If you’re looking for a light, easy gliding distance racer the Colibri Force 22 from Sonder is a potential bargain. Lack of rough-road comfort, no mudguard fixtures and tight 28mm tyre clearance mean it’s not as versatile as it could be though.
Sonder is the bike brand of high value, no nonsense, direct-sell Peak District-based outdoor equipment brand Alpkit, and the Colibri is its first proper road bike.
While fork and head tube are stout enough, the rest of the frame is distinctively skinny and the seatstays scarily so. Despite that, chainstay and fork crown clearance is tight even with 28mm rubber.
There are no mudguard fixtures as designer Neil Sutton explains: “While it’s not an out-and-out race bike, it is a bike for covering big distance quickly, be it as part of a multi-day race or personal challenge. We reckon that the rider who’s going to do that isn’t going to fit full ’guards, but may use a clip-on out back to keep their arse dry!”
It definitely limits the winter/commuter bike appeal of a bike that would otherwise be great for fast blasts into work and back. Sonder’s big mileage intent is backed up by the fact it’s used a traditional screw-in bottom bracket.
The tall, extended hoods give a very secure hand position if you don’t want to go into the drops when braking, but 140mm rotors mean anchoring is adequate rather than excessive anyway. The own brand Love Mud cockpit on my sample came with a short 70mm stem but that can be changed when you order your bike.
Orbit wheels use a tubeless-ready, 19mm internal width rim, with 32 sturdy plain gauge spokes per wheel and brass nipples for easy readjustment. The tyres are Vittoria’s latest Rubino Pro Control G+ triple compound rubber complete with graphene.
They’re designed for durability and grip rather than speed, and that’s obvious in the Colibri’s ride. The skinny tubes sap power though, particularly if you’re trudging a big gear round rather than spinning it. Tarmac speed fades faster than you’d expect too, and it’s not as sparky as you’d think for its weight.
Tyres and frame silence the worst of the buzz and vibrations before they reach the rider, and on smooth to middling road surfaces it’s got a damped, quiet feel. The skinny tubes are surprisingly unforgiving of larger impacts though, which means a jarring ride on rougher bike path/gravel tracks.
While Sonder says it’s got long chainstays they’re actually relatively short and the ‘longer’ wheelbase is only slightly rangier than average. Add the short stem and it’s twitchy rather than surefooted, especially if a rougher surface is rattling its road holding.
Factor in that even leaves can bung up the minimal fork clearance and you’ll definitely want the Sonder Camino alloy for more challenging surfaces and routes.
|Name||Colibri Force 22|
|Available Sizes||46cm 50cm 52.5cm 54.5cm|
|Seat Tube (cm)||50|
|Shifters||SRAM Force 22|
|Stem||Love Mud Storc|
|Wheelset||Love Mud Orbit|
|Top Tube (cm)||55|
|Frame size tested||50cm|
|Head Tube (cm)||15|
|All measurements for frame size tested||50cm|
|Seatpost||Love Mud Membar|
|Saddle||Love Mud Abode|
|Bottom Bracket||SRAM GXP|
|Frame Material||Toray T-700 carbon|
|Brakes||SRAM Force 22 hydraulic 140mm discs|
|Cassette||SRAM PG 1170, 11-32|
|Cranks||SRAM Force 22 50/34|
|Fork||Toray T-700 carbon|
|Front Derailleur||SRAM Force 22|
|Rear Wheel Weight||1920|
|Front Tyre||Vittoria Rubino Pro Control G+ Isotech, 28mm|
|Front Wheel Weight||1490|
|Handlebar||Love Mud Pronghorn|
|Headset Type||Love Mud|
|Rear Derailleur||SRAM Force 22|
|Rear Tyre||Vittoria Rubino Pro Control G+ Isotech, 28mm|
|Bottom-bracket drop (cm)||6.8|