Eastway Emitter R2 Ultegra review£2,000.00

Wiggle’s updated value-packed racer

BikeRadar score4/5

The original Emitter really impressed back in 2015 when it spearheaded Eastway’s resurgence under ownership of online giants Wiggle. For 2017, Wiggle’s Eastway designers have reworked the frame's construction (though externally it remains shaped the same). That means the previous 1kg frame has now dropped down to a very light 800g, numbers normally reserved for much more exclusive, high-end brands and models.

Visually the new models are a big leap forward, with classy paint schemes, a big step up from the previous models. Our Purple/Blue geometric fade colour scheme (called Peacock dancer) certainly stands out from the crowd and makes a very welcome change from the ubiquitous black and red that still dominates the market.

The geometry hits the mark between race and endurance squarely in the middle, with our 56cm test machine having a 556mm stack, 397mm reach, for a low, yet forgiving ride position. The 73-degree head is standard for a road bike and the seat angle of 73.5 is slightly steeper putting you in a powerful straight over the pedals position. The short 990mm wheelbase helps give the Emitter an agile character ideal for threading through the bunch and pitching into sharp cornering lines perfectly.

Component wise Eastway has got things spot-on, with a full Ultegra groupset, cranks, brakes and all (so often areas to compromise to get to a price point). The 52/36, 11-28 combo gives plenty of scope for top-end speed, and the lowest 36/28 is enough for pretty much any climb. 

The Ritchey hardware is from the comp level, and up to the legendary brand's usual high-standards. We particularly like the shape of the Streem bar with its ovalised and rearward shaped tops, along with the neatly shaped compact drop that still allows plenty of room for big mitts. 

The contact points are also well chosen with Fizik’s excellent Antares saddle and top-quality Lizard Skins DSP bar tape. We criticized the thin, cheap tape on the previous year's range and Eastway tells us it was listening and made the upgrade. When you consider that DSP tape retails at £34 (about US$44) that’s impressive to see as original equipment.

Value-wise Eastway has hit a high mark

Mavic’s base model Ksyriums are the chosen rolling stock and they’re shod with Continental’s always-dependable Ultrasport tyres in a welcome 25c width. This combo goes some way into instilling the Emitter with great climbing manners as supple tyres and light hoops give you that little bit more when the gradients get tough, with the Ksyrium's excellent stiffness and smooth freehub ensuring your energies get on with driving you on without sapping softness or flex.

Ride impressions

The ride quality on the whole is good. Yes, the Emitter is certainly a firm ride, but that never drifts into harsh. The front end does have a tendency to chatter over rougher surfaces but the quality tape and great bar rids the bike of finger tingling vibrations. 

It does have an effect when descending at speed, as the light chassis and firm front does mean the Emitter has a tendency to skit and skip over broken surfaces, leading us to back off sooner than we would on more compliant bikes like the Domane, Fuji, Focus, and Roubaix.

Value-wise Eastway has hit a high mark, offering a spec sheet that we’d expect from a bike a fair few hundred dollars or pounds more. Sadly it hasn't quite hit the heights of last year's R1 model that retailed in the UK for under £2k with Ultegra Di2, but with recent exchange rate drops (not in favour of the British pound) that’s understandable, and for the most part the firm is still ahead of the game when it comes to price/spec comparisons with the competition.

If you like a bike with competitive pretensions, yet with a ride position that’s suitable for day-long high-mile excursions, then the Emitter is a good-value, light, nimble option. Whether it has the comfort levels all sportive riders want is debatable, but we’d be happy to have the R2 as our go-to bike for all our riding needs.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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