group test: 105 Verdict

1st June 2010   Words:Simon Smythe   Photos: Roo Fowler

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We’re not going to mark a bike down for not using the full 105 groupset, because in a competitive market with the country coming out of recession and people more conscious than ever about what they spend on leisure items, the more attractive the price tag, the more likely the bike is to sell.

But there’s a clear difference in performance between the bike that uses the complete 105 groupset — hubs and all — and the other two that spec cheaper calipers and chainsets. However, does the GT, which is the bike with the full 105 complement, really need to cost twice as much as the Cannondale?

At a price
The GT is the only bike with a carbon frame, and it’s a good one too, which has been designed from the ground up — so this is the clue to its price. You’re paying for features like a press-fit bottom bracket, tapered fork, pierced head tube and the whole package is constructed out of a high-modulus carbon fibre. GT’s distributor told us that the exchange rate was also a factor in the bike’s UK pricing.

There’s no doubt the GT is the best bike in this test, and easily the lightest, but costing twice as much as the Cannondale we wonder whether it really ought to be up against other carbon machines in a higher price bracket. We also found that the GT frame is not for riders who bring their knees inwards at the top of the pedal stroke, as its square-edged top tube can deliver a painful blow to the inside of the knee.

The Swiss BMC impressed us with its detailing and finish. It is something quite different and certainly stands out from the crowd. However, we were a little disappointed with its weight and component level, but when we spotted that Evans was selling the BMC Streetracer SR01 with full Ultegra SL groupset for just £200 more, we got excited again.

This is not the very latest version of Ultegra, but there appears to be plenty of it still around — and it is the specified groupset on BMC’s website, so grab a bargain while you can.

Born in the USA
We won’t bore you with the details of Cannondale’s business background, but one of its old selling points was that all Cannondales were made in the USA and they all had a sticker proudly proclaiming it. Now the company has a new owner, production is being moved to Taiwan — which is where our CAAD 8 was made — and the sticker has gone.

However, Cannondale says everything is strictly quality controlled as before, and quite honestly the CAAD 8 rides like a Cannondale, no matter where it was made. It’s a good-looking bike and it’s great to still be able to enjoy the hourglass stays, but we miss the other Cannondale trademark features like the big round-section down tube. Couldn’t Cannondale just indulge its many fans and give them back their round down tube…? Whatever, the CAAD 8 offers the most units of cycling enjoyment per pound sterling, and even though it’s the least wowwee-looking on test, it wins.

group test: 105 road bikes introduction
Cannondale CAAD8 105
BMC Streetfire SSX01
GT GTR Carbon Sport
group test: 105 road bikes verdict