The Planet X screams value for money from the rooftops with a megaphone. And if you ride for fun and fitness then the carbon frame’s qualities come into their own. Not all of the testers were convinced by the bike’s handling when it was really cranked up, but for a budget all-carbon bike the Planet X is going to take a lot of beating.
Frame: Strikingly compact carbon fibre with a full-carbon fibre fork is a rare sight at this comparatively modest price (8/10)
Handling: Perfect for sportives and fitness riding, though stronger riders might find the front end a little bit lively (7/10)
Equipment: Achieves maximum marks for getting Shimano’s high-end, high-performance Ultegra 6700 groupset on a bike that costs less than a grand (10/10)
Wheels: Light, and quick to get up to speed (8/10)
Looking at it on paper, the SL Pro Carbon appears to be a bit of a bargain. Planet X have somehow managed to stick a groupset that is priced at nearly £800 on a complete bike that costs just under £1,000.
We’re assuming there isn’t an army of alien automatons making bikes for the online retailer… But however it is achieved, the result is a bike that tips the scales at just over 17lb; an incredible achievement for the price. So that SL – for Superlight – is entirely accurate.
At a relatively modest pace the ride feels smooth and controlled, small road bumps being evened out by the carbon, and the lightness of both the frame and the wheels is much appreciated on the hills. The weight difference compared to other bikes at this price is striking. For ﬁtness riding, training and even sportives, we’d have no hesitation in recommending it.
But when it came to cranking up the gears, getting out of the saddle and sprinting, some of the riders were really able to feel the front end ﬂexing. The fork is remarkably light for the price, but also the steerer tube came ﬁtted with a couple of spacers and it’s possible that cutting down the steerer and whipping out those spacers might have tightened the front end and reduced some of the ﬂex.
Interestingly, while most manufacturers have moved away from radically compact frames, Planet X have stuck with it – and with good reason. The advantage of a small triangle is that it will be inherently stiffer and lighter than a larger equivalent, and while there were doubts over the front end, there was nothing but conﬁdence in the rear.
It reminded us of Giant’s original TCR, the pioneering modern compact bike. It was plenty stiff enough through the bottom bracket and the long, oversized seatpost gave enough comfort over most road surfaces, with the carbon frame coming into its own and cancelling out the worst of the road buzz.
It’s hard to ﬁnd fault with Planet X’s kit, with the newest incarnation of Ultegra a fantastic ﬁnd on a bike at this price. Not only does it resemble Dura-Ace, but mechanically it’s pretty much identical and only weighs a few hundred grams more.
The hollow chainset is stiff, and the shape of the new levers appealed to everyone, the only criticisms concerning the amount the lever has to move in order to change gear, with some riders preferring the shorter arc of SRAM’s levers.
As well as a light frame and groupset, the Planet X also has light wheels. They’re built with own-brand rims and hubs, spoke tension felt pretty even, and they felt stiff enough too. Although they might be ripe for an upgrade a few years down the line – for something to better complement the Ultegra kit – we can’t see you having any immediate problems with these. Tyres are Schwalbe’s 23mm Luganos, which major on durability rather than being lightweight with minimal rolling resistance.
When it comes to value for money, we thought the Boardman Team Carbon had set the bar very high for what you can buy for £1,000, but if anything, the Planet X has raised it a notch or two. If you’re looking for a very light bike on a limited budget then the Planet X has to be in your sights.