The Stevens Izoard is a race-oriented carbon road bike with a full Shimano 105 groupset, which Stevens says is aimed at the entry-level racer
Founded in 1991, Hamburg-based Stevens makes quite a range of road, mountain, hybrid and electric bikes. Its top-end road bikes are customisable via the brand’s website. Below this, the Izoard sits at the bottom of its five bike fixed-spec carbon range. There’s a lower priced alloy road bike range too.
In the UK, Stevens is best known for its sponsorship of pro cyclo-cross teams, including those of Mathieu van der Poel and women’s world champion Sanne Cant. It also sponsors a road racing youth team in Germany.
There were a number of years when Stevens bikes were not distributed in the UK, before the brand was taken up by the Hub Velo shop cafe and cycle club, based in Clapton, East London.
Stevens says the Izoard is aimed at aspiring racers. This gives some hint of the frame’s nature. It’s quite steep with a short wheelbase and chainstays for a punchy ride. Stevens has incorporated its double-chamber design into the Izoard. This adds a reinforcing rib inside the main frame tubes and the fork legs to enhance their rigidity.
There are no compliance features and quite a short head tube too, so you tend to feel the road more than on an endurance machine. That’s not to say that the Izoard is uncomfortable and I was happy riding it for four hours-plus.
The Izoard has a conventional rim-brake frame with quick release axles. There’s a wide PressFit 86.5 bottom bracket with chunky tube interfaces for good power delivery. The fork is full carbon and tapered. In the modern fashion all the cables are routed internally.
Stevens equips the Izoard with a full Shimano 105 groupset, including a semicompact 52/36 chainset and brakes. The 105 cassette is an 11-32 tooth variant, compensating for the larger chainrings by adding lower rear ratios, allowing you to get up hills effectively. The lowest ratio is equivalent to a compact chainset with a 30-tooth sprocket, while the larger chainring gives you a few more top-end options than a compact.
As with most manufacturers, Stevens specs its own-brand cockpit, saddle and seatpost. They’re alloy and of good quality, although I did not find the Oxygen Cyrius saddle quite as comfortable as some.
Wheels are alloy Citec Accelerator. Citec is a German wheel brand, with the Accelerator being its lowest price offering at €400, with a claimed wheelset weight of 1,650 grams. The Accelerators roll nicely and are well built, using a mix of bladed straight-pull and J-bend spokes. But the nipples are internal, making truing a bit trickier than when these are external.
They’re shod with Continental Grandsport Race 25mm tyres, which are comfortable and grippy.
I’ve already said the Izoard is a bit firmer than some other bikes. The advantage of this is very effective power transfer, coupled with positive handling and tracking through complex descents and turns.
The Oxygen Scorpo bars have a slightly ovalised section to the tops and a gentle backward sweep. These make for a little extra comfort and promote a more natural hand and arm position than a conventional round section, straight top to the bar.
Although disc brakes have taken off on road machines, the 105 brake calipers remind you that rim brakes are still a perfectly effective option for most riding conditions – and are mandatory for racing in the UK. There’s plenty of bite and good modulation, even if stopping distances are a bit longer.
At £1,750, the Izoard is certainly competitive for a bike with its spec. It’s good to see a full Shimano 105 groupset rather than the swap-outs and compromises which often occur at this price point. The frame is well designed and would bear upgrades too.
The own-brand finishing kit is all competent and the wheels are a notch above some seen on the competition at this price.
The Izoard is a competitive bike at its price point. It’s well specified and the inclusion of a complete Shimano 105 groupset is a bonus – many manufacturers will swap out the brakes and/or chainset for a cheaper build. It’s satisfyingly taut to ride too, with ride position and handling which confirm Stevens’s placement of the Izoard as an entry-level race machine rather than one designed for endurance rides. Despite this, it’s not uncomfortable and soaks up the miles without jarring or becoming tiring. The Citec wheels with their 25mm Conti tyres roll and grip well and cope fine with uneven surfaces. The inclusion of a wider-range cassette coupled with the semicompact chainset gives some extra range too – you lose no bottom-end gearing to a compact set-up with a 28 tooth largest sprocket, but gain a little top end gearing for fast descents. So overall, Stevens has produced a winning package if you’re looking for a more sporting ride at the sub-£2,000 price point.