Norway’s Alexander Kristoff is on the face of it an atypical big burly sprinter. In 2015 he’s finished second in the Milan-San Remo Classic, won the Scheldeprijs and the Tour of Flanders. Two of these races are considered to favour sprinters, and ended in group sprints, but in the steeply cobbled Tour of Flanders he broke away with 30km to go with one other rider, and easily outsprinted him.
- Highs Price, specification, aggressive looks and rampant speed on tap
- Lows Its demanding demeanour means this is not an everyday bike
- Buy if You want an uncompromising race bike that takes no prisoners
We’re quite used to pro riders switching their bikes to suit the terrain, and whereas many teams rolled out their cobble-smoothing endurance machines, Kristoff and most of his team-mates continued to race the Aeroad. Aero road frames are good at moving quickly when the going is smooth, but the increased rigidity added to counteract twisting from slimmed-down tubes makes them historically bone-shaking over rougher roads, usually a compromise too far for professional riders.
With our curiosity piqued by the Aeroad’s unlikely appearance at Paris-Roubaix, we had to find out just how capable this frame is. With a proliferation of Kamm Tail tube shaping, flat top tube, narrow head tube, partly faired rear wheel and dropped seat stays, the Aeroad ticks the recognised aero efficiency boxes, and adds to them with a one-piece flattened carbon bar and stem. This top spec model also includes Zipp 404 Firecrest carbon clinchers and a complete Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset, with sprint shifters, naturally. There’s no corner cutting here.
Dura-Ace takes good care of stopping duties as well as drivetrain and shifting work
If you’re thinking of buying an Aeroad, you’d better be flexible, because the bike’s nature makes you feel obliged to hammer it everywhere, and we found ourselves almost permanently on the drops and doing our best impression of a ground-skimming projectile. Acceleration is brutal and totally focussed on maximum efficiency everywhere, whether that’s up, down or in rouleur territory. Such rigidity usually pays you back with equally uncompromising discomfort, but on this score the Aeroad is no filling rattler. It’s a firmer ride than most, and not the most comfortable aero bike, but for some riders, it’s a worthwhile sacrifice for the unbridled speed potential on offer.
The wagging head common among many German-engineered frames is apparent, leading to a rhythmic swaying action when powering along at full gas, although we think a longer stem than our 110mm model sported would damp it. Canyon’s S27 VCLS vibration damping seatpost is good to its acronym and smooths the ride, while Zipp’s wide 404 Firecrests really aid stability, with great lateral rigidity for fantastic acceleration. The tyre selection brought to mind a drag racer, with 23mm Continental at the front and 25mm rear, and that’s not a bad description of the Aeroad’s character. Fitted to the broad Zipps, the effect is of generous grip at both ends, with a little necessarily added comfort at the back.
If you’re looking for an extremely focussed aero road race machine that’s amazing value, and you believe that moving rapidly on a bike and a degree of worthy suffering go hand in hand, then the Aeroad may be ideal. But if you like to mix your speed with a large dose of endurance comfort, then this may not be the bike you’re looking for.