Eastway Emitter R2 road bike - review - Road Cycling UK

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Eastway Emitter R2 road bike – review

Fast, responsive and excellent value carbon race bike from Wiggle's bike brand

Eastway is online retailer Wiggle’s own direct sales bike brand and in the Emitter R2 they have a really solid race-bred bike that’s snappy, responsive and light on the wallet.

Wiggle re-launched the Eastway brand last year and the 2016 range includes the Emitter, which is the flagship carbon frame, as well as the disc-equipped, carbon Zener, Balun aluminium cyclo-cross bike, Esaki aluminium track bike, and the Flyback. a flat-bar commuter bike

Like the rest of the bikes in the Eastway stable, the Emitter comes in a variety of specs so that, if you’re looking for a bike at a certain level, they’re likely to have one that’ll meet your needs on paper, from Shimano Tiagra right up to Ultegra Di2, with prices ranging from £950 up to £2,200. The R2 comes with a mechanical Shimano Ultegra groupset for £1,600.

Eastway is the in-house bike brand of online retailer Wiggle

The frame – racy and light for the money

Whether you opt for the £950 model or the flagship £2,200 machine, all Emitter bikes are based around the same carbon fibre frame.

  • Specification

  • Price: £1,600
  • Weight: 7.3kg
  • Sizes: 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, 60cm
  • Website: Wiggle

While the Emitter doesn’t have any standout features, it’s an up-to-date frame with a uni-directional carbon layup, full internal cable routing, and squared-off tube profiles combined with a bulky bottom bracket shell to give the bike a purposeful look in the flesh, supporting the geometry’s racy intentions.

How much does the frame weigh? A round 1kg for the 56cm frame size tested here. It wasn’t too long ago that a 1kg frame was considered pretty light but things have moved on since then, dropping by more than 25 per cent to sub-750g for the lightest frames. Still, while the Emitter’s chassis isn’t super-light, it’s still more than respectable for a mid-range carbon frame and, along with the rest of the build, makes for a bike which, at 7.3kg, does very little to trouble the scales for the £1,600 price tag.

In terms of geometry, with a sizeable reach of 397mm for the 56cm frame size, the Emitter puts you in a fairly aggressive position on the bike and that’s seen throughout the six frame sizes on offer. Otherwise, our 56cm frame has a 562mm toptube and 155mm headtube, contributing to that low position, and a compact 990mm wheelbase combined with 405mm chainstays, helping to achieve that responsive ride.

Additionally, following the trend towards wider tyres, the frame will take 28mm rubber without mudguards, though there are no eyelets to support full ‘guards, which is no real surprise on a carbon, race-orientated frame. The paintwork is also tasteful in the tested black and orange, although if a neutrally-coloured bike is important to you, you’ll be forced towards the top end R1 at £2,200.

The ride – fast, responsive, but a little harsh in places

Given the racy geometry of the frame, I expected a stiff and responsive feel to dominate the experience – and I wasn’t disappointed. Stepping on the pedals out of the saddle launches the bike forward, while in the saddle pace is easy to build and maintain. The BB86 bottom bracket is certainly stiff enough to absorb and transfer the biggest wattage I could put through the frame, and feels solid and reassuring when you break into a sprint for the odd 30 sign out on the road.

This is all helped by the chunky tubes and stays, which deliver top levels of stiffness and good levels of feel when out of the saddle or down on the drops through the Ritchey finishing kit (more on that later) when you’re climbing and descending. It really means you feel you can put the hammer down with confidence, or tip it into a turn on a descent at high speed and have confidence in the frame beneath you to respond consistently. In fact, when the road pitched upwards or downwards, I found the Emitter R2 to be a rewarding ride, helped by the low weight and stiffness, and easily taking me to a few Strava PRs – which I interestingly set with Merlin’s similar-in-focus carbon race machine last year, with a similar level of fitness.

Eastway Emitter R2 bike review (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)
Eastway Emitter R2 bike review (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)
Eastway Emitter R2 bike review (Pic: George Scott/Factory Media)

That being said, the frame does lack a touch of refinement. The best frames are able to give great stiffness and responsiveness, without sacrificing a level of comfort to let you ride on through the 100km mark and beyond in relative comfort. That compliance isn’t present in huge quantities in the Emitter R2, through the front or rear end, and that can be felt on UK roads when the roads are broken up. In fact, I found myself looking out for dodgy patches in the road surface so I could make a point of avoiding them – more so that I usually would on my everyday aluminium bike.

Still, while I found the ride a touch harsh, it was competent and relatively sure-footed in most situations on well-paved roads, including commutes and club rides.

One notable flaw in the bike received from Wiggle, however, was the lack of spare cable at the head of the bike. Normally, I’d argue this as a positive thing, but with the in-line barrel adjusters constantly snagging on the tightly fed wire at low speeds, it only served as a minor annoyance and distraction. Perhaps one for Wiggle’s bike builders to address when putting the machines together for customers. In any case, during testing a cable tie puling together the offending wires papered over the problem – so it’s a simple, if slightly unnecessary, fix.

The spec – top value with full Shimano Ultegra transmission

Let’s cut to the chase on this one with regards to the groupset: the R2 variant of the Emitter comes with a full spread of mechanical Ultegra, which is excellent value for the £1,600 price tag.

That affords predictable and crisp shifting through a semi-compact 52-36t tooth chainset and 11-28t cassette, which provides a well-appointed range of gears at both ends for the frame’s fast nature. Allied to this are Ultegra’s excellent shifters and brake calipers.

Beware of the brake pads fitted as standard, though: they take a good few rides to bed in, and to be honest when they have, don’t offer the best performance in terms of effectiveness and feel I’ve ever come across – this from an experienced Mavic Aksium user, too. Still, they are a minor problem and can easily be changed out to your preferred type at relatively little cost.

The semi-compact 52-36t chainset is a good match for the Emitter R2’s racy intentions

All things considered, Shimano Ultegra is an excellent groupset, and on a bike of this price it’s top value – full credit to Eastway for speccing the full groupset and not cutting any corners. However, given that Shimano’s 105 and Tiagra groupsets have now borrowed plenty of the tech found on Ultegra, there’s also plenty of value to be found further down the Emitter range, even if there is a slight weight penalty and sacrifice in the rest of the build.

The R2 build here features Mavic’s solid and dependable Aksium aluminium clincher wheels.  Eastway have done away with Mavic’s WTS (Wheel Tyre System) offering, whereby the wheels come with Mavic tyres, instead opting for Continental Ultrasport 25mm tyres. In tandem, the pairing works well; the tyres are hard-wearing and provide good levels of grip and the Mavic Aksiums are reliable year-round wheels for most uses. They’re not the lightest at 1,880g but are responsive enough when pushed hard and the frame will reward a wheel upgrade. The 25mm tyre width is also welcome, especially considering the slight harshness of the general ride, and the fact there’s room to jump up to 28mm means you can conceivably add in a little more comfort with a wider tyre.

Eastway have made no secret of their desire to keep recognisable brands on the bike, and, having opted for a Shimano groupset and Mavic wheels, have also fitted the Emitter R2 with a Fizik Aliante saddle, which is supportive and – for me, at least – probably the most comfortable part of the bike. There’s also a Ritchey Comp finishing kit, with the full complement of seatpost, stem and handlebar. It’s all recognisable, decent quality kit.

 

Eastway have stuck to quality, recognisable brands when speccing the Emitter R2

That said, the handlebar is rather thin, so for people with big hands (like me) double wrapping or swapping the bar tape for a thicker option will be an attractive, relatively cheap upgrade. That being said, I found the shape and feedback of the handlebar to be excellent on the hoods and in the drops, which helps support the aforementioned confidence to throw it into bends and put the hammer down.

Conclusion

The Eastway Emitter R2 is a fast, responsive bike with a racy geometry. It’s a touch harsh when asked to iron out poor road paving, and there other small niggles here and there, but, with a carbon frame, full Shimano Ultegra groupset and recognisable kit across the rest of the build, the R2 still represents very good value for money as a complete package.

Pros

  • Stiff, responsive frame
  • Full Shimano Ultegra groupset and top spec throughout
  • Excellent value for money

Cons

  • Ride quality is a little harsh
  • Racy position may not suit everyone
  • Handlebar tape is too thin

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