The name may sound Italian, but the Sensa Romagna is Dutch. On the face of it, the £839.99 price tag makes the Sensa look pricey in some budget company, but right now UK distributor Merlin are discounting this bike to £754.99.
Highs: A fast and well equipped bike that’s also surprisingly comfortable
Lows: No luggage-carrying capacity or wet weather protection
Buy if: You want to ride fast and stand out from the crowd
Your money buys a beautifully finished hydroformed and double-butted aluminium frame – showroom glitz with smooth welds and neat graphics. The stout head tube, near box-section top tube and chunky down tube area promise a responsive and efficient ride.
For such a large frame the Sensa has a relatively short top tube (57.5cm horizontally) but this is offset by a tiller-like 13cm stem on our 62cm test bike. The head tube is a lofty 21cm.
Any doubts about the geometry were dispelled in the first few miles. The long stem slows down the steering slightly at low speeds, but the faster you ride the more the Romagna likes it. Wind up the speed and the Sensa livens up without ever feeling nervous.
The tall head tube achieves a back-friendly riding position which suits sportives, while the Supra carbon fork keeps the front end tracking accurately, even when cornering hard on rough roads. Comfort is better than expected from such a thick-set frame, too.
Sensa romagna special: Joby Sessions/Future Publishing
Schwalbe’s Lugano tyres aren’t the lightest or grippiest, but they don’t hold the bike back and we wouldn’t change them until they wear out. Combined with Supra RA Comp wheels, they make for a light wheelset, spinning up to speed well.
Shifting is courtesy of Shimano 105. We’d be happy to see 105 on a bike costing almost twice as much, and though a couple of corners have been cut by fitting Shimano 560 brake callipers and a compact chainset, that’s easy to forgive at this price. Switching between chainrings was swift and reliable, and the brakes perform well.
Although 105 is a step up, the Sensa’s single-minded approach won’t appeal to everyone. There are no mudguard or rack mounts, for example, though you could fit clip-on ’guards. If you’re looking for a fast commuter you may have to look elsewhere, but if you want a quick sportive or race bike, the Sensa is fantastic value.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.