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Revolution Wraith 2014

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Tested by Neil Watterson

Review

Silence is golden - or at least that's what they say. And there's nothing better than zipping along the road on a bike, with nothing but a bit of tyre noise and the whoosh of the wind whizzing past your head.

And when your bike starts making noises, you know it's time to do a spot of fine-tuning - a little bit of adjustment on the gear cables; a slight realignment of the brakes, all to return the silent running.

But silence is something that the Revolution Wraith I'm riding hasn't achieved - there's a really annoying buzz coming from the frame. A bit of strategic tapping suggests the internally-routed gear cables are just a touch too close to the frame and the inevitable jolts you get when riding are just enough to cause the cables to vibrate and contact the frame. It's a shame because otherwise the bike is quite a thing.

With a retail price of £999, it's just within the limit for cycle to work and for that money you get a full carbon frame - Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative's first carbon road bike - 9-speed Shimano Sora groupset and levers with compact FSA 50/34 chainset. Brakes are Tektro's R525 and a pair of Formula-hubbed wheels complete the set.

As mentioned, the frame's carbon, as are the front forks but, unusually for a bike at this price-point, so is the tapered steerer - most have carbon blades with an aluminium steerer. And that all adds up to - or cuts down to - a very lightweight frame and forks.

But, and there's always a 'but', the weight saving doesn't extend across the board - the 32-spoke double-walled wheels aren't the lightest around; but they are strong. My daily commute and weekend rides take in a vast array of terrain and bumping around town means I'll be hopping speed humps and crashing through potholes (I really should look where I'm going) and even with the skinny 700x23C Vee Rubber tyres inflated to a firm 120psi the wheels shrug off the hits.

The extra mass means they don't spin up quite as quickly as lighter ones - so you could look at upgrading down the line - but a good and strong wheel can't be a bad thing.

Gear changes are as predictably slick as you'd expect with Sora components and the 12-25 cassette combined with the 50/34T chainset gives a good spread of gears. Gear combinations are very much a matter of personal taste, but I've not encountered a situation where I'm desperate for anything lower than the 34/25 combination - mind you, the area I live in isn't renowned for its excessively steep hills.

One upgrade I would make is to replace the bottom bracket. It's stiff enough, but I prefer branded ones - and a bit of an investment there could pay dividends in the future.

The Tektro rim brakes are very good - my own bicycle collection is almost entirely disc-braked now and with discs taking over on most hybrids and cyclocross bikes, I'd almost forgotten just how good rim brakes can be. Coupled with a lightweight bike the stopping power is excellent and encourages you to go faster as you'll have the ability to stop.

The contact points of the saddle and bars are comfortable with the levers easy to operate from on the hoods or the drops and the handling is precise. And that brings us back to the frame.

In its satin black and grey finish and apart from Revolution on the down tube and a discreet 'Wraith' on the top tube, there's precious little branding. In fact, only the white-edged tyres add any brightness to proceedings. It doesn't need to shout to be noticed. And it handles well too.

There's a bit of flexing through the frame as you put the power down, but I didn't mind that - and the sculpted seat and chain stays allow a bit of flex, so when you're riding along poorly maintained roads you don't take the hammering you'd expect, even at high tyre pressures. It's just the issue of the noise…

All the spanner monkeys I chat with hate internally-routed cables. Some frames look fantastic, but prove to be a nightmare when it comes to service time. At least the Wraith, with its large Allen key-accessed top guides and large lower slot means that mechanics won't mind working on this bike at all - feeding the cable through looks like it should be a relative breeze. But there is the issue of the buzz. I'm tempted to loosen the cables and feed some felt between the cables and the frame - I reckon that might just do the trick and make this bike as quiet as it should be.

At a glance

Verdict A great way to get onto the carbon bike ladder – just frustrating that the cables sing to you.
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