Dedacciai Atleta Athena review
This new aerodynamic road bike from Dedacciai looks fast and uncompromising — but can appearances be deceptive?
Dedacciai has come up with a great all-round package in the Atleta. The frameset is well finished and nicely balanced, and the spec sheet is devoid of shortcuts and hidden nasties. As for aero credentials: even with an unaerodynamic lump sat on the saddle, it’s certainly a pacey machine with fantastic acceleration. It's a stable descender, surprisingly adept climber and equally at home on more leisurely rides. Dedacciai has to be commended on striking a well-executed balance between speed and comfort. Ultimately, pigeon-holing the Atleta as an aero machine for racing and riding hard is doing it a huge disservice; it is, moreover, a really great bike.
Fast and stable
Full Campagnolo Athena groupset
High gearing may not suit everyone
Aero bikes are now firmly established in the road bike market. Slippery and expensive-looking bikes such as the Cervelo S5, Felt AR, Giant Propel, Specialized Venge and Canyon Aeroad have been around for a few years, and are a common sight in the professional peloton. As production runs increase and aerodynamic frame technology trickles down, more aero bikes priced around £2000 are becoming available.
Italian manufacturer Dedacciai has thrown its hat in the aero ring with the Atleta, a well-priced and good-looking machine that could assist in bringing such a bike to a wider audience. According to Dedacciai, it has used ‘the best’ carbon fibre from Toray and applied its lengthy frame-building know-how and manufacturing techniques to create a strong, light frameset.
This isn’t skin-deep either, as Dedacciai employs an ‘anti-wrinkle process’, which doesn’t involve smearing it with cream before bed, but the elimination of lumps and bumps inside the frame that can become an unseen focus of stress and therefore weakness.
In common with many aero frames, the seatstays intersect the teardrop-shaped seat-tube at a point around 10 centimetres below the top tube. Short chainstays mean that the rear tyre arcs closely into a smoothly-curved section in the seat tube. No room for wide tyres or mudguards.
The downtube is narrow when looking down from above, but has a deep side profile, and the chainstays and fork legs are similarly profiled. A short headtube points forward, which has an added advantage in helping to indicate the direction of travel, should you forget. Cables are very neatly tucked away inside the frame, which will also accept wires for electronic groupsets.
As is the trend in aero bikes, the seatpost clamp is internal, sitting in a recess just forward of the seatpost on the upper side of the skinny top tube. Initial models had an issue with the post slipping, but we’re happy to report that a redesigned clamp and a matt surface to the seatpost have solved this.
All of the above adds up to a 15 per cent reduction in air resistance over a regular round-tubed frame, claims Dedacciai. One thing that is beyond doubt is that the frame finish is first class. Our model came in neatly painted white, black and red, but it’s also available in stealthy black if that’s more your thing.
Campagnolo’s 11-speed Athena drivetrain and components including the chainset and brakes have been used throughout, with no shortcuts on the spec sheet. This ensures that there are no compromises in the function of the drivetrain, and also helped to the bike’s overall weight to a decent 7.83kg.
Gearing has been picked to sensibly match the intended use of the bike – riding fast. The 11-25 tooth cassette is coupled to 53/39-tooth chainrings, which is a high selection even for an fast aero bike. It’s also worth noting that the brakes are in traditional positions, bucking the trend in some aero models to put them behind the fork and at the bottom bracket.
Campagnolo also provides the Scirrocco 35 wheels, which as the name suggests feature a 35mm deep rim to complete the overall aero look and performance of the bike. As you would expect, the stem, bars and seatpost are all provided by Deda itself, with the saddle from Selle Italia and Rubino Pro tyres from Vittoria completing the all-Italian package.
We were expecting a fast ride and we weren’t disappointed. The Atleta feels as you would expect it to when blasting along flat roads: quick. A taut and compact rear triangle aids the feeling of directness when pedaling hard and the front end feels rigid and responsive. Thankfully, this does not translate into harshness, it was a pleasant surprise to find the Atleta didn’t bump and rattle over rougher roads. This certainly helped on longer rides, which were completed without any sense of fatigue.
Another aspect that surprised us slightly was the Atleta’s ability uphill. On short, out-of-the-saddle ascents the bike felt right at home and the relatively high gearing didn’t feel like hard work until we hit the local 20 per center at the end of a ride. Downhill, the bike is very sure-footed. The short wheelbase, tyres and direct steering gelled well together to inspire confidence when descending.
We had no problem with the either the Campagnolo Athena groupset or wheels. Rear shifts were very smooth, and with the majority of shifts only one tooth apart, maintaining the perfect cadence was very easy. Front shifts weren’t quite as crisp, with the lever needing more of a nudge to get the chain to move from the low to high gear, but that’s being picky. The wheels aided the feeling of quick acceleration, and although they are certainly not at the top of Campag’s wheel range, they didn’t feel like they were holding the bike back.
The Atleta’s Italian heritage certainly sets it apart from many of its rivals, particularly as it features a full Campagnolo groupset and wheels where others may spec lower-grade parts to pinch a few pennies. It looks like a far more expensive bike than it is, and several people commented on its pleasing lines. If you lean more towards Shimano than Campagnolo, then an Ultegra-equipped Atleta with Miche Altur wheels is available for £2324.99, which also compares well with rivals.
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Nigel Wynn worked as associate editor on CyclingWeekly.com, he worked almost single-handedly on the Cycling Weekly website in its early days. His passion for cycling, his writing and his creativity, as well as his hard work and dedication, were the original driving force behind the website’s success. Without him, CyclingWeekly.com would certainly not exist on the size and scale that it enjoys today. Nigel sadly passed away, following a brave battle with a cancer-related illness, in 2018. He was a highly valued colleague, and more importantly, n exceptional person to work with - his presence is sorely missed.
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