The LIOS Bullet Disc is a British-designed carbon road bike that manages to stand out in a crowded market, thanks to its competitive spec, customisation options and impressive handling.
This Bullet Disc is based around a 1,050g frame and, while tyre clearance isn’t as generous as some of the latest all-round road bikes, there’s a lot to like here.
LIOS founder Steve McCulley started the brand over a decade ago after a career in the armed forces. LIOS’s bikes are developed in the UK but, like most major brands, the frames are manufactured in Asia.
The difference, however, is in the buying experience. Every buyer is offered an Rëtul 3D-scanning bike fit and consultation, so your bike will be set up to your requirements, with everything from bar width to saddle choice, wheels and kit selected by you.
My Bullet Disc bike is representative of LIOS’s base build for the Rival AXS model, but I supplied my Rëtul details, so the bike came with the handlebar at the correct width, height and reach, and my preferred saddle choice.
How we tested
From super-smooth-riding endurance bikes to lightweight climbing bikes, there’s a huge variety of road bikes out there.
But what if you want a bit more of an all-rounder? A road bike that has quick handling, is light enough for climbing steep hills, has some aero bike considerations, can be ridden all day without kicking you into submission and, above all, puts a smile on your face?
We hear you, so we’ve checked out four serious contenders from a range of brands, both new and old, for around £4,000.
Also on test
LIOS Bullet Disc Rival AXS frameset
LIOS describes the Bullet Disc as its go-to ride, and the frame sits alongside the rim brake Bullet and Exactor aero bike in the brand’s road range.
The aim here was to combine swift, racy handling with a light frame and fork, according to LIOS, but one that gives you enough smoothness for long, comfortable days out. The Bullet certainly achieves the former, but I’ll talk more about the latter.
The Bullet’s frame and fork are both smart in their design and finish, with the tapered, oversized head tube – giving the bike a stiff, solid-feeling front end – combined with a down tube that spreads into a triangulated junction at the bottom bracket.
The fork spreads at the crown to maximise tyre clearance (again, I’ll come on to that) and, LIOS claims, minimise air turbulence from the spinning front wheel.
At a claimed 1,050g for the frame and 400g for the fork, the Bullet is competitively light, with an 8.5kg overall weight for my XL test bike.
LIOS Bullet Disc Rival AXS geometry
The Bullet’s geometry is designed for speed.
Its steep 73.5-degree head angle and racy 73-degree seat combine with a wheelbase just over a metre long on this XL frame, to deliver a tight, taut bike that revels in being muscled through corners.
My test bike’s 579mm stack height made it possible for me to get into a low ride position and the 398mm reach adds to its performance feel.
The short, 43mm fork offset combines with the head angle to create a trail figure of 56mm, giving the bike quick and direct handling.
|Seat angle (degrees)||74.5||74.5||74||73.5||73.5||73||72.5|
|Head angle (degrees)||64.5||65||65.5||66||66||66.5||66.5|
|Seat tube (mm)||480||500||520||540||560||580||600|
|Top tube (mm)||515||525||535||545||560||575||590|
|Head tube (mm)||110||115||120||140||155||175||195|
LIOS Bullet Disc Rival AXS spec details
For its overall quality and bang-for-buck value, SRAM’s Rival AXS eTap is fast becoming one of my favourite groupsets. On this build, SRAM’s third-tier, wireless electronic groupset represents great value.
That’s true of pretty much every other element of the bike’s build, too, none more so than LIOS’s own (and excellent) tubeless-ready carbon wheels.
These have 35mm-deep, broad-blunted, aero-shaped rims with a modern 21mm internal width.
Their alloy Centerlock rotor-compatible hubs are a simple design with large, flat flanges and straight hub bodies that hold easy-to-service cartridge bearings. At 1,550g a pair, the low weight adds to the Bullet’s flighty feel.
LIOS hasn’t scrimped on tyre choice either. Buy a Bullet in the spring or summer and you’ll get Vittoria’s speedy Corsas. In winter, you’ll get Pirelli’s foul-weather Cinturato tyres, a favourite of mine thanks to a tread that works well in the wet without dulling the ride.
LIOS Bullet Disc Rival AXS ride impressions
So how did I find the ride? Punchy and powerful, thanks to a solid chassis that responds superbly when you want to go for it.
That’s reflected in the superb handling, too. It’s pin-point sharp and direct, making the Bullet a bike deserving of its name.
The good news continues with the build. The quality Zipp cockpit has a deep-drop bar, while the neat and racy Rival AXS gearing pairs a 46/33t chainset with a 10-30t 12-speed cassette.
The close gear progression means I never struggled for a gear whether climbing or descending, and it really comes into its own when you’re building speed on rolling terrain.
However, the ride quality is on the firm side. The stiffness that makes the bike fun and responsive to ride doesn’t allow for much compliance.
Touches like the carbon seatpost help to keep the worst knocks and vibrations at bay but, after three hours of my first test ride, I could feel more aluminium bar than foam padding under my hands.
The Bullet frame is built for the road and, with 26c tyres fitted to those wide rims, there are no intentions of gravel excursions here. The frame’s rear tyre clearance was approaching its stated 30mm max with that wheel and tyre combination in place.
And while I’d like to have seen mudguard mounts, there are good clip-on mudguards out there if you do want the Bullet to thrive year-round.
LIOS Bullet Disc Rival AXS bottom line
Each element of the Bullet represents good value in today’s market, none more so than LIOS’s own carbon wheels.
While the Bullet doesn’t have the comfort or tyre clearance of the latest endurance bikes, as a fast all-rounder, it offers an impressive ride.
Overall, this is a bike with superb handling and a top spec for the price, all allied to an admirable approach to customer service.
A little more
- LIOS Bullet Force AXS Rim Brake
Fans of rim brakes will be relieved to see that the Bullet is available without discs. Builds start at £2,495 for Shimano Ultegra, with the SRAM Force AXS-equipped model dipping under the £4,000 mark in the UK.
For the same price
- LIOS Bullet Disc Ultegra
You don’t need to go electronic, and if mechanical shifting is your thing, then LIOS offers the Bullet frameset with Shimano’s ever-dependable Ultegra mechanical group at the same competitive price.
|Available sizes||XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL|
|Tyres||Pirelli Cinturato 26c|
|Stem||Zipp Service Course alloy|
|Shifter||SRAM Rival eTap AXS|
|Saddle||Fizik Arione R5 Open|
|Rear derailleur||SRAM Rival eTap AXS|
|Handlebar||Zipp Service Course Ergo 80|
|Bottom bracket||SRAM Rival DUB|
|Front derailleur||SRAM Rival eTap AXS|
|Cranks||SRAM Rival 48/35|
|Chain||SRAM Rival D1|
|Cassette||SRAM Rival 10-30|
|Brakes||SRAM Rival hydraulic disc|
|Wheels||LIOS CD35 Carbon 38mm|