Bikes that are actually made in the UK are rare, and carbon ones even more so. The Dassi Interceptor is a genuine home-grown hero, and it's the first bike in the world to make use of graphene, the one-atom thick wonder material that's promising to revolutionise carbon technology.
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Externally, the Interceptor is just another carbon bike. Its frame has some distinctive design features such as seatstays with a Kamm-tail cross-section, but there's nothing about it that obviously screams 'futuristic'. It's what goes into that frame that makes the bike special.
All carbon frames combine an epoxy resin with sheets of carbon to make up the composite, but the Dassi adds graphene to the resin to produce something that's exceptionally stiff and tough for its weight. This particular frame is claimed to weigh around 800g (plus 290g for the fork), which is respectable, but Dassi CEO Stuart Abbott reckons he'll be able to manufacture an aero frame weighing just 500g in the near future.
Making ever-lighter frames is perhaps the most obvious application for graphene, but it's not the only one. The material is exceptionally conductive and Abbot believes that it could be used to produce so-called "intelligent frames" that integrate all manner of sensor technology into the bike itself: strain gauges, thermometers, you name it…
Graphene is also exceptionally hydrophobic, and Dassi is experimenting with a coating to which mud simply won’t stick — could washing your bike become a thing of the past?
The Interceptor is the bike for people who have to have graphene now, and just 25 examples of this exceptional machine are being produced, with paintjobs tailored to customers’ requirements.
All but seven of those have already been snapped up at the time of writing, but the bike is expected to pave the way for larger scale production of frames in the next year or so.
The Interceptor is aptly named as its climbing ability does rather put one in mind of some sort of fighter jet. The frame is preternaturally stiff, in fact it's one of the stiffest bikes I've ever ridden. When you stand on the pedals and light the afterburners, it just goes.
It's fair to say that as tested, this isn't a bike we'd really recommend to lightweight riders, as it's pretty unyielding, but on smooth, twisty descents the Dassi really comes into its own, with that phenomenally stiff chassis feeling accurate and sure of itself — it’s a racing weapon.
The spec is almost a little bit irrelevant since this is an ultra low volume machine that you can build however you like, but suffice to say the Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupset looks pretty fabulous and gets the job done just fine and dandy, thank you.
I'd prefer a dual pivot rear brake option as the stopping power on offer is a bit lacking at the back, but those Bora One 50mm clinchers are hugely stiff and very handsome too, if a little twitchy when things get gusty.
The 3T Aeronova bars are funny looking things, but their unique shape adds an extra hand position at the start of the bend, and they’re in keeping with the futuristic theme.
The Interceptor is a hugely exciting machine because of what it represents. Graphene is a material whose properties are not yet fully understood and it's very expensive to produce, something that's reflected in the cost of the frameset. This is not a bike you buy for its value per se, but rather because you want to own a little piece of cycling history.