When I decided a year ago to take the plunge into the world of road bikes (having previously only favoured the off-road variety) I was keen to buy a bike that would be of a spec that was as good as it was possible to be without breaking the bank. After trawling the web and talking to friends who knew about these things I had set my mind on a few essential points:
- Must be cheaper than £1000. Preferable a lot cheaper.
- It should have a decent gear set - Shimano 105 or equivolent.
- It should fit me.
- Lightweight aluminium or carbon frame
- The colour should be black (all my bikes/cars/motorbikes/guitars etc are always black)
It seems I had set myself a difficult task. For most brands the cheapest I could get was about £1.5k which I wasn't prepared to spend on a bike that was going to be secondary to my mountain bike. I could find two exceptions. Ribble and Planet X, both of which met my criterea at an affordable price.
Ribble 7005 Audax/Winter Training 105 5800
Ribble's offer was the 7005 Audax/Winter Training 105 5800 (currently priced at £623.94). It has Shimano 105s and an alumnium frame with carbon forks. This is a seriously tempting bike, but I wasn't convinced I wanted a 'winter' bike. Also the blue frame/styling wasn't really doing it for me.
For about £100 more Ribble have the Gran Fondo which has a carbon frame, but only Sora gears. These can be upgraded to 105s for an extra £142 which is still within budget. However I had found a way to get everything I wanted for a lot less...
Planet X Pro Carbon
The Planet X Pro Carbon (prices currently start from £799.99) is a bike that popped up often when talking about bargain bikes. And what you can get for your money from the Sheffiled company is impressive. The exact spec of the bikes they have for sale changes regulary. Currently you can get a carbon frame and Shimano Ultegra 6800 gears for only £999.99.
At the time I was ready to buy the Ultegras weren't available at this price, but for £799.99 the 105s were. I also had found a discount code for 20% off (we don't have any for Planet X right now, but always check for discount codes) which meant for £640 I got everything on my list.
My only concern was that I hadn't sat on one so wasn't sure of the fit. And as they only sell online there was nowhere I could try one out. In the end I did some measuring and bike fitting calculation and decided that as I was pretty much an average build (I have no extraordinary dimensions) that I would probably be OK. That worry was soon put to bed once the bike arrived.
This bike is so light the delivery driver joked that the box seemed to be empty. Once out of the box all I had to do was straighten the handle bars and fit the pedals and I was ready to go. The bike has been super comfortable from the first and I haven't once regretted not going for the Ultegra gears - the 105s do a sterling job.
Usually at this point in an article I would point out some little flaws, but I genuinely can't think of anything that I would change. A year and 1,700 miles later the bike is still going strong and mechanically I haven't done anything more than pump up the tyres occaisionly, oil the chain every now and then and adjust the brakes.
Check the range of Planet X Bikes available on Cheeky Cycles.