Sensa Calabria Matt

The Sensa Calabria Matt is a great looking bike with a really good spec for its price.

Score

8/10

Pros

  • Great value
  • Lots of aero features
  • Seriously stiff bottom bracket

Cons

  • Harsh ride
  • So-so finishing kit

Price as reviewed:

£2,000

  • Sensa is a Dutch cycle manufacturer that produces an extensive range of road and mountain bikes. Its bikes are sold in the UK by Merlin Cycles who import representatives of its carbon and alloy road ranges, as well as track, time trial and cyclocross bikes. The Sensa Calabria is an aero carbon framed bike and comes equipped with Shimano Ultegra Di2 shifting. At £2000 it’s great value too.

    >>> Shimano Ultegra Di2 review (video)

    In fact the value is so good, that we gave the Sensa Calabria the runner up spot in the best value bike category in the 2016 Cycling Weekly Bike of the Year awards.

    Frame

    The Sensa Calabria’s frame features aero section tube profiles. There’s an aero seat tube with a cut-out for the rear wheel. The head tube is overbuilt, aero and had a chunky junction with the aero all-carbon fork. All cables are routed internally, entering the frame at the top of the down tube and top tube and there are full carbon dropouts.

    >>> Sensa Umbria review

    Calabria's frame features aero tube profiles

    The Sensa Calabria frame features aero tube profiles

    The down tube is also aero profiled and quite substantial, meeting the seat tube at a substantial PF86 bottom bracket shell. The seatstays are aero section too, meeting the top tube some distance below the top of the seat tube. The whole bike is finished in a classy-looking matt black and white colour scheme.


    How much faster is an aero bike?


    Specification

    The Sensa Calabria comes equipped with a full Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset, with the battery enclosed in the frame. The chainset is a compact 50/34 and this is paired with an 11-25 cassette, to give quite performance-focused gearing. The Calabria’s use of Ultegra brakes is welcome for their good stopping power.

    >>> How to be more aero on your bike

    The Sensa comes with a full Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset

    The Sensa comes with a full Shimano Ultegra Di2 groupset

    Wheels are Sensa own-brand. They have quite a shallow profile and narrow section, particularly for a bike targeting aero performance. They carry Schwalbe Lugano tyres in 25mm width, which is now common for a bit more compliance and better rolling qualities.

    >>> Six things no-one told you about Di2

    The rest of the finishing kit is also Sensa own brand, including the aero section alloy bars and aero carbon seat post. The saddle is a San Marco Regale, which I found to be a bit narrow and underpadded for my taste.

    Ride

    The Sensa Calabria feels fast out of the gate and the chunky bottom bracket shell helps ensure that you can propel the bike forward with some urgency, helped by the fast-rolling Schwalbe Lugano tyres and a short wheelbase at 98.2cm for a 53cm frame.

    >>> Sensa Fermo cyclocross bike review

    With all the bottom bracket stiffness and a relatively light 8.14kg weight, the bike climbs well too despite the 34-25 lowest gear yielding a ratio which is quite high by modern standards. The substantial build also means that the Calabria tracks well through corners and on descents.

    Aero seatpost and Selle San Marco saddle

    Aero seatpost and Selle San Marco saddle

    The down-side of the frame’s stiffness though is quite a harsh ride on typical UK roads. There’s a lot of vibration passed through to the bars from typical surface dressed back roads and the bangs from larger holes are passed through to you when you hit them.

    This effect is even more pronounced at the rear, where the aero seatpost and narrow saddle provide little comfort from the buffeting. Although bearable for shorter rides, this made any longer excursions on the Calabria an uncomfortable experience. When I found sections of smoother tarmac the Sensa was a lot more comfortable, suggesting that it would be fine to ride further on better surfaced roads.

    Value

    The price tag of £2000 for a bike equipped with Ultegra Di2 is compelling and the Calabria’s aero frame certainly makes it look purposeful. It’s a bike which stands out from the crowd with its design and colourscheme too.

     Super-stiff bottom bracket shell and wide bearing placement lead to great power transfer

    Super-stiff bottom bracket shell and wide bearing placement lead to great power transfer

    It does feel as if compromises have been made elsewhere though to meet the £2000 price tag, with the own-brand components not really looking as if they match up to the quality of the groupset. And although the harsh ride would probably not be too noticeable on the smoother tarmac of its native Holland, it doesn’t make this a good bike for longer rides on UK roads.

    For more details visit the Merlin Cycles website.

    Verdict

    If you're after a top quality race bike that won't break the bank, then the Sensa Calabria Matt is a great option. With a super-stiff frame and an Ultegra Di2 groupset for two grand it's a good value package, although the ride is pretty harsh over rough British roads

    Details

    Weight (without pedals): 8.14kg/17.95lb
    Size Tested: 53cm
    Frame: Monocoque Generation5 - Zero Void Curing - Carbon Fibre - SAF-design
    Fork: Supra Full Carbon Monocoque AirFlow 1.5
    Shifters: Shimano Ultegra Di2
    Front Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra Di2
    Rear Derailleur: Shimano Ultegra Di2
    Chainset: Shimano Ultegra, 50/34
    Bottom Bracket: PF86
    Cassette: Shimano Ultegra, 11-25t
    Chain: Shimano Ultegra
    Brakes: Shimano Ultegra
    Wheelset: Supra RA Pro
    Tyres: Schwalbe Lugano, 25mm
    Handlebar: Supra Speed Line Wingshaped, alloy
    Stem: Supra Speed Line, alloy
    Seatpost: Supra Speed Line aero, carbon
    Saddle: San Marco Regale
    Sizes: 50 – 61cm
    Colour: Matt Black

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