There are a lot of positives with Azione's Questo II, and it will please customers looking for a bike different from the norm. The Questo II is a good bike that won’t struggle to keep up with aero offerings from the big brands, and it offers a certain level of uniqueness at the same time.
This is Azione. A British brand based in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, with more than a touch of Italian style. Azione is a group of keen racers, mechanics and designers, building bikes for customers looking for something unique.
This Azione Questo II has the strength to change the shape of things for Azione, who until now have been a relatively small UK company. For a start, this bike is no shrinking violet. The sleek graphics, painted on strongly shaped tubes caught the eye of many a passerby.
It definitely looks like a fast bike, and that's always a good start. The finish, by northern painters 'Shelby' (no, not that Shelby) is lovely, and the graphics are bold enough to be noticeable but not so much to split opinion. We look forward to hearing what you think of it too.
Azione offer each of their bikes as customisable builds. The frame remains the same, but different wheels and components can be selected based on price or preference. The Questo II frame set starts the ball rolling at £1495. This build hit the checkout at £3255. A very similar price to that of the new Canyon Aeroad CF SLX 7.0 we saw recently. The spec is similar too; deep section carbon wheels and a Shimano Ultegra 11-speed group set are on show here.
The Questo II makes use of Azione's own 'LAF' carbon technology. It's a unidirectional carbon fibre layup; a technology favoured by manufacturers over the traditional 'weave' pattern thanks to its improved strength to weight ratio.
The LAF system (it stands for Linear Asynchronous Fibre Technology) uses fibres that are laid slightly out of line to the fundamental direction of fibres. This, apparently, gives extra support against torsional loads generated through pedalling or cornering.
The Questo II’s aero credentials are based on the knowledge and expertise of the designers, rather than numbers provided by scientific testing. But that’s not to say it isn’t a technical bike. Azione’s own LAF tubing, combined with tried and tested aero shaping and geometry mean the Questo II isn’t a shot in the dark. It’s a sensible technical evolution over the original MK1 model.
Most of us judge a bike on how it handles on the road, and how it reacts to the ride and the riders input. In this regard, the Questo II feels stiff and responsive, and based purely on our own regular routes and rides, came up fast in terms of PB numbers too. But the important thing is how the bike makes you feel, and the Questo II made us feel fast.
We had a rather aggressive handlebar fitted - a one-piece bar-stem combination, with a low drop - that had us forever on the attack. Once at speed, the bike holds speed well, and the own brand hoops did nothing to slow us down.
It is a stiff bike, and not the most forgiving. Over rougher surfaces you can feel most of the road beneath you through the front end. Some riders like to feel everything that happens beneath them, especially on a bike designed to be ridden fast, but for me, it could be a little smoother on our roughest roads.
It felt stiff under acceleration too, but it wasn’t as responsive as the recently tested Canyon Aeroad CF SLX. That could partly be down to the weight. With the Questo II, you’re hauling an extra half-kilogram up to speed (our Questo II weighed 7.65kg over the Aeroad’s 7.15kg). It might not sound like much, but with repeated accelerations, it all makes a difference.
The Questo II’s handling, which is very direct and agile, is great fun through corners. A sprightly front end tends to be less forgiving over longer rides, so this part of the bike's character lends itself towards racing, rather than sportive riding. The smooth surfaces of a circuit race were ideal for the Questo II, where we could really appreciate the handling.
The Questo II stickered wheels are from Azione's own shop. A 28mm depth, with a stiff and wide carbon fibre rim made cornering a real treat, which only strengthened the bikes racing potential. The stiff wheelset only helped to accentuate road feedback though, so it might be worth considering something more forgiving if you are looking for a laid back ride.
When we’re testing an aero bike, there are a few specific things we look for. The feeling of speed is a key component, but a bike that’s comfortable enough to ride all day is crucial too, as is a bike that handles exceptionally well (although character and aesthetics are factors too, of course).
The Questo II almost nails each of these, but comes up short in the comfort stakes; thanks to its chunky front end and nimble handling it was tiring over a full day's ride. To suggest the Questo II ‘falls short’ might be doing it a disservice though, because this bike is fast and fun to ride. It looks great too, and thanks to Azione’s custom build approach, you can spec exactly the bike you want, in the colour you want it.
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