Kyklos Feather Bianco
“Kyklos? What kind of a name for a bike is that? It sounds like a Greek restaurant.” Such were my first thoughts when I was invited to test the Kyklos Feather by Wil Puz, importer of Kyklos bikes. I’d never heard of the brand and wondered if it would suit the Bicycling Australia demographic. We have some pretty simple rules when it comes to testing bikes. First and foremost, a bike must have an Australian distributor. We won’t test bikes that are available only overseas via the internet. Sure, you can get cheaper bikes but we like to support the local industry as they’re the ones putting money into racing and doing the hard yards. But we’re also happy to support smaller operators as well because they provide a bit of variety in the market and there’s no reason why someone in Sydney say, wouldn’t purchase a bike that’s located in Brisbane.
We have actually known Wil Puz for some time through Canberra’s Velo Republic bike store and café. Wil’s main passion is bike clothing, which he markets through his company Ollo Industries. If you were watching closely during the Alpe d’ Huez Tour stage you might have seen one of his jerseys being waved at the side of the road around the 15th hairpin on the famous climb.
Anyway, Kyklos I was surprised to find out have a small but reasonable range of bikes which are manufactured in Taiwan. The name is derived from classical Greek, meaning circle, although the original version was used to indicate the way arguments in politics went round in a circle. Quite how this translates to a bicycle and why an Italian designer manufacturing bikes in Taiwan would use a classical Greek name, I’m not sure. I guess people give their kids bizarre names, so why not bikes.
The Kyklos range comprises two road frames, the Featherweight and the Feather, a TT frame and two mountain bike ensembles. This company is very focused on racing, not surprising really when you consider that the driving force behind the brand is 2007 Giro winner, Danilo di Luca. They even have their own squad who race on the flagship Featherweight model.
The Feather tested here is the second level road bike in the range. It uses similar construction techniques to that of the Featherlight, though with less expensive materials. Interestingly Kyklos frames are made by combining three techniques, a monocoque front triangle and a separate monocoque bottom bracket and chain stay section. Then the top connection, that of the seat tube, top tube and seat stays are joined using tube to tube junctions while the meeting of the down tube and bottom bracket (including lower seat tube) use the stronger tapered lug junctions. This isn’t anything new, but it indicates a certain amount of care in the design rather than an attempt to make the frames as cheaply as possible. The carbon fibre itself is a combination of high modulus T1000 and high modulus T800 in a unidirectional lay up and the frames themselves come with a six-year warranty.
One strange thing is that despite the identical geometry, the Feather only comes in five sizes, whereas the Featherlite comes in six, adding an XXL to the mix. This means that the largest of the Feather models has a horizontal top tube length of just 57.5cm. This is a little odd as the supplied seatpost height is fairly tall (I only needed to cut 28mm off) and you also get spacers to raise it another 15mm. Presumably if you needed that height in the seatpost then you would need it in the top tube as well.
I have to say that I really liked the paint and the graphics on this bike. White was the new black and still rules out on the road. Regular readers will know that I’m a fussy bugger when it comes to paint and the Feather definitely passed the test. The carbon fibre of the Campagnolo Chorus groupset only added to the looks of the frame. One exception though was the decal that says ‘Full Carbon Fork’. This sounds like something you’d hear on a cheap as chips bike and has no place here. Though on reflection I wonder if it might be a translation issue as the fork has carbon drop outs, therefore is full carbon? Bizarre and petty as it may sound, that’s the sort of thing that may turn off a finicky buyer. Similarly, I would have liked to have seen a Deda stem with black rather than red writing, which jars a little.
Items of a positive note are the BB30 bottom bracket, the integrated seatpost, Elite bottle cages, and the San Marco Regale Racing Team saddle. I was very impressed with this saddle. It’s quite firm in the way many racers like, and its flat, wide shape suited me very much indeed. Perhaps a tad more cushioning on the nose wouldn’t go astray, but I still enjoyed it. This was important as the integrated seatpost, while having some built-in compliance errs a little to the stiff side. This means you get a fair bit of feedback from the road surface. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, some people like it and some people don’t. Obviously the condition of your local roads will play a part. I have a lot of chip roads near my place so I do get a fair bit of vibration and anything over 100km becomes a little uncomfortable, so a good saddle is always a bonus.
Those same chip roads made their presence known at the front end through the Deda bars, which for my money were a little too stiff. A little bit of give in handlebars isn’t necessarily a bad thing unless you’re a sprinter but I found riding on the top of these bars a bit painful after a while. Luckily Wil had specc’d the aforementioned Campagnolo Chorus onto the Feather. There’s always a lot of banter in the Bicycling Australia office regarding group sets as each of us has our preference. The truth is that all of the group sets work well and it just comes down to personal preference. I find the hoods on Campagnolo 11 speed to be very comfortable and their reverse curve brake levers excellent. If you’re the kind of rider who spends almost all of your riding time on the hoods, you should give them a try.
Riding the Feather was an interesting and pleasant experience. It’s a fast bike, but it’s not the kind of fast that you get from an out and out pro race bike. It doesn’t have the same sharp feel the moment you put pressure on the pedals. Rather, it takes a few pedal strokes to get up to speed and then stays there without too much extra effort. At the same time, you wouldn’t call it a ‘comfort bike’ because it’s not a slouch, it just doesn’t have that initial bang at the moment of acceleration, perhaps more of an Evans than a Contador?
Descending was fine and everything you’d expect from a bike that doesn’t sport the huge headsets that are becoming vogue. I was able to throw it around some pretty tight corners with no surprises. While some of this comes from the bike, some also undoubtedly comes from the Schwalbe Durano tyres which I hadn’t previously ridden. They appear to be every bit as good as their Ultremo relations in the grip department, though with a slight weight penalty. If you like riding Ultremos but find they wear out a bit quickly you may like to give these a try.
I enjoyed riding on the Feather. It’s a stylish-looking bike, with good performance characteristics. I had the feeling that this bike was the kind that you’d grow into over time; the kind that once you had your position dialed you could slip into the saddle and become immediately comfortable. Some bikes the longer you own them become like old friends and I think the Kyklos is one of these. In addition, its good looks, and the fact that not many other people in the bunch will have one, make it a bike definitely worth considering.
Extremely good, especially the choice of colours and paintwork. The supplied parts are all top of the range while the Campagnolo items though mid range perform like the top ones.
Again good. You could race this bike, but it’s aim appears to be more of an ‘all day in the saddle’ performer. That said, there’s nothing lacking here. This is a good, honest machine.
I hate to say it, but anything with Campagnolo on it is going to suffer in the value stakes at the moment, mainly due to the introduction of Ultegra DI-2. I’ve seen bikes advertised for $2,800 with that groupset, albeit for a limited time and lesser components. That’s a hard act to follow despite the fact that Campag oozes class.