Evo2Max Nebular R-9 review£2,799.00

Bespoke-built British aero bike

BikeRadar score4/5

Recent start-up Evo2Max’s founders include top British amateur time triallist Andrew Jackson, who currently ranks seventh on the all-time list for his 18.02-minute 10-mile time trial. So it’s no surprise that the company has launched itself on to the market with a range of bikes designed around aero principles.

Specifications

  • Weight: 7.75kg (56cm)
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Gears: Shimano Ultegra 52/36, 11-28
  • Brakes: Shimano Ultegra direct-mount
  • Wheels: Evo Momentum R1
  • Tyres: 25mm Continental GP4000 S II
  • Handlebar: Zipp Service Course SL
  • Stem: Zipp Service Course SL
  • Saddle: Fabric Scoop

The Shimano Ultegra direct-mount brakes provide plenty of force and feel
The Shimano Ultegra direct-mount brakes provide plenty of force and feel

The Nebula R-9 might not have seen much wind tunnel time, but designer Steve Griffiths worked closely with its production partners to use more cost-effective computer modelling to achieve the R-9’s shape and features.

It does have plenty going for it, once you get beyond the extrovert livery. My test bike is a mix of chequerboard carbon, electric blue and fluro yellow, but you can opt for a black and slate-grey option.

The Nebular R-9 eschews the current trend for cut-off 'Kammtail' profiles in favour of more TT bike-like deep and narrow shapes. To give the front end a bit more aero profiling the fork gets a leading edge that extends up in front of the head tube.

The Nebula R-9’s handling took me by surprise. It’s not noodly or harsh, and the front-end’s rigid security makes for a bike that threads through flat-out corners with a certainty that inspires confidence.

The bike is at its best when blasting along on flat or lightly rolling terrain
The bike is at its best when blasting along on flat or lightly rolling terrain

Over rougher surfaces the front end does tend to clatter, but it does a great job of minimising smooth road buzz. A lot of that is down to the excellent 25mm Continental GP4000 S II tyres, the quality Zipp cockpit and plush bar tape from Bontrager.

The back end’s slender aero carbon seatpost and deeply dropped seatstays mean a bit more flex here than normal, so you feel pretty well cushioned.

The 60mm-deep Evo Momentum R1 wheels were an unknown quantity to me, but I was impressed by them. The unidirectional carbon-finished rim is modern in shape with a blunt edge and wide profile that shapes the excellent tyres well.

The hubs are Taiwanese Chosen cartridge items using quality Sapim CX Ray spokes. On a blustery test day they were easy to control in sidewinds and the braking, usually the downfall on carbon rims, was confidently controllable and noise-free. The combination of direct-mount frame fixings and Shimano’s Ultegra callipers provides ample force and plenty of feel.

The bike is at its best when blasting along on flat or lightly rolling terrain. On climbs, its relatively light weight (7.75kg) and taut front end mean it performs when you rise and attack.

The only shortfall I could find comes when you're in the saddle on fast downhills and shifting your weight to hit the apex. Here you can feel a slight disconnect between the front end and the back, as if the middle of the frame is flexing at a slightly different rate. I’ve felt similar before on aero bikes, but it doesn’t hugely detract from the overall performance.

Its slammed long-and-low ride position isn’t for everyone, neither is the loudness of the finish, but if you’re looking for a cost-effective aero road bike that’s fast and, above all, fun, the Nebula R-9 is worth a try.

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

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