is likely to apply to the Shimano wheels as well, as long as you learn how to look after the adjustable cup and cone bearings. At just over 9kg it’s also at the lighter end of the £1000 bike spectrum.
The compact chainset and 12-28 cassette are well matched to a prompt but not punishingly stiff power delivery. Decent weight means it’ll hustle hills with healthy enthusiasm if you put your shoulder into steeper sections.
The centre slot saddle feels firm at first, but became more comfortable the further we rode it – and there’s not too much road shock from the front either. The handling isn’t as pin-sharp as the tightest bikes in the category, but it’s surefooted enough if you swing it rather than snatch it through corners. The only real downer on downs are the soft, underpowered feeling Tiagra brakes, but spending £25 or so on a set of cartridge pads will sort that out.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.