Cyclo Sportives are increasingly popular offering cyclists a great one day challenge from anything from a 50 mile to 200 mile ride. Mostly cyclo sportives are held on roads, so you will want to choose a bike designed for speed on the road. Some models are built specifically for the sportive markets. These will typically have a race frame geometry, with slightly longer head tube for a more comfortable ride.
For £1,000 there is a quite a range of good quality bikes to choose from. Though, if you only have £500, you will still be able to get a good aluminium frame based road bike.
Carbon Fibre v Aluminium
A good quality carbon fibre frame is definitely something to aim for. It can give a more comfortable ride and offer greater power transfer. However, carbon fibre isn’t everything. For many years, I rode aluminium frame bikes and they will also give very good performance in sportives.
What to Look for in a Sportive Bike
- Make sure it is comfortable and good fit. This is most important.
- Get the best frame you can, you can always upgrade later. Though some whole bikes offer such good value, it is good to get as much as you can when you first buy.
- Leave enough for necessary accessories, like, clipless pedals, best tyres for road bikes, and computers.
Entry Level Sportif Bikes.
For £400 to £500 you can get a good solid road bike which will be fine for even the longest of cyclo sportive challenges. Typically for £500 you will get a lightweight aluminium frame with basic groupset such as Shimano Tiagra.
Sportif Bikes under £1,000
For £1,000, you will be able to save 1 or 2 Kg off the weight of the bike and get a carbon fibre fork and more efficient groupset. There is a reasonable improvement in performance which will be noted by a keen cyclist. For a £1,000 there is a really good selection of road bikes that will be ideal for cyclo-sportives.
Best Sportif Bikes
If money is no option, why not get a top of the range road bike, which would not be out of place in the Tour de France. You will be able to enjoy a full carbon fibre frameset with top of the range groupset and a weight pretty close to UCI minimum of 6.5Kg.
Reviews of Sportif Bikes
Chris Boardman Team Carbon – £1,399
This offers a full carbon fibre bike and fork, with Shimano 105. It is really excellent value for what you get, and I enjoyed riding it. It looks good and in a way punches above its weight. I enjoyed the test ride. -
C.Boardman Road Bikes at Halfords
Ribble Cycles is a mail order specialist in Preston. They have a habit of being able to put together bikes for exceptional value. The Ribble Sportive Bianco has the highest levels of spec at £1,000 for any sportive bike. The Carbon frame weighs only 960grams. It is made from high quality carbon fibre T700/T800 carbon. The frame and fork look good and give a fast ride.
Despite carbon frame, Ribble also put on a Shimano 105 groupset and ITM wheels. At £1,000 it is really quite an impressive ride. Cycling Weekly gave it 10/10 and nearly won bike of the year in 2010. The whole bike weighs only 7.8 KG which is a similar weight to many higher spec road bikes.
The frame geometry is close to a road race bike, with just a longer head tube to increase comfort on longer rides.
I’ve bought a few Ribble bikes and they have a tradition of being very competitive. Their size enables economies of scale and their carbon fibre sportive frames are really excellent to ride. Another nice feature of Ribble is the bike builder. This means you can choose a frame and then choose all the different components you want to put on it. This means you can really tailor the bike to your specifications and budget (and also get to choose colour).
Trek Road Bikes
Trek offer quite a range of entry level road bikes from the Trek 1.1 to Trek 2.2 These make excellent sportive bikes. The Trek 1.1 and 1.2 come with an aluminium frame and start at £700 for a Trek 1.1 with Shimano Sora groupset.
The Trek 2.2 and 2.3 are also a higher quality aluminium frame.
To get a Trek with Carbon fibre frame you will need to spend more than other makes. The Trek 3.5 comes with 300 Series OCLV Carbon and costs £1,800
Trek Road bikes at Evans Cycles (though not available mailorder, you can pick up from store)
Sportive v Road Bikes
Many riders in cyclo sportives will be riding just road bikes. However, particular sportive bikes have a slightly different frame design to give greater comfort over long distance riding. To give a more comfortable ride the frame geometry tends to have a longer top tube and a shorter head tube. This gives a bit more upright position, it is less aerodynamic but more comfortable and less stressful on the back.
More on Cyclo Sportives