Historically, Rotwild’s bikes have been true race thoroughbreds, with incredible stiffness and a direct feel. But with sportive geometry and comfort in fashion, will the S2 reinvigorate our need for speed?
Frame & handling
Designed with pedalling efficiency in mind, the spine of Rotwild’s carbon S2 frame is huge: a 2 1/2in diameter down tube, large BB86 press-fit bottom bracket, 2in deep chainstays and a standard height head tube with a huge 1 1/2in lower race and 3T’s classy Rigida Team all-carbon fork.
The seat tube changes from round to square at the bottom bracket, a design that gives plenty of driveside clearance but allows enough mass for rigidity.
The ride quality is what we’d expect from not just a true race bike, but one with German origins. The aggressive geometry (73-degree head angle) and straight bladed fork make for handling that’s just the right side of sharp; after relaxed sportive bikes this reminded us just how snappy a great race bike can be, enhanced by the short (98.5cm) wheelbase and 17cm head tube.
Slim seatstays and a 27.2mm seatpost mean there’s some forgiveness over damaged Tarmac roads, though it’s not what you’d call plush. On one of our favourite challenging descents with its undulating and mixed bag of broken surfaces, the S2 did get a little bouncy at around 40mph, which surprised us as this is one bike we were happy to push to the limit on fast corners.
Groupset, gearing & wheels
The Rotwild’s Ultegra drivetrain is bang on for the money, and is never less than totally competent. If you want dependable, smooth shifting based around a compact chainset, with great braking and a light weight, then we’d recommend Ultegra.
The bike has good wheels too, and excellent tyres: DT Swiss R1800s and Schwalbe’s Ultremo ZX. The wheels have smooth hubs and are tightly built, decent-rolling and tough, but heavier than those on the Look and the Forme, and for £2999 we’d expect something a bit higher up DT’s range.
The S2’s kit is a mixed bag, highlights being Fizik’s Antares saddle and the beautifully crafted stem. The aluminium bar has a great compact drop shape but its narrow diameter at the hoods and stiffness mean that after a few hours’ riding you know about it.
If ever a bike needed a carbon bar, the S2 is it. We do like that Rotwild have chosen to use a 27.2mm seatpost, though, and the bike shares the same head as the brilliant Syntace P6. Though aluminium rather than carbon, it’s a great lightweight item.
Rotwild’s S2 reminds us just how much fun an aggressive race bike can be. With plenty of bikes designed ‘softer’ for mass appeal, the S2 has racing and speed at its core, with just enough compliance through the frame. It’s not without issues: the rigid bar can become wearing and we’d have expected better wheels, though they’re wrapped in the best tyres around.