Is it us or do new titanium brands seem to be popping up as frequently as new sportive events? The latest to join the fray is Sunday Bicycles. Not so long ago titanium was the preserve of the super-wealthy, but it can now be listed under affordable, with prices continuing to fall.
Sunday, launched early last year, was setup by Greg Roche, an elite level racer with over 15 years of experience – so he should know a thing or two about the way to set a bike up. This was no quiet launch however, as the company is supplying bikes for the new KFS-Special Vehicles team. The team is headed by veritable fast-man Rob Sharman, and the team have been putting in strong performances in the Premier Calendar this season. But enough of plugging the race team; let’s take a look at the company’s entry level Silk Road.
There’s currently two frames in the range: the £749 Silk Road and the £1,099 Silk Road Pro (with more planned in the near-future). While the Silk Road Pro is aimed at racers, the Silk Road is targeted at the less race inclined riders out there, and more specifically those partaking in sportive events. The frames are both based around a 3Al/2.5V tubeset but the Silk Road tested here foregoes double butted tubing and the integrated headset for a simpler tubeset to keep the price down.
Aesthetically however it’s not lacking and you have to look close to see where the differences are. It’s all in the geometry: the Silk Road has a taller head tube (15cm) and shorter top tube – combined with longer stem – to provide a more comfortable riding position. The geometry changes are intended to make it suitable for those whose riding will include a bit of racing, some sportives and general riding in the countryside, where a super sharp handling frame isn’t always required.
All the tubes are plain gauge, with the down tube being ovalised where it braces the head tube. To provide some comfort (call it vertical compliance)[no, don’t; think up something better – ed.], the seat stays curve inwards. The chain stays are altogether a lot fatter to provide the stiffness required to keep the frame tracking straight and true. The head tube is a non-integrated headset item and the cable stops are mounted here, rather than on the down tube.
The quality of a titanium frame can be judged on the standard of the construction, and the Silk Road didn’t fail to impress. All the welding was exceptionally neat and very smooth with no blueing inside, indicating good workmanship. A lot of titanium frames have passed through the roadcyclinguk.com office and the Silk Road ranks as one of the better ones we’ve seen.
Finishing touches include a titanium seat clamp and titanium bottle cage bolts. The decals went down particularly well with the RCUK team: classy and subtle. There’s a choice of decal colours if the red doesn’t take your fancy. Five sizes are available from 52 to 60cm in 2cm increments. For £150 more, Sunday will customise the frame for you. Frames come with a lifetime warranty and there’s a crash replacement scheme (return your damaged frame and get another half price).
Frames can be bought directly off the website, or through a few shops in a network which Sunday is currently expanding. Buy direct through Sunday though and you won’t be greeted with a list of complete bikes, instead they’ll build you a frame with whatever spec you want. Service is paramount to Sunday; they’ll even personally deliver your bike and help you set it up.
Our Silk Road came with a rock-solid spec of Shimano Ultegra groupset, R700 compact cranks, Mavic Ksyrium ES wheels wrapped with Continental GP4000 tyres, Easton EC70 bars and stem, Cane Creek headset and a Fi’zi:k Arione saddle – colour coded to match the frame, no less.
The Easton label extended to the forks too, in the shape of the EC90 SL carbon forks. These 350g forks are made using the company’s carbon nanotube technology, and feature carbon dropouts. We didn’t get on with the Easton head tube preloading collar, with uses two interlocking spacers that fit below the stem and above the headset. We’re relieved to say that Sunday has reverted back to a more reliable expander wedge on all new bikes they’re sending out.
With a slightly shorter top tube and the taller head tube, the riding position was spot on. Steering was relaxed and stable at all speeds, and the comfort from the rear stays was very noticeable after an afternoon in the saddle. The frame does lack a little feel, and didn’t have the same lively ride that would be expected from a titanium frame, but this didn’t detract from the overall impression of the frame – if you crave a frame that transfers more road feedback, the Pro is worth a look.
Sunday has aimed this bike at the growing sportive market, where a fast yet comfy bike is desirable, and we’re pleased to report it easily ticks both boxes. It won’t break your bank balance either, and with the option of customising the spec to suit, you can walk away with any build you want. You can even have the geometry personalised should you have any specific demands you want from the frame, for an extra wedge of cash.