Is This The Best Value Aero Carbon Bike Money Can Buy?
Cabal is a direct-to-public bike company operating out of Cape Town and shipping anywhere in South Africa. By sourcing product directly from global manufacturers and making it available to you via their web store, they have removed the middlemen from the traditional supply chain which dramatically impacts their retail price offering. You can’t walk into a Cabal showroom or retail setup and shoot the breeze, drink coffee or flick top tubes… but you can chat with them online and have all your questions answered before purchase. This business is exclusively a digital retail experience.
Avid cyclists and brand founders Andrew Bloom and Jon Colledge have a ‘rider first’ approach and have chosen this direct-to-public business model to offer the best possible bike for your money. The guys are also particularly passionate about correct bike fit and after your order is placed you will go through a 3- minute professional fitting process to confirm frame, stem, saddle and bar size before your bike is delivered. For a 30-year-veteran of road cycling who ‘knows it all’ I will be coy and admit that I experienced some interesting insights during my fitting process and my test bike would be supplied with marginally wider bars and a shorter stem than my personal bike.
“There are some amazing bikes on the market, but at significant cost, yet we believe the machine is what you should pay for and nothing more,” says Bloom. “While travelling around the world we’ve been exposed to new business models, like Canyon and Rose Bikes, direct-to-consumer models that are able to offer great products at better value to the consumer.”
“Closed moulds, pro sponsorships, storefronts… these are some of the areas that we choose to not do, right now – we think the value for cost is disproportionate and will affect our cost to customer. Instead we focus our value on the quality of materials, best parts, technology, bike fits, warranties, product testing and service.”
Hayley, my wife and ex-Vogue UK Art Director now aficionado of steeze, doesn’t usually pay much attention to the bikes coming and going from the household. But the Cabal Aero was reason to pause, hold a stare and pass a flattering endorsement. The sleek short back aerofoil shaped tubing, compact rear triangle, direct mount brakes, integrated seat post clamp, bladed spoke deep section wheels and an understated finished product drew tons of attention during our multiple test rides too. The SRAM Force groupset, Fabric Scoop saddle, Zipp bar and stem, Cabal CRC50 wheels and Schwalbe Durano tyres is a very attractive build at this price point. The bike is optimized for 25-inch tyres but can accommodate 28 inch rubber too – just.
Aero road bikes produce a small, yet handy, speed advantage and their growing popularity is undeniable. While your body and clothing accounts for around 80% of your total wind drag the marginal gains achieved at reasonable speeds from a more aero dynamic bike is not insignificant.
Using laser cut Japanese Toray carbon fibre, and the pretty much industry standard EPS mould process the open source Cabal Aero 1.0 naturally meets the European ISO certified safety requirements. In addition Cabal test their bikes in real world racing conditions before releasing them for retail.
We rode the Cabal Aero 1.0 in and around the more popular loops of the Cape Town peninsula, which covers a variety of tar surfaces, flat sections, rolling drags, some steeper climbs and of course many a windy day too.
The Cabal Aero 1.0 delivers a stable, solid and fast ride feel. In or out of the saddle in sustained climbs or flat out sprints the power transfer is good and the bike has an agile and precise feel to it. When laying down watts, the bike responds instantly and gallops up to speed. The stiffness of aero bikes can be an issue for riders with weaker trunk areas or back problems – while I noticed the stiff ride on the now not so smooth Chapmans Peak its not something that bothered me on any of my rides. There are more compliant bikes out there – but that’s not the point with this Cabal Aero 1.0 rocket ship built for speed.
The 56mm deep section rims do tend to be grabbed by cross winds and are most noticeable when its blowing over 30kph so we would recommend the smaller 40mm rim option if you live in a breezy or gusty area. The SRAM Force drivetrain is crisp, quiet and efficient. The contact points of the saddle, handlebars and brake levers are perfectly comfortable whether on the tops or in the drops and I wouldn’t change a thing here.
With a no-nonsense build kit, and sterling road manners, the Cabal Aero 1.0 is a race-ready rocket ship available at a remarkable price point.
Price: R46 000
Weight: 7.82kg (as shown)
Sizes: 50, 53, 56, 58