Hoy Sa Calobra .004 review£1,350.00

Top-level alloy road machine

BikeRadar score3.5/5

For a man who made his name riding around in circles, it’s a little strange to find Sir Chris Hoy's road bikes being named after a climb in Mallorca – but it’s one he knows well from his training days on the road with the British Cycling track team. The .004 is the top model in the four-bike alloy Sa Calobra range, and is distributed through Evans Cycles, which ships internationally.

    Alloy may seem a little low rent to some riders but, as we’ve discovered before, if you’re spending around this mark there are still a lot of very good reasons for going down the non-carbon route. You’re likely to get a high-quality frame and better kit for your cash, with little if any weight penalty – and that’s true with the Hoy.

    Related: Hoy Bikes Sa Calobra 004 road bike - just in

    The only exception from the excellent 11-speed Ultegra groupset is the FSA chainset and external bottom bracket. Shifting was fine though, and the BSA threaded bottom bracket is also easier for the home mechanic to service and replace.

    The same is true for the cabling, Hoy having eschewed the trend for internal routing. As to what’s best for you, that’s a judgement call.

    The sa calobra proved a forgiving companion over harsh road surfaces:
    The sa calobra proved a forgiving companion over harsh road surfaces:

    The Sa Calobra proved a forgiving companion over harsh road surfaces

    External cable routing makes manufacturing easier (and cheaper), which is clearly good for company finances but it also reduces cable life by exposing them to the elements. It does, though, keep the routing simpler, and it’s easier to replace cables – which is good for us.

    Mavic’s Aksiums are the go-to wheels for bikes at this price, as they’re tough, taut and a decent weight. We’d have preferred 25mm rubber though for a touch more comfort.

    For some reason mid- and lower-end machines – those that might benefit most – still seem to stay with 23mm. Yes, it’s a shade lighter, but the comfort and performance benefits would be welcome.

    The geometry is pretty racy – maybe Sir Chris’s influence – though steepish frame angles and a shortish head tube are balanced by a medium length top tube. The oversize, tapered head tube and all-carbon fork do a great job when it comes to cornering and descending, and it also climbs decently, though the 11-25 cassette means steeper hills could well be a hard out-of-the-saddle effort. Ultegra includes an 11-28 cassette, which we think would appeal to far more riders.

    The Hoy’s frame is neatly finished – and very understated

    If you think that alloy means a harsh, uncomfortable ride, today’s alu road bikes will make you think again. They may not be as plush as their carbon competitors, but Sir Chris and his experienced designer, James Olsen – formerly with Genesis – have done a great job with the Sa Calobra.

    The semi-compact frame means a lot of the slimline 27.2mm seatpost is exposed, taking the sting out of the rear end. Meanwhile excellent shockproof tape insulates your hands well over broken road surfaces.

    Wider tyres and lower gears, then, would broaden this Hoy's appeal, but it’s certainly a worthy competitor – even if not quite a gold medal winner – at a very competitive price. Its balance of comfort and performance makes it a very good first ‘serious’ road bike, if you’ve caught the cycling bug on an entry-level machine. And it beats a lot of carbon bikes at this price for both weight and ride quality.

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

    Simon has been cycling for as long as he can remember, and more seriously since his time at university in the Dark Ages (the 1980s). This has taken in time trialling, duathlon and triathlon and he has toured extensively in Asia and Australasia, including riding solo 2900km from Cairns to Melbourne. He now mainly rides as a long-distance commuter and leisure/fitness rider. He has been testing bikes and working for Cycling Plus in various capacities for nearly 20 years.
    • Age: 53
    • Height: 175cm / 5'9
    • Weight: 75kg /165lb
    • Waist: 33in
    • Discipline: Road, touring, commuting
    • Current Bikes: Rose SL3000, Hewitt steel tourer
    • Beer of Choice: Samuel Adams Boston Lager
    • Location: Bath, UK

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