A great all-round bike with commuting at its heart
Founded over 25 years ago, Planet X has built up a good reputation for competitively priced carbon-fibre road bikes since it first started selling carbon bikes back in 2005. The Planet X London Road, with its aluminium frame and 32mm tyres, doesn’t fit into this bracket, but with hydraulic disc brakes on a sub-£1,000 bike, it certainly represents very good value.
The Planet X London Road is described as a “jack-of-all-trades”, but it’s on the daily commute where it really thrives. The aluminium frame may look a little odd with a top tube that is thin at either end, but swells in the middle, but does a great job of gliding over the rough tarmac that many of us have to deal with on our rides into work.
The carbon fork certainly helps in this regard, with a seriously smooth front end that never puts any pressure on your wrists and forearms even during long rides, and although the aluminium (rather than carbon) seatpost doesn’t do quite as good a job at the back, it’s still a lot more comfortable than some similarly-priced carbon-framed bikes.
But just because the Planet X London Road is smooth, it doesn’t mean that it’s dull. In fact the ride can be surprisingly lively when you want it to be, and an injection of power through the pedals to get up a short sharp rise or to sneek through a set of traffic lights is rewarded with a burst of acceleration.
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This is helped in some regards by the Hutchinson tyres, which despite their 32mm width, are surprisingly fast over asphalt, with zero tread to slow them down. However, if you are going to be taking this bike on any bridleways that could potentially be a little muddy, then you will need tyres with a little more tread.
I also wasn’t too impressed with the tyres’ wet weather performance, where they lacked grip, easily skidding when subjected to the full force of the SRAM hydraulic disc brakes in the rain. However, this isn’t the fault of the disc brakes themselves, and with better tyres I’m sure they would excel both on and off road.
The Vision Team 30 Disc wheels are also very good. Despite the Planet X London Road not having thru-axles, I didn’t experience much in the way of brake rub, and although these are far from the lightest wheels in the world, they stood up well to the test of some pretty dodgy Surrey roads. The only gripe I’d have is that the 30mm deep rim means that you have to either buy long valve inner tube or go to the faff of using valve extenders. Maybe shallower section wheels would have been a more practical choice.
The Planet X London Road range is pretty extensive, starting form £649.99 with SRAM Apex, and available in a range of builds up to the £999.99 SRAM Rival 1 bike we’ve got on test here. I have to admit this bike was the first that I have tested with SRAM’s 1x single ring system, and have been very impressed by my experience.
You would have thought that getting rid of a chainring and the front derailleur would have meant you’d be constantly dropping your chain, but this was never a problem, even without the chain catcher that many other manufacturers fit to assuage consumers’ fears.
The only slight issue I found was that on really steep climbs or on really fast descents I did find myself searching for an extra gear. That said, there’s little that Planet X could have done about this, as the 11-36t cassette is the biggest range produced by SRAM in this PG1130 cassette model, and fitting anything smaller than a 40t at the front to cope with steep climbs would have only worsened the problem of spinning out on descents.
Finishing kit aside, the Planet X London Road has all the nuts and bolts that you’d hope for on a do-it-all commuter bike. There are eyelets for both mudguards and panniers, and with enough clearance for up to 40mm tyres, there is plenty of clearance for guards even with the 32mm tyres supplied.
For more details visit the Planet X website.
The Planet X London Road is a very versatile bike that does a great job whether you're using it for commuting or for just general riding. It's very impressive to see hydraulic disc brakes on a sub-£1,000 bike, it's just a bit of a shame that the tyres can't cope with the braking power in the wet.