Stevens Xenon Ultegra review£2,199.00

German mail order road bike with thin-walled carbon

BikeRadar score3.5/5

The Xenon was a good but gaudy bike last year, so fans of subtler looks will appreciate the matt stealth option on the 2013 machine. This year also sees a lighter, stiletto-style tapered fork that puts complete chassis weight well under 1,500g. 

There are interesting things going on inside the frame, too, with the ‘double chamber’ design adding stiffness to the thin-walled, unidirectional carbon layup. Stevens also uses the extra wide BB86 standard for the asymmetric bottom bracket. It’s fully Di2 compatible too.

    Conventional shifting keeps weight low on this build, which helps flatter already positive acceleration and climbing. Whatever gear you’re in or however steep the slope, the stout frame and alloy cockpit let you recruit all your muscles for the task, from your shoulder to the soles of your feet. 

    That does place a big load on Citec’s distinctive star-flanged wheels, though, and both ends were still twanging and settling their spokes a long way through testing. 

    The stout stevens frame allows you to put your muscles into the ride:
    The stout stevens frame allows you to put your muscles into the ride:

    The stout Stevens frame allows you to put your muscles into the ride

    The back wheel is heavy, too, and the way this noticeably dulls acceleration was proved when we plugged in Mavic Ksyrium Elites from the Dolan. The Citecs do spin well once you’ve got going, and we’ve no complaints about the fast but faithfully grippy performance of Continental’s GP4000S tyres

    Opinion was divided by the relatively short 170mm cranks, some enjoying the easier high cadence spin, others finding them under-leveraged on steeper climbs – but distributors Hargroves are happy to change them. The wide range 11-28T 105 cassette meant we spun up most hills without too much of a heave anyway. 

    Descending, and the tight, dry stone wall chicanes that are so common on our test loops didn’t faze it either. Despite low weight and the fork’s tapered tips, the front goes where you want and stays there. 

    Fast, grippy tyres, but the back wheel’s a bit weighty:
    Fast, grippy tyres, but the back wheel’s a bit weighty:

    Fast, grippy tyres, but the back wheel’s a bit weighty

    The low bottom bracket reinforces the tyres’ fast cornering grip, while the short wheelbase means you can perform quick line changes around the worst potholes. It is a taut-feeling bike, and it can get a bit rowdy on rough sections, but it’s a balanced buzz throughout the bike rather than obvious blunt trauma from one area or another. 

    The well-shaped Oxygen kit provides a wide range of position options to prolong comfort too.

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

    Guy Kesteven

    Freelance Writer, UK
    Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
    • Age: 45
    • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
    • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
    • Waist: 76cm / 30in
    • Chest: 91cm / 36in
    • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
    • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
    • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
    • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
    • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
    • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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