Buyer's guide: 18 best sportive/endurance bikes for 2016

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Buyer’s guide: 18 of the best sportive and endurance bikes for 2016

Comfort-focussed machines from some of the biggest bike brands

The number of sportive and endurance bikes has grown hugely in recent years and almost every major manufacturer worth their salt has at least one comfort-focussed bike in their range for 2016.

The choice can be overwhelming, with options to suit all budgets, and bikes made from carbon fibre, aluminium and titanium – so if you’re in the market for an endurance machine, we’ve picked out 18 which caught our eye.

In the market for an endurance bike? Here are 18 of the best for 2016

What to expect from an endurance bike

But first things first, what makes an endurance bike? You can find our full blow-by-blow guide to what makes an endurance bike here, but let’s quickly recap. First things first, the terms endurance bike and sportive bike are interchangeable.

What makes a sportive or endurance bike?

Essentially, an endurance bike is a machine designed with long-distances rides like sportives and gran fondos in mind, where the rider will most likely be seeking a balance of comfort and performance, rather than a full-blooded race bike. However, that blend of comfort and performance is why many pro riders use an endurance bike for the toughest cobbled Classics, like Paris-Roubaix.

Comfort normally comes by way of a more relaxed geometry, with a slightly taller headtube to provide a more upright riding position, and a longer wheelbase to stabilise the handling, particularly over rough surfaces.

Should you be using wider tyres on your road bike?

Speaking of which, endurance bikes will usually have clearance for wider tyres – with room for at least 25mm expected as standard and sometimes that will go up to 32mm, in the case of a machine like the Trek Domane SLR Disc.

Many manufacturers have also developed their own comfort-boosting technologies within the frame itself, from Trek’s IsoSpeed decoupler, to Bianchi’s Countervail technology and Pinarello’s suspension system to Cannondale’s weird and wonderful tube profiles. You might also find hidden features like mudguard mounts to further increase the bike’s versatility.

How to choose the right size bike

While disc brakes have had a stop-start beginning to life in the pro peloton, bike manufacturers have fully adopted discs in the endurance market. If you value the all-weather braking and control offered by disc brakes, you won’t be short of options – but there are still plenty of rim brake endurance bikes out there, too.

Now, without further ado, let’s get down to business.

Cervelo C5

Cervelo made their name designing some of the world’s fastest aero bikes so the C-Series range, new for 2016, is something very different indeed, marking the firm’s entry into the endurance market.

The rebirth of Cervélo

The C-Series is all about comfort, versatility and stability, so there’s clearance for wide tyres, disc brakes, thru-axles at the front and rear, and an endurance-focused geometry, which is a little more relaxed than Cervelo’s aero S-Series bikes and super-light R-Series machines.

The Cervelo C-series was announced in December 2015 (Pic: Cervelo)

Still, Cervelo haven’t neglected weight with the C-Series and the top-end frame weighs a claimed 850g – making it one of the lightest disc frames around, let alone one of the lightest endurance frames, while the more affordable C3 frame is a little heavier.

Cervélo launch C5 and C3 endurance bikes

The C5 is available with either mechanical Shimano Dura-Ace (£6,199) or with electronic Dura-Ace Di2 (£7,499), while the C3 starts at £3,899 with Shimano Ultegra.

Trek Domane SLR

Trek helped define the endurance bike category with the launch of the Domane in 2012 – now it’s been updated and re-launched as the Domane SLR.

Trek Domane SLR – first ride review

The Domane SLR uses Trek’s innovative comfort-boosting IsoSpeed technology at both the front and rear of the bike. The rear IsoSpeed is now adjustable, allowing riders to fine-tune the level of comfort served up by the rear end, while the introduction of an IsoSpeed pivot inside the headtube is designed to improve front end comfort and provide a more balanced ride.

The Domane SLR is Trek’s latest endurance machine

Trek have also increased tyre clearance, with 28mm fitted as standard on the rim brake machine, and 32mm rubber on the disc-equipped Domane SLR.

Trek offer the Domane SLR in five builds – two with disc brakes and five with rim brakes – starting from £3,600 with Shimano Ultegra and rising to £7,600 for the flagship model with SRAM Red eTap.

LOOK 765

The LOOK 765 is the French marque’s newest bike – apart from this limited edition Aerolight 795 – and is designed to balance performance and comfort in an all-round endurance machine.

The 765 is LOOK’s take on the endurance bike

LOOK say comfort comes from the 765’s Carboflax tech – a combination of carbon and natural linen (flax) fibres, designed to filter out vibration from the road – while the asymmetric chainstays are designed to provide a stiff pedaling platform. Claimed frame weight is 1,100g.

LOOK’s full 2016 road bike line-up – first look

The four-bike range starts with a Shimano 105-equipped model at £1,799.99.

Lapierre Pulsium

Lapierre have three bikes in their endurance range, with the Pulsium top of a line-up also including the Sensium and Sensium Disc series.

The Pulsium features Lapierre’s ‘Shock Absorption Technology’

The Pulsium is the frame used by the FDJ team at Paris-Roubaix and features Lapierre’s eye-catching ‘Shock Absorption Technology’, an elastomer on the toptube and seattube junction to (funnily enough) absorb shock from the road.

Lapierre 2016 road bikes: a journey through the Xelius SL, Aircode SL, Pulsium, Sensium and Audacio

There are three models in the range, starting with the £1,799.99 Pulsium 500 with Shimano 105 and extending to the top-end Lapierre Pulsium 700 with Shimano Ultegra Di2 for £2,899.99.

Cube Agree Disc

Cube have taken a different slant on the endurance theme by giving their mid-range Agree series an ‘aero-endurance’ revamp.

Cube have overhauled the Agree range for 2016

If you’re familiar with the existing Cube Agree then take note – this is a completely new frame. While it’s not a full-blown aero bike, the tube profiles have been sculpted with aerodynamics in mind, and the low-slung seatstays and integrated seatpost clamp are also designed to help the Agree cheat the wind.

Cube introduce ‘aero endurance’ Agree and entry-level Attain for 2016

The frame is available in disc and non-disc versions. The C:62 Disc with Shimano 105 opens the Agree collection at £1,599, while the Cube Agree C:62 SLT Disc with Shimano Dura-Ace and pictured above tops the bill at £3,299.

BMC GranFondo

If you want a disc-equipped endurance bike then BMC should be on your shortlist, having gone full disc with their GranFondo GF01 range for 2016.

The GF01 is BMC’s flagship endurance frame, originally developed for the BMC team at the Classics but now refined with sportive and long-distance riders in mind. That means a more relaxed, endurance-focused geometry and those disc brakes.

This Shimano Ultegra-equipped machine sits in the middle of BMC’s three-bike GF01 range

Of course, comfort is also key to the GF01 and BMC say their ‘Tuned Compliance Concept’ carbon layup ensures the bike is “stiff where you need it, [and offers] compliance where you don’t.”

BMC GranFondo GF01 review

The GF01 is available in three models, with Shimano 105 (£2,499), Shimano Ultegra (£3,199) and Shimano Ultegra Di2 (£4,599). There’s also the more affordable GF02, made from BMC’s second-grade carbon and available in the UK in three rim brake builds from £1,499 to £2,299.

Colnago CX Zero

The CX Zero is Colnago’s dedicated endurance/sportive bike. It doesn’t have any standout comfort-enhancing features like some of the bikes here, but the skinny seatstays are designed with comfort in mind and the geometry is more relaxed than Colnago’s race bikes.

The CX Zero Evo is Colnago’s carbon fibre endurance bike

The frame comes in two varieties – the carbon CX Zero Evo or the aluminium CX Zero – and there are six builds in the former (four rim brake, two disc), plus two in the latter, with Shimano Ultegra and Shimano 105.

Giant Defy

The Defy series is Giant’s dedicated endurance-focused offering, sitting alongside the lightweight TCR and the aero Propel race bikes. The range is vast, with 16 bikes based around five frames (three carbon, two aluminium, starting at £525 and rising all the way to £5,499.

Giant’s carbon Defy endurance bikes are only available with disc brakes

The Defy and the Defy Disc are Giant’s alloy endurance frames, while the Defy Advanced, Defy Advance Pro and Defy Advanced SL are all made from carbon – and all three of the latter come exclusively with disc brakes.

Giant 2016 road bikes – first look: Defy, TCR and Propel road bikes

Let’s take the mid-range, £2,299 Defy Advanced Pro 2 as an example. Giant say a balance of performance and comfort is key to the entire Defy range and on the Advanced Pro frame you’ll find Giant’s vibration-damping ‘D-Fuse’ seatpost design, super-skinny seatstays and an oversized ‘PowerCore’ bottom bracket, along with a Shimano Ultegra groupset and hydraulic disc brakes.

Canyon Endurace

Canyon introduced the Endurace in 2014 and, as the name suggests, it’s designed to bridge the gap between endurance and race, borrowing features from the Ultimate race bike but with a focus also on comfort and with a more relaxed geometry.

Canyon’s Endurace range bids to plug the gap between endurance bikes and racing

Comfort comes via Canyon’s ‘VCLS’ tech (or Vertical Comfort, Lateral Stiffness) – like most endurance bike manufacturers, they’ve got to make the bike stiff through the headtube, bottom bracket and chainstays, while tweaking the carbon layup elsewhere to cushion the ride. However, Canyon’s excellent VCLS 2.0 leafspring seatpost also goes a long way to improving comfort through the rear end.

Canyon 2016 road bikes – first look: Ultimate, Aeroad, Endurace, Inflite

The frame comes in aluminium and carbon fibre versions, with the latter weighing in at a claimed 1,040g, Across the entire Endurace range you’ll find 15 bikes, from the Shimano 105-equipped Endurace AL 5.0 for £699 to the £2,349 Endurace CF SL 9.0 SL with Shimano Dura-Ace.

Boardman SLR Titanium

Boardman’s Elite range used to include both SLR (Super-Light Road) and SLS (Super-Light Sportive), but now the line-up has been amalgamated solely under the SLR moniker, though it includes bikes with both an endurance and race geometry. Got that?

The stunning SLR Titanium is new to Boardman’s endurance range for 2016

While carbon fibre dominates the range, there’s also the SLR Titanium – new for 2016. When Boardman were designing the SLR frame, they found that titanium offered many of the properties required for an endurance bike, namely strength, compliance and resistance to both corrosion and fatigue, and so the SLR Titanium was also born.

Boardman revamp Elite road rage

The frame’s made from 3AL-2.5V titanium and is built for use with disc brakes, with thru-axles at the front and rear. There are two builds available; one with Shimano Ultegra for £3,499.99 and one with Shimano Ultegra Di2 and carbon wheels for £4,999.99 (pictured above).

Seven of the best… titanium bikes for 2016

Otherwise, if you want to put together your own build then the frameset will cost you £1,999.99.

Specialized Roubaix

The Roubaix is one of the original endurance bikes and one born out of cycling’s toughest race: Paris-Roubaix.

The Specialized Roubaix SL4 is the bike of choice for Etixx-QuickStep at Paris-Roubaix

The Zertz inserts on the fork and chainstays are the stand-out feature on Spesh’s bike for the cobbles and said to improve comfort. The frame is now on its fourth iteration and is a machine on which Tom Boonen has won the Hell of the North.

Eighteen of the best new road bikes for 2016

Like many endurance bikes, it’s available with both disc and rim brakes, right from £1,200 to £6,500.

Cannondale Synapse

Cannondale launched the revamped Synapse back in 2013 and it’s won much acclaim since then, so Cannondale have stuck largely with the tried-and-tested formula for 2016.

Cannondale’s Synapse is the prototype for the endurance bike, and it’s also been ridden to plenty of big results in the pro peloton

Cannondale’s SAVE Plus tech is designed to improve comfort and includes helixed tube profiles and a super-skinny 25.4mm seatpost, all in a bid to smooth out the road – or cobbles in the case of the Cannondale team, which has used the Synapse extensively in the Classics.

First look: Cannondale’s 2016 road bike range

There are two carbon frames, including the Hi-Mod version used by the team, and both come in disc and rim brake versions, as well as a stripped-back alloy frame. The introduction of the alloy Synapse Disc Adventure (with mudguard) is an interesting all-weather addition to the range, but it’s only one of 13 Synapse models from £599.99 to a penny under £6,000.

Ribble Gran Fondo

Lancashire-based Ribble have a wide range of bikes aimed at the sportive and endurance market, made from steel, aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre.

Ribble’s Gran Fondo endurance bike is inspired by the cyclo-sportives of France and Italy

The Gran Fondo is designed for sportive riders, and that mainly means there’s an endurance geometry and tube profiles which, according to Ribble, add in a little more comfort than their out-and-out race frames.

Ribble 2016 road bikes – first look

Prices start at £859.95 but Ribble’s online bike builder let’s you put together just about any spec you want, down to the colour of the handlebar tape.

Bianchi Infinito CV

Bianchi’s Infinito CV is a long-standing endurance bike having been introduced in 2013 as the Italian marque’s first machine to use their innovative comfort-enhancing Countervail tech.

The Bianchi Infinito CV Disc has been redesigned with thru-axles for 2016

Bianchi worked with the Materials Sciences Corporation to develop Countervail – a viscoelastic material placed within strategic areas of the frame to cancel vibrations – and the technology has now also been rolled out on the Specialissima race bike and Aquila CV time trial bike.

Bianchi’s complete 2016 road range – first look

The Infinito CV remains Bianchi’s endurance machine, however, and nine models make up the 2016 range, with six using rim brakes on a 990g frame and three in the disc range based around a 1,020g frame.

Scott Solace Disc

The Solace is Scott’s take on the endurance bike, as opposed to the super-light Addict and the aero Foil which you may see Orica-GreenEDGE’s pros in action on.

The Scott Solace is only Scott model available with disc brakes for 2016

The Solace has been around for a while now but it’s only available with disc brakes in 2016. Scott say comfort comes from the asymmetrical seatstays and a bi-construction of the frame which splits the frame into the ‘power zone’ of the downtube, headtube and chainstays, and the ‘comfort zone’ of the toptube, seattube and seatstays.

Scott 2016 road bikes – first look

There are three bikes in the range, all with hydraulic disc brakes and starting with the £2,599 Scott Solace 10 Disc with Shimano Ultegra and rising all the way to the £5,799 Scott Solace Premium Disc with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and carbon wheels.

Orbea Avant

Orbea don’t mess around with their road bike range, which features just two bikes – the Orca’s the race bike and the Avant is the Spanish firm’s endurance machine.

Orbea have just two bikes in their range, the Avant being the sportive/endurance option

The carbon frame can accept 28mm tyres and also has hidden mudguard mounts, adding more versatility into the mix. There are eight bikes in the range and two are based around a disc-specific version of the frame, with Shimano Ultegra Di2 for £3,199 or mechanical Shimano Ultegra £2,159.

Pinarello Dogma K8-S

Pinarello have sponsored Team Sky since the British WorldTour squad’s inception in 2010 and last year introduced the Dogma K8-S ahead of last year’s cobbled Classics.

Pinarello’s Dogma K8-S launched to much interest ahead of the 2015 Spring Classics

The frame shares a similar design to the Dogma F8 but with the DSS 1.0 (Dogma Suspension System) seatstays and flat ‘Flexstay’ chainstays. Pinarello called the K8-S and its suspension system “game-changing” at launch and while that may be over doing it, it’s an interesting bit of tech nonetheless.

Pinarello 2016 road bikes: Dogma F8, Dogma F8 K-S, Gan, Rokh, Razha and more

If you want to ride the same bike as Team Sky you’ll need deep pockets – the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 model with Dura-Ace C50 wheels costs £9,199 and it’s not even the most expensive in the range. Swap in a Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupset and Bora Ultra 35 wheels and the price goes up to £10,299.

Perhaps Pinarello’s more affordable endurance bike, the Rokh, might be more up everyone’s street instead, with 105, Ultegra and Ultegra Di2 builds.

BTwin Triban 520

The BTwin Triban may not be specifically marketed as an endurance bike but the relaxed geometry ensures it fills the bill to a degree and, for a rider looking for an affordable first road bike, it’s a cracking option.

We were impressed with the BTwin Triban 540 when we reviewed it earlier this year

The Triban is based around a robust aluminium frame with mudguard mounts, while there’s also clearance for tyres up to 32mm wide, making it a versatile, all-weather option. How does it ride? Read our review here.

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