Lightweight carbon fibre road bike with Shimano Ultegra discs and bolt-through axles
With Shimano’s creation of the Ultegra level R785 brakes, discs on road bikes took a giant leap from alternative to mainstream technology. This radical, forward-thinking approach is further evidenced in the Shimano-equipped Storck Aernario road bike. Is the bolt-through frame the future of road bikes?
Storck is one of those brands that helps make the cycling industry interesting. In other sectors, such a brand might struggle, but in cycling, the smaller players are able to create cutting-edge products that give the major manufacturers something to think about. The Aernario is one such product.
Markus Storck has been making his own bikes since 1988 and has come to typify smaller German road bike manufacturers — low on marketing hype but big on engineering know-how. The Aernario Disc is a thinking man’s bike; Storck designers took the established and well-regarded Aernario and scratched their heads until they came up with something clever. And they cleverly redesigned the whole dropout area for both wheels.
Using a bolt-through design allows the use of a larger axle, promoting stiffness. By securing both dropouts together, some of the asymmetric load exerted by the brake being on one side is spread across both sides, allowing the design to be lighter.
To make this solution work, Storck went to DT Swiss, which already had similar solutions for off-road riding. The Aernario runs a proprietary version of the R23 with 10mm axle at the rear and 9mm at the front.
With the wheel solution found, Storck was able to design the frame around DT’s quick-release bolt-through, featuring a recess for the nut on either side of the frame. It’s a set-up that fits together very smartly and certainly doesn’t look like a first attempt.
Close to the kilo
Despite the German engineers’ best efforts, they were unable to keep the G1’s weight down to under the psychological barrier of a kilo. But judging by the 58cm frame we tested, they’ve made a very respectable effort — on our scales, it topped out at 1,056g, the fork at 474g.
With all this chat of stiffness and weight saving, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Aernario is something of a Frankenstein’s monster. But it isn’t at all.
Storck has made a sensible choice for its revolutionary frame by confronting one technical challenge at a time; much of the bike is quite conventional. The size 57cm frame has an effective top tube length of 57.6cm, and a 16.2cm head tube, with both head and seat tube angles at 73.5°.
This set of measurements means that the Aernario gives a very safe and stable ride with no surprises. This is great news when it comes to riding on unfamiliar roads, such as during a sportive. OK, I’d prefer a little more excitability from the handling in the longer term — that’s no criticism, just personal taste.
When it comes to stiffness, the Aernario really is a great machine. Without getting carried away, it’s a well-rounded package with all the compromises well accounted for — it’s stiff enough to transfer power well and yet doesn’t beat the rider over every road imperfection.
Aero or all-rounder?
With all this talk of disc brakes and ride quality, it’d be all too easy to forget to comment on the aerodynamic attributes of the frame. Storck’s aero offering is a far cry from some of the wing-like tubes that we’ve seen from other brands over the years.
The main wind-cheating tube is the down tube, which has a clear teardrop shape. This profile, combined with the other sleek, flowing lines means that the Aernario has lower than normal drag.
The tubes present a fairly large area to the wind, though, so we’d guess the aerodynamics are good but not market-leading. That feeling is borne out in the saddle — it’s good at speed, but a gusting crosswind will certainly move the frame around. This frame is a safe all-rounder rather than a cutting-edge machine in the aero regard.
We really like what Storck has done with the Aernario, not just with the original design but more importantly with the bolt-through frame instead of dropouts. We regard this design as the future for bikes with disc brakes. It makes so much sense to spread the load across the bike and, just as importantly, reduce the possibility of brake rub. If there is a criticism, it’s that Storck has had to rely on DT Swiss to come up with the goods for safety, ease of use, etc. But the R23 wheels don’t offer the most exciting of rides, which to my mind holds the bike back a touch, despite the respectable weight, circa 1,500g. But when all is said and done, this package is excellent and has placed Storck at the head of the curve in the rapidly expanding area of road bikes with disc brakes.