We normally review bikes at their full RRP which, according to Planet X’s website, would be £3,100 for the RT-57. However, in this case we’re prepared to make an exception because although more than a grand has been knocked off the price, this is no end of season sale – the bike’s only just been launched.
On paper, the RT-57 is remarkable value for money at its reduced price. Far and away the best equipped bike in the Bike of the Year test with its full SRAM Red groupset and quality Vision wheels, it’s a tempting proposition. Shifting is crisp and smooth, the Red brakes are just about the best in the business and the wheels are stiff, light and have excellent sealing on the hubs.
Get on board the Planet X and you immediately know what this bike is about. The long reach, steep tapered head tube and straight fork mark this out as a bike that’s ready for a dogfight. The sharp front end gives quick steering responses at low speeds; at speed in a straight line the minimum of rider input is needed, though high-speed corners need a little more attention. When mixing it up in a bunch, the knife-edge handling means you can react instantly.
So the RT-57 is a real racer’s option, and this is borne out by the 53/39-tooth chainset and 11-25t cassette. The downside is that it’s a little less refined than some of its price rivals on longer rides. Having steering this sharp means that rolling along still requires your full attention and that can get a little wearing.
The frame is taut, stiff and reasonably light – not to mention attention grabbing in this vibrant dual fluro finish (black and white options are also available). But it isn’t the most accomplished in the comfort stakes, especially through the front end. The aluminium bar and stem are solid and flex-free, and as a result they help to transmit the vibrations of the road through the fork, resulting in a buzzy feeling through the hands. The rear end feels solid, tight and actually pretty comfortable in comparison.
The front end ‘noise’ isn’t a deal breaker, especially when you factor in the remarkable value for money, but we’d recommend upgrading the cockpit straight away to get the best out of the RT-57. As a full-on race bike it’s close to the Cannondale SuperSix in terms of performance, though it loses out in overall sharpness and response. If you take the value of the build into account, it’s certainly worth considering if you’ve racing aspirations.
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This bike was tested as part of Cycling Plus magazine’s 2012 Bike Of The Year feature – read the full results in issue 260, on sale Friday 2 March.