Stevens are a German brand who have a fine reputation in the world of cyclo-cross. Their bikes are now available in the UK and the entry-level Cyclo Cross 105 is among the best-equipped we’ve seen at this price, with a very neatly put together frame, full Shimano 105 drivetrain and an excellent wheel package.
The geometry is just what we’d expect from a competent ‘crosser. The 73-degree seat angle allows for a tight back end, while the more relaxed 71.5-head angle and a fork with plenty of rake – the wheel axle sitting forward of the steering axis – gives the front end plenty of room to handle the bumps and knocks of off-road riding.
Stevens claim the Cyclo Cross 105 is more of an all-rounder than a full-on race bike. That’s borne out by the compact gearing, with 50/34T chainrings up front rather than a ‘cross-specific 46/36T setup. This makes it a great bike for mixed surface commutes, though we didn’t feel at all hampered off-road due to the spec’ing of an 11-28T cassette that gives an ample bottom gear for muddy climbs.
The 33c Schwalbe Racing Ralphs are great tyres for mixed surfaces. The tight square-block tread pattern cuts into the sticky stuff well but has enough surface to hold a fair lick of pace on road.
Stopping is handled by Stevens’ own Oxygen mini V-brakes, which offer excellent, linear power when braking from the drops or hoods using the main Shimano STI levers. The auxiliary levers provided for braking from the tops don’t offer quite the same amount of feel though, so it took us a while to get used to not over-braking and locking up the rear wheel off-road using these.
We’re impressed with the whole component package, with the wide shallow-drop bar and comfortably shaped saddle being particular highlights. What’s most impressive, though, is the way the bike handles. Unlike many ‘soft’ feeling ‘cross-style bikes, it has a reactive ride and gives a superb feeling of connection that offers ample feedback from the trail.
It feels more like a sorted mountain bike than a road bike with fat tyres, which gives you plenty of confidence when hammering through technical off-road sections and positively encourages hooligan-like behaviour. We really didn’t want to end our testing of the Stevens Cyclo Cross.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.