Thompson Capella review£4,000.00

A bold Belgian beauty

BikeRadar score3.5/5

Thompson was started back in 1921 by Hector De Smet in Geraardsbergen, Belgium, and is still run by the De Smets, with the fourth generation now taking the helm. Thompson bikes has been under winners of both the Tour of Flanders and the Tour of Belgium in its long history too.

The Capella combines a monocoque high-modulus carbon 3K frameset and carbon fork, with a full Ultegra Di2 groupset, Fizik saddle and its own TRC FCC040 wheelset.

The TRC wheels feature 40mm-deep rims that are a reasonable 17mm wide internally built onto Thompson’s own straight-pull hubs with Sapim CX-Ray spokes. At a claimed weight of 1,365g a pair, they’re shod with Schwalbe’s excellent One tyres and I was impressed with the smooth and stiff way the wheels do their job.

Thompson has big reputation for paint finishing in Belgium, offering its ‘Be Creative’ finishes across the road range

Braking isn’t quite up to the best carbon wheels around, with the carbon rims of the TRCs a little on the grabby side, so when braking into a corner it’s more often met with a pulsing rather than progressive speed.

I swapped out the hard-feeling carbon-specific pads on my test bike for a set of SwissStop’s Black Prince pads and things immediately improved, although still not on a par with the likes of ENVE or Zipp.

The Capella’s geometry is very much aimed at Belgian riders looking to ride a season of kermesses, Belgium’s ever-popular tight, twisty town centre criterium races.

The standard 73-degree head and seat angles are matched to a super-short 995mm wheelbase on my large model, with short 410mm chainstays. The low 574mm stack [vertical distance from the centre of the frame’s bottom bracket to the centre of the head tube] and lengthy 389.5mm reach [horizontal distance from the centre of the frame’s bottom bracket to the centre of the head tube] puts you straight down into an aggressive position.

The ride is stiff, solid and firm, but never harshly so. The tyres take most of the edge off bad surfaces and the quality Arione saddle helps take the sting out of the rear, and its additional length gives you plenty of room to manoeuvre. If you like a bike that feeds back information on the road surface and reacts quickly to direction changes the Thompson will impress.

The Capella’s low weight and usable 50/34, 11-25 gear range make it a very accomplished climber, and the nimble nature of its handling makes it a good partner when you head down again, despite the below-par braking from the carbon rims. Thompson tells us the wheels are due an upgrade soon, and if you want superior all-weather braking go for the Capella in a disc-specific version with the same geometry, and adding just 7mm to the overall wheelbase.

Thompson has big reputation for paint finishing in Belgium, offering its ‘Be Creative’ finishes across the road range. You can choose from six different fluoro, five pearlised, seven metallic and 18 solid colours, all at no extra cost.

If you like to go full gas from A to B, and want to be able to zig-zag through the bunch, or the traffic, and don’t mind taking a few hits on the comfort side of things, then the Capella may well be just what you’re looking for.

Thompson Capella specifications

  • Weight: 7.68kg (L)
  • Frame: Carbon
  • Fork: Carbon
  • Gears: Shimano Ultegra Di2 50/34, 11-25
  • Brakes: Shimano Ultegra
  • Wheels: TRC D40 carbon
  • Tyres: 25mm Schwalbe One
  • Stem: TRC Evo
  • Handlebar: TRC Evo
  • Seatpost: TRC carbon
  • Saddle: Fizik Arione Kium

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

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